May 31, 2008 Gear Review

If you’ve searched the web for information on a trail or peak, chances are you’ve come across a listing from, a subscription-only website offering trail information and topo maps. For $49.00 per year, claims to give you unlimited access to over 40,000 trail guides and topo maps for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 41 Comments
May 29, 2008 Sierra Snow: Update Current Conditions

Sierra Snow: Update

SMS Leader Alvin Walter sent me a few photos from the Sierra’s Rock Creek drainage over Memorial Weekend. Alvin encountered ‘full winter conditions’ with up to a foot and a half of new powder. Looking at all that gorgeous snow, all I can think is, where were you three months ago! Sounds like those of (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments
May 28, 2008 Climbing Helmet Roundup Gear

Climbing Helmet Roundup

I’ve updated some older content that had gone AWOL: a roundup review of several climbing helmet models I tried out over the past few seasons. My pick of the bunch (at the time) was the Kong Scarab, for its ultralight 8.6 ounce weight and amazing comfort. Basically, if I can think up an excuse to (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
May 27, 2008 Science

Earn More: Fix Your Teeth!

The Freakonomics Blog at NYT has an interesting write-up of what they call Beauty Premiums: the benefits enjoyed by being attractive. One of the most objective ways to measure beauty’s benefit is to simply look at wages, and this is what the Freakos do, in a series of provocative if not outright-disturbing studies (more...)...

Posted in Science | 0 Comments
May 23, 2008 Traveling in Bear Country Tips & Technique

Traveling in Bear Country

Late season storms aside, I’ve been looking forward to ditching the ski gear and switching to hiking and climbing. After all, summer camping in the Sierra is easier in almost every respect than winter. There is one big difference, however: in summer, we share the mountains with bears. I must say I ordinarily harbor no (more...)...

Posted in Tips & Technique | 1 Comment
May 22, 2008 Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado? Current Conditions

Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado?

I was walking out my door today around 5 p.m. on the way to the grocery when the sudden rumble of thunder stopped me. Hmm…I guess those black clouds on the horizon weren’t fog, after all. SoCal weather took a turn for the bizarre today, with the full gamut of weather phenomena. Here at the (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 1 Comment
May 17, 2008 How to Melt Snow for Water Tips & Technique

How to Melt Snow for Water

With oppressive temps currently baking Southern California, I thought I’d escape for a moment by listing a few tips on melting snow for water that I’ve learned these past few seasons snow camping. What’s attractive about melting snow instead of carrying water is you can save a lot of weight. One can of fuel can (more...)...

Posted in Tips & Technique | 5 Comments
May 16, 2008 Tips & Technique

Pine Sap Party

Climbing Mount Williamson via Bairs Creek leaves you with a lot more than memories (and scratches): you also get gummed up with quite a bit of pine pitch. It gets on your clothes, your hair, and your gear. So what do you do when you come home with everything covered in sap? Well, assuming you (more...)...

Posted in Tips & Technique | 1 Comment
May 11, 2008 Skiing

Williamson Still Hard

THIS JUST IN: Climbing Mt. Williamson is still Hard. Really Hard. SierraDescents personally verified this yesterday, with an ascent and ski of the south-facing couloir between Mt. Williamson’s East and West Horns, accessed via the Bairs Creek Cirque. Ironically, I had no intention of trying this route this year, but a friend was interested in (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments
May 8, 2008 Health

Female Athletes and ACL Tears

The New York Times is running an article on the epidemic of ACL tears and other injuries in U.S. female athletes. Female participation in sports in this country is exploding, credited in part to a 1972 law, TITLE X, which mandated equal opportunity in sports to female athletes (more...)...

Posted in Health, Science | 0 Comments

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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.