Mount Goode is one of those classic peaks that has a fine aesthetic quality while offering a challenging ski mountaineering ascent. The route to the summit plateau via Long Lake continues through various spill-ways and rolling terrain around to the south-facing snowfield and our chosen destination.
The year previous, we attempted a similar route and were sent back by high winds and near white-out conditions. This year, Scott Siegrist and Aaron Applebaum met up with me at Parcher's about a mile north of South Lake on a calm and clear Saturday. The temperature was well below freezing during the night that set the snow up solid for excellent skinning. As we skied past South Lake, there were huge plates of ice that were sharply tilted around the perimeter as the lake was partially drained in anticipation of heavy springtime melt. As we approached Long Lake, Hurd Pk with its long, vertical face classed 4-5 by John Monyier (meaning its slope is in the 45 degree range) loomed temptingly to the west as it is one very fun and exposed ski run.
Long Lake by its very name indicated a flat stretch that was suitable for skating and/or using a kick and glide that was worth removing the skins for. The acceleration and rhythm of going skinless for this stretch made up for a previous slower steeper pitch. As we proceeded around to Mount Goode's south side, the boulders took a more prominent presence in the snowfield until there was a gap in the snow after which we make a stop for snacks and drinks.
The nutrients and Gatorade re-energized me for setting a steep track to the upper south face. On approaching the summit plateau, the views of many of the surrounding peaks took over our view. Nothing was as beautiful as the one we were on as the sinuous narrow cornice line of snow was something out of an advertisement that one would see in a South American Peak climbing brochure. The smooth and bright white snow stood in stark contrast to the near-black plates that make up the summit block where we all took our turns to pose for peak photos.
Weather conditions were perfect and after signing the register we enjoyed more snacks before contemplating our descent. The snow had ripened nicely and the slightly southeast facing pitch was near 40 degrees and just waiting for well-deserved first tracks by each of us. When the snow started flying and the cameras clicking, there were several broadly smiling faces as the lines being laid were of the quality that backcountry magazines would be proud to have on their cover and in their centerfolds.
As we descended to a less steep section of the slope, we followed a continuous snowfield to skiers left that brought us to several tiered benches where we were again able to accelerate vertically leaving more sinuous lines until we reached our ascending trail. We were again surrounded by tall peaks that had fall lines that led to the drainages we were about to continue down. For the variety and adventure, we took a course to the west of our route in and relished in the many twists, turns and shorter steep pitches that we encountered until we reached South Lake and the buckling ice plates.
By late afternoon, the ice was still solid around the perimeter and we proceeded with some caution to avoid slipping into the many crevasses between the plates. Once back to the South Lake parking lot, it was mostly a downhill run on the snowed-in road back to Parcher's. Ellen was there with my truck to shuttle us to the parking area where we relaxed and recounted the fine experience we had high in the Sierra.
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