For the experienced backcountry skier this is one of the most interesting and challenging sections of the Sierra Crest. The area is seldom visited in winter and there is a little bit of everything on the tour. The climbs up the passes are often steep and the downhills are exhilarating runs. The intricate route weaves its way along the Sierra Crest, sometimes on the east side, sometimes on the west, but always staying high and contouring the upper reaches of numerous drainages. We have upped the pace of this tour to undertake it in four days so be prepared to move efficiently.
We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000 feet) just prior to the trip. Spending a night or two in Mammoth or camped at the trailhead campground would do the trick. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
SMC does not rent ski equipment, but we work with Mammoth Mountaineering (760-934-4191) to get you set up on the correct equipment. MMS has a very wide range of rental equipment that is probably the best you will find anywhere in California. All gear is current state of the art, well tuned and rental fees are deductible if you buy a set up from them. (We highly recommend renting before you buy so as to find what suits you best, since a full setup is pretty pricy). We can coordinate the rental and suggest that if you can you arrive Mammoth the night before and get fully set up since boot fitting can take some time.
Return to Backcountry Spring Tours
From Bishop we will shuttle up to Rock Creek Canyon and start skiing from the road closure. Depending upon the winter snowpack this may be at East Fork, or it may be at Rock Creek Lodge if the road has been plowed. If snow conditions we will climb directly to Halfmoon Pass via steep slopes and descend a short rock gully towards Golden Creek and drop down towards treeline and camp. The following day we ascend into Pioneer Basin take a small un-named pass into Hopkins Basin, crossing Hopkins Pass and down the steep descent to Big McGee Lake below Red and White Mountain.
The peaks here are quite unique, being composed of a layered metamorphic rock in colors of red, grey and white.
The next pass, Corridor Pass, is aptly named as it offers a narrow passage into Convict Canyon. The terrain appears even more improbable from here onwards but there is always a nontechnical slope leading into the next drainage, with superb skiing as an extra. Here, below impressive Red Slate Mountain, we make camp and the adventurous can set out to finish the day with long runs on perfect spring corn. Once we arrive at Duck Lake the difficulties are behind us and we can savor the long final run down to the trailhead at Tamarack Lodge and good times in Mammoth.
You need SMC Advanced Ski Skills or better for this tour.
You should be able to ski advanced ski area runs confidently and be proficient at kick turns, traversing on 40 degree slopes, side slipping and parallel or telemark turns all while carrying a pack of about 35-40 pounds. Prior winter camping and mountaineering skills are required. This is a quick paced tour and you will be traveling up to nine miles a day and gaining up to 3000 feet a day so an excellent level of aerobic fitness is required.
Price includes guiding, van shuttle, permits, all necessary group gear, avalanche beacons, tents, kitchen gear and dinners, lunches and breakfasts (you bring snack items).
We do not include accommodation in the pricing but can make local suggestions for you.
Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List:
Details and itinerary
Rock Creek to Mammoth tour map