FKT: Kyle Joba-Woodruff - Mt Williamson (CA) - 2024-04-11

Route variation
North Fork Bairs Creek -- on skiis
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 12m 20s

I’ve wanted to come back and do a hard push on Williamson for a while. With the right conditions I think skiing north fork bairs creek is possibly the fastest way to get up and down Williamson. There also aren’t many mountains in the world that offer ~7500’ of moderate, fall line skinning and skiing. It's an undeniably aesthetic route (once you get through the bushes).

This is about the same vert as the standard summer ascent route, but much less distance at 13ish miles. Both routes have their pros and cons (many miles of trail vs 2ish miles of bushwacking, much more shit to carry with skis vs running, fast ascent with running vs fast descent with skis, more transitions with skis, etc), so it’s not remotely reasonable to try to equate them. I’d just like to show off a fast, fun, and different way to the summit.

Notes on today:
- this would’ve been much faster last year, maybe 30-45 min? There was so much more snow, which would’ve meant more time on skis and fewer ski removals to walk across rocks/bushes (about 5 of those today). I skied giant steps in early may last year, and the coverage on the ascent via NF bairs creek was substantially better than today
- used my “skimo-plus” setup which was definitely the move for the required 7k of skinning and carrying through the bushes. A little slow on the descent when I got into survival skiing isothermal snow below 9k
- tried a double backpack combo - 40l bag for the bushwack (ski boots inside to avoid catching on bushes), and running vest for the skiing. A single 25l pack would’ve been better, I wasted a bunch of time transitioning between the two packs. Didn't have a great ski carry set up, so I just shouldered my skis for the ~500 ft booter near 12.5k
- still need to find a better way to cross the notch. I went with the same northerly traverse I've used before, which has a few easy rock moves and some heinous snow traversing (waist deep postholing today). I know there's a faster and safer route
- still managed to make like 10 costly wrong turns on the bushwack, probably 15 min lost
- 13-14.4k wrecked me, just like last year
- I spent about 10 minutes on the summit, but kinda felt like an idiot for not lounging up there for an hour. Not many places in the world match the beauty of the Sierra crest in the spring
- I do think someone who’s more fit than me, with a real skimo setup, a better snowpack, and dialed bushwacking could shave a good 90++ minutes off this time. It’d be sick to see that happen