July 16, 2008 La Sportiva Trango S EVO Gear

La Sportiva Trango S EVO

La Sportiva’s Trango S EVO GTX Alpine Mountaineering boot delivers a mighty punch of versatility and performance. What truly makes the Trango S EVO special, however, is its outstanding out-of-the-box fit. The Trango EVO GTX seems to fit like a running shoe when you first try it on. Even without a break-in period, I found (more...)...

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July 16, 2008 Whitney Fish Hatchery Destroyed Current Conditions

Whitney Fish Hatchery Destroyed

Sounds like it was a wild weekend in the Whitney Portal region, with heavy storms closing the portal road (due to mudslides) and even Highway 395 (which remains closed at Independence – detour available). Posters on the Whitney Portal Store Forums have a thread going which talks about the conditions. A lot of people got (more...)...

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July 11, 2008 Teeth of Steel: Sabretooth Crampon Gear

Teeth of Steel: Sabretooth Crampon

Black Diamond calls the Sabretooth their most versatile crampon, suitable for travel from Denali to Ouray and everywhere in between. The Sabretooth is an aggressive 12-point steel crampon capable of getting you across a glacier and up a mixed route. While the Sabretooth is a climbing crampon first and foremost, it is also a competent (more...)...

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July 11, 2008 Lone Pine Peak: Another Look Current Conditions

Lone Pine Peak: Another Look

When I skied Lone Pine Peak’s East Couloir this spring, I forgot to photograph LPP’s northeast face in its entirety. Here’s a recent shot of the line from Highway 395 near Independence, showing the entire face and drainage right down to the desert—all 6500 vertical feet of it. Looking at this view, it’s easy to (more...)...

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July 10, 2008 Axes I Have Known: BD Venom Gear

Axes I Have Known: BD Venom

Every now and then a piece of gear comes along that changes the paradigm. Such is the case with Black Diamond’s Venom ice axe. The Venom directly addresses the dilemma of having to choose between a general mountaineering axe and a technical ice tool. An all-around mountaineering axe will be used for many tasks, including (more...)...

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July 7, 2008 Climbing

North Palisade: the U-Notch Couloir

What an absolutely amazing adventure this was! North Palisade offers the gamut of high alpine mountaineering challenges, from glacier travel to ice climbing to technical rock, making it not only one of the most challenging Sierra fourteeners, but also one of the most rewarding. I had wanted to climb this route for some time, but (more...)...

Posted in Climbing | 5 Comments
June 4, 2008 March, April, May: ‘Driest Ever’ Current Conditions

March, April, May: ‘Driest Ever’

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that March, April, and May 2008 were the driest winter months on record for California and the Sierra Nevada mountains. I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising, given that (A) these three months traditionally see heavy snowfall in the Sierra and (B) this year these same months were essentially bone (more...)...

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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...)...

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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 harbor no special (more...)...

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May 22, 2008 Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado? Current Conditions

Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado?

I was walking 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 SierraDescents command center, (more...)...

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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.