While the Sierra High Route has become the most popular of all trans-Sierra tours there are numerous other tours that are just as good but are unknown, except to locals and Sierra experts. The Monarch Divide is one of these. This has easily become our favorite Sierra ski tour so if you have already skied the High Route or want a challenging remote tour where few others venture this is a your perfect option. The route stays high, rarely dropping below 11,000 feet as it follows the entire crest of the Cirque Divide and even passes directly over the summit of 12,241 foot Dougherty Peak before joining the Monarch Divide to the west. Along the way dropping packs and skiing Marion Peak’s perfect south facing corn slopes is one highlight not to be missed.
Here is our video from a past Monarch ski trip:
This is a long tour and pack weight needs to be kept as low as possible. We will be carefully selecting equipment to reduce weight and we will work with you to ensure that packs do not weigh more then about 45 pound plus the weight of your skis when we start out. For those coming from the Bay area, or nearby, we will try to arrange a flight prior to the trip. If there are enough people to warrant this you will drive to and meet the plane the evening before the trip starts.
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.
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 pricey). 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.