Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: Huge Cornice, Unknown Chute Off Mt. Dana Is Steep & Scary… | Tioga Pass

Miles Clark | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from June 13th, 2019

Brought to you by Scott Sports

Skis Used:  Scott Super Guide 105

After 4 trips staring at the scary-looking Unkown Chute off of 13,000′ Mt. Dana off Tioga Pass, CA we decided to give it a go today.

Greggy and I starting skinning at 9am from the top of Tioga Pass.

2 hours later, we were dropping into Unknown Chute.

Miles about to drop. image: Greggy

Unknown is guarded by an enormous cornice but you can sneak around on the skier’s right.

The first turns are steep and you’re on a hanging snowfield so you don’t wanna fall nor even think about falling…

After those first steep, overhanging turns, you tuck yourself into the chute proper and underneath one of the largest cornices I’ve seen in California.

Unknown Chute. image: snowbrains

Once you hit the chute proper there are two fingers of rock that split the chute into 3 small passages.

I chose the far skier’s left passage – Greggy chose the far skier’s right.

After the tight passage next to the rock fingers, the chute opens and you can rip a few turns on interesting spine-platforms that have formed from large amounts of sluff and snow/ice debris that had previously come down.

Greggy in Unknown Chute. image: snowbrains

At this point my sluff was freight-training down the chute and into a large sluff-runnel in the middle of the chute.

This was the larges sluff-runnel I’ve seen as it was 4′ deep in spots.

A handful more steep, fun turns brought me to a decision:  Cross the deep sluff-runnel and get to the slightly better skiing on the other side or stay on the side I was on and ski what there was.

13,000′ Mt. Dana and Cumulonimbus clouds. image: snowbrains

I decided to cross and it was spicy.

A bit of speed, an ollie, and bang! I was on the other side and splashing snow of the rock wall on my right.

After exiting the chute I cut left to get out of the way of anything else that came down and ripped big open turns on the apron below the chute.

Greggy in Glacier Canyon with Mt. Dana in the back. image: snowbrains

This was one of the spiciest and fun-est runs of my season.

From there we crossed the Dana Plateau and dropped into the very steep and spicy eastern Powerhouse Chute.

It skied great and so did the lower gully down into the creek and the glorious tongue of snow that has been delivering us to our stashed car at the Poole Power Plant the past 4 trips out here.

Except this time, the tongue wasn’t glorious…

Cathedral peak, Yosemite, CA. image: snowbrains

It has melted out badly since we were last there 2 days ago.

We did some truly technical bushwhacking and after 40-minutes arrived back at our car.

Today was just simply too fun and it felt great to ski all three of the well-known Mt. Dana couloirs in the past week or so:  Dana Couloir, Solstice Couloir, and Unknown Chute.


June 11th: Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: Mt. Dana’s Solstice Couloir + Powerhouse Chutes | Tioga Pass

June 6th:  Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: Mt. Dana → Dana Couloir → Power House Chutes | Tioga Pass

June 5th: Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: Power House Chutes | Tioga Pass, CA

June 4th: Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: 12,500′ North Couloir of Mt. Emerson

June 2nd: Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: The Third Pillar Chute | Tioga Pass, CA

June 1st: Eastern Sierra, CA Backcountry Report: 1″ of Snow in 20-Minutes at 12,300′ in Zebra Chute


Greggy about to drop the eastern Powerhouse Chute. image: snowbrains
Miles in Unknown Chute. image: Greggy
Mt. Dana and cumulonimbus cloud. image: snowbrains
Greggy up! image: snowbrains
Greggy on the bushwhack out. image: snowbrains
Dana Plateau. image: snowbrains
Greggy and Dana. image: snowbrains
Greggy on the bushwhack out. image: snowbrains
Dana Plateau flowers. image: snowbrains
The tongue of snow down to the Poole Power Plant from the Powerhouse Chutes is done now. image: snowbrains
Apres ski! Greggy and carne asada torta at Salsa’s in Mammoth. Greggy on the bushwhack out. image: snowbrains
Dana Plateau flowers. image: snowbrains
Greggy! image: snowbrains
Solstice Couloir, Mt. Dana. image: snowbrains

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...