October 21, 2014 Wildrose Peak Panorama Video

Wildrose Peak Panorama

As with next-door neighbor Telescope Peak, Death Valley’s Wildrose Peak features striking juxtapositions of desert and alpine landscapes. Wildrose is in the Panamint Range, squeezed in between Death Valley, to the east, and Panamint Valley, to the west—both places so severe and austere they practically demand contemplation (more...)...

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October 10, 2014 Volkl Reboots the Mantra Gear

Volkl Reboots the Mantra

The Mantra has changed. Yes, there have been minor tweaks to Volkl’s All Mountain masterpiece over the years, including the daring addition of a dash of tip rocker. But this time is different. For the 2014-2015 ski season, Volkl has rebooted the Mantra, giving us a ski that substantially departs from the concept and feel (more...)...

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October 3, 2014 Fransson Skiing

Fransson

He was one of the titans of modern extreme skiing, with a traditional, mountaineering tilt that connected him directly to the most storied names of the past. On September 29, Andreas Fransson and ski partner J.P. Auclair were killed by an avalanche while ascending Mount San Lorenzo on the Chilean-Argentinian border (more...)...

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September 11, 2014 Dirty Girl Gaiters Gear

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Of course we all hate scree gaiters, but the darned things tend to be useful—particularly (as is often the case) when we’ve decided not to bring them. Leave the scree gaiters at home, and you can bet that easy trail hike you’re expecting is going to turn into a steep field of calf-deep sand and (more...)...

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September 4, 2014 La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Gear

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

The only thing wrong with La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor is that it’s not a mid. For ultra-class hikers and runners, this is an outstanding all-day shoe. The Ultra Raptor is reasonably light (I’m measuring my US 10.0 pair at one pound, ten ounces, post-use), eminently stable, and confidence-inspiring in that most critical of metrics—extended use (more...)...

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September 1, 2014 Sawtooth Peak Video

Sawtooth Peak

Trevor and I paid a visit to Mineral King yesterday, and as we hiked past mile after mile of richly colored rock, I have to say I kept feeling potent impulses to grab a pick axe and start digging. This was my first-ever trip up the famous Mineral King road. It absolutely exceeded its reputation—I (more...)...

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August 27, 2014 Black Diamond Speed 22 Gear

Black Diamond Speed 22

The Speed is back—sort of. In its original, 2005 edition, Black Diamond’s Speed backpack was a masterpiece of light-is-right design. The original, 30-liter Speed backpack gave us a floating lid, side compression straps, a stiff single-stay frame, and not much else. For fast travel with heavy loads, the pack was and is just about perfect. (more...)...

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August 22, 2014 Sierra Class 3 Climbing

Sierra Class 3

Insofar as I can tell, the Yosemite Decimal System, which is by far the most widely-used climbing route grading system in the United States, works extremely well provided you stay within the bounds of the Class 5 designation (more...)...

Posted in Climbing | 5 Comments
August 19, 2014 University Peak Hiking

University Peak

Okay, I thought this one was supposed to be easy. When it comes to accurately sizing up a route’s difficulties, I’m beginning to fear either I’m a hopeless optimist or else I’ve gone soft because lately everything seems like a thumping (more...)...

Posted in Hiking, Video | 2 Comments
August 15, 2014 Sony A7S Gear

Sony A7S

Here is what I remember most about film: not the waiting, to get your slides back, but the anticipation. Film added something to every shot, a twist of scene or color or light, a dash of magic that took the mundane and made it art. Digital is not like that. We’ve gained in many ways (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.