Lone Pine Peak — Page 2

Lone Pine Peak from Granite View Road

Granite View

I am sitting in my car at the intersection of Granite View Drive and Horseshoe Meadows Road when a Sheriff pulls alongside and asks if I need help.

"Just Looking," I say, startled. The Sheriff gives me a friendly smile and drives off. How long have I been idling here, staring at the snowy peaks of the High Sierra? I have no idea. I return my attention to the view to the east.

Whitney Portal Road: Closed Lone Pine Peak - Northeast Face Lone Pine Peak - Northeast Face Zoom

Granite View Drive happens to sit uniquely within the narrow angle from which Lone Pine Peak's east couloir is visible.

My car is stuffed with skis, camping gear, climbing gear.

I am trying to decide whether to put all that hardware on my back and climb 6700+ vertical feet to find out whether the east couloir will go.

How did this come to pass?

I had hoped to do an easy tour in the Meysen Lakes region, but Whitney Portal Road is closed, and with the Portal no longer an easy option, everything in sight is in play—including Lone Pine Peak.

I have driven back and forth along these roads, scouting Lone Pine Peak from various directions.

Each angle offers a tantalizing but incomplete view.

Via memory and photographs, I have tried to mentally assemble the pieces.

My suspicion (200-foot rappels notwithstanding) is that there might currently be a skiable line down the northeast face. Unfortunately, several key portions of the route—including the headwall interface—are hidden no matter what the vantage point.

These sections will make or break a ski attempt. What is certain is the undeniable severity of the route. The Northeast face is massive, with a lowly 6400' starting elevation shooting up to near 13,000' in a mere 2.5 miles.

Just about the entire route looks steep, exposed, dangerous. Name an objective hazard and you'll probably find it in abundance here. That plus the route's unknowns make this a very difficult decision. A highly tempting alternative is to simply turn my car around and head home. And yet, I can't stop looking at Lone Pine Peak. Does that crazy couloir connect to the northeast face? It might. It just might. And there's only one way to find out.

next: Misgivings

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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