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Mt. Ritter Solo Ski Tour, March 2007




Part 1 of the Story - St. Paddy's Day 2007

Approach notes:

(1) driving across the San Joaquin Valley sucks, no matter what time on Friday you do it.

(2) Monitor Pass open, and bone dry. Watch for deer!

(3) Resisted the temptation to peel off at Bridgeport due to heavy eyes, 395 southward to June Lake.

(4) Parked at the June Lake SCE plant, hiked the tram to Agnew and Gem Lakes in non-existent to patchy snow. Donned skis above the dam at Gem Lake.

This photos is from above Agnew Lake. Been hiking over 1,000' now with skis on my back. A report on thebackcountry.net indicates that somebody skinned up this a week ago. Melting fast.

After farting around trying to figure out the best way around the maze below the dam at Gem Lake (and wasting a climb up to the top of the *wrong* end of the dam), I made it over and down to the lakeshore. At 8:30am, it was still cold and looking solid. I skated across a small section, then cut a very steep skin track up to Clark Lakes. From the pass just above the lakes, I saw the objective (looking pretty freaking far away too).

A closer look on zoom. Banner in front, Ritter tucked behind. My ultimate goal was the glacier on the left with the huge avy crowns.

Looking over to Mt. Davis, San Joaquin middle fork in the foreground. Had to drop down and then climb back up around that little nub in the center foreground.

Turned the corner at Thousand Island Lake and, with some creative self-timer skills, headed up towards the peaks.

Looking towards the border of Yosemite NP. Rodgers Peak is the snowy one on the left. Mt. Lyell, Yosemite's highest, is tucked back there too.

Near the outlet of Thousand Island Lake, the John Muir Trail is looking significantly less snowbound than last May. This is just below 10K, and the lakes are already opening up big time.

Rest stop #1

Thousand Island Lake basin. The largest quietest place I've been in long time. No wind, no bugs, no people, no nada. In fact, in two days, I not only didn't see another person, once I left Gem Lake I didn't see another track. Yep, California's way too crowded. Better move to Wasangeles or Wolf Creek Pass.

I skirted the southern shore of the lake, then a mellow skin up to the saddle overlooking neighbor Garnet Lake. Another action shot cresting the ridge, with a significantly higher and steeper ridgeline to cross still ahead. First view of the Minarets now, and the day is just killing it.

After a tough and sketchy skin across the head of the canyon, I make it to the perfect spot -- just below the ridge and overlooking Nydiver Lakes, with a drop dead view of the Minarets.

Although it is only 2:30, I proclaim this to be the spot to set up camp and chill for the rest of the day, and what a sweet camp it is.

Looking at tomorrow's route up the SE glacier of Ritter. Huge slides have swept this entire side of the mountain clean, scouring parts of the glacier right down to blue ice.

Sunshine, no wind, and a decent view. This is most unsucky.

A few hours later, evening colors take over.




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