Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Freeskiing [Print without images]

Thursday, May 17, 2012
A bike-to-ski mission


Chris Benchetler heading into the Eastern Sierra's Bloody Couloir.

After a successful adventure one year ago, Gabe Taylor and I decided to take advantage of the low snow year and embark on another mission up to California's Bloody Couloir, a classic, must-do Eastern Sierra couloir.

We hoped to out-do our last year's spring adventure, Unbound to Bloody, so this year, Gabe came up with the brilliant idea of riding our mountain bikes up the access road to Laurel lake, hike and ski Bloody, and ride out.

And now, the easy part.

It seemed like a great idea until the first five minutes of riding our bikes. The access road looked more like an old steep dry riverbed than a dirt trail. We came across shale, boulders, loose sand, and everything in between. The next two hours of riding were spent in granny gear, with a lot of pushing and walking our bikes. It was gruesome. However, we finally made it to the snowline, but we were still looking at a fair amount of rock crawling and hiking before we were even to the base of Bloody Mountain.

Then came the easy part: A two-hour bootpack up the guts of the couloir. We couldn't have asked for a better day weather wise and we scored epic spring corn and warm temperatures. It was my first time skiing in shorts. After a few good turns and some high fives, we began our scary descent down the road.

Had I not been carrying boots, skis, and a plethora of other heavy objects, I may have not been as worried, but this road was so loose I was legitimately scared. I was definitely envisioning hitting some loose ground and catapulting over the bars with all my gear on my back.

Fortunately, we made it down unscathed. I'm looking forward to seeing how we can top it next year.