words and photos by Greg Burnett
Today we decided to go for a long slog of a tour and explore the area around North Peak and Mount Conness off Tioga Pass, CA. Since Saddlebag road is closed there was a short boot walk and a very long skin past Saddlebag Lake and Greenstone Lake following the Conness Glacier approach. We boot packed the southeast face of North Peak and dropped in around 11:00.
The snow was firm at the top and amazing smooth corn about halfway down. We skinned up the east ridge approach towards the summit couloirs but decided to ski the south east bowl of Mt Conness instead. There was about 1,000-1,200 feet of amazing corn in the middle with punchy snow up top and overripe corn near the bottom. We were able to skate ski and slog our way out to Tioga Pass road without skins by staying on the skiers right of the creek.
It seems like we are just starting a corn phase after a transitional post-storm period; it’s unclear how snow will be holding on north aspects; during our ascent we got everything from cold powder to frozen solid. This zone will be great once the Saddlebag Lake Road opens- this would turn our 14 mile 4500 feet of uphill 10 hour day into something more manageable.