We had a great time in the ideal conditions Sat. and Sun. Warm and little wind in a nice bowl so we could roll around, jump on our backs to practice ice ax arrests and dig, poke, and make anchors around with our flukes, axes, stakes and ropes. Pizza and residential accommodations for the group Sat. night (after knot checkouts) in Independence were very comfortable. Hard snow early Sun. morning enabled us to go through crampon use and some slipperier arrests.
Our snow examiners and instructors were relentless in covering the stringent Angeles Chapter requirements for checkout (allowing a prospective leader to conduct snow climbs using climbing equipment including ice ax and crampons). Of the 20-odd participants, about one third were instructors/examiners, one third aspired to pass M or E-level, and the remainder practice only. I believe 4 were successful in the checkoff. All learned a bunch.
Two of us, Patty Rambert and I, summited Mt.Gould via Kearserge Pass on Friday. We started out without crampons and never did use them that day. We were postholing by noon, so then we needed and used snowshoes and ski poles. The snow didn't firm up again until about 10 pm (yes it was a long day). Hardly any snow on the south ridge of Gould all the way to the top. We were the first to sign the register since early January. From the summit we could see 30-60% or so snow coverage on S facing slopes of the peaks. For N facing slopes and in basins on W side there was pretty solid snow coverage. For the lakes on the way to Kearsarge Pass - they were snow & ice covered still, except Little Pothole Lk about 30% melted. Although the day was even hot at times, It was cold! coming back at night - 30 degrees with a 20 knot west wind blowing at our backs. I was glad to start off a season (earlier this year) of Sierra beauty, exercise, and enjoyment!
I have heard that many tracks are in the snow up the N Fork Lone Pine Creek and to the top of Mt Whitney via the Mountaineers route making it a fairly straightforward ascent for this time of year.