2023 has been a historic snow year for California’s Eastern Sierra. As atmospheric river after atmospheric river plastered the mountains with snow, I drooled over the potential to visit in the spring. I’d been chatting with my buddy John off-and-on throughout February and March, trying to get a sense of when was best to come down.
Finally, as rain began to arrive in Washington and skiing started to open up in the Sierras, I felt it was time to venture south. I packed up my car, pretty much with a days notice, and started my drive down. I didn’t really have partners lined up, but I knew a few friends who would be down in the Sierra. My ~plan~ was to car camp and stay for a few weeks…or until I wanted to go home.
I didn’t have any partners lined up for Thursday (my first day in the Sierras), but I had a morning free before work meetings started at 12 PM. I wanted to get out and explore a bit. I tossed around a few ideas, but ended up on Bloody Couloir. It’s one of the ‘classics’ and relatively simple to do solo. In the winter it’s a long approach, and with the fat spring snowpack even though it was April I’d be starting from Hwy 395.
I parked at the pull-out just off Hwy 395 and started at 4:15 AM. I had around 5 miles of approach through a low angle valley to deal with, so I threw on a few podcasts and just tuned out the morning hours in the dark. I made it to the base of the couloir in just over 2 hours, so it wasn’t that bad. The morning snow was refrozen and quick.
I booted up the Y-Chute on climber’s left of Bloody, which was refrozen and hard. I was able to get some boot penetration higher up the couloir once it turned semi-chalky. I realized I was probably not going to get corn at any point in the day given how early I was…oh well.
I topped out on Bloody and opted to ski the SE Face. I had some time to make the climb back up and hoped I might get early soft-ish corn. Plus, I wanted to give Bloody Couloir some time to soften.
Well, no dice…the SE Face was still very hard and firm. Too early for corn-o-clock. Oh well…It was still fun and engaging. Got to practice my edge engagement I guess.
I climbed back up to the ridge crest and on my way across the ridge back to the summit I dropped my pole off the south face. Dammit! I skied down to retrieve it, which was actual corn skiing. LOL. I booted back up and continued on to the summit.
I began my ski down Bloody Couloir around 11:30 AM. It was chalky up high but definitely not sun softened. I opted for the skier’s left ‘fin’, as the couloir splits. It was a fun level of steep and chalky…nice jump turns all the way down.
Skiing out the drainage was incredibly fast given the firm morning snow that still had not softened. The sun doesn’t quite touch much of the valley until 12 PM, so I had that going for me. I was able to ski within a mile of my car. I made it back to the car around 12:30 PM and was able to take my meeting on my phone as I skinned back. SCORE!
Overall, Bloody is a great line that I’m sure skis super well in softened snow. I was just a little too early to get all the good turns. Firm chalk was good for jump turns though!