We divide these into Acquiring the Skills, our introductory programs that get you out there showing you that winter is actually pretty pleasant in the backcountry, as we work to build up your skills set expanding your horizons into the snowy months. Once you are comfortable with these basics it is time to start exploring more and venturing onto steeper slopes discovering what you can do through our Applying the Skills courses
Acquiring the Skills
Introduction to Backcountry Randonnée Skiing
Randonne or alpine touring equipment is the best way for the downhill skier who wants to get into the backcountry to make the switch over. The gear will feel familiar to the alpine skier but with lighter skis and the softer boots. Release the binding for the uphills and then lock it for the downhills. This course will get you out there and open a whole new vista of skiing away from the lift served areas.
June Mountain Skiing
For this program we use the easy access provided by the lifts at June Mountain ski area, warm up with a couple of runs and then duck under the boundary rope and head out to San Joaquin Ridge for the untracked snow. Great open bowls, steep chutes and forested glades abound and we will do as many laps as we can before heading back into the ski area or rounding it off with along run all the way back down to the road
Introduction to Touring Skills
This is the course that will get you out on an overnight backcountry trips and give you the skills to use on longer trans-Sierra tours. We work on ski skills, camping skills and just being comfortable in the beautiful backcountry surrounding Glass Creek out of Mammoth.
Guided Hut Trips
A guided hut trip is an ideal introduction to enjoying the winter backcountry. Some times midwinter camping can be just plain uncomfortable but a hut gives a perfect basecamp and a place to come back to and relax and warm up other than a tent. Our North Lake hut is a Weatherport structure 14×20 feet in size and it provides sturdy shelter from the elements. Inside is a wood fired stove to keep things warm and to warm up boots in the morning, a gas lantern to provide light during those long winter nights and a gas stove to keep the hot chocolate coming in the evenings or coffee to start the morning.
Any skier who has driven Highway 395 has probably looked up at the hundred miles of peaks stretching from Lone Pine to Tioga Pass and marveled at the abundance of opportunities to get out and ski long runs from the mountain tops to the valley floor. Spring is the high point of our ski season and one of our favorite times of the year. These descents range from mere thigh burners to all day undertakings with predawn starts and late afternoon finishes. You choose the length: a good day gets us 4,000’ of vertical and longer runs are possible.
We dream about it and a good powder day is the best reason we can think of to take a day off work and ignore any consequences. A perfect powder day is as close to heaven as you can get here on earth. While the Sierra powder is not as predictable as that of the intermountain states we have some excellent days in the mid winter months of February and March.
Spring is our favorite time to ski the Sierra – the days are long, the weather generally fine, and the snow is fantastic. The snow follows a predictable cycle of firm in the morning to soft and silky in the early afternoon, and we follow the sunny slope aspects as the sun clocks around, seeking out the best runs. We find ourselves constantly in debate as to what is more fun, skiing powder snow, or skiing corn snow. For the pleasant temperatures and ease of skiing, we definitely lean towards corn in the spring.
We ski one day with a full pack but then set up a base camp, day-skiing from here for the next several days. We return in the afternoons to a well-stocked camp, great food, and solar showers. Truly a hedonist’s dream ski vacation. We offer two different locations for our camps; the Palisades and Rock Creek Canyon.