We got a late start yesterday with a large crew and headed up to 9,945′ Tioga Pass from Mammoth, CA. We went straight to Ellery Bowl above Ellery Lake near the top of Tioga Pass.
We spotted a chute that went through and had a very tight choke near the top. It looked doable and fun so we went for it.
We skinned straight up Ellery Bowl to the Dana Plateau, scouted Mt. Dana’s Solistice Couloir and Dana Couloir for future use, then skinned across the Dana Platueau to the chute we were interested in. There won’t be snow much longer on the plateau.
In fact, there won’t be snow in the Tioga Pass region for much longer, especially east of the pass. To the west of the pass, things are looking much better. West of the pass, the access too good terrain is much more difficult, but you’ll be rewarded by more snow and much better snow coverage.
Ok, back to our story. We found our chute. It had a bit of a no fall zone at the top before it rolled over to steeper terrain and a 182cm wide choke. We side stepped down the choke then let ‘er rip. From below the choke, the skiing was steep and great. I stuck to the west side of the chute and had a blast.
The chute continually opened up and got less steep towards the bottom. Once out into Ellery Bowl, the snow was sticky and sloppy and no fun. That was our fault, due to our late start. We didn’t get to skiing until 2pm-ish.
After skiing we crushed some Mono Cone and the 99F Lazy River. Life is good in Mammoth in May.
Today, we arrived at Tioga Pass set to do the Dana Couloir slog. There was a huge lenticular cloud, cool temps, strong winds, a wind advisory forecasting 60mph winds starting at 1pm. We bailed on the trip and are headed to the Owens River Gorge to climb followed by the lazy river.
We scouted a few zones in the Tioga Pass region that we thought we’d tell you about:
Tioga Pass Scouting Report:
Dana Couloir – The couloir itself is looking good, but it doesn’t look like there is any snow at all in the Dana Valley – the route that you’d take to the Dana Couloir. So it would be a lot of walking on rocks to get to it and a lot of walking on rocks to get back home.
Solistice Couloir – It’s looking great and longer than Dana Couloir but it has a large cornice guarding it. This means that getting in from the top is going to be tough or impossible and climbing up from underneath is sketchy as you’d be underneath a large cornice for a long time in springtime temps.
Dana Plateau Couloirs (ie 3rd Pillar) – Many of the chutes themselves mostly don’t appear to go throught due to lack of snow. The 3rd Pillar looks like it goes. Once you finish a chute in this zone, you’re going to be walking downhill a long way. There is snow down to the bench, then it’s just dirt and rock down to the road. I don’t think anyone is skiing this zone due to the dirt walking to get out.
Power Plant Chutes – These are the chutes that snow humans generarlly use to access the Dana Plateau Couloir. These are looking very thin down low and pretty ok up top. On the bench it appears that there might not be much snow.
Overall, there just isn’t much snow east of Tioga Pass. Tioga Pass received 30% of normal snowfall this year and it shows. In another week or two, it likely won’t be worth skiing east of the pass.