Friday, February 8, 2013

Tour de Darwin, Ski Touring in the High Sierra

It is snowing in Mammoth right now, but for the past few days the sun has been shining hard all day long, making an excellent window of opportunity to get out and tour in the High Sierra.  My good friend and partner in crime Geoff Schellens is in town to do some ice climbing and ski touring, and we decided that a trip up and over Paiute Pass, Alpine Col and Lamarck Col would make a great trip with some amazing scenery, especially for Geoff who has never been to this part of the range.

We left from Aspendell on patchy covered road, passed North Lake and made it just past Paiute Lake before finding a good spot to dig in for the night.  A bit chilly and windy, though 2 full flasks of 10 year scotch made it go by a little easier.

The morning came none too soon, windless and sunny, and we jammed out before heading out on the long leg of the tour, over Paiute, into the Goethe Cirque, up the windboard guarding Alpine Col and down into Darwin Canyon.  The ski down into Darwin was pretty nice, with some good corn turns even.  

Once we hit Darwin Canyon we decided to make a break for Lamarck Col, even though we were already pretty gassed.  Cruising over bare frozen lakes below Mt. Mendel was very cool, until we had to take a big breath and skin up 2,000 ft to the col.  NOW we were gassed.  

We knew the wind was going to get gnarly, so we made it down as far as we could before keeling over, about 700 vertical feet below the pass.  We set up camp here, getting great sunset views over towards Mt. Emerson and the Paiute Crags we skinned up 2 days prior.  The night was long and the wind threatened to destroy our flimsy Firstlight tent, but before too long we got up early and skied down past North Lake and to my truck to fill up on greasy treats at the Bishop Burger Barn.


This is one of the classic short tours in the area, and should be on everyone's short list!  

1 comment:

Andy D said...

Thanks for posting this! It looks like you guys had a blast. I took the same route solo on snowshoes last week, but it took me five days. Your video, pxts and report took me right back. I ran into some trouble getting down from the ridge above (and to the south of) upper Lamarck Lake. Any info on your experience in that area would be much appreciated. Thanks again!