Yesterday, June 2nd 2020, Greggy and I skied the legendary “Dana Couloir” off 13,061′ Mt. Dana on the border of Yosemite National Park, California.
The “Dana Couloir” was given a 5-star rating in the Nate Greenberg & Dan Mingori’s eastside ski bible: “Backcountry Skiing The Eastern Sierra.”
“Dana Couloir is the most popular descent off Mt. Dana and one of the classics lines of the area. Though conditions vary, it is typically possible to ski directly off the summit and into this couloir.”
– Greenberg & Mingori via Backcountry Skiing The Eastern Sierra
We skied off the summit of 13,000′ Mt. Dana, but we did have to clumsily lumber our way down about 100′ of overgrown scree to connect the summit to the “Dana Couloir”.
We linked the “Dana Couloir” to “Banana Chute” in Ellery Bowl and were able to get 4,100-vertical-feet of skiing in under 6 hours.
Dana Couloir – Mt. Dana, CA Details:
- Summit: 13,061′
- Car: 9,945′
- Vertical From Car: 3,100′
- Vertical skied: 1,900′ (1,300′ in chute)
- Max Pitch: 40º
- Avg Pitch: 38º
- Aspect: North
- Distance: 6.5-miles round trip (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Time From Car to Summit: 3 hours
- Car to Car Time: 5 hours & 45 minutes (including Banana Chute – see below)
- Recommended Equipment: skins, ski crampons (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
Dana Couloir + Banana Chute Link-Up Details:
- Car #1 at 10,000′ at Tioga Pass + Car #2 at 9,500′
- Vertical Climbed: 3,700′
- Vertical Skied: 4,100′
- Distance: 6.5-miles round trip
- Car#1 to Car #2 Time: 5 hours & 45 minutes
- Recommended Equipment: skins, ski crampons (we recommending bringing boot crampons & ice axe as precautionary measures in this zone at all times)
Video of Skiing Dana Couloir:
We ditched our car atop 9,945′ Tioga Pass at 10am and began grinding our way up 13,061′ Mt. Dana while breathlessly discussing the days potent current events.
We followed the Mt. Dana Trail to the top of Mt. Dana with a hiatus or two on large snow patches that provided much-needed relief the relentless drudgery of the trail’s rock and soil Stairmaster.
After 3 hours, we emerged from our darkening thought clouds onto a brilliant summit with stupefying views of Mono Lake at 1pm.
The lake gleamed like a freshly cleaned glass table in your TV memory’s favorite suburban daydream.
Undulating cumulus clouds reflected from sky to lake to eye.
We were able to ski from the summit down a tenuous strip of snow between jagged rocks to the west and hanging cornice to the east.
The summit snow didn’t connect to the couloir so we were compelled to stumblingly trudge our way down a short section of rock to reach the couloir.
The snow began again about 100-vertical-feet above “Dana Couloir” and we decided to take it from there all the way down to Dana Lake.
The snow in the couloir was just softening as we entered making the descent fast, fun, and exhilarating.
We skied along the elegant eastern rock wall and drank in vistas of the piercing blues of Dana Lake below.
It was a long, satisfying descent and we were electrified at the bottom.
1,900-vertical-feet from the soaring summit of Mt. Dana (minus our short down walk) to the glacial azure of Dana Lake.
We skied, scooted, pushed, and strode down Glacier Canyon, across the Dana Plateau, and over to the top of “Banana Chute” in Ellery Bowl.
The hour was late (about 3:30pm), the sun was high, and the snow was rotten when we dropped into “Banana.”
We dropped into a deep, mealy mank that yearned to tear human crucial ligaments with its every move.
We survived the initial narrows of the chute before the snow changed for the better in the belly of the beast.
Wet sluff brayed down the chute threatening havoc and knee surgery.
The apron was goop yet more easily navigated due to the openness of the terrain and the lack of turn frequency.
Our skis came off twice via short rocky sections before reaching our car #2 at Ellery Lake.
We arrived at the car satiated yet starving.
Satiated with our stellar 5-day stint at Tioga Pass and starving for bacon cheeseburgers and soft served ice cream at Mono Cone in Lee Vining, CA.
We decided that our time here at Tioga was over for the season and that it was time to move on.
Mono Cone was as delicious as ever and on my drive West, deeper into my native California, I crossed Sonora Pass and had my mind blown by its beauty.
I highly recommend Sonora Pass in the evening light to any and everyone.
I’m not sure if I’ll ski again this season and I know I won’t be going to Argentina as I have the past 11 summer ski seasons due to the Coronavirus crisis (yesterday was my 168th ski day of 2019/20).
2019/20 has been a marvelous, if not fraught season full of unexpected opportunity and a litany of backcountry experiences including my first and hopefully last avalanche.
Thank you Tioga Pass for always being there for me in May/June.
Thank you 2020.
Thank you, everyone.
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!