December 12, 2012 My Quick ’n Dirty Bootfitting Tips Tips & Technique

My Quick ’n Dirty Bootfitting Tips

At Mammoth last weekend I had the interesting experience of hearing two exactly opposite bootfitting opinions in two consecutive days at two consecutive shops. US bootfitters overwhelmingly tilt toward putting people into the smallest possible boot shell, and that was indeed the gist of Opinion A, best summed up as, “It’s always better to size (more...)...

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March 24, 2009 Hasty Search Tips & Technique

Hasty Search

“Hasty Search” was originally the title given to the first location effort in a search and rescue operation. This phase, obviously, takes place after a qualified individual has assessed conditions for existing hazard and the decision has been made to put people into the search area. Hasty search has now been renamed “Immediate Search,” (more...)...

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March 19, 2009 The Importance of Self Rescue Tips & Technique

The Importance of Self Rescue

One of the most jolting things I learned this past weekend at the Southern California National Ski Patrol’s one-day avalanche rescue course was, paradoxically, the importance of self rescue. By “self rescue” I do not mean cultivating the magical ability to dig oneself out of an avalanche, but rather rescue initiated and completed by members (more...)...

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January 9, 2009 The Ski Pole Belay Tips & Technique

The Ski Pole Belay

Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks and tips that can make life a little easier in the backcountry. I’ve been doing some of these so long they seem obvious to me, but they may be a secret to you, so I thought I’d share a few. Here’s one I call the “Ski Pole (more...)...

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December 17, 2008 Tips & Technique

Cold Storm & Tips

Well I’m shivering here in my SoCal apartment through another stormy day. These storms are COLD! Our questionably-accurate patio thermometer currently reads about 44° F (Weather.com says we’re 50°). I’d guess that translates to a snow level in the 3500′ range, which means lots of cold, dry powder in the local mountains and of course (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 ordinarily harbor no (more...)...

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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...)...

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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...)...

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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.