October 28, 2007 A Very Special Halloween Treat Hiking

A Very Special Halloween Treat

For my last major hike of the 2007 season, I wanted to do something special. I got the chance this month to do a rare hike with my brother in Arizona. This is definitely one of those off-the-map specials: a rim-to-river scramble deep in the remote, rugged wilderness of the eastern Grand Canyon. During the (more...)...

Posted in Hiking | 0 Comments
August 7, 2007 How Toxic is Your Sunscreen? Health

How Toxic is Your Sunscreen?

If you’re like me—fair-skinned, that is—you’ve probably discovered that sunscreens don’t all perform the same. I can put on a thick layer of SPF 50 and still get torched. No, it’s not just that sunscreens tend to wash off as you sweat: some just don’t work that well. Many formulations only give SPF ratings for (more...)...

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August 1, 2007 Barcroft Research Lab Open House News

Barcroft Research Lab Open House

If you’re free this Sunday, August 5, you might enjoy paying a visit to the University of California’s Barcroft Research Station. They’re having their annual open house, allowing the public to come in and try to sniff out the top-secret projects normally kept under wraps. Barcroft sits around 13K on White Mountain. Normally, the road (more...)...

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July 9, 2007 An Owens River Resurection? California

An Owens River Resurection?

The Los Angeles Times ran a story on the restoration of the Owens River this past weekend. Via the Department of Water of Power (DWP), Los Angeles began buying much of the farmland in Owens Valley in the early Twentieth Century. Then, in 1913, the DWP abruptly diverted the Lower Owens River into the Los (more...)...

Posted in California | 0 Comments
June 30, 2007 Mount Whitney — the Mountaineer’s Route Climbing

Mount Whitney — the Mountaineer’s Route

If you are considering climbing the Mountaineer’s Route, I heartily recommend it. The route is spectacular. Be aware, however, that hiking conditions are currently unusually favorable on the mountain. Under more normal circumstances (more...)...

Posted in Climbing | 11 Comments
April 30, 2007 Bloody Bike-n-Ski Skiing

Bloody Bike-n-Ski

Despite lean times, I am happy to report I skied a descent this past weekend that’s been near the top of my most-wanted list: Bloody Couloir, in the Mammoth Lakes region of the Sierra. Blood Couloir has something of a reputation as a test piece for the locals—at least according to the guidebooks. In any (more...)...

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April 20, 2007 Epic Tents and Rain Gear

Epic Tents and Rain

If you’re familiar with Black Diamond’s ultralight single-wall tents (such as the Firstlight, Hilight, or Oneshot), you’re probably aware of at least some discussion involving the reliability of their Epic™ fabric. Nobody seems to know exactly how waterproof (or not) Epic actually is—which would seem to be a question of some importance if you’re venturing (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 1 Comment
April 17, 2007 Ski Touring the Sierra’s South Lake Region Skiing

Ski Touring the Sierra’s South Lake Region

This past weekend, I joined a group of SMS Angeles members for a day tour in the South Lake region, off highway 168 west of Bishop. The forecast called for snow, but given a sunny morning and the no-show performance of this year’s storms, we weren’t expecting much in the way of weather. I was (more...)...

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April 12, 2007 Mount LeConte - High & Dry Skiing

Mount LeConte – High & Dry

Amazingly enough, I’ve put together an actual backcountry skiing trip report from my latest visit to the Southern Sierra. At 13,930′, Mount LeConte just barely missed being a fourteener. Given the way the year has gone, I didn’t expect to ski anything south of Mammoth, but as I was driving through Lone Pine, I thought (more...)...

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March 29, 2007 El Nino or El Nada? Current Conditions

El Nino or El Nada?

Some of you may recall this was supposed to be an El Nino Winter, with above-average precipitation for the western United States. What happened? This winter can be charitably described as a cruel hoax. Currently, Los Angeles is (arguably) experiencing its driest winter on record. To the north, even Mt. Shasta (!) is experiencing a (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments

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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.