Sierra Spring Sessions With Jeremy Jones
By Jeremy Jones | July 14th, 2011
HIGH SIERRA, CA. I am going to let you in on a little secret. Do you want half the crowds on a powder day, empty trail-heads, a stable snow pack, easy access to the high peaks and all your lines totally filled in with snow. Welcome to snowboarding in the month of May and June. They are the premier months to ride big lines and May is starting to be my 2nd favorite month of the year for snowboarding behind April. It is my new March.
The hard part is not being burnt out on riding at this time of year. Up until recently the end of April would mark the end of my season. I started realizing a few years ago that I was blowing it. I ride about a 125 days a year now and why not have those days fall over the best months of the year to ride. Why was I lapping the white ribbon of death and risking season ending injuries trying to ride low tide powder in October but skipping out on riding in May when the conditions are way better and safer?
If I was burnt out in May then I started my season to early. November has now become a maybe month for me. Nothing beats early season powder and every few years November can produce amazing snow and I enjoy every inch of it but I do not force it. November has become more and more a surf, bike, climb month for me. May is the closest thing we have to a sure thing in the mountains. It is not just in North America either. In Europe the serious riding doesn’t start going down until the middle of May and extends through June.
**I am not riding everyday like in the heart of the winter. But the long days, coinciding with end of the season leg strength make it the perfect time of year to ride bigger objectives. Here are a few photos from the last month of riding in the High Sierra.**
**This time of year it is all about cloud cover if you want to ride powder because the sun is so high in the sky and can cook the snow fast on the days with full sun.**
**I had the pleasure of doing a few trips this spring with John Morrison. He is the fastest climber I have ever seen in the mountains and knows the Sierra better then most. He would break trail all day with out breaking a sweat. This is about as close as I could get to him.**
**On my third lap above 13,000 ft and 6500 vertical ft of climbing for the day and my legs are cooked. This is the 1st turn of a 1000 ft chute and is a little exposed so I grabbed my axe for extra security. I find myself riding with my axe more and more these days. Why wait for just the “fall you die” white ice lines to use my axe. It is one of the best tools to in my pack and something I want to be totally comfortable riding with.**
**June 7th. My first day riding corn snow since the January thaw. All day sun, second run of the day, our car parked 4,000 ft below us. Life is good.**
**This is the crux of a 2,000 ft line off a 13,000 ft peak. I have never seen this face filled in so I figured it was now or never if I wanted to ride it. It is one of the steepest pitches I have ridden in California.**
**Tracks normally do not look like this at the end of May.**
**The High Sierra makes me feel small and scale is always hard. What I think will take me ten minutes to walk across takes 40 and what I think will take a few turns takes twenty. The is the top of a 1,500 ft line. This ramp is super exposed and quite “airy.” I estimated the cornice at about 20 ft. high. They are the biggest hazards in the mountains right now. This line sits at 12,900ft and a ridge top wind kept the temps cool. Last year I backed off this line because it was too warm and I did not want to ride under the cornice.**
**Ralph Backstrom is one of the fastest riders I know. He makes the mountains he rides look small.**
**The start of a thousand foot corkscrew. At 13,ooo ft I waited as long as possible for the sun to warm this face before dropping over the edge. I was rewarded with perfect edgable corn snow with not a ripple on it.**
**I find myself bombing down the steeps making a handful of turns over a few thousand vertical and wiggling as many as possible in the flats.**
**This is why I live in California. Waves are a few hours away at all times. After a long couple days in the High Country it was time to get my surf on. **
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