February 21st - 22nd, 2011: Yosemite Adventures... Lecont Gully

One of the real highlights of the three day Ostrander Glacier Point Ski Hut adventure was getting to know the fine folks that run the Badger Pass Ski Area. One of them folks was the Mountain Manager, Jason Torlano, who grew up in Yosemite Valley and has been skiing throughout the park for a few decades now. He mentioned that there was a great run from Glacier Point down to the valley floor (approximately 3500') by the name of Lecont Gully and now would be the perfect time to do it.

If only he had someone to do it with... Sign me up?!?

February 21st: Traveling in Style

Jason hooked me up with a day pass at Badger Pass, so I spent the morning keeping my legs fresh on the now crowded, but incredibly foggy slopes. We met up at the maintenance shop as soon as the mountain closed for the day and chatted it up with Larry and Jerry, the guys that have kept everything mechanical at Badger Pass in working order for the last 20 yrs+. Great guys. About as good as they come.

The ski out to Glacier Point had taken our crew the better part of a day two days ago. Luckily, Jason has a little pull and we were able to grab a ride in the Piston Bully.

 "Oh man, they even dress alike." - Larry

Serious machine. When I win the lottery, this is first on my list.

Just under two hours to reach the hut. Not too shabby and just in time for dinner.

It was pretty amusing to see the Glacier Point Hut in its normal operation. Gabe (our talented driver for the night), Jason, and I joined Hutmaster Bjornie (awesome spelling for Bernie, though the "o" should have a diagonal line through it) and an awesome couple for a quiet candlelight dinner with Andrea Bocelli playing in the background. Christy, one half of the couple, is quite the hiker and is completing the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) over the course of a few summers. She has a great blog and posted some great shots from their trip: Lady on a Rock.

February 22nd: Lecont Gully

I was totally excited by the idea of skiing to the valley, but also slightly intimidated by it. But Jason promised it was mellow and that I was up to the challenge. Then again, he was basing that on my ability to ski two feet of pow on a Badger Pass black diamond. But this isn't Jason's first rodeo: he's been doing this for quite a while (scroll down to #10).

Jason had to be at a National Park Ranger medical re-cert course in the valley at 8AM, so we hit the trail early.

Looking down on Yosemite Falls from the top of Lecont.

For 3500', we got to stare at Yosemite Falls and the snow-cone that collects at the bottom as water turns to snow on the long descent.

Scale and distance are funny, but that's a 3500' wall. We skied down that little sliver of snow just in from the far left. I sure wouldn't have guessed that is ski-able.

Lecont Gully turned out to be scarier in anticipation than in actual doing, which is a good thing. The hardest part turned out to be the snow-covered boulder field at the bottom of the gully, which took a little adventure skiing. Still better than taking the skis off, which is reportedly the norm. Instead, we skied all the way to the valley floor, where Jason's truck was waiting for us.

Jason was a great guide and I can't wait to ski with him again. Being in ski-mode for weeks on end can be tiring, but opportunities like this remind me of how much I love skiing and how lucky I am to have the freedom to actually seize them when they present themselves.

"Yosemite cat-skiing. Glacier Point to the valley floor. Who knew?"


Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for the shout out! Dan and I so wished we would have gotten our butts out of bed and seen you guys off over the lip. We did snowshoe out to where we assume you dropped into. So cool.

I am looking forward to checking out your adventures on this site. Nice meeting you.

Anonymous said...

Great day....................Keep in touch for April.

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