The ski slope

Where Mount Wood is the skinning man’s Mammoth-adjacent ski area, Kid Mountain is the equivalent down the grade. Lying just across Big Pine Creek from the Glacier Lodge road, it offers about 4000 feet of moderate north-facing skiing in several wide gullies. Like its neighbor “Big Kid” to the west, it is a miserable sand slog in the summer, which is why I had not yet done it. I had been saving it for an easy day, but ended up doing it on a day when I was well-rested and in the area. To make it a full outing and hopefully allow the north-facing slopes to soften, I went up the north side, then down and back up the southeast side that drains into Little Pine Creek.

The big slide

It was cold and I was in no hurry, so I slept down in the valley and drove up in the morning. There were a couple of other cars in the lot, but it looked like I would have the hill to myself. A county worker drove up to start the road grader as I started walking from the winter trailhead, but then got back into his truck and left the machine running. I hiked the road to the big slide bridging Big Pine Creek, then put on skins to cross the mass of avalanche debris below the main ski chute. The massive wet slide destroyed a number of trees, and left enough compacted snow to likely bridge the creek until summer.

Looking up Little Pine Creek

The snow on the face was ominously icy and textured, but I thought little of it as I skinned and then cramponed up the slope, since it would be hours before I had to ski back down. I reached the crest slightly east of the summit, and wove my way through a few exposed rock outcrops to the highpoint. I appreciated the view of the “real” Palisades for awhile, partly obscured by Kid’s higher neighbor to the west, then clicked in and went in search of good snow to the southeast. I was amazed and disappointed to find more of the same “rumble strip” snow as on the north face, and cut back and forth trying to find a softer aspect. I only found better skiing a couple thousand feet down, where the face turns into an east-facing gully at the head of Little Pine Creek. I made some fun turns, then stopped on a promontory between two creek branches, put on my skins, and headed back the way I had come.

Lots of this

I took a slightly different line on the way up, skipping the summit and cresting the shoulder just east of the main descent gully. Unfortunately the snow on the ridge was still to hard and cold, as was that on the way down, even on the slightly east-facing side of the gully. I practiced leaning into my boot and aggressively carving my turns to hold an edge and limit chattering, which was exhausting and not particularly fun, but probably helped my form. Only toward the bottom, where I found a more easterly slope, did the snow soften to corn. I slid back to the road, put my skis on my pack, and started clomping back to the car. Partway there, I was passed by a Jeep, and realized that the county had opened the road while I was gone. Part of me was annoyed to have mistimed this outing by a day, but now I knew that, with a shorter approach, I could go deeper in the Palisades in the future.

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