words and photos by Michael D.
Drove down from Truckee today [May 11th, 2014] and arrived at Sonora Pass around 9:30am. I knew from the weather report the night before that wind was in the forecast. Well for once that forecast was correct. It was probably gusting 25 mph at the PCT trailhead parking lot, and I was worried what it was doing higher up on the ridges. I got out and walked around and checked the snow. It was firm and the air temp was 34 F. I decided to wait a bit and see if the sun would soften it up. I drove down the highway a few miles and scouted out the coverage. The south facing side of Sonora Peak is pretty burnt up, only small patches of snow, not possible to ski. The north facing aspects of all the peaks south of the highway have good coverage.
I set off at 11am and I was fully bundled up because of the wind but soon got into a protected bowl and was sweating in no time. My goal was to head for Leavitt Peak and see how far the wind would let me go. The first peak south of the highway looked really good and the first steep climb had corn about 6″ deep. Once I reached the ridge the wind was blowing hard 25-35 mph. At about 11,000 ft. I had to cross a small patch of dirt and rocks on the ridge. Once I reached snow again, when I went to click my boot into my skis, the heal piece on my binding snapped off. Day over!
There wasn’t much to think about other than turn around and hike down defeated and an hour of hard climbing with no reward. It wasn’t meant to be today. The mountains will still be there next time.
A good consolation was a soak at Travertine Hot Springs and a cone at Jolly Cone in Bridgeport. You can see the storm clouds blowing in over the ridge, which dumped a few inches in the Tahoe area in the late afternoon.
On the way back to Truckee later in the day Sonora Pass looked dark and nasty!
A gentleman I met at the PCT parking lot on Sonora Pass said he has been camping and skiing the Eastern Sierra for the past week. He said Ellery Bowl and False White Mountain have been the best conditions in the past week. With temps forecasted to heat up next week there’s prob only a few weeks left of good coverage.