Report from May 15, 2023
Brought to you by Mono County Tourism
Hiking by 5:10am.
Glassy Convict Lake disturbed only by soothing fish ripples and gentle wind waves.
Piercing sunrise reflected off Red Slate Peak’s tempting North Couloir.
Brutal isothermic snow on the bootpack up to the northeast ridge.
Devastating summit views of Red Slate Peak, Bloody Mountain, The White Mountains, and an endlessly snowy Sierra Nevada Crest.
A giggly fun 3,500-vertical-foot slushy, splashy, surreal ski run down the longest couloir of our lives…
13,005′ Mt. Laurel – Pinner Couloir Details
- Summit: 11,812′
- Car: 7,600′
- Vertical From Car: 4,200′
- Vertical skied: 3,500′
- Max Pitch: 40º
- Avg Pitch: 35º
- Aspect: Southeast
- Distance: 6.5-miles round trip
- Time From Car to Top of Mt. Laurel: 5 hours
- Car to Car Time: 6 hours 48 minutes
- Recommended Equipment: Crampons, Ice Axe, Skins
My old buddy Jason Dobbs and I started off for the bucket list “Pinner Couloir” in the dark from Convict Lake at 5:10am today.
(I’ve been drooling over this line for more than 20 years…)
We skirted the north side of the lake to the base of the Mendenhall Couloir then chose the snow gully that climbs straight up to the northeast ridge of 11,812′ Mt. Laurel.
The going was easy.
Relatively firm snow with almost no dirt walking.
Halfway up, things got soft…
Knee deep, isothermic slop.
This lasted all the way until we hit the northeast ridge of Laurel.
The going was slow and arduous.
Hamstrings were maxed out.
Knee deep, vertical bootpacking for about an hour and a half.
This slowed us way down and was unexpected.
Once we finally gained the ridge, we were relieved.
Relief endured not as the final long rocky 1,000-vertical-foot grind seemed to last forever.
Did I mention it was hot?
Dobbs’ chin looked like a waterfall at times.
After one long head-down push, we reached the summit and a ripping 30mph wind.
The wind felt good after our scorching, windless climb.
We geared up, just about finished off our water, and dropped in.
The upper face was corny, smooth, and friendly.
The skier’s left “primer chute” was creamy, steep, and fun.
This upper primer chute dumped us into the Pinner Couloir proper.
The snow in the chute was a well-cooked, ankle-deep splashy slush.
It skied great!
We sloshed and splashed and laughed our way down the chute through rock, dirt, slush, and splash.
The one choke the chute has right now might melt out by tomorrow…
It was only about 5 feet wide today and deteriorating fast.
If it melts out, you could just down climb that section as it isn’t very steep.
After the choke, the walls shot up and leaned in.
We stopped and gawked at the walls and reveled in where we were.
Skiing this line has been a dream of mine for over 20 years.
I only ski the Eastern Sierra in May and the Pinner is inevitably burned out by then.
But not this year!
I had so much fun splashing down this endless slot canyon.
Fun and forgiving snow made the experience awe inspiring and hilarious.
We tumbled out the bottom of the chute with big smiles and overstated satisfaction.
The walk home from the line was straightforward and long.
Shoes were key.
Huge lizards and our first flowers of the season spiced up the hike home.
We dumped our gear in the car, returned to the lake, and jumped in.
The water bit.
Stinging skin and clean bodies gave thanks for the dunk.
Today was one of the coolest days I’ve ever had in the Sierra.
SPRING 2023 REPORTS
- 5/11/23: Sierra Nevada, CA, Report: 48º Steep “Pitch Fork” Couloir at Convict Lake
- 5/10/23: Trip Report: 13,005′ Mt. Morgan, CA – Nevahbe Ridge Gullies
One thought on “Trip Report: 11,812′ Mt. Laurel, CA – 3,500-Vertical-Foot “Pinner Couloir””
Beautiful long couloir. Splendid trip. Miles, l wish you success in fulfilling your goal (the number of skiing days this year).