We have done lots of trips intot he Minarets over the years and all of them havebeen good. This area has a huge range of trips at all levels of difficulty from beginner to advanced. One variation is the trip over South Glacier Notch, Amphitheater Col and “The Gap” before heading down to Lake Ediza. This is an old Alpine Expeditions Route from the 1980s and we starting doing it a long time ago. Having had ankle surgery in December this seemed a good trip to see how the ankle held up and one to do quickly in three days. I also wanted some photos and video. (for video go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ime7qptCWdQ )
Jen Giraud, a friend from Mammoth also wanted to get out into the backcountry so she was the designated brawn of the trip and I was the brains. The winter has been characterized by a lot of strong winds and the day before we stasrted was no excpetion with guts to 130mph over Mammoth Mountain.
We started the trip by taking the Gondola up the mountain and then skiing down to Devils Postpile. The route goes up Minaret Creek to Minaret Lake and then gets interesting. South Glacier Notch had some slabby hard snow that took some ice axe work to cut a shallow ski trail into the pass. Once there it is a traverse across steep snow to Ampitheater Lake. This is surely one of the most spectacular palces in the Sierra with the Minarets all around. Amphitheater Col looks steep but it is not very big and is over quickly. I step kicked up it and Jen skied it – as mentioned she was the brawn. The other side is steep snow for about 200 feet and then as the angle eases it is back on skis and another traverse over slopes to “The Gap” between Waller and Leonard Minarets. The run down to Lake Ediza was a little spooky since the snow was still full on winter with slabby snow, crust and a bare hint of powder in a few places.
We camped below Lake Ediza and then headed out down Shadow Creek to Agnew Meadows and then slogged back up to Minaret summit and then to the ski area getting weird looks from everyone. A great trip and one that any intermediate skier can do and which takes you into one of the best parts of the Sierra. And even better far fewer people than in summer even though we did see a few tracks from prior visitors.