Slay The Gnar

Documentary of Casey Cane

Chasing Californian Couloirs @KirkwoodMtn, Sonora & Tioga Pass – 04/20/14

Classic Spring Sierra Backcountry Skiin’

Date:

April 18th – 20th, 2014

Locations: Kirkwood Backcountry, Sonora Pass, and Tioga Pass

Peak 9795 – Kirkwood Backcountry

Sonora Pass, California

Tioga Pass, California

Weather: Bluebird with afternoon thunderstorms…

Riders: Slaythegnar, Aaron Miller, AK Bruin, Schralph Macchio, Lower Haight Sam & meter-man

Slaythegnar…

Aaron Miller…

AK Bruin…

Photographers: Slaythegnar & Schralph Macchio

POV VIDEO Chasing Californian Couloirs @Kirkwood, Sonora & Tioga Pass – 04/20/14

Chasing Californian Couloirs @ Kirkwood, Sonora & Tioga Pass – 04/20/14 from SlayTheGnar on Vimeo.

Music: Loxy & Source Direct – The Metalheadz Show on Rinse FM – March 9th, 2014

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Java Porn: Finest 7-Eleven blends each morning

Synopsis:

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 thunderclouds.

The second day involved driving down to Sonora Pass from South Lake Tahoe. We 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 final day of the trifecta, 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!

TIME TO HIKE & SLAY…

April 18th, 2014 – Kirkwood Backcountry:

From San Francisco, it’s SO much easier to do an early morning mountain commute….

Entering the lush foothills in a drought…

Kirkwood – April 18th, 2014 – looking fine to me…

On our way to the backcountry, we passed by an old friend that should be in-bounds skiing…

Aaron and I JUST HAD TO lay down a few carves on the groomed corn on Chair 2…

Enjoying the view to the South of Ebett’s and Sonora Pass…

The West facing slopes were lacking a bit of snow…

On our way to Melissa Coray Peak…

Never seen this placard before…

A bit of a rest and then a trek out to Peak 9795 in the distance…

Yours truly looking as handsome as ever…

Chair 4 in the distance, Promo Chute directly below…

The line on skier’s right…

Another look to the South…

Our line begins on the snow patch below…

Promo Chute looking quite good…

Aaron Miller makes a solid turn…

He’s enjoying himself…

I think I’ll do down now…Thank Yeww!

Line slayed, now onto next objective…

Aaron Miller works his way down upper Pipeline with a melting Caples Lake in the background…

He’s never been down Pipeline before…he’s about to find out it’s a quad-diamond…

Perfect corn as the skies turn rather gray…

Yep, Pipeline is fun even on a drought year…

Success! Pipeline is the line dead center…

West Shore above Emigrant Lake…

The sun popped out for a nice straightline near Soul Searcher…

A bit more narrow than I was expecting…

Aaron Miller GETS EXTREME!

After a few laps on Chair 6, lightning closed the mountain and then came torrential hail…

Crowded après ski at Kirkwood, no really…

April 19th, 2014 – Sonora Pass

Early morning on the Kingsbury Grade…

US395 traffic…

Sonora Pass coming into view after opening 16 hours ago…and also one of the earliest openings of all time…

With a fresh layer of snow from the previous day’s thunderstorm, the day looked rather encouraging…br />

With multiple cars, we decided to leave a car and the necessary cooler of beers at the hairpin…the sonora gnar face looking a bit intimidating…

Starting from the top of the pass, Aaron Miller begins his ascent to the No Name Peak saddle…

The storm was still trying to clear on the saddle, but the objective can be seen…

The new snow gave just enough surface to skin almost to the entire way…

Objective just ahead…

Enroute to Leavitt Bowl…

Can you say a perfect day?…

The Y Couloir and surrounding lines coming into view…

Come on bro’…

Stoked as we were able to skin all the way to the summit…

And the view of the hike…

Top of Leavitt Peak has some of the best views in all of California…

Pano anyone?

So how about a few more?…

The word drought doesn’t come to mind from up here…

Another? Why not?…

I like this one…

Selfie!!!!!!…

Ok, time to ski. AKBruin and I opted for Y Couloir proper…

And he drops in…

There you go…make it look steep…

This top part is always the best…

Good job! Now I can tell your wife that you survived…

Aaron Miller drops into the Paris Hilton line (yeah…that’s our name for it)…

Looking good bro!…

He said it was bulletproof after that rollover…

Is it my turn yet?…

Just enough new snow to make it ‘wintery’…

For our lines to the car, hiking back to the summit gives us the most options on a descent…

Yeah buddy! Burn those calories…

Yep, just give me a second…

We traversed across the northern ridge of Leavitt to scope out with bowl to ski…

Aaron and AKBruin decided on the skier’s right saddle…

Aaron thought he was being timed…

AKBruin letting them run…

Wheres’s the car?…

Ok, after some down-climbing and scoping a few chutes that ended in death, I stumbled up this little number…

Does it have a name? Has it ever been skied?…

I would expect this exit melts off in May? Hmmm…somebody please let me know…

AKBruin skiing above a frozen lake…

Here’s the shot of our lines. The guys looker lookers left saddle, and I skied the chute that is not visible…

Close up….this is an extremely tough line to scope…I could not go any further to my right to grab a view…

Corn slaytastic…

Mr Miller follows suit…

Deadman’s Couloir didn’t look too bad…

Watch out for the holes on the way down…

Slaythgnar making his way to the beer cooler…

And the last turns to the creek…thanks for the friendly photographer for snapping some pics…

Exhausted…

Hard to avoid Walker Burger after a day of suffering…

Nevada in Spring…

Schralph and friends spent the day up on Ellery Bowl on Tioga Pass and shared some pics…

Nearing the summit of Ellery Bowl with some new snow…br />

Bootpack steeze…

Lower Haight Sam tele-ing it for the camera…

meter-man drops in…

And then tries to spot his car…

I think he spotted it…

Dropping into Z Chute/Banana Chute? Whatever it is, cameraman Shralph drops in…

California Chutin’…

April 20th, 2014 – Tioga Pass

Morning views from Bridgeport of the Sierra Sawtooths…

Its nice country around these parts…

Frank and I had an open gameplan for the Dana Plateau…leave a car on the powerhouse dirt road? Even if a snowless scree descent in ski boots? Sure…but our recon from the highway was looking a bit too dry for our liking. Below, you can see the Dana Plateau along Cocaine, Ripper, etc but V-bowl on the exit is too dry…

The second option was to ski the Powerhouse Chutes…but again the exit had a nice frozen waterfall and minimal snow cover…

The 3rd option and most likely was to descend the Ellery Chutes and leave a car at Ellery Lake…

Chute Out was looking quite tasty from the road and was definitely my first choice when headed to the car at the end of the day…

We began our journey at the top of Tioga Pass…with no other cars in sight…

Frank shows his frozen lake crossing technique…

Our plan on the ascent was to try the left side and then follow the ridge to the Solstice Couloir…

North Peak and Mt. Conness zone across the Pass…Frank appears out of nowhere

The objective just below Mt. Dana…

But let me first take a SELFIE!

Snow was a bit firm, so we deciding booting for a bit was the best plan of attack…

Views to the North…

WE MADE IT! Our route may have taken a bit longer than expected as two other large groups made it at the exact same time as us…

The Cornice wasn’t so menacing this year…

Looking to the Northwest toward Sonora Pass…

Dana Plateau and Mono Lake hiding in some haze…

Frank drops into the Solstice Coulior and finds some winter snow…

We met up with a group from North Lake Tahoe…the dog needed a piggy back to drop in…

Skittles crew in full effect!…

I’m ready to drop in…

I decided to go for the 2 inches of blower pow under the cornice…

A bit firm underneath folks…

The right side was Winter and the left was totally Spring…

Yehawwwwwww!…

I continued down the right side…

Shralph and Lower Haight Sam showed up just behind us…turns out Sam lives two blocks away from me…small world eh?

Here he drops a knee for the fans…

Schralph goes for the Spring corn…under a looming cornice…

And then traverses back to the center line…

He eyes up his line down to the lower valley…

Some fresh snow and ZERO suncups?…OH MY!

Schralph slaying some corn as temperatures increased…

Mt. Dana and the Solstice Couloir…

Glacier Valley Pano…

Dana Couloir, Dana Glacier, Mt. Dana and the Solstice Couloir…

Glacier Valley…

Slaythegnar burning calories on the way to the top of Chute Out…

After an hour or so hike up to the stop of Ellery Bowl, Lower Haight Sam on top of Ellery Chutes …

Slaythegnar eyes a single track which is a great sign…

Chute Out is a GO!

Just a bit of a tight spot here at the crux…

Wintery snow? Oh yeah….

Classic aesthetic Californian couloir

Time for some corn skiing on the exit…

Ellery Bowl DID NOT disappoint down to the car…er…the beer at the car

View of the line…

Definitely one of my favorite zones to ride…

Lower Haight Sam is ready and drops a knee…

Frank dropped into Poop Chute…

And then opens it up on the exit…

All the way to Ellery Lake…

Ellery Bowl and Ellery Chutes – April 20th, 2014

With Tioga Pass closed, and already driven around Sonora Pass the day prior, I decided to venture over to Monitor Pass…

And give a hi-five to Kirkwood on the way back to San Francisco!

Well that was fun…is the season over??

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