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 the steep terrain beneath the summit and search around for the right aspect in the many avalanche paths which provide really fun ski terrain for 4000′. You will pop out in-between the two Twin Lakes. If you parked on the far east end, you are in for a 30-45 minute easy slog along the lake’s edge on a snow covered dirt road. If you want to skip that and know what your doing to access climbing 4000′ of 30-40 degree terrain, park in-between the Twin Lakes and just go up and down it. 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, go out 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. 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. 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.