Trip Report: Tioga Pass, CA – 1,800-Foot “Kidney Chute”

Miles Clark | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions ReportTrip ReportTrip Report
Kidney Chute & Friends. image: snowbrains

Report from May 4, 2022

Today we skied 1,800-vertical-foot Kidney Chute off the Dana Plateau on the edge of Yosemite National Park, CA.

The thing skied like a 5-star corn dream.

Its 35º pitch is designed for cool, cruisy fun that just won’t stop.

No, it literally won’t stop.

We timed it and this thing took 2-minutes and 40-seconds to ski top to bottom!

We also skied Kidney Chute in June 2020 from Ellery Lake:

Kidney Chute  – Dana Plateau, CA Details:

  • Summit (actually a plateau):  12,300′
  • Car:  7,900′
  • Vertical From Car:  4,400′ (includes up and down Banana & Kidney Chutes & across plateau)
  • Vertical skied:  2,800′ (1,800′ in Kidney Chute)
  • Max Pitch:  35º 
  • Avg Pitch: 32º 
  • Aspect:  Southeast
  • Distance:  10-miles round trip 
  • Time From Car to Top of Kidney Chute:  4.5 hours 
  • Car to Car Time:  7 hours & 30 minutes 
  • Recommended Equipment:  Crampons, Ice Axe, Skins

Video of Skiing Kidney Chute:

After a heinous experience in 2 north-facing chutes off Tioga Pass yesterday, we decided to ski a south-facing chute today hoping to get great corn.

We settled on Kidney Chute and we chose to hit it from the east – something we’d never done before.

We had an all-star crew today of Matty, Garret, & Fox.

Garret and Fox and Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains

We drove to the Upper Horse Meadow trailhead and started walking about 9am.

Unlike yesterday’s frigid, windy experience, today was hot and windless.

We snuck in sneakers up to Gibbs Lake in an hour and a half where we switched to skis and skins.

Looking down Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains

Another quick jaunt and we were staring at Kidney Lake.

From Kidney Lake, it’s a pretty straightforward situation:  skin and boot straight up the 1,800′ Kidney Chute.

We did just that.

Matty and Mono Lake headed down. image: snowbrains

Garrett and crew got to the top in only 1-hour and 15-minutes.

No rockfall.

I was a bit behind them and fired up to be on top.

Chutes but not our chutes. image: snowbrains

The views looking down the chute and out into the Mono Cones and White Mountains were noticeable.

They let me drop first at about 1:30pm and upon my first turn I discovered that the chute was blanketed in perfect, 5-star corn.

I let ’em roll.

Up! image: snowbrains

Big, fast, fun turns in the upper right chute where the corn was smooth and lightly textured for optimal grip.

Rhythm.

Halfway down some old avy debris broke my cadence.

Matty and Mono Lake. image: snowbrains

I busted through it and dug into the right side again.

Sporadic avalanche debris littered this zone but it was soft and visually stimulating at speed.

 Things smoothed out again and speed increased.

Matty and Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains

The final apron was the firmest snow of the chute allowing for long, sweeping turns without consequence.

I stopped just before the lake and did my best to shoot and film the rest of the squad as they ripped down the 1,800-vertical-feet of Kidney Chute.

Once all down, we took a break in the shade before attacking the bonus turns down to Gibbs Lake.

Matty up. image: snowbrains

At Gibbs Lake we harvested the shoes we’d ditched there and ski on.

Patch to patch, dirt crossing, log slides.

The last 1,600-vertical-feet were done in sneakers and it didn’t hurt that bad except for the very last steep section.

4×4 road in. image: snowbrains

My bad knee was a little pissed, but I think my new brace helped reduce a lot of the shock.

Back at the cars I was euphoric.

“I needed that!”

Kidney Chute and friends. image: snowbrains

We drove straight to Mono Cone for burgers, fries, and ice cream.

Life is good on the Eastside.

It’s gonna be a great month.

Thanks, California!

Photos in Chronological Order

Kidney Chute from Highway 395 this am. image: snowbrains
Highway to heaven. image: snowbrains
Minute 1. image: snowbrains
Far from snow. image: snowbrains
Red Cedar texture. image: snowbrains
Chute and Foxes. image: snowbrains
Vernier. image: snowbrains
Log jammin’. image: snowbrains
Fox, Matty, Garret up. image: snowbrains
Scott Sports trail running shoes with cleats on the bottom. image: snowbrains
Fox chill at the shoes to boots station. image: snowbrains
The crew and Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains
Garret and Fox entering Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains
The crew grinding up from Gibbs Lake to Kidney Lake. image: snowbrains
Kidney Lake and Chute. image: snowbrains
Kidney Lake. image: snowbrains
Up! image: snowbrains
Matty and Kidney Lake. image: snowbrains
Matty likes it. image: snowbrains
Snow art. image: snowbrains
Topping out. image: snowbrains

Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains
Gorgeous bug in Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains
Matty searching for Kidney Extreme. image: snowbrains
Mountains. image: snowbrains
Fox and Kidney. image: snowbrains
Matty coming to a stop at the bottom of the chute. image: snowbrains
Matty, water bottle, Kidney Chute. image: snowbrains
Matty y Fox. image: snowbrains
Matty & Mono. image: snowbrains
Garrett grinding down. image: snowbrains
Silhouettes. image: snowbrains
Garrett. image: snowbrains
Matty. image: snowbrains
Mono Lake. image: snowbrains
3 Musketeers. image: snowbrains
My pack. image: snowbrains
Headed home. image: snowbrains
Black Fox down. image: snowbrains
Horse meadow. image: snowbrains
Vista. image: snowbrains
Headed to Mono Cone. image: snowbrains
Mono Cone! image: snowbrains

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5 thoughts on “Trip Report: Tioga Pass, CA – 1,800-Foot “Kidney Chute”

  1. Sorry for delay. I think high north will be good starting around Thursday – I hope. We skied high north on Saturday and it was still kinda yucky… thx

  2. thanks for the update guys, looking to hit Conness and the Y coulior in a few days. Sounds like you had a tough time with snow quality in north facing chutes so far? think itll be any better with this weekends warming temps?

  3. awesome stuff, stoked to see you guys out there – do u know if saddlebag is drivable yet?

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