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Yosemite Winter Club XC End of Season Report 5/12/16

Greetings all Yosemite Winter Club Cross Country Ski Enthusiasts, Fans, and Friends

We thought we would let everyone know how the year’s ski season went, remind everyone of some of the changes to Club operations, and let you know of opportunities for volunteering that are coming up in the spring, late summer and/or fall. 

All trips were able to go with a decent snow pack this year. The Turnaround Trip was delayed due to a storm that made for avalanche hazard in Tioga Canyon and over the pass. But the trip went off a month later with no insurmountable problems.  

Thank you to everyone who made this season’s backcountry ski trips possible. It took many volunteers to retrieve caches last spring and summer, store caches over the summer outside of the “bear zone”, coordinate shopping with menus, repack the caches, and place them at Glacier Point, Ostrander Hut*, and all along the TransSierra and Tuolumne Meadows Turnaround route. 

Thank you to Kay Pitts for hosting First Ski and pre-trip lodging/meals at the Falcon’s Nest, and to David and Vonnie for lodging at the Peregrine for First Ski, and for helping out with shuttle services. 

Thank you to the National Park Service, who coordinated with us in getting caches in and facilitated the use of the huts for our groups. 

Thank you to the Yosemite Conservancy for their care and stewardship of the Ostrander Ski Hut that allows the historic use of that remarkable building to continue, and for making it possible for us to continue the tradition of YWC at Ostrander Ski Hut. 

Thank you to the hutmasters at Ostrander for being there for us and everyone who has the fortune to make it up the hill. 

Thank you to members of the Mono Lake Committee who picked up our party at the Lee Vining Airport and shuttled them and their gear up to the gate on the Tioga Pass Road for the TransSierra trip. 

We would also like to acknowledge the great pilots of Courtney Aviation who get us over the mountains from Pine Mountain Airport to Lee Vining Airport for the TransSierra trip - its a beautiful flight. 

*Ostrander Caches were placed fall of 2014 and were not used, so rested comfortably in the basement of Ostrander Hut, awaiting our return this February.

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Cache Retrieval - early June to July; contact Mark Blum. 

  • From Glacier Point NPS cabin once the road to GP is opened: Coordination with NPS required. [We just heard that Betsy Blum and Brenda Markham picked up these caches yesterday. Thank you to Tayla Havice, Mark Blum, Brenda and Betsy for coordinating the effort and retrieving the cache containers.] 
  • From TransSierra Cabins (Ferdinand’s cabin at Tioga Pass, and Snow Flat Cabin). The minute the Tioga Pass Road opens, our containers and equipment in the cargo container near the Visitors’ Hut/Campground Office need to be retrieved. Coordination with NPS required. 
  • Ostrander Caches; These caches will be hauled out by Minarets Pack Station wranglers. Retrievers will need to make arrangements as to where to meet the wranglers - maybe Bridalveil campground to retrieve the caches. We will be in contact with the Hutmasters so we know when they are bringing their caches out and also contact Minarets to see when they can get up there. 

Foodpacking - September 24th at Mark and Betsy Blum’s house near Coarsegold. This effort is coordinated by Kris Kiehne and involves shopping for food, and packing the containers in accordance with the menus. We will send out reminders and details closer to the date. 

Food Cache placement - first two weeks of October. Mark Blum coordinates this task that involves taking food caches into the various cabins for the Glacier Point Trips and the TransSierra and Tuoloumne Turnaround Trips. Coordination with NPS required. Coordination with the Minarets Pack Station wranglers to take the Ostrander cache in. 

Ski Trail Restoration and Maintenance

The Merced Crest Trail is just one of the winter trails that needs maintenance and restoration of markers in the trees for winter travelers. We are working with NPS and Yosemite Conservancy to put together a team. The tentative dates are the first two weekends in October. We will keep the Club updated on details as we find them out. Joe Chudy and Steve Fretz are coordinating this effort. 

Transsierra Shuttle Van Driver: A volunteer may be needed to shuttle skiers from the personal car drop off in Yosemite Valley to the Pine Mountain Airport. This would avoid the cost of renting a van. The shuttler would be reimbursed for gas. 

If you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities contact us. 

The following is a summary of the First Ski members' meeting Action Items.

Club Dues: As is common practice for most organizations, the Cross Country Section will now require dues for participation in Section activities including First Ski, overnight trips, and volunteer activities. The dues will be $25/person for those persons wishing to remain a member in good standing in the club, whether or not you are applying for trips. These dues will be in addition to trip fees and would not be refundable if you do not go on a trip. Dues will be free for children 12 and under, and $15 for children 13 to 18 years old. This policy will take effect in the fall of 2016.

Changes to Ostrander Hut Trip: This trip has become increasingly expensive and we are taking steps to reduce the costs associated with it. When the club reserves spaces at Ostrander Hut, we must pay for the spaces up front, and no refunds are possible if we don’t fill all of the spaces. For this reason, sign-ups for this trip will be solicited in early fall, prior to the Conservancy opening up reservation window. The Club will only reserve spaces for members who have committed to the trip and who have provided a non-refundable check to cover reservation costs. Cost reduction measures for this trip include: reducing the number of nights from 3 to 2 and eliminating alcoholic beverages from the cache in order to reduce the cost of bringing in caches. Members will be free to carry in their own alcohol.

Tuolumne Turnaround (TTA): We will look into the feasibility of conducting two TTA trips for next year. Enough people signed up to fill more than two trips this past season.

Application Changes: A question will be added to the application for next year, asking that people who apply for multiple trips prioritize their choices as to which trip they would like if they can’t get all the trips they request. Because we need more time to go through applications before First Ski, we will be moving the application deadline up to December 15th. This will be a hard and fast deadline; if your application comes in late, and the trip is full, regardless of your volunteer status, you will be put at the end of the line as an alternate. Next season’s application will have a space for members to report their volunteer activity for the year.

No Customizing Trip Costs: There will be no adjustments for staying/not staying the night before at Falcon’s Nest or other services associated with a trip. Skiers are expected to participate in the trip as planned.

Volunteer Opportunities: It has come to our attention that many of the ski trails, like the Merced Crest Trail and others are missing tree markers. The marker trees have fallen and the markers have not been replaced on standing trees. This would be a good fit for the Club as a volunteer project. Joe Chudy volunteered to explore volunteering opportunities with NPS for the Club and Steve Fretz volunteered to assist in that effort.

In order to reduce costs for the Transsierra, we will solicit a volunteer to shuttle skiers from the personal car drop off in Yosemite Valley to the Pine Mountain Airport. This would avoid the cost of renting a van. The shuttler would be reimbursed for gas. 

Attracting New Members: An outreach committee was formed consisting of Tom Cumpston, Olie Brown, Kris Kiehne, Jane Goodman, and Dave Field. They will look in to ways to bring the XC section to the attention of interested parties. If you have any suggestions please contact us or any of the committe members. Some suggestions included:

  • Put up a Facebook Page for the XC section. We should check with the main club about this.

  • Create a flyer that can be left at businesses such as Herb Bauer and REI and business cards with club contacts that can be handed out when you meet people on the trail.

  • Create a slide presentation that can be presented at REI or shown to hiking/outdoor groups.

  • Coordinate with Dave Todd on member outreach.

Other: Next year’s First Ski will have a potluck dinner for Friday night and Saturday night. The Club meeting will be Saturday night to allow people to ski more on Sunday. We may assign dishes or do something else similar – Friday night there was not enough food, and Saturday there was way too much.

Lastly, we encourage everyone to join the Yosemite Conservancy. 

We are trying to partner more with the Conservancy on trail maintenance and support of the Ostrander Ski Hut. By joining the Conservancy, we show our support of their efforts to maintain and improve recreational opportunties in the Park. Conservancy members also receive a discount at Ostrander Ski Hut. 

Visit the YC website at

If you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact us. Have a great summer everyone!

Terry and Melinda Rivasplata

916 454 5937