Red-Blue-Silver Tour

March 14-15, 1998

  The pass before Blue Lakes
Forestdale Pass before Blue Lakes; photo by Neal Cassidy
We got a big group of skiers together, all eager to kick off the spring ski season with the Red-Blue-Silver tour. We had Bob, Cathy, Frank, Menno, Brian, Larry, Denise, Alan, Neal, Carol, Paul, Sandra, and Jay (cool, no duplicate first names).

We started at a reasonably early 9:15 at the Forestdale Creek trailhead near Red Lake on hwy 88, and cruised to the top of Forestdale Divide. Blasting wind kept us from hanging out there for very long though. A long slow downhill traverse brought us to lunch at Upper Blue Lake (we're already at our second color). By now, the sun was shining with a vengeance and we could kick back and have a nice lunch.

A mix of snowmobile roads and miscellaneous meanders up and down little hills eventually brought us to our camp. Carol applied her Feng Shui expertise to selecting a tent spot, while Cathy and others shoveled out a fine 13-person cooking area for our candlelight dinner (with Sees chocolates for dessert provided by Paul).

  East of the crest
East of the crest on Sunday; photo by Neal Cassidy
It was a warm night, only getting down into the mid-20s. Our encampment included 5 tents, plus Frank (ski-backpacking for his first time ever) who slept in a bivy bag.

The morning was sunny. Sandra modeled her stylish purple thermal underwear. Then Larry, Denise, and Alan were feeling restless and wanted to do some extra mileage, so they headed back to Forestdale Creek, leaving the rest of us to climb up into the Mystery Zone.

Then Jay broke a ski pole, but that problem was somehow solved by a 3-person ski-pole swap which I didn't quite understand. The ascent to the Sierra crest was spectacular but not difficult, a climb followed by a traverse followed by a climb. Neal took a low traverse and didn't even have to put on skins. At the top, we did some team first aid on Brian's heel, and then pushed off for "a little downhill traverse".

  Jay, Brian, Carol, & Menno
Jay, Brian, Carol (L to R), & Menno (front) in Markleeville; photo by Neal Cassidy
Our little traverse turned out to be kind of interesting. We climbed up onto the end of a corniced rib, in order to avoid a traverse beneath the eastern couloirs of Mt. Reynolds, and we followed that. Another brief climb and traverse took us across to the top of the Eagle Creek drainage. Glorious tele turns on perfect sun-warmed snow took us from there down to lunch.

After lunch we did some touring through the trees, punctuated by a few tele runs here and there. And finally, we looked eastward and there was nowhere to go but down! We all telemarked, zig-zagged, and face-planted that last big descent down to highway 4. A gentle 2 or 3 mile descent on the snowed-over highway down Silver Creek canyon to the shuttle car went fast (even faster for Menno, who took a wild shortcut between one of the large switchbacks).

-Bob Akka, 3/16/98

More photos and route on Red-Blue-Silver main page