May 31, 2011 Split Mountain Video

Split Mountain

Huge, huge day on Split yesterday—we skied the north face right off the top of the north summit, then down into the Red Lake basin right beneath the east face and the central couloir. Yes, the video is long, but so was the adventure. The diversity, beauty, and abundance of skiable terrain in the Split (more...)...

Posted in Video | 11 Comments
May 28, 2011 Skiing Whitney Skiing

Skiing Whitney’s North Face

Whitney has eluded me. When I first tried to ski this mountain the defeat was so humbling and so absolute it was years before I dared return to the Sierra backcountry. But, every winter, the thought remained on my mind. The allure of climbing Whitney is obvious. The allure of skiing Mount Whitney, perhaps not (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 5 Comments
May 24, 2011 Eureka Casper Gear

Eureka Casper

Think of Eureka’s Casper as an economy-class sleeping bag with higher aspirations. At roughly 1/4 the price of a high-end down bag, the Rteq™ synthetic 15°-rated Casper is designed to be light enough to carry and warm enough to be worth carrying. Backpacking-oriented features include a standard-size, fully-closable mummy shape, a soft, slightly-textured polyester lining (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
May 23, 2011 Whitney! Video


I’m so excited—Whitney has eluded me since 2006, when I passed on skiing the Mountaineer’s Route, figuring I’d get to it next season. Every year since then, I’ve waited for the north chute (above the notch) to fill in…and waited, and waited, and waited (more...)...

Posted in Video | 12 Comments
May 19, 2011 Panasonic TM700 Gear

Panasonic TM700

Panasonic’s TM700 hi-def camcorder offers us the technology equivalent of a Faustian bargain: you get something extraordinary, but it comes with an unexpected cost. The good can be summed up in a word: sharpness. The TM700 shoots 1080-60p video, the first consumer camera to do so with any competence, matched with not one but three (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
May 18, 2011 Steep Turns & Skiing

Steep Turns & ‘Edge of Never’

One of the things I love about ski mountaineering is that there’s always something new to learn. Over the course of this season I’ve been trying to improve my steep skiing technique, sparked in part by studying last season’s C2N footage. The video revealed I was using a bit of a stem to initiate my (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments
May 17, 2011 Gear

Sony HDR-CX160

Sony has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to resisting the inexorable shift toward progressive-capture in consumer camcorders. It is therefore no small surprise to find Sony offering 60p capture in its new camcorders (at last!), including the ultracompact HDR-CX160. In the interlaced versus progressive ‘debate’, there is very little that you (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
May 12, 2011 Muir Skiing

Muir’s East Buttress

In a way, I wished I’d never seen it. I was having a nice, easy backcountry skiing season, perfectly fine, and I didn’t need any trouble. I didn’t need to do anything special. I didn’t need to be special. I didn’t need to be obsessing about hanging snowfields and massive, dead-drop cliffs. And I especially (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 14 Comments
May 3, 2011 Portal Road, Snow, Permits Current Conditions

Portal Road, Snow, Permits

Despite the ease of access, the Whitney Portal region has a less than glowing reputation when it comes to backcountry skiing. Perhaps it’s not so much that there’s something wrong with the area, as that there is almost always better skiing to be found elsewhere. Still, I can report that Whitney Portal Road is now (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 3 Comments
May 2, 2011 The Paradigm of the Extreme Skiing

The Paradigm of the Extreme

There in some understandable confusion over how, if the hazard level was rated low throughout the Eastern Sierra, two people could have been killed by an avalanche this past week on Split Mountain. Over at ESAC, Sue Burak elaborates a bit on the subject in her May 1st advisory, writing: “Avalanche advisories do not apply (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 3 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.

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