Mount Ritter Ski
May 31, 2014
2014 was the driest year in California history and in at least 500 years according to this . The skiing was not idea. Magic march an awesome April were a disappointment but magnificent May came through for us, so on May 31st, after not being able to find any partners, I went on a Ritter solo ski.
At midnight my alarm woke me up from no more than my 3rd hour of sleep. After a cup of hot chocolate and a Quesadilla I got in my car where the thermometer read 30, nice! With clear skies, I could be certain that there was a hard freeze!
Driving past the Village and Mammoth Mountain's main lodge I saw a trash bear munching away on tourist's droppings. I continued to drive down to Agnew Meadows and started hiking. My route was to go from Agnew meadows up to Shadow and then Ediza lake, then to hike cross country to the base of the SE face exit couloir.
The waterfall sounds up from the San Joaquin to Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake were unsettling. But, I got to Ediza Lake in the dark and only fell into the icy river once (not near a waterfall!) as I crossed to the far side to start my approach to Ritter.
I approached the couloir in the dark, but alpenglow had taken the slopes as I started up the exit couloir, which was rocky and icy, but good enough. I got onto the main face, and the sun started to peak over the horizon so I started to hurry. Focusing on not stopping and just putting one boot in front of the other, I got to the summit ridge and topped out just after sunrise at 7am, perfect!
The snow was sublime corn and I could just see my friend's faint tracks who solo skied it the day before!
I took my time on the way down, admiring the beauty of the Ritter Range. By 10am I got service and texted my friend that I was OK and no need to alert the authorities. That ended up being my last run of the season, and it was awesome corn skiing, just like you want spring to be.
I'm pretty sure I was the second and the last person to ski Ritter that year (my friend being the first the day before). Hopefully I get some more turns in the Ritter Range!!