February 17th - 20th, 2011: Yosemite Adventures... Ostrander or Bust or Glacier Point

On Thursday, February 17th, I drove to Yosemite expecting the following to occur:

Thursday: Cross-country ski along Glacier Point Road. Sleep in car.
Friday: Meet up with an all-star crew of 13 and ski to Ostrander Hut.
Saturday: Ski and tour around the Ostrander Hut.
Sunday: Probably ski out from Ostrander Hut, maybe stick around for another day.
Monday: Depart Yosemite.

Thursday went according to plan. Then the a storm rolled in that would eventually drop 6-8 feet of snow in Yosemite and the rest of the plan was shot. I eventually met up with the crew and we did some skiing, but we never made it to Ostrander and I didn't leave Yosemite until Tuesday. It was an incredible (and rather snowy) adventure full or surprises, incredible new experiences (cat skiing, not once, but twice!), breathtaking views, and a whole lot of snow.

This post took me a while to get together, but it's well worth the wait, with a record number of photos, a feature length film, and a unique pre-historic time-lapse. Enjoy!

February 17th: Getting Acclimated

Our crew would not be heading into Ostrander until the following morning, but I decided that I'd head into Yosemite a day early and let the cross-country skis run a little bit. From San Francisco to Yosemite it rained. Hard. The entire way. I got parked in the Badger Pass parking lot, across from the trailhead, and cruised a few miles out on the groomer towards Glacier Point. Man, cross-country skis fly on freshly groomed tracks! But the grooming ended at the Old Glacier Point Road and I broke some trail. Already, the snow was knee deep.

I skied back to my car by headlamp and crawled into my sleeping bag for the night...

The Yosemite welcoming party.

February 18th: The Madness Begins
All night I could hear snow falling. When I first tried to open the door of my car, I thought it was frozen shut. No, there was just too much snow piled up on the outside. I pushed through and discovered that 18" had fallen overnight. I felt like I had just opened the best Christmas present ever. But nothing was plowed, and there were no signs of it getting plowed. I skied down to the Badger Pass lodge and was informed by the handful of employees (who were rather shocked to see me... "Where'd you come from?") that the road was closed and there was no telling when it would open.

The resort was closed for the day, but the mountain crew was hard at work staying ahead of the snow by grooming runs and clearing out the lifts. They didn't mind if I skied around them, so that's what I did. Up the groomers, down the powder. I had the mountain all to myself!

Mine! All mine! Not a lot of vertical, but turns are turns.

While I skied and hoped the rest of my crew would join me so that we could head to Ostrander, they waited five miles away for the road to open. Eventually they reached Badger Pass, but it was too late to head to Ostrander and the fine folks at Badger Pass let us spend the night on their floor. We showed our appreciation by cooking them dinner and breakfast the next morning, utilizing their full kitchen. Oh, and we skied a little bit.

February 19th: Any hut is better than no hut.

Badger Pass on a decent snow day.

Badger Pass had treated us well, but it was time to move on. Breaking trail through 3-4' of snow to reach Ostrander didn't seem like a good option. What to do? Well, the fine folks at Badger Pass hooked us up again and offered to groom the nordic trail to Glacier Point Ski Hut (also 10 miles) if we wanted to spend the night there (and pay the going rate of just over $100, all inclusive). A hut's a hut so we took them up on the offer.

Sara delivers some gear to our snow drifts. Notice the perfectly rounded mound on the far left. My car is under there somewhere.

Ready to get after it! By the way, those are skis, not skinny snowboards or New Age musical instruments.

Junk Show 2011. (For comparison: Junk Show 2010.)

I mean, it doesn't get much better. Or does it?

The Glacier Point Ski Hut is an impressive new building made with enormous wooden columns and a classic Yosemite stone hearth that you could fit a small car in. It serves as a snack shop and souvenir stand in the summer, but converts nicely in the winter. We immediately made ourselves at home and got to work on a number of team-building exercises.

Yes, Pace and Brian are wearing knee-pads. Always prepared.

February 20th:

The clouds had rolled in pretty hard upon our arrival to the Glacier Point Ski Hut. But in the morning...
Awesome mountain over here, beautiful waterfall over there, just another day in Yosemite.

Hard to beat this. Click to enlarge.

A little fisheye fun on a 3000' cliff.

This crew is so much fun, that this group shot has a follow-up video of its very own...

Silent Dinosaurs in Yosemite from Bernard Rocca on Vimeo.

 Six girls throwing snow. Five boys taking pictures of girls throwing snow. Instant Classic.

So then we skied ten miles back to our cars. Yeah, we got a few turns along the way but that's not what this trip ended up being about. This group was so ridiculous that several Badger Pass employees asked us who we were with or what the name of our club was. Truth be told, we were just a bunch of jokers that enjoy the outdoors and some of us had just met each other at the start of this adventure. Next year: Ostrander!

"The end of three ridiculously adventurous days in Yosemite with an incredible crew of 14. Two potentially epic days to go."

Note: Read JonnyB's account for more fun photos and videos: Back-Up Plan for the Back-Up Plan


Peter said...

This trip was so much fun!!! Great job on the write up. Can't wait to do it again!

Unknown said...

Fab Nardo...just fabulous

Bernard Rocca said...

Thanks. I doubt we, or anyone else, will ever repeat this wild ride, but I can't wait to get hit by next year's surprises.

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