Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: 12,500′ North Couloir of Mt. Emerson

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Tall Carl & Fox below the North Couloir of Mt. Emerson. image: snowbrains

Report from June 4th, 2019

This past Saturday, Roger and I skied the Zebra Couloir on 13,100′ Mt. Emerson, CA and saw an inch of snow in 20 minutes at the top of it and had a wildly fun time.

Today, I decided to return to Emerson and ski the North Couloir.

So far this spring, temperatures have been below average and great for skiing and snow.

Miles in the North Couloir of Mt. Emerson. image: Aaron Fox

Today, that all changed.

Aaron Fox, Tall Carl, and I hoped for some cloud cover and cooler than forecast temps and did not get them.

It was hot today.

13,100′ Mt. Emerson, CA. image: snowbrains

After hiking and skinning for 3 hours, we reached the base of the North Couloir of Mt. Emerson at 10am.

Already, the mountain was shedding snow and ice.

We were skeptical but decided to go up a bit and see.

Getting rowdy in the 4×4. image: snowbrains

What we saw was more snow and ice flying down the chute and it was an easy call to turn around and abort the mission.

It was incredibly hot even up high today and it appears that summer, at long last, has finally arrived in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

The way it felt to me today, was that big lines with rockfall, icefall, and snowfall potential are likely done for the season…

Scree crossing. image: snowbrains

We’ll now be hunting for couloirs and open zones that don’t put us at risk for falling rock, ice, and snow the rest of the month.

If you’re interested in skiing the California Backcountry, please contact Alpenglow Expeditions for a guide and all the local knowledge.


Piute Peak, CA. image: snowbrains
Tall Carl and Mt. Locke. image: snowbrains
Cactus and snowpack. image: snowbrains
Zebra Couloir that we skied on Saturday. image: snowbrains
Tall Carl and tall towers. image: snowbrains
Mt. Emerson colors. image: snowbrains
Tall Carl and Fox on the way out. image: snowbrains
Tall Carl & Fox on the way up. image: snowbrains
Sunrise. image: snowbrains
Miles almost back to the car. image: Tall Carl
Scree crossing. image: snowbrains
Getting closer. image: snowbrains
Fox lost his hat… image: snowbrains
Tall Carl headed home. image: snowbrains
Closing in. image: snowbrains
The aftermath. image: snowbrains

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