Ski Touring & Lee Vining Ice Climbing • Jean-Claude Latombe • February 16 - 19, 2006

Jean-Claude, from Palo Alto, California spent four days with Kathy and Mark over a February weekend. Though the weather forecast was dubious we managed both to enjoy a couple days of ice climbing as well as do two fine one-day ski tours. Our timing was perfect (or simply lucky). The main thrust of the arriving storm did not descend upon us until our second day ice climbing at Lee Vining, and with the new snow that fell we had great conditions for ski touring on the next couple days.

Other Recent Trips

The weather was bitterly cold on our first day at Lee Vining. But luckily, there was little wind, and once our fingers recovered from the first pitch, all was well.

Here, Kathy and Jean-Claude suit up at the base of Spiral Staircase, our first route of the day.


Spiral Staircase, on the Central Falls. This photo was taken on February 5th, but conditions were pretty similar two weeks later.


Jean-Claude on Spiral Staircase.


In the second part of the day we climbed the right edge of the left falls, a route known as PhotoShop, the middle route shown here. Conditions were very good, though the cold weather made for occasionally brittle ice.

On our next day, we climbed the Bard-Harrington route on the left edge of this photo. We started with a fun mixed pitch of thin ice and then continued up the thicker ice to the right of the rock. The storm finally arrived that afternoon.

Spiral Staircase is the route marked on the right side of this view.


The weather did not turn out to be nearly as bad as we feared, and on our third day we did a fun loop tour starting in Rock Creek and crossing over the Hilton Bench to descend to Crowley Lake. In this photo Jean-Claude and Kathy are about half an hour from the high pass between Rock Creek and Hilton Creek.


We stop for a wee break before the descent of the Hilton Valley. With a few inches of new snow, the skiing was fantastic.


Lower down we cross Davis Lake. The weather was "in and out" for much of the day. The ever-changing skies were an added bonus.


Eventually, the high Hilton Valley merges into the desert below.


Kathy takes a photo of Mark looking out over Crowley Lake, before our last descent to the car.


Arriving at the waiting car. We were able to glide all the way to the highway.


Looking east over Crowley Lake, toward the White Mountains.


On our last day, we did another day ski tour. Starting in Mammoth Lakes we skied around the back side of Punta Bardini, and into the Sherwin Lakes valley. Continuing up the valley we reached the summit of the Sherwin Crest and the high point of our tour, Point 3278. (The Bloody Mountain Quadrangle, on which we were located is in meters. 10,752 feet is the local equivalent.)

The weather was snowy almost the entire day, and the few minutes we had of relative clear occurred just as we arrive at the summit.

The snow was fantastic for the descent. Incredibly light, fast and completely untracked.


The last bit of flats just before the car.

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