August 5, 2014 Salomon X Ultra Mid Gear

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon is well known for cutting-edge trail runners, but can they make a Mid? Yes—and it’s a good one. The X Ultra Mid GTX is rugged, stable, and very light. I admit I absolutely obsess over hiking shoes—and in particular, the mid category. Many of us prefer hiking in the lightest shoe possible, but still (more...)...

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July 27, 2014 Inyo Mts: Squaw Peak Hiking

Inyo Mts: Squaw Peak

At first, I thought it was simply a case of guidebook error. Later—hours later—when I was beset by flies, and covered in scratches and pine sap, when my legs were doing the sewing-machine shake, when I saw the fresh cat tracks, when I knew I was going to run out of water—in Death Valley, of (more...)...

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July 24, 2014 Mountain Hardwear Optic Gear

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Let’s call Mountain Hardwear’s Optic 3.5 a car-camping tent with backpacking aspirations. The Optic isn’t light, but it is abundantly livable. You get 45 square feet of floor space and a 48-inch interior height. Combined with the Optic’s innovative marquee feature—a 180° view—all that space makes for a very comfortable interior, downright roomy for two (more...)...

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July 19, 2014 Mount Diablo Hiking

Mount Diablo

Rising a decidedly non-devilish 3,849 feet above sea level, Mount Diablo is not quite the highest summit in the Bay Area, but it is Contra Costa County’s highpoint, and, thanks to its remarkable prominence, Diablo offers not just fine views from San Francisco to the Sierra, but in fact one of the largest viewsheds in (more...)...

Posted in Hiking | 3 Comments
July 11, 2014 Where Hiking

Where’s Your Sierra?

I have a distinct mental image of “The Sierra”—and this isn’t it. My Sierra is heavy on Owens Valley and fourteeners, with lots of dry, dusty, austere granite brooding high above sun-baked desert. I’m generally aware of other, wetter parts, such as Yosemite, but like the beach some two miles from my house I tend (more...)...

Posted in Hiking | 2 Comments
July 1, 2014 Kearsarge Peak Panorama Video

Kearsarge Peak Panorama

Great views but beware the mining trail! Kearsarge is described in Jay Anderson’s Climbing California’s Mountains as “possibly the quickest-to-reach significant summit on the entire eastern side of the Sierra.” With that kind of billing, who could resist? In keeping with my loop-or-bust tradition, I decided to ascend from the west, via Lilly Pass, with (more...)...

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June 24, 2014 Sony RX100-III Gear

Sony RX100-III

Is it possible the closer we get to perfection, the farther away it seems? The updates to Sony’s third-edition RX100 digital compact are practically a wish list of the impossible. How about a wider, brighter 24-70mm Zeiss lens, for starters? How about a bright, high-resolution pop-up electronic viewfinder? And how about Sony’s Bionz-X image processor (more...)...

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June 20, 2014 Fixing Your Feet Books

Fixing Your Feet

If your chosen sport has anything in any way to do with your feet, I say John Vonhof’s Fixing Your Feet is a must-have. This massive 350-page book details the prevention, coping, and recovery strategies of those penultimate foot-bashers, ultramarathon runners. No, there is not a simple fix to be found here, nor, as Vonhof (more...)...

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June 16, 2014 Cirque Peak Panorama Video

Cirque Peak Panorama

I wanted an easy peak, but easy in the right way—and hard in the right way, too. In that regard, Cirque Peak, in the John Muir Wilderness just south of Mount Langely and New Army Pass, worked out to be just about perfect. Cirque was easy in the sense there was no dangerous climbing, and (more...)...

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June 2, 2014 Revelation Bowl Video

Revelation Bowl

Well I’m still thinking about skiing… Here’s something from 2012: Revelation Bowl, in Telluride, Colorado. What’s interesting is it looks like the video was shot in black and white, and selectively colorized. But this is just a trick of the light and landscape. I also love the way the frame is dominated by the terrain’s (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.