Tioga Pass "Backcountry" Skiing
May-June, 2001

Is it still "backcountry" if you never lose sight of your car? The Tioga Pass area offers roadside skiing as well as short day-hikes to high altitude snowfields. Normally, one could ski until August, but this year the conditions in June were more like late-summer.

Ellery Bowl

Ellery Lake

Highway 120 takes you through Yosemite and up to 9,990' at Tioga Pass. Just down the road is the beautiful roadside campground at Ellery Lake.

Ellery Bowl Chutes

Chute Out, Banana Chute, S-Couloir, and Poop Chute. The runout's a problem this late in the season, though.

Skiing, Fishing, Hiking, Driving

Looking southwest toward Yosemite. A Memorial Day weekend view that includes the crowded Tuolumne, fisherman on the lake (note the tiny boat to the lower right), and traffic backed up at the Park gates.

Easy Access

It's a long, 100' slog across a gravel turnoff and a metal dam walkway.

Lower Banana Chute

The runout includes a perfect spot for fly casting. I took three runs, going solo for the first, having a large South Asian family as an audience for the second, and getting a drunken cheer from fishermen on the lake for the third.

Mt. Conness, Saddlebag Lake

Saddlebag Lake

The view north from Saddlebag campground and the Saddlebag Lake Resort. A well-groomed trail leads along the lake to the left, with the first skiable chutes appearing after a mile or so.

Greenstone Lake and Mt. Conness

The Conness Glacier and numerous chutes can be found above the first rise. Take the steep chutes to the left of the lower waterfall to find some good summer skiing. North Peak, with a selection of extra-sick skiing, lies to the right.

North shore of Saddlebag Lake

Hike around the lake or take a boat, and skiable lines open up right in front of you. One day, I'll use the fill-flash on that camera.

Mt. Dana

The Dana Couloir cuts across the east face of Dana.

GPS Chute, Mt. Conness

The GPS Chute

Big, steep, fun skiing just a few hundred feet above Greenstone Lake. Check your topos--the location is not at all obvious from below.

The Crux

A steep, narrow shot with a nice crevasse for decoration. The boot tracks belong to a group led by Mitch Weber and the TelemarkTips crew. Check out his website for photos and movies of their accomplishments.

Mt. Conness and Conness Glacier

A rough scramble around some steep ledges leads to this beautiful spot at the base of the North Peak cliffs. The true summit is right of center.

Suncups on the lower chute

The hot Sierra sun and a dry spring has made the skiing surface less than ideal. Going higher and steeper is the only way to get the goods. This stuff made for an, uh, interesting descent.

North Peak of Conness

From just above the Conness Lakes basin. There was a good bit of unexpected down-climbing to get to the use path, but that just added to the adventure.

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