After receiving some great beta from other 14ers.com members, I decided to make a quick trip to San Luis to see if I could get in a bit of skiing. The Yawner Gullies (west side) were completely dry so the east side was the only option. Snow conditions were marginal but I was able to ski a lot of vertical, for June.
It turned out to be a fun day with plenty of solitude. I didn't see another person from the point I turned past Dome Lakes, 20 miles from the trailhead.
Routes: Hike: standard route, Ski: east and northeast slopes
Trailhead: Stewart Creek
Elevation Gain: 3,900'
Ski Vertical: 2,300'
RT Mileage: 13 miles
Topo of the route (blue=hike, yellow=re-climb, red=ski):
Google map (blue=hike, red=ski):
I started at 4:30am and had a brief stand-off with a moose around 10,800'. The trail was mostly dry to tree line. Once I reached the firm snow at 12,100', I decided to keep hiking boots on and summit with my skis/boots on my pack. What's another 2 miles after carrying it this far?!?
Leaving the basin and hiking to the NE ridge
Looking west at my potential ski line
On the NE ridge, viewing the east slopes
Approaching the summit
When I reached the summit at 9:00am, it was cool and partly cloudy.
This could be an interesting ski
The dry west side
I dropped onto the east slope, stepped through a dry patch and began the ski down to the northeast. My goal was to ski about 700', angle below the summer trail and re-climb to the 13,700-foot point along San Luis' northeast ridge.
There's snow down there, really
Skiing the east slopes
The snow was so choppy I wished I had a mouth guard!
Ski and re-climb to NE ridge
13,700' on the NE ridge, looking back to summit
On the 13,700-foot point, looking north along the ridge.
On the 13,700-foot point
Notice: You can't see it in this next photo, but there's a cornice along this ridge. Before you send me a "Bill, are you insane or stupid?" email, I'll mention that I took great care on this section of the ski and spent time testing the snow, using various methods.
Dropping north down the ridge.
I didn't get too close to the main cornice section
Dropping below the cornice.
Turning the corner to get below the cornice
Skiing out onto the face
Continuous snow all the way down to 12,100'.
Not great snow, but snow
A solid overnight freeze and cool temps this morning kept this thing solid.
No cornices were harmed during the ski of this peak
Descending towards the creek
This face held the best skiing of the day.
Continuous snow from 13,700'
Who says the east side of San Luis doesn't have good ski options?
Started to snow as I neared the end fo the ski
Back to dry land
One last look at the descent from 13,700'
Sure is a beautiful place.
Looking back from the trailhead. Inset - one of the many, many beaver ponds