Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bike to Bag, 2010

Most might already know the whole story- Every year I've lived in Bishop, once a year in fact, I've ridden my bike from town, up into the mountains, and then skied up and down a new-to-me peak. Bike to the mountains, "bag" a peak... Bike to Bag. As part of the tradition, I've 'blogged' each year on the website. I started my backcountry skiing career on telemark-style skis and this website and its "residents", helped me out quite a bit early on- still does, for that matter. Entries from 2003 and 2004 disappeared when that site was hacked. If you're interested in the pattern, and really bored, check out my Trip Reports (TR's) of ever increasing length at these links: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.

The bike ride starts out in the dark, takes way too long, and almost always feels like the hardest part. Not this year, however. Ample recent training on the bike, mainly with Annie and her knee recovery, plus an ambitious ski-portion plan, made the ski part of the day definitely feel like the crux.

So far, with each of my eight bike trips to the mountains, I've been able to climb and ski a peak new to me. Eventually, should I be fortunate enough to do this in future years, I'll have to repeat old peaks. Especially if I do multiple peaks each trip, like I did this time.

My first peak was the Keyhole Plateau- I climbed up it's SE Side. Incidentally, this would be a great down-ski too.

The top of the plateau showed a few signs of this spring's, and today's, weird weather. First of all, there's been more snow than average. This covered the plateau with a nice smooth blanket, rather than sand and talus. The east edge of the plateau held a pretty significant cornice- evidence of recent, consistent and moderate winds. Finally, at the very summit, recent snow, from just two days prior, had melted off the rocks and dripped down into the shade where it refroze into big icicles. Then, the very morning of my trip up there, some clouds rolled in. (It actually rained a bit at one point, snowed a few flurries through the day and heavy clouds would again move in for the evening) These morning clouds, plus a little wind, pushed some rime ice onto these icicles. Maybe not the most spectacular picture, but a phenomenon I had never seen before.I skied down to the west (further from home) up the next peak (still further from home). Here I am on the summit of peak #2 (Mt. Goethe)

I skied down the North side of Goethe (again, further from home... what was I thinking?) My exit was grueling (over two passes and up over the Keyhole Plateau again), increasingly storm-threatened, and held excellent skiing. All these factors combined to make it particularly non-photogenic. And solo skiing isn't all that exciting in photos anyway. At some point, after the last climb and it was all downhill, I figured it was in the bag. I made an unlikely call home, enjoyed some excellent cloudy corn snow, and snapped this picture. I liked it, and it reminds me of that satisfied sense of accomplishment. Even though I was still 3 hours from home.

Looking back now, I can say I fully met my goals with this trip. I wanted a challenge, I wanted to meet that challenge, and I wanted to do it in style. Accomplished, on all counts!

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