Mammoth to Mammoth Tour
- Varied mountain terrain with some briefly steep slopes (30 degrees or so)
- 32 miles in 4 days
- Cumulative gain, loss: +7000', -7200'
- Avg. Relief: 400'/mile
- Topos: Devils Postpile (15'); Mt. Ritter, Mammoth Mtn., Crystal Crags (7.5')
I cannot say enough good things about this tour. The scenery is great throughout, the skiing is superb,
the altitude, difficulty, and pace are all pretty moderate, it's accessable with an easy car shuttle,
you get to ski right past Mt. Banner, Clyde Minaret, and Devils Postpile, and there's a fine hot spring
at the final campsite! This tour could be done in either direction; I really liked it in the
counterclockwise direction that I describe. The tour's average elevation is 9400', making it good for
early- to mid-spring in a typical season.
The tour starts along Minaret Summit road near Mammoth Mountain downhill resort. Overnight parking is
supposedly prohibited here, but we were told that this is not enforced in spring. Ski up the road about a
mile to Minaret Summit, and leave the road, following the ridge northward to the top of Peak 10255', and
then down to Deadman Pass. From Deadman Pass, you want to ascend north a few hundred feet, and then contour
along northwest at about 10200', on the southwest side of the ridge. This route follows a sort of bench,
with steeper terrain above and below. As you pass to the northwest of San Joaquin Mtn., you can start to
lose some elevation, and traverse down to the end of the valley at 9500', just south of Agnew Pass. From
here, work your way westward, staying to the north of the San Joiquin River, up to Thousand Island Lake.
Bob & Cathy & Mt. Ritter
Thousand Island Lake was our Camp 1 after a fairly long day; if you like, you can camp well before this,
as Day 2 is fairly short. Start Day 2 by crossing Thousand Island Lake to its southern point. Then head south over
a low pass. Stay high to the west of Garnet Lake, and ascend to the 11200' notch just to the east of
Mt. Banner. From the south side of this notch, you will enjoy a superb ski descent to Camp 2 at Lake Ediza.
Day 3, ascend south to Iceberg Lake, and climb the steep snow (most of our group did not need ice axes, though
we did take off our skis) to Cecile Lake, at the base of Clyde Minaret. Cross Cecile, and descend the other
side, which is only briefly steep, to Minaret Lake. Continue to telemark down the Minaret Creek drainage,
making sure to get over to the south side of the creek before you lose all your snow-bridge opportunities.
You will soon enter Devils Postpile National Monument. Keep your eyes open for the small bridge that takes
you across the mighty San J River. Ski southward across the base of the Devils Postpile, and loop around to
the east, dropping down to the snowy roadway. Ski south along the road for a fraction of a mile to signs
for Reds Meadow Campground. Turn left, and camp at the campground area near the hot springs. The bathhouse
is closed, but the source pool is there for you to enjoy.
Skating along beneath Clyde Minaret
The final day, you climb 2000' roughly due east to Mammoth Pass. Descend to Horseshoe Lake. When you hit
the groomed trails of Tamarack XC, follow all signs to the parking area. There is overnight parking allowed
about 1/4 mile to the north of the Tamarack XC ski area's parking area.
An account of our 4/96 Mammoth to Mammoth trip
General info and disclaimer about backcountry skiing
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