Given the low total snowfall for the season in California, the ski season is surely going to come to an abrupt ending, yet one positive aspects are mountain passes opening early for your ski touring pleasure. Sonora Pass opened to through traffic on Friday April 18th around noon while Tioga Pass was open from the East up to the Yosemite Park gate. With three days on the agenda, a Kirkwood backcountry (Chair 4 stayed open until 4/20), Sonora Pass and a Tioga Pass day seemed to fit the bill. The weather cooperated and gave us primarily perfect temps and little wind.
On day one, we headed to Kirkwood to hike out to Peak 9795 and descend down Promo Chute followed by a short hike up to Pipeline then down to Emigrant Lake. We found mostly spring conditions under looming thunder clouds.
On Day 2, we drove down to Sonora Pass, left a car at Deadman's Creek and began hiking at the top of the pass to end up to the top of Leavitt Peak at 11,572ft. From there we skied the Y Couloir, booted back up the bowl and then skied a sliver of a couloir down the North facing peak off of Leavitt. Snow quality was a bit wintery up on the Y Couloir with a more spring-like corn on the exit to the car.
On the last day, we decided to do another car shuttle on Tioga Pass. With V Bowl and Powerhouse looking abnormally thin, we left a car at Ellery Lake and another at the top of the Pass where we began our hiking. Conditions were a bit firm on the ascent but yielded perfect conditions in the Solstice Couloir (approx 12,500ft) with winter snow on skiers right with spring corn on the left. The ski out of the couloir down into Glacier Canyon could not have been any better...super smooth buttery corn skiing. After a short walk to Ellery Bowl, I took Chute Out down to the car at the bottom of Ellery Bowl. I found steep & wintery conditions and gorgeous corn on the exit down to the Ellery Lake...SUCCESS!
For the lengthy report please go here...