It’s that time of year again, when tacky singletrack, dry rock and peaky waves are on the mind. For some, ski season has been over for weeks, if not months. But that doesn’t mean you have to hang’em up if you don’t want to. You can still hop on a chairlift at Timberline Resort in Oregon and Blackcomb Glacier in Whistler. Or better yet, head to Tioga Pass outside of Yosemite National Park and tap into some of the finest summer hike-to ski terrain in the lower 48.
Most people will be heading to Yosemite for sightseeing, camping, hiking and rock climbing. However, a detour to Saddlebag Lake Resort on the eastern side of Tioga Pass will open up possibilities for mountain biking, fishing, and of course, skiing. The photos that accompany this piece were taken while skiing in the area in late June. You can also check out The Deal’s post on the area from last year here.
Once you make the detour to Saddlebag Lake Resort it’s time to pick your access. You can mountain bike or hike the loop trail around the lake to get to the classic terrain of Mt. Conness and North Peak. Kayaking the lake is an option, or you can just take the boat taxi seen in the lead photo. It’s a novel way to start the mission and once off the boat, you’ll be climbing up snow in no time.
The Sierra Nevada mountains have received extremely low snowfall totals thus far in 2013. However, even in the lowest of snowfall years the Saddlebag Lake area holds snow like no other. It’s not uncommon to have multiple parties taking the boat taxi towards North Peak on July 4th for a summer ski on the classic north side, and for this years holiday there will be more a than a few panels in the zone worth sliding down.
The Greenstone Ridge area is a bit thinner than last year, but it’s still holding onto a few runs worth hiking. The highest quality terrain will be found on the north side of Mt. Conness as well as the north side of North Peak. The “Y Couloir” on Conness is in good shape and there are turns to be had in a few of the neighboring chutes. The Conness Glacier has a little dirty ice poking through, but it’s largely smooth and sun cup free. Lower down the glacier and in the flats throughout the zone sun cups are out in force. Both the main North Peak Couloir and the rider’s right line are in decent shape. However, the rocks in the rider’s right couloir (below photo) will force either a short downclimb or a little spicy maneuvering from takers. It’s best scoped on the climb up or from the rocks lining the top of the couloir on skier’s right.
There aren’t many places that offer world class opportunities like those found in the Yosemite area. While skiing may not be on the minds of many, I know I’m not the only one that seeks out a session here and there through summer and fall to satisfy the itch until it snows again. Coupled with the many other excellent in season activities, a detour to ski in this area is always a memorable adventure. If you’re going to make the trip, why not throw a few turns into the mix?