Nine skiers and one K-9 ventured on a one-day ski trip from Mt. Pinos to Mt. Abel in the San Rafael Mtns. These were Barbara Cohen, Keith Martin, Ed Swayze, Richard Contreras, Grace Tsang, Dietrich Machleder, Dana Pearce, Nancy Gordon, Reiner Stenzel and his German shepherd Tatanka.
The long day started with driving four cars to the Mt. Abel trailhead at 7 am, then squeezing into Reiner's VW bus to go up to Mt. Pinos to meet the rest of the group and to start the tour at 8:30 am. Due to beautiful weather, excellent snow conditions, and a straight-line path we were soon on top of Mt- Pinos (8,831').
In the clear air we saw in the distance the white peaks of Sierra Nevada and, deceptively close our goal, Mt. Abel or Cerro Noroeste. Beyond Mt. Pinos we skied 400' down and then ascended Sawmill Mtn (8, 715'). Following the ridge due West we headed to Grouse Mtn. where we had lunch at 1 pm. Excellent telemarking terrain was found on the open NW slopes of Grouse which lead down into a saddle (7, 618') from which we ascended Mt. Abel (8,286').
After looking at the abandoned lift area and searching for a summit register it became 4 pm and time to ski down the road for the remaining 8.5 mi to the cars. A shortcut of the SW loop of the road may have saved us a mile but got some of us into a thicket and a steep ravine which had to be walked down.
Finally, about 2 mi before road end the snow faded away and we walked down with a beautiful sunset to the west and a nearly full moon rising in the east. By 6:30 pm we were back at the cars after a 15mi +1500'gain, long but rewarding day.
Some of us were shuttled back to Mt. Pinos to their cars. This trip is was a fine addition to our local day tours but should not be underestimated, especially in poor weather.
Reporter: Reiner Stenzel
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