By: Tom McDonnell
Our team of seven assembled at the parking area just north of the Rock Creek Pack Station. The closed gate at the Pack Station preventing access by car to the trailhead at Mosquito Flat meant we had an extra 1.5 mile and 300 feet of gain for the day. But, with a blue sky, warm temperature, and visions of the great snow climb to come, the team was not bothered at all. At 0730 we set off for camp at Treasure Lakes. At first the trail was quite muddy due to the melting snow, but turned to solid snow well before Long Lake. Along the way we over took a couple of mountaineers from the PCS of the Loma Prieta Chapter: Rich Gallagher and Tony Cruz.
We reached camp by 1100 and set about for lunch and snoozing. The sound and vision of several avalanches immediately interrupted us, including one significant slab, releasing from the steep NE shoots on Mt. Dade. The Hourglass couloir from Treasure Lakes is an impressive site and appears very steep. Later in the afternoon Nile Sorenson went over to the couloir to evaluate the snow, which seemed stable and homogeneous with depth. We used some time in the afternoon for everyone to refresh their ice axe arrest and glissading skills. Fully rested and skills refreshed, happy hour was announced at 1610. Cheese and crackers were the order of the day, some served with a turkey wedge atop. Compliments to Gregg Adams for his skill in presenting fresh popped popcorn.
The trip up to Mt. Dade started at 0600 with a walk straight across the lake. On the slopes no crampons were used since we had Nile's footsteps to follow from the prior afternoon and the sun was rapidly softening the snow. We began the couloir at 0630 and the top of the Hourglass was reached by 0745. The group was strong and several members volunteered to kick steps. Looking down the couloir we could see the PCSers following our footsteps. We enjoyed a 15-minute break and tremendous views out across the Little Lakes Valley. The couloir is only half the fim on Mt. Dade; we had another 1000 ft to go. We continued with a trend toward the eastern ridge of Mt. Dade over mixed snow and rock. Everyone was on the summit by 0930. A new register was placed and several pictures were taken. We spent 30 minutes snacking and pointing out other Sierra peaks near and far. Everyone cheered for Ron Norton who was celebrating a birthday.
We began our descent at 1000 and down climbed the rock and snow until the top of the couloir. The couloir provided a wonderful glissade of about 700-ft, but near the bottom became too soft and sticky to slide. Back in camp by 1115, lunch, pack, and gone by 1215. The walk out became warmer and hotter with every step as we approached the 90 F of the Owens Valley. We reached the cars by 1430 and only a few complained about the extra 1.5 mile on the asphalt. Participants not yet named: Susan Livingston, Robert Amaral, and Don Croley.
Thanks to all.
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