December 18, 2013 Just Add Snow... Current Conditions

Just Add Snow…

Please!!! Was I really driving with the A/C on today, mid-December, at 7000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains? Alas, yes: NOAA gave the high temperature in Running Springs as 67°. At Snow Valley, with not a whisper of wind, it was T-shirt weather on the slopes, and mind-blowingly hot even then (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 3 Comments
December 9, 2013 Reading the SoCal Backcountry Skiing

Reading the SoCal Backcountry

I know what you’re thinking: it’s snowing! How much has it snowed? Has it snowed enough? It is worth it to try hitting the SoCal backcountry? How do you know if it’s deep enough out there? Well, as it turns out, there’s a great and easy way to find out what’s happening in the local (more...)...

Posted in Skiing | 4 Comments
December 4, 2013 Lange XT 120 Gear

Lange XT 120

Lange’s XT 120 is a slightly-softer version of the XT 130. Both boots feature a walk mode switch which allows you to release the cuff for enhanced walking mobility. Like the 130, the XT 120 is best thought of as an Alpine boot with a walk mode, rather than a true Alpine Touring model, though (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
December 1, 2013 Mammoth Thanksgiving Current Conditions

Mammoth Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought a little skiing might be nice this holiday weekend. Very thin coverage and only four lifts running wasn’t enough to halt a full-on SoCal invasion at Mammoth Mountain. We had to park at the “F” sign on Friday. “F” I tell you. And the (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 2 Comments
November 24, 2013 November Snow Current Conditions

November Snow

3-5″ of fresh snow is the official word from Mt. Baldy, in the San Gabriel Mountains, but peering through the haze today from Kenneth Hahn State Park, I’d say coverage on Baldy’s west face might be a little deeper. Maybe. Then again, I am trying to go with optimism as our winter season draws near. (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 6 Comments
November 24, 2013 Scott Cosmos Gear

Scott Cosmos

There’s a bit of a leap of faith involved in buying a pair of Scott Cosmos ski boots. Just a year ago, the Cosmos was made by legendary but now-defunct Garmont USA. Garmont’s parting gift was at least one and possibly two critical design/manufacturing flaws embedded in the otherwise-stunning Cosmos. Early adopters (including me) thus (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments
November 15, 2013 Thoughts on Approach Tips & Technique

Thoughts on Approach

Waiting for snow to arrive has me contemplating a similar frustration: not being able to get to the snow even when it is here. Yes, I’m talking about those maddeningly-tough Eastern Sierra approaches. I admit I believe getting yourself and your skis to the snowline in the area between, say, Olancha Peak and the Palisades (more...)...

Posted in Tips & Technique | 4 Comments
November 3, 2013 Blind to the Bishop Musings

Blind to the Bishop

Over the years I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the discrepancy between Reality and my perception of it. If you’ve never contemplated this divide, discovering it is like finding a bottomless rabbit hole—unsettling, to say the least. If you’re dead certain that the heater is gray, for example, or if you like to leave yourself notes, (more...)...

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment
October 11, 2013 SoCal Rains; Mountain Snows Current Conditions

SoCal Rains; Mountain Snows

Well that was an unexpectedly potent mid-October surprise—a bonafide winter storm. Rain and cold temperatures punched into the Southland like a frozen fist, sending temperatures plunging some 15 degrees below normal. When it’s cold and rainy in the basin, you can expect snow in the mountains, and that’s exactly what we got: a healthy few (more...)...

Posted in Current Conditions | 0 Comments
October 6, 2013 Sea-Level Acclimatization Strategies Tips & Technique

Sea-Level Acclimatization Strategies

Californians overwhelmingly live at sea level, placing us at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to climbing mountains. The best and safest and most obvious way to acclimatize for high-altitude adventures—for example, climbing mount whitney—is to gradually adjust by spending several weeks living and training at progressively higher elevations (more...)...

Posted in Tips & Technique | 7 Comments

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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.