Hi there ice climbers!,
Happy spring. The end of another Eastside ice season is nigh. It’s been an interesting one, with lots of warm temps and falling ice, but it always provided just enough fun, with reasonable access conditions. It is nice to re-affirm that even in such a warm climate, the Eastern Sierra still hosts the most reliable winter ice climbing on the west coast. Though temps have cooled slightly in the past few days, spring has sprung and the sun is higher in the sky. In Lee Vining Canyon, the south facing canyon wall is bare of snow and the long wave radiation off the hillside is more intense. This will have a profound effect on the lingering ice on Chouinard Falls. If you go, go early in the morning, after a sub-freezing night. This is shedding season ice gets water running underneath and large sheets of ice shear and fall to the ground. Not a time to mess with unstable ice. Don’t be too proud to back off and retreat if you are uncertain about the stability of what you are hoping to climb. We are going to call the season a wrap at this point for guiding in LVC.
Other places like Lundy Canyon and in the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek near Mt. Whitney are holding well though, and they are seeing rare access with the ability to drive to the summer trailheads in March. Let us know if you want to plan some guided outings up there to extend the ice climbing season and take advantage of drought conditions. In fact, the hot tip is that the couloirs in the Palisades are in prime alpine ice climbing conditions. No big snow in the long range forecast so this is likely to continue to be a rare and unique opportunity for springtime. We are going make this our last ES Ice Report of the season and start up our High Sierra Alpine Conditions Report early to discuss alpine conditions more as this crazy 4-year Sierra drought continues.
Be safe and have fun out there. Thanks for tuning in to this report this season and hope to see you in the mountains!