In the late spring, the Tioga road is usually open to just above Tioga Pass Resort, where there are open bathrooms and parking at a wide spot above Tioga Lake. This is the best jumpoff point for tours of Mt. Dana, False White Peak, and other nearby destinations. At this time of year the parking lot is usually packed with ski mountaineers from all over. It's a good place to renew acquaintances with people from Tahoe and the Bay area.
This Memorial Day weekend the Norpine Shop was sponsoring a tele event at Mammoth, including a tour to False White Peak led by Allan Bard. Three of us, Lynne Frick, Ruth von Rotz, and myself, decided to do our own thing and tour the Gaylor Peak and Gaylor Lakes area north of Tioga Pass. It was Lynne's first backcountry tour. We made an easy day of it.
After checking the route on the map (photo left), we started from the parking lot and skied to the saddle west of Gaylor Peak, where the ladies clowned for some pictures in front of Mt. Dana (photo right.
We skied down to and around the lake and up to the stone cabin at the Great Sierra Mine site on Tioga hill (elevation about 10,800'). We then skied down the steepish chutes back toward Tioga Pass Resort. The skiing in the chutes was pretty fair. Ruth prowled along the ridge looking for patches of good snow from the last storm. She would crow triumphantly, "Aha! I'm going to parallel this!" Zoom!
We skied all the way down to the Resort, but this is not the right thing to do. Near the bottom the creek has cut gorges in the rock and it took some bushwhacking and stream-jumping to get through. It is better to cut back toward the road at about the elevation of the parking lot. There is a saddle that provides fast access past the Tioga Tarns to the bowl just to the northeast of the parking area.This route also leads directly (with some ups and downs) from the road to the mine site at Bennettville. From there one can ski up the drainage to get to False White and Mt Conness, avoiding the dreadful Saddlebag Lake road, which is full of whoop-de-dos and bare patches at this time of year.