Location: South Lake above Bishop
Elevation Change: 3,103′
Recommended Map: Bishop Pass – Tom Harrison
I won’t forget this day and need to go repeat this peak soon. These pics are from April 27, 2009. I joined up with John Morrison, Kip Garre, and an awesome customer and local Tahoe guy Max who I regret forgetting his last name. Max was so fired up to backcountry ski it was insane. One day in August he told me he walked out to ski deep in Desolation where we normally skin for 3 hours to get to. He walked with alpine skis and boots to ski deep suncups and was stoked. Max also joined us on a shop mountain bike trip to Idaho many years ago, having never ridden one. He charged at the front of the pack on every ride. Then there is Kip who looked for the steepest possible spot during our descent and had to downclimb sketchy ice over a cliff. That was exactly what he seemed to be looking for. Reminds me of the bumper sticker “my vacation is your worst nightmare”. And John who declared “I’m skiing two peaks at a time from now on”. And he showed us how Mt. Gilbert and Johnson make a nice loop to tour both for steep couloirs. We found a new to us couloir just beneath the summit as a bonus.
You can’t see Mt. Johnson from the parking lot at South Lake. Read my Mt. Gilbert post for trailhead access beta. Ski across the lake or walk around it and just veer a little left instead of heading up the East slopes of Gilbert, and you’ll know Johnson when you see it. A perfect couloir with protected skiing and a steep ridgeline plastered in snow to make it an easy walk up. We all walked back down due to thin hard coverage, but Kip did his thing up there. Mt. Johnson looks especially bad ass from Mt. Gilbert’s summit. You can easily get up to this high summit in half a day, because you are parked so high. Makes sense to ski Gilbert or some other slopes too. Other fantastic ski tours to high summits from this South Lake Parking lot are Mt. Goode, Mt.Aggasiz, Gilbert and Thompson.