We started on the little turnout from 89 south marked O8/Pole Creek. A few skiers and snowshoers had been on this road in the previous days, but there was still lots of powder and snowshoes became necessary almost immediately as the sun came out and the temperature climbed.
The road is quite curvy in places (we stayed on O8 - a few other roads branch from it) but gets you up to 8000' quite fast. It took us about 2 and a half hours to get to the brand new Bradley Hut, which is apparently open for free for the public. We saw many ski turns on Silver Peak and surrounding slopes, but no skiers.
We went up to the pass in the ridge just to the right of peak 8597', which was very heavily corniced, as were many parts along the ridge. Besides the possibility of those sliding, the avalanche danger seems to be fairly low in this area once a few sunny days help consolidate the snow...
We dropped about 500' from the main crest (the slopes are much steeper higher up), meeting what must have been the PCT since we followed a pretty well-cleared path through the trees to the plateau 200' below Tinker Knob. There were a group of about 30 skiers taking a class from some guiding company, so the summit wasn't too quiet that day!
Views in all directions were nevertheless excellent.
I originally had the overly ambitious plan of traversing to Granite Chief, but the powder had made the going slower, and the traverse seems to involve plenty of elevation loss and gain - many of the peaks along the way have very steep summits and shoulders, so it's probably easier to follow the PCT route approximately.
Any skiers going there this winter might be interested/amused by a HUGE ski jump that was built about 1/4 mile west of the summit, at the edge of the summit plateau area.
It's hard to exaggerate how big it is, and the slope a few feet out increases to well over 45 degrees!
No matter how much new snow falls this winter, i'm sure this jump will remain visible. If you dig out the middle, you'll have a snow cave with room for a small army.
Correction: backcountry ski huts in the Tahoe area
The Bradley ski hut (near Tinker Knob) and the others in that area are NOT first-come, first-serve like the Tuolumne Meadows hut. I was asked to forward this to correct the record..
Dick Simpson adds:
Bradley Hut is owned and maintained by the Sierra Club. During winter months it is available for use on a reservation basis. Contact the Sierra Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge in Norden for details (530-426-3632 or go to www.sierraclub.org/outings and follow links to huts and/or lodges). Cost is $10/night/person. Reservations can be made by anyone (Sierra Club membership is not required). Maintenance is performed by "work parties" of volunteers, usually in Sept-Oct; Club membership is not required to participate in work parties either. The income from winter users roughly covers work party expenses.
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