PETER GRUBB HUT TWICE January 30-31, 2001

Really seeking to do some skiing this year, I picked this current span of great weather to make the only local tour I know that I might expect to see other backcountry skiers, for some safety, in case of a freak accident. I began this tour, about my twenty-fifth time, from the Sno-Park near Boreal Ridge at 10:34 a.m. I had purchased a $25 annual Sno-Park pass. It was cold and slightly overcast, so I wore two caps, three top layers, and two bottom layers.

Wanting to test my gear and practice turning technique, I easily followed the main track here. Some times, if equipment fails, you don't want to be taking an important tour, or one where it would be difficult to get back. The packed trail here today showed boot prints of someone who had walked a bit. Off the track, I sank down as much as a foot.

Five other skiers were slightly ahead of me. They had left their vehicles where normally there is a berm, beside the off ramp exit. They said they were parked off the paved road, thus secure from ticketing. These people were seen headed up toward Castle Peak.

Not wishing to try the steep telemark turns without some practice, I just headed for the Sierra Club's Peter Grubb Hut. I broke trail trying to set a better track than the current one, which headed too low. The powder was too deep for any much speed down the small hill to Round Meadow.

Reaching the Hut at 12:30 p.m., I went inside and looked at the register book. I took pictures, and with flash, of the inside of the building. The Sierra Club had built these huts in the 1940-50's, to assist in a Sierra Ski-way, from which ski tourers could go from hut to hut. This idea fell out of favor as wilderness ideals prevailed.

Leaving by 1 p.m., I skied the 200' or so climb back over Castle Pass, and later found a small hill to practice short tele runs. I gained some easy speed to remember technique, and skied the 100' or so hill six times. I never fell once!

I took the main track back, which was very forgiving now, with plenty of soft snow. In the past, it could get rutty, crusty, or icy, with plenty of sitz-marks. This was rated an "advanced trail" by the Forest Service, presumably so beginners wouldn't become hurt. And also, cross-country skiers have died here, either from the weather, or by getting lost.

Spending a pleasant, lively night in Reno, NV, I read at the main library the next morning, and enjoyed this day's now clear blue sky and brilliant sun.

Taking this same, Grubb Hut trail, again, I made the round trip to the Hut and back in under four hours. Returning to the Sno-Park by about 4 p.m., I changed out of my ski clothes, and safely motored back down the Hill and home.

It is some 5-6 miles round trip to visit the Hut, with some 1,000' gain round trip total. I counted some 100' gain for each of the six runs I made for practice. As I came back to the Interstate, I wished I could more afford the lift pass for downhill skiing, which many have felt is exorbitant at the bigger resorts. If you want to learn skiing, it is much better, cheaper, and easier, at a good, smaller resort.