Yesterday, June 9th 2020, Fox, Bevan, The Andy Hays, & I skied “Kidney Chute” off the Dana Plateau near Tioga Pass, California.
The Dana Plateau holds some of the spiciest lines in California.
Kidney Chute is not one of them – it’s made for pure fun.
“The Kidney Chute is the easiest way down from the Dana Plateau.”
– Greenberg & Mingori via Backcountry Skiing The Eastern Sierra
We hiked up Banana Chute in Ellery Bowl, traipsed across the Dana Plateau, dropped into “Kidney Chute”, booted back up “Kidney”, skied & rambled across the Dana Plateau again, then dropped into trustworthy Banana Chute back to the car.
Kidney Chute – Dana Plateau, CA Details:
- Summit (actually a plateau): 12,250′
- Car: 9,400′
- Vertical From Car: 4,300′ (includes up and down Banana & Kidney Chutes & across plateau)
- Vertical skied: 4,300′ (1,300′ in Kidney Chute for this date, can be 1,800′ in winter)
- Max Pitch: 35º
- Avg Pitch: 32º
- Aspect: Southeast
- Distance: 7.5-miles round trip (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Time From Car to Top of Kidney Chute: 3 hours
- Car to Car Time: 7 hours & 45 minutes (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Recommended Equipment: Crampons, Ice Axe (no skins for this date)
Banana Chute – Ellery Bowl, CA Details:
- Summit (actually a ridge): 11,300′
- Vertical skied: 1,700′
- Max Pitch: 45º
- Avg Pitch: 42º
- Aspect: North
Video of Skiing Kidney Chute:
It certainly felt that way as we dropped into “Kidney Chute’s” refrozen sun-runnel-spines.
We parked at Ellery Lake and crampon-ed directly up Banana Chute in Ellery Bowl.
Banana Chute was firm and great for crampon-ing.
1-hour and 15-minutes later we were on top of Banana Chute and feeling the heat.
The forecast for the previous night was a low of 30ºF at 11,500′ with a high of 54ºF on our ski day at that same elevation.
Video of Skiing Banana Chute:
We meandered and took our time across the Dana Plateau and were dazed to find it took us 1-hour and 45-minutes to get across the Dana Plateau to the top of “Kidney Chute”.
Why ski “Kidney Chute”, a south-facing line, so late in the season?
Simply because none of us had ever skied it, we all were intrigued, and wanted to check it off the list.
We saw that “Kidney Chute” was a burnt-out at the bottom and didn’t connect all the way to the profound cobalt of Kidney Lake and we were ok with that.
Our Plan B was the next chute north – Cocaine Chute – but Plan A was a go.
We dropped into textured corn-cheese and it felt good enough.
Then, in the first steeps of the run, things got runnelled, convoluted, firm in spots, and rowdy.
The snow had been cooked so hard by the sun that it was deeply grooved into refrozen water ice in long sections.
I thought it was fun.
It added to the challenge.
I pinballed down the chute dodging nasty sections and shaving off slushy brown snowcones with every turn.
At the bottom, there was only a thin strip of snow before the snow completely ran out.
Those last 5-turns were the best, softest, smoothest.
Kidney Lake flashed like a jewel below and made us thirsty.
We crampon-ed up and out of “Kidney” and the thing seemed to last forever…
Back on the Dana Plateau, we were relieved to find 3 large patches of snow that got us 75% across the plateau with almost no effort.
We were soon back atop Banana Chute and ready for a thin, zesty fissure in the mountain.
Banana Chute was phenomenal, as per usual.
Banana just keeps getting thinner by the day and the walls grow taller.
The apron of Ellery Bowl has only one narrow section that connects its upper reaches to its lower.
Banana Chute skied exquisitely and we were euphoric after an iffy “Kidney Chute”!
10-minutes of downhill dirt-walking discarded us back at our cars.
Nearly 8-hours of mostly walking had us hankering for “Monorito” burritos in Lee Vining.
We dropped the 3,000-vertical-feet by automobile to Lee Vining and ate to our heart’s content.
I decided to head back to the coast to catch the small swell forecast to hit the next day.
Bevan, Fox, & Andy Hays stayed for more camping, more fires, more good times, and a crack at Dana Couloir the following day.
I’m confident this truly was my last day of the season.
Let surf season begin!
2019/20 was legendary and wild in so many meaningful ways.
May/June 2020 Trip Reports:
- Trip Report: Tickle Mary’s Nipple, WY — Why Not?
- Trip Report: Bloody Mountain, CA – “Bloody Couloir”
- Trip Report: Sailing from San Francisco, CA to Angel Island
- Trip Report: Mt. Dana, CA – “Dana Couloir”
- Trip Report: Mt. Dana, CA – “Solstice Couloir”
- Trip Report: Mt. Timpanogos, UT – “Grunge Couloir”
- Trip Report: Mt. Timpanogos, UT – “Cold Fusion Couloir”
- Trip Report: Snowbird, UT – “Pipeline”
- Trip Report: Mt. Superior, UT | “South Face”
- Trip Report: Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT – “Tanners Gulch”
- Trip Report: Antelope Island/Great Salt Lake , UT | The Baja California of Utah… But With Buffalos
- Alta, UT Report: Little Chute Absolutely Firing in Spring Splashiness!
Photo Tour in Chronological Order: