March 31, 2013
This was a bit of Sierra serendipity: as I was driving into Mammoth last weekend, I found myself staring at an unknown peak up the McGee Creek drainage. I snapped a photo through my car window for the archives, and then emailed my friend Jed Porter, of Sierra Mountain Guides, to see if he wanted to come out and play. Jed wrote back suggesting Esha Peak, which turned out to be...the very same mountain I'd spotted driving in.
Small world, eh?
I first met Jed taking an SMG Avy level I class in June lake some years back—January 2010. He was one of the instructors. I joked to Jed that was the last time the Sierra saw a real storm. Some of you may recall that weekend: a massive MLK-day blaster that came in and buried mountains north and south beneath about seven feet of snow. Those were the days! In any case, it was a pleasure to ski with Jed, who is on the cusp of completing the full three-discipline AMGN certification.
I think Jed was somewhat taken aback by our blistering SoCal pace up the hill, but he recovered nicely on the downhill, falling only once, I believe, which I have of course edited out of the final video. I should mention that this footage includes Jed's own photography, which he was gracious enough to allow me to use here. I should also mention if I was seeking a guide for rock or snow, I'd hire Jed in a heartbeat. Assuming of course that Howie wasn't available. :)
As for Sierra conditions...they're strange. I think that's the best way to describe it. I don't have safety concerns so much as just angst that a March Sierra snowpack should be so whacked out—I believe that's the technical term. You'll want to be mindful of wet slab potential as the season progresses and temperatures warm, but beyond that, you'll need to work to find good skiing. This is not a consolidated snowpack, and it's not likely to mature into good corn—at least not in substantial quantities.
Let's hope for an record-setting early Tioga opening, which may well prove to be a fine consolation prize if it materializes. If not, as Jed noted Sunday, it's still better than a sharp stick in the eye. I'd say it beats staying home on the sofa, so don't miss your chance to get some while the getting is...still there. Summer is knocking.