Location: Independence, CA
Elevation Change: 3,433′
Recommended Map: Kings Canyon High Country – Tom Harrison
Although you could ski this peak from the highway wherever the snowline is, you might as well wait until the Onion Valley Trailhead at 9200′ is open above the town of Independence. Technically you aren’t supposed to camp overnight at this trailhead, but skiers do for sure. Never heard of a ticket here or on the east side really. Tahoe land managers and law enforcement could lighten up in comparison to those working in the Eastern Sierra, who know backcountry skiers help your economy and aren’t causing a problem to park their cars at the end of mountain roads. Sorry…. Ok, so leave a second car down lower where Sardine Canyon joins an old miner’s dirt road. It’s pretty obvious at a hairpin turn with a gate blocking the dirt road. There is room for a few cars here off the highway.
Onion Valley Trailhead is usually open by April when there is plenty of snow left to ski. In fact the snow lingers for awhile into late spring where you need it to be for the descent. From your car, head towards Golden Trout Lakes along it’s outlet creek for a short while and bang a right when the terrain allows you to point yourself towards Kearsarge Peak. You’ll skin the first half and probably walk on low angle rock to the summit up high. There are great views of Independence Peak and University Peak, which are excellent half day ski tours above the same trailhead. You should also ski Mt. Gould in this zone for corn snow and get a view west at your next multi day ski trip.