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 marvelled 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 feet of vertical and longer runs are possible.
We keep the itinerary open until we see how conditions are and which aspects are in the best shape, then make our selection based on this information, and the group’s experience and objectives. There is certainly no shortage of lines to choose from. One of our favorites is the legendary Elderberry Canyon. The driven among you can go all the way to the summit for a very long day with 7,000′ of descent.
Most mortals however are content with four to five thousand feet of what at a ski area would be an intermediate “blue square” run. Or how about Basin Mountain: starting from just below the summit and down 6,000′ into the sage desert. More technical are the Wahoo Gullies on Mt. Locke or Morphine Canyon above Tom’s Place. Or how about Jawbone Canyon, Esha Canyon on Morgan, White Mountain or Ellery Bowl or… the list just goes on.
No matter what we choose you will be assured of skiing the best runs we can find and combining a moderate day of mountaineering as well, usually with a summit to aim for.
Generally we start early in the morning before daylight and head out while the snow is firm with easier travelling conditions. We time our turn around to catch the best conditions on the way down and want to be finished before the snow gets too soft and mushy, usually getting back to base in time for a snack and to relax and gloat over our tracks high above.
For these programs you can use telemark or alpine touring equipment, your choice. Snowboarders are welcome on these trips too. Whatever you choose be comfortable on the gear going uphill as well as on the descents.
Here is a video account of a personal ski trip to Mt. Tom near Bishop. What a guide does on his day off.
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
We provide a campground for the night at Millpond just north of Bishop.
If you want a hotel room to go back to we can arrange this for you, but we do not include this in the program price.