Saturday, December 29, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
The sky was bluebird clear but the wind was howling at over 50 mph across the exposed ridges. We parked in the usual spot and nailed the approach up the south ridge of Castle Peak, a direct line to the top of the bowl with no gully crossings or kick turns required. Once we hit the top of the bowl, we were getting ice blasted by particles chucked at us by the swirling wind with no place to hide. The ski down was through mixed conditions but the long unbroken run was a great reward. There was one soft snow gully that we passed on our way down that had great skiing over a barely covered boulder field. This will be a destination run on our next lap up here.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The morning broke clear and cold, with temperatures at the house near 10 deg. F when Jeff picked me up around 8:45 and we drove one exit up the highway to the rest area off Rt. 80 on Donner Summit and headed north onto the southern slopes of Castle Peak. The snow was in great condition, although somewhat thin, and undulating terrain normally buried by blowing and drifting snow was a challenge for route selection. Dave met us at the parking area providing crunchy chocolate chip cookies as morning fuel for our endeavor. The night air had been very still and very clear, so a thick mat of surface hoar covered the slope, reflecting the bright sunlight back to us like a million diamonds.
Just before our lunch break, the weather become more unsettled and a thick cloud bank rolled in from the south
The trip back to the car was complicated by a series of stream crossings. Jeff led us expertly to thin snow bridges which we crossed with haste before they became saturated with the flowing water beneath.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
When my ski buddies called at O-dark 30 this morning for a lap up to Mt. Rose and higher elevations I should have picked up the phone. But with Diane going away for a few days and a long list of to-do's on the desk from yesterday I figured I'd stay in and be productive.
Well, that ended the second I actually got up and saw this amazing sunrise through the mist - see today's earlier post. Once back inside I could not seem to stay focused on anything and by 1:30pm I was absolutely bonkers - so , I changed clothes and headed out into the crusty bright and warm Donner Summit afternoon.
First thing I noticed was the bombproof crust on the snowpack in the woods - this made for some fast moving from the start. Despite the many open leads of water cascading down from the peaks the going was pretty smooth - glad I have stiff boots and some metal edges. I worked my way up to the summit of Palisade Peak and could not believe my luck with the glorious views to the south and east. The summit plateau was easy going and I skied back and forth across its length a few times because I thought I might have missed something. That's where I took these photographs. At one point an eagle or black colored hawk of some kind finally lifted off and flew right overhead, tired of my disruptions of his otherwise tranquil perch.
Ultimately, I had to turn around and go home, but I consider the day totally salvaged.
The snow on the northern aspects is a hard supportable crust, and southern slopes gives way to about an inch of corn on top of the same rock hard crust. This should be a great base moving forward. If you go, be prepared for several detours for small stream crossings. One I made balanced on a narrow log that still had snow coverage.