July 29, 2006 Hiking San Jacinto Peak Hiking

Hiking San Jacinto Peak

Of the view atop Southern California’s San Jacinto Peak, elevation 10,804′, John Muir reportedly said, ‘it is the most sublime spectacle to behold upon this Earth.’ Having driven by Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains many times myself, I’ve often wondered if the heat got to Muir that day. Last weekend, I got the (more...)...

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July 10, 2006 Skiing

Avalanche Gulch Trip Report

I’ve saved the best for last: a summit ski descent of Mount Shasta via Avalanche Gulch. Despite the route’s poor reputation (for snow quality and crowds), this trip easily ranks among my most memorable. It was also an unexpected challenge, as the combination of travel, no sleep, and altitude nearly took me out around 10,500′. (more...)...

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June 15, 2006 Avalanche Gulch Windstorm photography

Avalanche Gulch Windstorm

The weather looked promising…and then came the wind. Huge contrails of snow curled overhead like giant fingers reaching out over Avalanche Gulch. The sound of it was like a thousand jet engines. No one summited that day—no one even tried. We scrambled about on hands and knees at Lake Helen and beat a hasty retreat (more...)...

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May 15, 2006 Skiing

Skiing Williamson’s Bairs Creek Cirque

Well, I’ve tried my best to explain what climbing Williamson was like. This was an especially difficult Trip Report to write, because I had so much to say, and because so little of it had anything to do with skiing. Exactly one week later, I’m still having trouble shaking off the effects of the climb. (more...)...

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May 7, 2006 Musings

Mountaineering Terms

Did you know SierraDescents.com has a glossary? Neither did I. Okay, I may have forgotten. I started a glossary in the Basecamp section when I first began working on this site, though my attention soon turned elsewhere. I mention this because the #1 Google search referral to this site is for “mountaineering terms.” Not Backcountry (more...)...

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April 18, 2006 Current Conditions

Snowy Thoughts

What good is a record-setting snowpack if you can’t ski it? That’s the question some Sierra skiers may be asking, especially after yesterday’s in-bounds avalanche at Mammoth Mountain. Surveying the Southern Sierra this past weekend, I was stunned by the amount of snow I saw. Skiable lines were appearing in places that are normally bare (more...)...

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April 5, 2006 Skiing Stockton Flats Skiing

Skiing Stockton Flats

Stockton Flats is not the benign glade it appears to be on the trail map. I strongly discourage anyone from entering the region unless they’ve studied a topo map, are prepared to travel through cliff-bound terrain, and are properly equipped to get out. We all have to make our own choices when it comes to (more...)...

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April 5, 2006 News

Say It Isn’t So

Multiple sources are confirming that Doug Coombs has been killed while skiing in La Grave, France. Coombs apparently slipped and fell while trying to aid a friend who had just fallen over a cliff. Coombs, 48, was one of the giants of American extreme skiing. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he eschewed the flashier side (more...)...

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March 22, 2006 Health

National Geographic Returns to Chernobyl

We’ll stay a little off topic for the day, I guess. If you’ve found the Ghost Town/Kid of Speed entry on my links page, you may have guessed I’m fascinated with Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. In the April issue, National Geographic Magazine returns to the site of the disaster 20 years (more...)...

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March 11, 2006 Current Conditions

Flirting with the Girly Man

A very chilly storm is working its way down California, with reports of snow falling in the metro Bay Area and Kirkwood skiers claiming the ‘best snow ever’. Down South, Mount Baldy is reporting 12″ of new snow, with more on the way. Maybe I’ll get to ski the D14-rated Girly Man Chute this year (more...)...

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About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.