Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Clarence King and Gardiner Basin Ski Tour

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Seems like this year spring comes and goes, with a day of spring followed by a day of winter. But it is ski tour season so Sp and Chris set off with John Miller, His son Rob, Pascal Poignard, Chrixx Finne and Dan Silverberg on May 6th from Keasarge Pass.

Our route took us over the Pass the first day and down towards Charlotte Lake where we camped the first night. The next day we ascended to Glenn Pass and then dropped to the Rae Lakes drainage. From here three passes (we called them small ridge crossings before we did them and passes afterwards) and into Gardiner Basin to a camp below Mt Gardiner.

All was great up to then, and then the snow started. So we spent two days in the tents eating, drinking and chatting. Finally after nearly a foot of new powder things cleared up and we managed to get out and ski the slopes of Mt Gardiner. We needed to shift camp so some of us took the low road to upper Rae Lakes, and others took the hard way carrying packs part way up Mt Cotter and skiing off below the west summit. We all regrouped for the night below Painted Lady and the next day headed for Dragon Pass. Now the pass is not too bad in summer but in winter  (which it was rather than spring) it is a different proposition. It involved scrambling and a series of two roped lowers to get to the snow above Golden Trout Lakes. Finally we could ski and got back to the cars late on the evening of the 6th day.

Overall it was a great trip, despite the poor weather and variable snow, taking us into an area where few people go during the winter. Just wish we had been able to do the skiing we wanted. But then that is life in the mountains!

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Written by SP Parker

May 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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