Jon Swain was interested in getting out to ski and was open to suggestions. I laid out a fun one – we were celebrating an American military success, after all. The day’s efforts basically covered the White Pine Basin: landing Red Stack, Red Baldy, White Baldy, and Lake Peak on our journey.
Following the months-long deluge of snow, today was a gift. Virtually cloudless, nearly zero wind, cold enough that we only watched one cornice heat up and break off next to Jon. All of that led to stable snow that, once off the very tops of the peaks, was a powder heaven.
After yet another premium, untouched ski descent, this time down the NW face of White Baldy, Jon said, ‘That was just about the best powder run of my life.’ Or something to that effect. Strong words coming from a man known for his penchant for powder. He seemed pleased, and perhaps surprised that powder existed following several warm days. Beaujolais!
I’ve wanted to do this linkup for some time. Second only to the bridge crossing out of the parking lot, the White Baldy access ridge added the most spice to the day. I really enjoy traversing over steep, rocky faces when I’ve left my crampons at home. It’s good, clean fun, like closing one’s eyes while driving.
As for details, we headed up Red Stack – also known as Red Top – first. My last visit to Red Stack was inauspicious, and it was nice to create a new memory in the area. We skied down skier’s left of the Main Tri-Chute, and then pointed our skis towards Red Baldy. A quick skin brought us to the summit, where we sat and enjoyed the view while we ate. ‘My country, ’tis of thee’ came up more than once. The freedom to ski mountains brought us down from the summit – the top was pretty bulletproof so we descended the way we’d arrived, coming down a NW facing gully with decent snow. This led to the ridge effort that gained us access to the White Baldy summit. Here we lingered again for a few minutes – perfect days should be soaked in like a bathtub – and headed down. Then up and along the ridge to Lake Peak, avoiding massively overhanging cornices along the way. Lake Peak’s north aspect skied like a dream and our smiles at the bottom were wide.
Even the exit and return to the vehicle was relatively pleasant, offering up many different conditions through the distance. Mostly, we were lucky that the returning evening cold hadn’t yet set up the snow into a solid re-freeze. Good times in the White Pine Basin!