Winter To-Do List

Well, as ski season draws near I'm starting to think up my annual list of things to do. On the website front, I'm hoping to finally update my long-neglected photography gallery section, which hasn't seen any new work (I believe) since 2005. The photo section is the only holdover from the first-generation sierradescents site. Just never got around to fixing it.

In other photography-related news, I've been busy this summer hashing out the details with my two new hd video cameras. The hd transition has been a positively brutal one. I'm intending to write more about that in the future to hopefully save others some of the formidable grief I've gone through in putting together a viable hd workflow. I remain very excited about the payoff, however. I'm really looking forward to getting out this winter with the hd cams and putting some ski movies together. That's going to be super cool!

As far as actual trips (excluding of course my top-secret projects!), number one on the list has to be skiing Mount Whitney from the summit via the north couloir and mountaineer's route. This is one of those just-because ski descents. Whitney doesn't offer the best skiing in the Sierra by any means, but it is the highest profile target in the range, and it remains a little embarrassing that I've never successfully skied it—despite two tries. I haven't felt there was enough snow to justify a Whitney attempt since the '05 El Nino winter, when I decided to ski Langley and Williamson instead. This year, however, I've recruited an informant to keep me posted on conditions in the north chute.

Speaking of Williamson, I've got to get up there and ski that north face. Williamson's north face is easily my single most coveted ski descent in the entire Sierra. I suppose I should put the whole thing in the top-secret category, but it's not the kind of place that will ever be overrun with crowds. Just getting atop Williamson with skis is a major accomplishment in my book, so good luck to you if you go (and that goes double for the actual skiing)!

California fourteener White Mountain is another peak I'd love to ski. White Mtn is famous for cold temperatures and lousy weather in winter—and presumably more avalanche danger than Sierra peaks, at least on the northeast aspects. Complicating matters with White is the limited road access in winter. Just getting there promises to be a mini-expedition. But still, a man can dream, right?

I have a number of descents down South on my to-do list as well. San Jacinto via Snow Creek is a top priority, though red tape makes a top-to-bottom descent illegal, and I do try to obey the law whenever feasible. I've also never skied San Gorgonio, since Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels are much, much closer. As for the San Gabriel mountains, I do have an interesting traverse in mind, provided the necessary portion of the range opens post-fire this winter, and provided it snows.

I'm definitely looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and ski partners this winter, as well as making new friends. Getting together with good friends in the backcountry is what makes our sport worthwhile, so send me a note if you're planning a trip into the yonder and you'd like some company. I much prefer skiing with a partner to soloing, plus, it makes for better videos. :) See you soon!

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Xavier "but officer..." McGillicutty October 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

"... and I do try to obey the law whenever feasible"

Oh, dude, you seriously got me giggling with that one. 'Talk about leaving yourself some wiggle room for excuses after-the-fact!

Andy October 1, 2009 at 11:49 am

Well, I was going to say "whenever it's convenient", but I'm trying to reform myself... :)

jeff steele October 2, 2009 at 6:58 am


Got myself a splitboard, so I'm ready to rock for El Nino. I'd love to head out with you at some point this winter. And, I'm still down to ski Mount Brewer in the spring.


Sierra Journal October 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Nice man. Keep me updated on your plans and timing. I'm in for any and all of those if I can make it!

Bill October 11, 2009 at 9:53 am

Your public list and top secret list are both my list - so you better not go without me. I skied Whitney top to bottom in '05 and yes, there has not been enough snow these past years to ski the North Face.

Dan Conger October 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I'm frothing at the mouth for ski season to begin in earnest. Mammoth opened today on a 20" base.

Dan Conger October 17, 2009 at 11:44 am

I'd totally be up for Whitney! Sounds like a fantastic descent, albeit a bit hairy. That route is supposed to be wicked dangerous in the winter.

mike October 26, 2009 at 12:19 am

I can not wait to read these stories!