(Slide show embedded below. Click anywhere in the image and the controls will appear at the bottom of the frame...)
A wet snow was falling at Donner Summit so Tony and I headed over to the Mt. Rose area, easily 1,000 feet higher than home to seek out drier conditions. We parked on the Mt. Rose Highway, just over the summit and skied north up to the ridge that leads to Mt. Rose. Falling away on the NE side of this ridge is a series of perfect pitched ski bowls - each with a local name - Proletariat, Hourglass to name a few.
The clouds blew in and over us, obscuring the view at times, and at others providing open views to the south and of Mt. Rose alpine runs carved out of the woods across the highway. Lake Tahoe was nowhere to be seen in the gloom.
Breaking trail in the dry fresh snow was no effort at all, as there was a firm base 4-6" down. We wound our way up the ridge, looking carefully at the corniced ridges above the bowls.
On our first run, we carefully picked an entry point at the top of the bowl with no cornice, and cautiously ski cut and loaded the slope at its edge. With no slippage, no cracking, no whooping and solid footing, I pointed my skis down the slope and made my marks in the untracked canvas. A few minutes later, Tony followed, and before we knew it we we stopped and skinning back up for another run. We had the whole basin to ourselves, and the silence was golden. Getting into a climbing rhythm, we each found our own pace and marched back up the mountainside looking at the snow encrusted stunted trees and small animal tracks which crossed our path.
The clouds lowered, the wind seemed to pick up a bit, but the snow retained its powdery consistency. The hands of the clock seemed to swing around their center point at twice the normal speed as we toured the area and before we knew it, we had to turn around and head back to the waiting car.
The long meandering ski down the exit valley brought us in close contact with the forest, but there always seemed to be an opening just big enough for a skier to squeeze through. Keeping our eye on the goal, we followed the contours so as to achieve our objective without having to climb. Sure enough, we popped out of the woods right at the parking spot. Another incredible Sierra ski tour successfully completed.