Barnard Fun part 2

April 5 - 8, 2002

  Mt. Whitney
The Mt. Whitney summit area, from Russell-Carillon Col
Menno, Ted, and I are back from the Southern Sierra once again. Sometimes the mountains reward you with unexpectedly perfect conditions, and other times they thumb their collective nose at you for thinking that you can just go there and treat the place like some kind of ski playground. This trip was of the latter category.

No regrets, of course. I was astounded at what unskiable crud we needed to try to stay balanced on, that is when we were lucky enough to have snow coverage at all (much of the crest zone was windblown down to the rocks). But those moments when we'd look at the great peaks surrounding us made it more than worthwhile, somehow it seemed appropriate for us to be stumbling and flailing in their presence.

We went in at Whitney Portal on Friday morning, well, noon actually. We left the trail and proceeded up the North Fork to Lower Boy Scout Lake, where we camped. Another fellow camped there reported that there were about 20 people up-canyon at Iceberg Lake, probably mostly to do the Mountaineers Route. We're not used to that kind of traffic in the winter backcountry, but I guess that's Whitney for you.

  Wallace Lake
Menno and Ted at our Wallace Lake campsite
But we took the first offramp up from there, heading up to a little col east of Mt. Russell at 13300' (and never saw anyone again for the rest of the trip except for a big white snow-bunny). A steep descent on the other side, fortunately aided by exposed rock ledges, got us down to the Sierra's highest lake, Tulainyo. Which is where I put on skis for the first time, and that's when the fun really began.

Harshly textured windblown crust, punctuated by areas where the crust was more or less sublimated clear off the top, exposing unconsolidated sugar snow. Yee-uck. Then there was the section when we had to ski down a few hundred feet of steep stuff to Wallace Lake. My usual survival technique on crap snow is to do big wide parallel traverses, but I was so afraid of getting tripped up by crud-traps that I actually side-stepped down a majority of it (stomping hard with each step to make a dent in the crust).

Then, after a camp at the southern foot of Barnard, we did some mercifully gentle touring through Wright Lakes basin, then around north of Tyndall. We thought about climbing Tyndall; nah. We thought about ascending to the top of the "superbowl" which then descends eastward just south of Shepherd Pass; nah. We just dropped down the Shepherd Pass headwall, below which we found some more remarkably awful snow. We camped just below snow line, and were relieved to just hike on Monday down to the trailhead.

-Bob Akka, 4/9/02

Route info on the Barnard Fun main page

The previous year's Barnard Fun trip