After many years of traveling the world, we have come to realize that the best backcountry skiing to be found anywhere is right here in the Sierra Nevada. The snowpack is reliable, avalanche danger is relatively predictable, and the terrain is superb. And then there’s the snow: deep winter powder and silky spring “corn snow” that’s the finest anywhere, snow that’s often referred to as “ego snow”. Not to mention the long winter programs season – long after the Utah snow junkies have put away their boards in favor of bikes we’re still searching for fresh tracks and long runs, climbing the peaks and skiing off them.
These we divide into Acquiring the Skills, which are our introductory programs that get you out there, show you that winter is actually pretty pleasant in the backcountry. We work to build up your skills set and expand your horizons into the snowy months. Once you are comfortable in the backcountry it is time to start exploring more and venturing onto steeper slopes discovering what you can do through our Applying the Skills courses.
Hut Based Trips
SMC operates its own backcountry hut at North Lake out of Bishop. It is fully equipped to make life easy and pleasant and makes an ideal location for skiing, boarding or snowshoeing.
Sierra Wilderness Ski Tours
We are probably biased, but we believe that this is what the Sierra Nevada has in spades; long tours in the Sierra with warm days, perfect corn snow, spectacular scenery and no crowds. We are stunned that people flock from California to Europe to ski, ignoring the best Spring skiing in the world in their backyard. These trips vary from introductory two-day tours to advanced 10 day Trans Sierra adventures.
Downhill in the Backcountry
These programs focus on the down skiing part of the backcountry experience as we hike for turns. Some programs are partially lift-accessed and these trips are ideal for intermediate to advanced alpine skiers who want to get you out and ski the backcountry.
The Sierra is largely overlooked for winter mountaineering potential. Why wait until spring and summer? We fondly refer to these as the “freezing your ass off series.” Enjoy…
Avalanche Training Courses
To travel safely in the winter backcountry you must have the ability to recognize avalanche terrain, judge and assess the dangers and also know emergency procedures should an avalanche occur and affect your group. This year we are offering all three nationally recognized levels to help you expand and hone these essential snow-travel skills. All of our courses follow the guidelines and standards of the AAA (American Avalanche Association) for certification.
Waterfall Ice Climbing
For many people ice is best served with scotch or ground up with tequila. But for the climbing aficionado climbing frozen waterfalls is a unique and satisfying experience. So if you have a basic knowledge of belaying and rock climbing and/or mountaineering come check out winter ice climbing in California’s premier locations; June Lake and Lee Vining Canyon.
Custom Trips and Private Guiding
If your schedule doesn’t match ours, or maybe our scheduled trips just aren’t what you’ve got in mind, we offer private trips to meet your needs and time constraints. Just give us a call or an e-mail if you’d like more information about the possibilities.
As well as our regular scheduled trips we offer the option of a custom trip with private guiding. Sierra Mountain Center leads expeditions in Alaska, the Arctic, Canada, Europe, and Patagonia as well! If you'd like to do something a little different, please get in touch!