| Four dudes, three peaks, one birthday
Remember how much birthdays were when you were a kid? You could always count
on a birthday party, lots of friends, fun activities, presents, cake
and ice cream. Things have changed little over the years - we still count on
getting the gang together to celebrate a birthday. Kitchen passes are easier
to obtain and conflicting activities take a back seat when a birthday is
involved. Sometimes it makes your wonder about the legitimacy of certain
'birthdays'. "Hey, didn't you just have a birthday last month?" "My
birthday is actually in August, but there won't be any snow then." I must
admit I was a bit skeptical when the call came for a birthday ski on April
Fools weekend, but it would be totally counterproductive to question the
validity of the event.
Thus it was that we assembled before sunrise at the Herman Gulch parking
area. We tossed all the gear into one truck and piled in for the drive to
the Eisenhower Tunnel West Portal. The objective was to traverse back to
Herman Gulch, hitting as many peaks as we could before the snow became
too soft. Starting out, the conditions did not look so great
Things improved somewhat by the time we topped the first ridge.
The windward aspects were blown dry, so a bit of hoofing was in order.
Back on snow we got our first views of Hagar Mountain and the Citadel.
Definitely enough snow for a descent.
The birthday boy working around some rock near the summit.
The gang on the Hagar's summit.
A summit descent was possible with just one tricky spot near the top.
I did not get any good shots of the descent, but the skiing was actually
quite good. After a short break, we put the skins back on and pointed
the tips toward the Citadel.
Hard to tell from the previous picture, but things get too steep for skinning
about half way up.
On the saddle with the descent route on Hagar in the background.
Contemplating the remainder of the route.
A fairly steep section took us to the base of the summit block.
Looking back down
A summit ski was not possible as the upper section was melted out. There is
a small saddle at the top of the couloir so we launched from there. The
choke looked less than a ski length wide, so we sent the birthday boy down
to check it out. Here is a nice sequence of the probe.
No problem. The rest of us went through and enjoyed some great turns below
The snow got a bit thin on the valley floor.
The approach to Pettingell was a pleasant skin, with just a short steep section
near the top
Again the summit was dry, so we stopped our climb at the top of the snowfield.
We had a nice view of our descent route on the Citadel. We had put our skis
on at the top of the couloir to the right in the photo, but took the north
facing line (behind the rock) and popped out on the left where the ski tracks
The tuning fork on Torrey's looks pathetic for this time of year.
(The picture was taken with a telephoto lens.)
For the third time we enjoyed excellent corn snow on the descent
Another look back at the Citadel
The ski out was better than expected. Some collapsing snow, but for the most
part an easy glide. The snow held up within a mile of the trail head and
we milked it for all it was worth.
So, when is your birthday again?
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):