The Big Kuna

May 23-25, 1998

The ongoing epic Winter Of '98 continued this Memorial Day weekend, as seven of us (Me, Cathy, Larry, Sandra, Jay, Menno, & Jim) embarked on the "Big Kuna" crest tour.

Tioga Road was opened on the east side to Tioga Lake (for a while anyway; it closed again due to fresh snow just after Memorial Day), which allowed us to start nice and high. We ascended the gentle valley to the west of Mts. Dana and Gibbs up to Helen Lake, where we prepared dinner beneath gentle snowfall. We celebrated Sandra's birthday with a chocolate cake that Jay surprised her with. As she blew out the candles, she wished for just one day of fair weather.

Just one day of fair weather is exactly what we got. Sunday was beautiful! We did an early climb of the Kuna Crest, staying to the right of the main bowl and its cornices. From there, we did a fast invigorating glide above the headwaters of the Tuolumne River, and then popped over the Sierra Crest at Lost Lakes for lunch, recreational shredding, and sunbathing. The descent from Lost Lakes down to Waugh Lake was wonderful, perfect snow. Then we cruised over Island Pass to camp at Thousand Island Lake.

Monday morning, the wind hit us and never let up. We all tried different routes around Gem Lake, with Bob, Cathy, and Menno taking the high road, Jim, Sandra, and Larry doing the shoreline route (Larry: "The shoreline route sucked"), and Jay opting for the "on thin ice" route across the middle of the reservoir. The back side of the Gem Lake dam provided the only shelter from the wind that day.

We then stumbled down the steep trail while the wind blasted down the canyon, and wasted some film while waiting out the car shuttle.

-Bob Akka, 5/27/98

Photos (from previous trips) and route on The Big Kuna main age