|Photo of photo by C. Pondella|
Surprisingly, there was another party camped out, but they were planning on the SE Face of Split. Up at 4:30, we "racked up," ready to climb ice/rock/snow, and to have a full on ski adventure. Again, to our surprise, there was another party that had snuck in during the night, that was leaving at the same time. A quick conversation revealed they had the same objective in mind.
|CP with ski crampons, on fire in the Sierra alpenglow|
A couple hours and four thousand feet later, we pulled up to the crux of the climb - an icy headwall, guarding the entrance to the couloir. Starting vertical, the ice flow eased off after 20-30 feet.
|The greatly foreshortened Split Couloir ascends to the notch between the South and North Summits|
|Nearing the ice headwall|
|Nearing the top of the ice headwall (photo by JD)|
|JD watching and taking pics of CP on lead|
A couple thousand feet later, we were standing at the notch between the two summits. I think I have a new favorite range.
|High Sierra from the notch on Split Mountain|
|JD looking back toward the notch|
The skiing was marginal, with variable conditions most of the descent. Pockets of softer drifts made some turns enjoyable.
|JM giving a clinic on chute skiing (photo by JD)|
|CP with his smooth, easy style (photo by JD)|
|Now in the shade, the surface was crusting up|
|Low in the couloir (photo by JD)|
|Group down climb to the rappel (photo by JD)|
|JD on rappel|
On the apron, I had a fleeting thought of heading up the St. Jean Couloir but with more to ski during the week and a lingering cold, gang skiing thousands of feet of California corn sounded more fun.
Installment II coming...