We awoke today with thoughts of Tioga Pass but knew that highway 120 was closed only 4 miles west of the 395/120 junction so we weren’t sure where we’d end up. Our plan was to end up in Mammoth with some friends. We hiked up and skied the Mt. Rose “Chutes” in the morning on a whim and had a blast on their steep terrain.
After the Chutes we loaded back into the car and then randomly decided to check out Virginia Lakes on our way south. Neither of us had been there before and we knew that it was worth a look. A cruisy 6 mile road lead us to the frozen Virginia Lakes themselves, some ice fishermen, and some solid ski terrain. A handsome bowl stretched out in front of us and we each picked out a chute to ski.
A one hour skin put us on top at 3:30pm. The chute I’d planned to ski was narrow and had a weird jog halfway down it that put the skier over some exposure for a second. Of course, right at that exposed spot, I hit two rocks in the middle of what I thought was going to be a powder turn and nearly high-sided and took a tumble. I think I could have stopped the fall quickly, but if I wouldn’t have, it coulda been ugly.
The chute had good snow in it and was sluffing like mad. I had to stop twice when my sluff overtook me. After the chute opened up onto the apron below I found hard breakable crust. I traversed hard to the east to catch a west facing aspect and softer snow. Once there, big turns in perfect hot pow-corn-slush grew a smile on my face. It was the type of snow and terrain that you could open it up all the way in.
Sara picked a much better line that had west facing aspects in it from top to bottom. She ripped the entire line non-stop and came blasting onto the lake I was watching her from.
I do not recommend the chute I skied. Sara highly recommends the chute she skied.
On our way through Lee Vining, the legendary Mono Cone was open. I’d never eaten there before, I’d only gotten ice cream. I had a chicken bacon cheddar sandwich and Sara had the avocado burger. We both recommend our respective sandwiches. Don’t miss Mono Cone.
Upon reaching Mammoth, we hopped into Hot Creek to clean up a bit. Hot Creek is a very cool experience and it makes you feel like you’re dangerous now that the river is all fenced off with signs that say eminent death is waiting for you in the river’s geothermal zones.