Trip Report: Peak 12,691′, CA – “Paiute Pass Ridge Chutes” – The Walled Couloir

Miles Clark | | Trip ReportTrip Report

Report from July 8, 2023

Peak 12,691′, CA’s “Paiute Pass Ridge Chutes” – The Walled Couloir yesterday was spicy hot!

Ok, ok, we were only gonna do 20 lines for this Eastern Sierra project but we just couldn’t resist chute #21…

I saw this well-walled beauty 3-days ago while skiing in this zone for line #20 of the project.

I knew I had to come back for it… It ended up being way more fun than line #20.

This time we swear we are finally done with our 2023 Eastern Sierra ski mountaineering project.

It’s been an absolute blast skiing from Bridgeport to Independence and so many places in between this spring with each and every line being completely new to us.

What should we call this project?

  • The Eastern Sierra 21
  • The Eastern Sierra Blackjack Project
  • The Eastern Sierra Blackjack 21
  • The High Sierra 21 Project
  • The Eastside 21
  • The SnowBrains 2023 Eastern Sierra Project

We are going to make a mini-movie about this project that will be coming soon.

Thanks, California!

 Peak 12,691′, CA – “Paiute Pass Ridge Chutes” 

The Walled Couloir


  • Summit (actually, this chute doesn’t even go to the ridge right now):  11,500′
  • Car:  9,300′
  • Vertical From Car:  2,200′
  • Vertical skied:  1,200′
  • Max Pitch:  45º 
  • Avg Pitch: 40º 
  • Aspect:  North
  • Distance:  7.2-miles round trip
  • Time From Car to Top:  2 hours & 45 minutes (took 30-min break at bottom of chute to let the light in)
  • Car to Car Time: 4 hours 
  • Recommended Equipment:  Crampons, Ice Axe x 2, Skins, Ski Crampons
  • Note:  There is an easy creek crossing right at the base of the chute right now
Dropping! image: snowbrains

It was superb having the last line of our Eastern Sierra Blackjack 21 Project (trying it on) be an easier, shorter one.

I didn’t leave the house until 9am.

Paiute Crags. image: snowbrains

Hiking by 10am.

Made it to the base of the chute by 11am.

There was still a lot of shade in the chute when I arrived at the base.

Shooting star. image: snowbrains

I took a 30-minute break whilst nibbling on mini Payday bars and gummy bears.

It felt exquisite to lay on my back, quaff & graze, and simply observe this ravishing landscape.

Birds chirping, bugs buzzing, creek roaring, leaves rustling, wind blowing.


The Walled Couloir. image: snowbrains

I don’t get enough summer in North America and there’s nothing like it…

I snapped back into reality and decided it would take me about 45 minutes to get to the top of the chute.

It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Moon touch. image: snowbrains

No matter, my timing was still good and the shade was still tickling the chute in multiple spots.

At the top of the chute, there was a haunting snow cave that I just couldn’t resist climbing through.

Once I got that outta my system, I geared up, clicked in, and looked down.

Humpreys, Basin, Tom. image: snowbrains

The chute was around 45º steep at the top before it started rolling, warping, and distorting toward the creek.

I mentally mapped out each turn, hoped the oversized orange peel snow would ski smoothly, and dropped in.

I tried to ski the chute fast and fluid.

North Lake Rd is rowdy. image: snowbrains

Slashing and spraying corn snow on the vertical walls.

The chute skied greased lighting. 

Before I knew it I was gasping for air trying to keep the run going right to the vegetation line.

Miles still likes it. image: snowbrains

I hit the end of the snow, bent over, and panted for air.

I eventually looked up and smiled.

That was it.

I was done.

Indian Paintbrush. image: snowbrains

21 new-to-me ski mountaineering lines in a little less than 2 months here in the Eastern Sierra.

What an honor.

The walk down the trail was free and easy.

Mt. Emerson. image: snowbrains

My mind wandered from line to line, friend to friend, and zone to zone.

I dumped my gear in the car and went for a euphoric swim in North Lake’s bitingly cold waters.

I drove home on a high listening to “Fauna 2022” on Spotify (serious, look it up).

Crossing at the base of the chute. image: snowbrains

What a spring.

Thank you, Eastern Sierra.

Thank you, California.

Eastern Sierra Blackjack Project

  1. 7/8/23:  Trip Report: Peak 12,691′, CA – “Paiute Pass Ridge Chutes”
  2. 7/6/23: Trip Report: 11,000′ McGee Creek Peak, CA – “McGee Creek Chutes”
  3. 6/29/23: Trip Report: 11,744′ Independence Peak, CA – “Independence Couloir”
  4. 6/25/23: Trip Report: University Peak, CA – “Northeast Couloir”
  5. 6/22/23: Trip Report: 13,632′ University Peak, CA – “North Face”
  6. 6/20/23:  Trip Report: 13,494′ Mt. Thompson, CA – “Trident Couloirs”
  7. 6/15/23: Trip Report: 12,871′ Mount Johnson, CA – “North Couloir”
  8. 6/9/23:  Trip Report: 13,366′ Point Powell, CA – “Point Powell Couloir”
  9. 6/8/23:  Trip Report: 12,219′ Hurd Peak, CA – “North Face”
  10. 6/4/23:  Trip Report: The Incredible Hulk, CA – “Hulk Left Couloir”
  11. 6/2/23:  Trip Report: 13,187′ Basin Mountain – “Basin Couloir Alternate”
  12. 5/31/23: Trip Report: 12,808′ Four Gables, CA – “Tungstar Bowls”
  13. 5/27/23: Trip Report: 11,160′ Mt. Scowden – Lundy Canyon – “North Face Chute”
  14. 5/23/23: Trip Report: 13,118′ Mt. Emerson – The 45º Steep “North Couloir”
  15. 5/20/23: Trip Report: 12,200′ Mt. Esha, CA – “2nd Chute”
  16. 5/18/23: Trip Report: McGee Creek Peak, CA – 2,800-Vertical-Foot “Wineglass Couloir”
  17. 5/16/23:Trip Report: 10,908′ Carson Peak, CA – 45º Steep “Pete’s Dream”
  18. 5/5/15/23: Trip Report: 11,812′ Mt. Laurel, CA – 3,500-Vertical-Foot “Pinner Couloir”
  19. 5/10/23: Trip Report: 13,005′ Mt. Morgan, CA – Nevahbe Ridge Gullies


The road. image: snowbrains
Moon. image: snowbrains
Moon touchdown. image: snowbrains
Walk this way. image: snowbrains
Flower. image: snowbrains
1st crossing. image: snowbrains
3rd crossing. image: snowbrains
The Walled Couloir. image: snowbrains
Paiute Crags. image: snowbrains
Near the top. image: snowbrains
Looking down. image: snowbrains
Aggressive orange peel. image: snowbrains
Looking back. image: snowbrains
This guy… image: snowbrains
Chilling at the bottom. image: snowbrains
Looking back at the tracks. image: snowbrains
Flowers. image: snowbrains
Crossing. image: snowbrains
Cross it. image: snowbrains
Reflections on North Lake. image: snowbrains
North Lake dip. image: snowbrains
Apres tea. image: snowbrains
Apres ski Hagen Das. image: snowbrains

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