Baxter Treasure Hunt

What is the quintessential Eastern Sierra adventure? It's probably going to be hard. Harder than expected, for sure—even if you were expecting it to be hard. And it's probably going to be at least a little...unreasonable.

You may catch yourself shaking your fist at the sky. You will question your sanity.

A true Sierra classic is probably also going to involve a surprise. Not just an ordinary surprise—a big one. Something so unlikely, so magical, you almost can't believe it's real even as it's actually happening.

In April an avalanche claimed one of our backpacks while we were attempting to ski a rare eastside giant: Mount Baxter. I wanted that pack back, and I was prepared to hike all the way up there to get it.

But first I had to wait for the record snowfall of the 2022-2023 winter to melt.

Unfortunately, without snow, there was no guarantee Baxter's east cirque was accessible on foot. That would be part of the fun: an off-the-map approach up a massive eastside drainage that might not even be passable.

I normally try to downplay the rigors of a route when I'm recruiting partners, but in this case I was brutally honest: 6000 vertical feet of climbing over steep ground with no trail and no guarantee we even make it to the search zone.

Happily, that sales pitch appealed to the unique sensibilities of the incomparable Dave Braun, who agreed to join me for the hunt.

Did the route go? Did we make it to the cirque? Did Dave and I find what we were looking for? For the answer to those questions, you'll have to see for yourself.

— October 6, 2023

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Dan Conger October 11, 2023 at 8:42 am

Wow ... I can't believe you found that backpack. What an adventure!!!

Also, as an aside, I have been thinking you resemble someone famous for quite some time. Today, those puzzle pieces fit together. In certain lighting and from certain angles, you bear some resemblance to Richard Gere.

Nice addition of the avalanche footage at the end.

Joseph Gregory October 17, 2023 at 11:49 am

Dang, Dan...spoilers.

Dan Conger October 17, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Always watch the video before reading comments …