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Report from May 11, 2021
Yesterday, we went for an old classic.
This might be my #1 most favorite ski link up on Earth…
Solstice Couloir on 13,100′ Mt. Dana to Banana Chute in Ellery Bowl.
Both runs are big, steep, spicy, and dangerously fun.
Oh, and I got to do this with one of the best crews I’ve ever had together in Eastern Sierra: Fox, The Andy Hays, Greggy, and Jason Dobbs.
Solstice Couloir – Mt. Dana, CA Details:
- Summit (actually a ridge): 12,500′
- Car: 10,000′
- Vertical From Car: 2,500′
- Vertical skied: 1,400′
- Max Pitch: 45º
- Avg Pitch: 40º
- Aspect: Northwest
- Distance: 5.5-miles round trip (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Time From Car to Summit: 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Car to Car Time: 5 hours & 15 mins (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Recommended Equipment: skins (we recommend bringing boot crampons & ice axe as precautionary measures in this zone at all times)
Banana Chute – Ellery Bowl, CA Details:
- Summit (actually a ridge): 11,300′
- Vertical skied: 1,700′
- Max Pitch: 45º
- Avg Pitch: 42º
- Aspect: North
Solstice Couloir + Banana Chute Link-Up Details:
- Car #1 at 10,000′ at Tioga Pass + Car #2 at 9,500′ at Ellery Lake Dam
- Vertical Climbed 3,100′
- Vertical Skied: 3,400′
- Distance: 5.5-miles round trip
- Car#1 to Car #2 Time: 5 hours & 15 mins
- Recommended Equipment: skins (we recommending bringing boot crampons & ice axe as precautionary measures in this zone at all times)
We all met up and dropped a car at the Ellery Lake dam and shuttled up to the pass.
We were hiking by 9 am under blue skies, a temperature of about 45ºF, and a western breeze.
The first part of the hike is steep and grueling.
The hardest part of the day but also the part of the day where you’re the most fresh.
After 2.5 hours, we reached the top of Solstice Couloir, and the entrance was looking kinda ridiculous…
It was going to take a side-step above big exposure down to either a short rockslide or shooting a weird cornice tube to get into the chute.
After a quick drink and a bite, I went first.
The snow on top slid right off and wanted to take me with it.
I sidestepped down slowly.
I was planning on going for the rock side, but the tube made more sense once down there.
I wriggled my way into the tube, and the icicles coming down put me in a little cage.
It was stunning and fun.
I broke free of the icicles, burst out of the tube and into Solstice Couloir proper.
The top of the chute was steep, the snow was rough, and the choke was narrow.
I bashed turns through the choke and came screaming out into the middle of the chute where there was more space to roam.
The snow was better on the skier’s left.
It was hit or miss, some good corn, some weird refrozen mini sun-cups, and some corrugation.
The full run down into Glacier Canyon was a riot.
At the bottom, I watched my buddies ski down and was stoked to see everyone come through that entrance safe.
Except for Dobbs…
He elected to ski in right off the top, where the cornice had melted back a bit.
No one else wanted to ski that line.
It was extreme, and he pulled it off beautifully.
Glacier Canyon was stunningly gorgeous, as per usual.
We boot scooted and walked our way down canyon, up over onto the Dana Plateau, and over to the top of Ellery Bowl in search of Banana Chute.
We found Banana in fairly decent shape.
Fox dropped first, and the snow appeared a bit firm in spots but good overall.
I dropped in and was stoked on the snow off the top.
Splashy and fun.
In the choke, there were moguls, but they were slushy, fun, and workable.
After the choke, there were a few great turns before the snow got pretty firm at the end of the chute.
I came blasting out onto the apron with a big smile and a hoot.
The apron below Banana was beautifully sun-kissed, and we ripped big GS turns right down to the car.
We were all buzzing…
We apres skied at Ellery Lake for an hour before ripping down to Mono Cone in Lee Vining for ice cream, burgers, and fries.
Day 1 in the Eastern Sierra was an impressively fun link-up with an all-time crew.
I can’t wait to find out what the rest of the month here in Mammoth/Tioga Pass has in store for us!
Recent Trip Reports:
- 5/11/21 – Trip Report: 13,100′ Mt. Dana, CA | “Solstice Couloir” to “Banana Chute”
- 5/8/21 – Trip Report: Little Cottonwood Canyon , UT – 3,500-Vertical-Foot “Tanners Gultch”
- 5/5/21 – SnowBrains’ 2021 Mt. Superior, UT Project: “Hanging Couloir” | 7-Lines in 9-Days
- 5/4/21 – Trip Report: 11,045′ Mt. Superior, UT | The Legendary “South Face”
- 5/3/21 – Trip Report: 12,482′ Mount Tukuhnikivatz, UT | The Savage ‘Northeast Face’
- 4/31/21 – Trip Report: 11,929′ Mt. Nebo, UT – “The Northwest Couloir”
- 3/9/21 – Trip Report: Ruby Mountains, NV – “Terminal Cancer Couloir”
- 3/5/21 – Trip Report: Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT – The 3,200-Vertical-Foot “Y Couloir”
- 1/1/21 – Trip Report: Nez Perce, WY – “The Sliver Couloir”
- 6/2/20 – Trip Report: Mt. Dana, CA – “Dana Couloir”
- 5/29/20 – Trip Report: Mt. Dana, CA – “Solstice Couloir”
- 5/26/20 – Trip Report: Mt. Timpanogos, UT – “Grunge Couloir”
- 5/21/20 – Trip Report: Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT – “Tanners Gulch”
- 5/18/20 – Trip Report: Snowbird, UT – “Pipeline”
- 5/12/20 – Trip Report: Mt. Timpanogos, UT – “Cold Fusion Couloir”
Photos in Chronological Oder: