Backcountry Skiing

Sierra Mountain Center Avi Presentation Followup

Greeting to all Avalanche students, those who did the online program, and those who wanted to but couldn’t. Here we are at the beginning of May and while restrictions are starting to loosen up, it seems as if the snow will melt a lot before we can get back into the mountains and do the field work as we had hoped. The plan was to use the Tioga Pass area, but the road is not open yet. So, it looks as if that will have to wait until next winter. But we will get it done. We have lists of everyone who did the online session and that will count [...]

By |2020-05-14T14:03:35-07:00May 5th, 2020|Avalanche, Backcountry Skiing|

Skiing Canada’s Wapta traverse

Over the years John Miller has done a bunch of trans Sierra ski trips with SMC. Given this year's low snow fall in California it was just as well that we decided to head north to Canada to do a hut to hut ski across the Wapta Traverse out of Lake Louise in Alberta. Along on the trip were John's sons Cooper and Rob, Marc Shea and SMC guides SP Parker and Andrew Soleman. We met in Calgary and headed out to Canmore the first day.  SP and Andrew had arrived the prior day to get everything organized and food shopped for. Day two was a little delayed due [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00April 12th, 2012|Backcountry Skiing|

A Guides Day Off; Skiing Mt Ritter

At this point in life one would think that I would take days off at a beach somewhere with drinks in tall glasses and little umbrellas in them. But no, have to go skiing. Friend Jen Giraud and I had talked for years about skiing Mt Ritter the prominent peak visible from Mammoth. A fantastic peak with the history of John Muir's first ascent and a ski from the very top. So we took snowmobiles ( have learned a few things) to Agnew Meadows, camped there and climbed and skied the next day. About 6000 vertical and about 17 miles. Snow was pretty good, but up high still wet winter [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 6th, 2011|Backcountry Skiing|

Skiing with Julbo and Glen Plake

If you have been around skiing for a while you have seen photos of Glen Plake. The guy with the multicolored mohawk and who skis on 210cm skis with no sidecut - and looks better on them than the rest of us put together. SMC worked with Julbo (the sunglasses people) to put on a three day program with the Julbo contest winner judy Wu and folks from a bunch of media outlets - skiing, Powder, Backcountry, Backcountry.com etc. The idea was to have Glen show people his home turf in his indomitable style and sleep out under the stars for the full backcountry experience. We went in and camped [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 3rd, 2011|Backcountry Skiing|

Skiing the Sierra High Route, 9-15 May

One of the most classic multi-day ski tours in the country is the Sierra High Route.  Stretching across one of the widest points of the range, the tour consistently stays above 10,000 feet and travels through some of the most impressive alpine terrain anywhere.  Jeff, Michael, and SMC's new intern Aaron joined me for a trip that seemed daunting at first, but became absolutely sublime by the finish. SMC adds mileage, terrain, impressive scenery, and fewer people (we saw none this year for the whole tour) by starting in Onion Valley and crossing Kearsarge Pass.  This is a higher start - indeed, we were able to skin almost [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:34-07:00May 28th, 2010|Backcountry Skiing|

Monarch Divide Ski Tour; May 3-9 2010

The Monarch Divide is SMC's favorite ski tour. More difficult than the high route is takes one into little visited areas of Sequoia Kings National Park, has great down skiing and fantastic scenery. Over the last decade or so this has become our signature tour and we are the only guides to guide this trip. John Miller has long wanted to do this trip but we were thwarted two years ago and went back out via Taboose Pass from upper Basin. This year John recruited two co-workers,, Heather Hollister, Danielle Carlin with Serge Dubovitsky and Peter Caldwell rounding out the group. Also along as an assistant guide was Andrew Soleman. [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 23rd, 2010|Backcountry Skiing|

Evolution Valley Ski; May 3-9 2009

Seems as if it has been one of those years for ski trips; make plans, change them, have people drop out, more come in, adapt and then have the weather change it all. So it was with this trip. Started out as a Monarch ski, but as numbers dropped the logistics and expenses of flying back increased. There are getting to be fewer and fewer charter companies around these days. So the trip morphed into a loop from Paiute to Echo Col with Dennis Sargent and Craig Sherman. Craig has done lots of trips over the years - decades actually- and at 65 is a great example of what we [...]

By |2009-05-18T16:50:00-07:00May 18th, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Sometimes its more about the across: Yosemite High Route

On April 10th, Nick, Sung, and Tom joined me for a great five day adventure along the eastern boundary of Yosemite National Park.  Normally, this tour follows the Crest from Mammoth Mountain to Tioga Pass, but a breakable crust made for challenging ski conditions and we decided to exit to June Lake instead.  Still, it was five full days of beautiful scenes. To see all of the photos from this trip, you can see my Picasa album HERE, or Sung's Picasa album HERE. [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00May 14th, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Minarets Circumnavigation 4.09

We have done lots of trips intot he Minarets over the years and all of them havebeen good. This area has a huge range of trips at all levels of difficulty from beginner to advanced. One variation is the trip over South Glacier Notch, Amphitheater Col and "The Gap" before heading down to Lake Ediza. This is an old Alpine Expeditions Route from the 1980s and we starting doing it a long time ago. Having had ankle surgery in December this seemed a good trip to see how the ankle held up and one to do quickly in three days. I also wanted some photos and video. (for video go [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Hut trip with Sung and Dan 3.28.09

This was our last hut trip and we made it a two day starting on Saturday morning, spending one night and out on Sunday. The road to North Lake is melting quickly and I made the error of taking a sled. So we had to manhaul that over a few patches of black top. But Scott and Amundsen had it worse! The hut is  great comfortable place with bunks woodstove and everything for a comfy stay. The skiing was mixed and the lower part of Paiute Canyon was melted out. But on Sunday we went up to above Lower Lamarck Lake and had some fun skiing on south facing slopes [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Stacey Stapleton’s intro to Backcountry Skiing

Stacey found an old phone number for SMC , back when Sp ran SMG, in the depths of the web. She was thinking about snow-shoeing, but since she already knew how to ski we persuaded her that a set of randonnee skis might be a better way to go. Stacey was not entirely convinced, mainly because she had never heard of this type of skiing. But after just a few hours she was convinced and had a great day touring up into Glass Creek Meadow. This area became wilderness just a few days ago as Obama just signed the legislation that has taken years to get through congress. So we [...]

By |2009-04-03T01:03:37-07:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Sierra High Route (Kearsarge Extension), 5-11 May 2008

The High Sierra Route is one of the classic ski tours of North America. Crossing at the widest and highest part of the range, this route runs through some of the wildest country in California. Then to top it off, Sierra Mountain Center charters a plane from Fresno or Visalia back to Independence, flying over the very mountains and passes teams spend seven days laboriously crossing. To start the trip off right, I volunteered to do something I’ve always wanted – to ski the High Route, solo, at a quick pace. You can read about my two and a half-day tour on my personal blog, Climb. Ski. Run. Sleep. Repeat. [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:42-08:00May 20th, 2008|Backcountry Skiing|

Beneath the Palisades, 16-20 April 2008

David, Danny, and Mike joined SP to ski the “Beneath the Palisades” Tour, which follows the Palisade Range along its western slopes from South Lake to Taboose Pass. Eric and I joined too in order to experience a ski tour that we hadn’t had time for yet, and now we’re both looking forward to doing again next year! The whole group met at Sierra Mountain Center’s international operations office in the heart of downtown Bishop to have breakfast at Jack’s and a gear check. Then our Operation Director Connie and her husband Mo helped us shuttle up to the end of the South Lake open road, which was still being [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:43-08:00May 20th, 2008|Backcountry Skiing|

Yosemite High Tour, 11-15 April 2008

Bob, Charlie, Curt, Jon, and Phil joined SP and I for one of the classic tours of the Eastern Sierra, the Yosemite High Tour from Mammoth Mountain to Tioga Pass. After a breakfast meeting in Mammoth Lakes, we drove up to the ski area to get started on Friday, 11 April. After a long descent to Agnew Meadows, we said goodbye to the snow-covered Minaret Summit Road and continued down to our first camp near Olaine Lake. We discovered fresh bear tracks moving ahead of us, and hung our food that night. The next morning we had to pioneer a new variation along the west side of the valley. Strong [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:43-08:00May 20th, 2008|Backcountry Skiing|