February 3rd - 5th, 2012: OSTRANDER!!!

Another year, another Ostrander adventure. In the three previous years there has been too much snow, an altitude-sickness-induced evacuation, and WAY too much snow. The results have always been thrilling and made for great stories ("Good decisions make bad stories." - JonnyB). 2012 promised more wild stories due to a severe lack of snow. We're talking record drought. We knew the snow wouldn't be pretty, but Ostrander has a perfect pretty-record and our crew headed in to see what nature had in store. And what Howard had in store...

Friday, February 3rd: What's the rush?

With the absence of snow and the stars not-quite-aligning, our group of 15 had dwindled to just 7. Jonny, Sara, Evan, Kate, and I were making the first push, and were to be joined by Kevin and Yu sometime between 4 am and 1 pm the next day. This crew has learned that it's a good idea to get on the trail towards Ostrander around 9 am, 10 am at the latest, to ensure a comfortable pre-sunset arrival. We hit the road around 12 pm. Or maybe closer to 1 pm. Luckily the Glacier Point Road was icy fast and our crew knows the way.

JonnyB leads the way to Ostrander for his 6th (7th? 8th?) time. Pro.
Above average rock exposure and the hard shells were traded for sun glasses. Deal.

Twilight Snacking
T-minus 30 until blackout. To the hut!

Saturday, February 4th: Action Sports

Powder turns? No. None. But our crew gets excited by more than just powder turns. Yu had recently shared a podcast proclaiming the historical significance of this winter's unusual weather patterns for the world of backcountry ice skating. With that in mind, I was excited to try out a new and glorious sport. Luckily, Hutmaster Howard is a seasoned backcountry ice skater and has amassed a collection of 15 or so pairs of ice skates. What a dude. Sure, the blades aren't all sharp. And the ankle support leaves a little to the imagination. But then again, we forgot to bring the Zamboni.
Bubble Ice
How did we know it was safe? This man said so and that was good enough for us.
Post Couples-Skate
Some folks skied and found great snow as we avoided rocks. Yu, of course, found the rocks.
Some folks took advantage of the hut steps, which are usually buried.
Night Skating
Sunday, February 5th: Every Adventure Must End

We skied a little more, skated a little more, ate biscuits and sausage, and generally avoided moving anywhere fast. Mornings don't get much better. Especially since we stretched morning into afternoon and didn't leave Ostrander until about 2 pm. It's a hard place to leave.

After skiing a couple laps across the pond, Jonny and I enjoyed a few sips of water from the lake. The snow had been deceptively soft, with uncovered rocks dictating our paths in much the same way trees regularly do. Kevin and Yu continued to ski. Evan, Kate, and Sara sat on the steps of the hut. Howard kept at the ice skating. As we sat on a log, taking in the scene, I made the following observation:

We are sitting on a log, in Yosemite National Park, 10 miles from the nearest civilization. Our friends are getting awesome backcountry turns and sitting on the steps of a beautiful hut that we have all to ourselves. All while our zen/buddha hutmaster skates on the lake that we are drinking from and we sit and watch. Does it get any better?

Or at least, something to that effect. This was a moment that will be hard to top. Not that we won't try!

Fresh Water
"I got them at a thrift store."
Is that a hockey stick?

Ostrander Bonus Features!!!

What happens when you take three amateur bloggers on a backcountry ski adventure? Lots of blog posts and lots of videos. The great part is, we all see the trip through very different lenses. Check out Yu's and Jonny's posts to get the full trip report and then watch the video extravaganza!

(Great source for amusing photos of SnowyPhotographers)

(Great source for topographical reports and panoramas)

And a recently commissioned follow-up to Winters of My Life...

1 comment:

JB said...

Crushed it! Great post. Another great tradition.

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