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2005 Backcountry Trip Reports => May 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Zap on 05/13/05, 02:32 AM

Title: May 11, 2005, South Peak,Virginia Lakes Rd,Sierras
Post by: Zap on 05/13/05, 02:32 AM
It was another sunny day and we returned to the Virginia Lakes area. It was a cold evening and we were hoping the powder remained light. Today we planned to ski South Peak at 11,400 feet. It was still untracked and its north exposure would be our best chance for powder. Our first parking spot was disappointing when I walked onto the snow and it was breakable crust.  We decided to drive higher and parked on the entry road to the fishing lodge at the end of the road; it was still snowed in.  The owner was just completing a single lane snowplow from the road about 100 yards to his lodge.  The plowed lane had snow walls over 10 feet high. He allowed us to park at the entrance and we walked down the snow tunnel to the outlet of Red Lake.  Ice fishermen were already on the lake pursuing trout when we skinned around them.  The approach to South Peak is very direct from the road. We skinned climbers left around the base and past the steep north facing couloirs and began our ascent along a widely spaced tree slope.  As we climbed, the snow was light and a slight breeze helped keep the snow powdery.  It was amazing that it was almost mid May and we had powder conditions.  There was over a foot of light powder the entire climb.  Although the slope appeared wind affected, the surface was soft. Our first run started at the top of the tree line.  My fingers were numb from the cold temperatures and wind but that all changed when I started to spray powder as I descended.   We quickly reskinned and headed for the ridge and another gully. The forecast was for a warming trend and we hurried to the top to beat the heat.  Our second run was more sun exposed and we could feel that the snow was warming but our tracks sure looked good.  We refueled and climbed higher and found a slope that was less sun exposed.  WOW, we hit the honey line. 1200 vertical of soft powder about boot deep.  The turns were effortless and the bottom came too soon.  A quick traverse at the base back to the lake outlet and we were back to the camper.  The flats just before the outlet were corn snow while 4 hours earlier they were wind scoured.  The warming trend had begun.  We had 2 perfect powder days at Virginia Lakes and it is time to head north.  The past 2 years we have skied here just as the road opened and we have had fantastic tours in the area both times.  It is a special place.  Zap

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