Pushing the Limits at Sonora Pass, CA – by Josh Daiek

Josh Daiek | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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(please check out Josh’s website for more great adventure stories:  JoshDaiek.com)

With yet another slow start to the ski season in Tahoe, morale was low and diminishing rapidly. A few wet storms got us on our feet in December and a nice Christmas dusting made for ideal ski conditions over the holidays. Still as I ventured to my favorite Tahoe zones, coverage was sparse and rather rocky.

It was time to think outside the box, time to get creative. After a brief discussion with my friends Justin Befu and Jeff VanHee, we decided our best bet was to journey south to see how conditions were holding up at higher elevations in the Sierra’s. We busted down to Sonora Pass, where via snowmobile you can access steep lines and exposed faces.

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We arrived on the pass with low expectations and began our journey  wandering aimlessly in search of anything fun to ski. We veered off the pass and arrived at Leavitt Lake. With an array of steep and peppery exposed lines, I was eager to jump in and get the blood pumping.

I made controlled turns down the steep pitch, careful with each turn as a fall in this zone would be certain fatality. The snow was a variable mix of hard wind board and soft sugar making it rather difficult to open it up. I took my time and made each turn count as I pieced the patches of snow together leading me to an obvious exit.

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From Leavitt Lake we spotted some really aesthetic couloirs in the distance. My eyes widened as I starred at the thin lines drawn through the volcanic rock. Jeff and I eagerly roshambo’d determining which couloir we would effectively ski. I lost the battle giving Jeff first dibs.

I stood by as he flowed down through the heart of the couloir slashing pow turns, making it look fun. I made my way to the top of the second coulee peering over the edge trying to sneak a peak down the line. It was steeper than I expected though, the pitch rolling out of sight into the valley floor. I hesitantly dropped in, relying on the bite of my edge in the wind scoured and icy entrance. I turned down into the gut of the couloir and with much surprise my edges sank into soft velvety pow. I opened it up a little and screeched like a school girl as I milked turns down the coulee!

Our day had already surpassed any expectation we could have had. Jeff and I sat back contently sipping on a delicious concoction of hot cocoa and Tahoe Moonshine when Justin frantically approached. “There’s a sick couloir on the backside of the ridge line!”

We made our way to the opposing ridge line and laid our eyes on a steep, narrow couloir. We were all buzzing with excitement as we focused on the tight chute. Jeff and I made our way to the peak while justin found a position to shoot photos. We traversed the ridge line toward the entrance and as we geared up Jeff agreed to give me honors on the coulee. I graciously accepted!

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I dropped into the tight choked out entrance, flashing a few quick turns. The couloir opened up ever so slightly, my skis turned to the fall line and I arced effortless pow turns down the coulee and onto the apron. We high five’d as the sunset at the bottom of the couloir. It was a good day!

Big thanks to Justin Befu for all the sick photos!

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6 thoughts on “Pushing the Limits at Sonora Pass, CA – by Josh Daiek

  1. Maybe the guys that ski there aren’t so stupid as to brag. thus, less information around. make it tough on new people, make them earn their way into it, gain experience slowly for themselves.

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