Location: Bridgeport, CA
Duration: All Day
Elevation Change: Twin Lakes is 7100′. Crater Crest Summit is 11,200′.
Recomended Map: Hoover Wilderness Map by Tom Harrison
The ski tour to the summit of Crater Crest in the Sawtooths above Bridgeport is the absolute best introduction to that area. The views are incredible in every direction, and navigating is easy. You can climb and return by the low angle Eastern Slopes by starting at the far East End of Twin Lakes, plowed year round. The first 500′ will be the hardest skinning, as the slope above the car melts out quick and is covered in bushes. Climbing the mellow east slopes means you will add some mileage to your day if you ski down the north gullies below the summit. They are hard to resist when you get there. The west facing side of the peak doesn’t hold snow, only the north and east.
Most people ski down the north side from the summit, searching around at first for the best snow in the many avalanche paths which provide really fun ski terrain for 4000′. A little tilt to NE or SE will give you better or worse skiing. You will pop out in-between the two Lakes. If you park on the far east end of Twin Lakes, you are in for a 30-45 minute skin along the lake’s edge on a snow covered dirt road leading back to your car. If you want to skip that to climb and ski the north side more directly, park in-between the Twin Lakes and toss your skis or board on your back and start the endless staircase. I’ve never done it, but I assume some might in firm snow for a corn descent. You know how to find corn right? It’s gotta be cold for a few days but also not blow wind on you during your ski down. Check out the entire route from your car with binoculars and look for tracks. You basically can start skiing right from the summit, and there are no cornices up there.
If you want a 6000′ day and beautiful loop tour, park at the far east end of Twin Lakes and ski one of the Monument Ridge Couloirs first. Start early and basically follow the summer trail route to Tamarack Lakes. Pick out one of the many 1000′ couloirs and resist the temptation to just hang out there all day, skipping Crater Crest. The crazy vertical line near the summit does go through, although I haven’t done it or even seen the whole thing from any vantage point. I didn’t look down it from the top as I didn’t even know about it, until friends said they skied into it. The main Monument Couloir is a wide and wind protected line I like to ski, that starts about 500′ below and to the west of the summit. You don’t see it go through along your skin, but you can certainly make it out from town. The couloirs on the eastern side of the ridge are sweet too, as is the bowl that flows off Monument peak’s East side. If you link up Monument Ridge to Crater Crest, try to resist the temptation to skin up to the false summits of Crater Crest. Look at a map and you’ll see it’s a big area up there. You need to get all the way to the most northern edge of the Crater Crest Ridge, because that’s where your skiing down….to the North and down to Twin Lakes. You’ll be carrying your skis a lot up there and wandering around more than you think. Try to hold a consistent contour a few hundred feet below Crater Crest and there will be more consistent snow to skin to the proper north peaklet.
Bridgeport’s economy seems to be hurting to me. Most of the businesses are for sale or closed. Summer tourism is short lived and nearby Tuolumne and Mammoth steal the show. Eat in town and consider staying there. Try not to buy gas there however, it’s the most expensive I have ever seen. Someone please explain that one to me. And also please post pics and here and tell us how it goes in a reply to this post please!