(530) 582-0909 | 11400 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161 | Open Daily 8am-6pm! info@thebackcountry.com

 

Hi, I’m Mike. I started The BackCountry shop in 1994. Firstly, I want to thank you for helping us stay alive at our retail shop. You are supporting the families of over 30 employees as well.

Welcome to my blog and ski touring blog. It’s in constant edit and add mode, check back regularly for improvements.  Please don’t take anything I’ve said with 100% accuracy.  My process is simply based on memory and looking at pictures I take. There is no precise measuring or complicated computer mapping going on here. I might start GPS tracking however with Gaia, replacing my old silly maps. Stop by the shop or contact me directly for help planning your ski tours. I am happy to direct you to the many local pro IFMGA guides as well.

At the bottom of every post, you can now add a comment with pictures and share your day but I may not publish bad shots, please try to contribute to stoke, beta, or laughter. And check back regularly,  I’ll be uploading old and new ski tours this season with some renewed enthusiasm for this new website forum. I hope to expand to climbing and mt biking as well.  Thank Patrick in the shop for building this site next time you seem him!

 

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING!

  • These ski tours were not created with GPS accuracy – I’m writing this based on memory. Some of those experiences were many years ago. I suggest that you buy the updated guidebooks from our shop for extra beta and opinions such as

      • Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra by Nate Greenberg/Dan Mingori.

      • 50 Classic Descents in California by Paul Richins.

      • Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes in California by Jeremy Benson.

      • Backcountry Skiing California’s High Sierra by John Moynier (out of print but find one!)

      • Grab a map from our shop too. Search the Internet. Talk to me.

      • Put all that together and go for it!

  • There are inherent risks when skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or climbing in the backcountry. The routes on these maps may be dangerous and even deadly depending on many variables such as current avalanche danger, weather, snowpack depth, skill and experience level and time of day. Plan on climbing 1000 vertical feet per hour. Add time for low angle miles, high elevation, poor equipment and slow partners. Subtract time by starting early, traveling light, and strategic tour planning.

  • If you are not an expert and experienced backcountry skier, snowboarder, snowshoer or climber, we strongly suggest that you hire a professional guide. We recommend excellent local guides and backcountry skills classes from local pro guide companies International Alpine Guides and Alpenglow Expeditions. We also highly recommend Sierra Mountain Guides out of Bishop, and Shasta Mountain Guides if you are heading up there. There are a lot of competent Sierra ski guides. Skip the learning curve and help these guys make a living. Contact me for personal guide suggestions. But you can’t go wrong with AMGA certified guides.

  • You take FULL responsibility for yourself and your party when using this website for advice and the author disclaims any liability for injury or any other damage by anyone traveling in the areas described. 

  • Please be patient if our guidebook recommendations end up being wrong for you – we don’t know you and your skill level and experience. We’re just showing you places where we enjoy the backcountry.

  • CARPOOL CARPOOL CARPOOL. Park respectfully, bring a shovel, be nice to Law Enforcement and Cal Trans Drivers. Join Tahoe Backcountry Alliance please.

Have a great time and please be safe!
– Mike Schwartz

 

Before heading out, we always recommend checking your local avalanche center for the avalanche forecast and conditions report. In the Tahoe area that is SAC and they do an amazing job. Please donate to them on their website, they need the money and you need the info. Follow them on social media and you’ll learn the language soon enough.

Featured Tours

Carson Peak

Carson Peak

Location: Carson PeakSummit Elevation: 10,909′Elevation Change: 3600′Map: Tom Harrison – Mammoth High Country Carson Peak is the beautiful crown-like mountain above June Lake, and very nearby to June Mountain Ski Resort. You could even traverse over from there, but it...

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Basin Peak

Basin Peak

Location: Basin MountainSummit Elevation: 13,240′Elevation Change: 5500′Map: Tom Harrison – Mono Divide High Country Basin Mountain was one of my first Eastern Sierra Ski Descents in the early 90’s. A common story. It’s the most inviting big peak in a chain of big...

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Mt. Goddard

Mt. Goddard

Location:  Northern Kings Canyon National ParkElevation: 13,568′Elevation Change: about 5000’ and multi-dayRecommended Map: Kings Canyon High Country – Tom Harrison Mt. Goddard can be seen from most every big Eastern Sierra Peak from Bishop to Big Pine. Eric Ongerth...

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Tahoe Area

Jack’s Peak

Jack’s Peak

Location: Desolation WildernessElevation: 9,856'Elevation Change: 3,500'Recommended Map: Desolation Wilderness - Tom Harrison or Lake Tahoe Southwest - Alpine Ski Tours Jack's Peak isn't skied often, which is exactly why you should go do it. You need to ski them all...

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Mt. Price

Mt. Price

Location:  Desolation WildernessElevation Change:  3500'Recomended Map: Desolation Wilderness - Tom Harrison Ski touring to Mt. Price 9975' and the surrounding peaks of the Crystal Range requires timing and the right partners. This is a lot of low angle mileage and...

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Mt. Tallac

Mt. Tallac

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CADuration: 2-3 hoursElevation Change: 3,200' - from 6,535' to 9,735'Recommended Map: Emerald Bay, California Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: Mt. Tallac is the best thing Tahoe has to offer. I say this because of the...

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Jake’s Peak

Jake’s Peak

Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA Duration: 1-2 hours Elevation Change: 2,357' - from 6,830' to 9,187 Recommended Map: Emerald Bay, California Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: With some real sweat and skilled skinning, you can wind your way up to one of...

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Rubicon Peak

Rubicon Peak

Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA Duration: 1-2 hours Elevation Change: 2,200' - from 6,800' to 9,000' Recommended Map: Rockbound Valley & Meeks Bay, California Elevation Profile:   Map of General Route: A Tahoe classic, this is the peak you...

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Bliss Peak

Bliss Peak

Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CADuration: 1.5-2 hoursElevation Change: 2,400' - from 6,600' to 9,000'Recommended Map: Emerald Bay, California & Rockbound Valley, California Map of General Route: Bliss Peak, also known as Hidden Peak, is the short tour Tahoe...

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Volcanoes

Mt. Lassen, CA

Mt. Lassen, CA

Location: Mt. Lassen National ParkElevation Change: 2-4000'Recomended Map: National Geographic - Lassen National Park Mt. Lassen 10,457' is a friendly Northern California peak to ski. There are small sub peaks surrounding it and a nice view to the north of Mt. Shasta...

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Mt. Shasta, CA

Mt. Shasta, CA

Location: Northern border of CaliforniaDuration: 5-10 hoursElevation Change: 6860' - 14,179'Recomended Map: Mt. Shasta - Tom Harrison "She's a big dog", Jamie Schectman told us all as he rallied my friends and I onto our first climb of Mt. Shasta in the mid 90's. I...

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Eastern Sierras

Mt. Conness

Mt. Conness

Location: Tioga Pass – Saddlebag LakeSummit Elevation: 12,590'Elevation Change: 3,050' I used to ski Tioga Pass area a lot but haven’t been there in awhile. In the late 90’s I started going to Mt. Conness in June, usually at the end of the season because it was money...

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Mt. Starr

Mt. Starr

Location: Rock Creek near MammothSummit Elevation: 12,832'Elevation Change: 4,000' I'm reposting an old one from sometime  in the early 2000's. I was knocking out the ski tours in the John Moynier Guidebook and skied this one with John and Kristie. He blew us away as...

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Mt. Dade

Mt. Dade

Location: Little Lakes Valley - Rock Creek near MammothSummit Elevation: 11,732'Elevation Change: 4,700'Recommended Map: Hoover Wilderness by Tom Harrison I skied Mt.Dade with a customer named Tucker maybe around 2000. The Moynier book called it an all day tour. He...

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Mt. Morgan – South

Mt. Morgan – South

Location: Little Lakes Valley - Rock Creek near MammothSummit Elevation: 13,754'Elevation Change: 4,800' This was another peak I skied with John, Tony, and Aaron Martin in maybe the late 90's. It was just before Aaron died skiing off the summit of Mt. St. Elias. I...

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Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak

Location: Bridgeport, CA - Twin Lakes CampgroundSummit Elevation: 11,732'Elevation Change: 4,700'Recommended Map: Hoover Wilderness by Tom Harrison These pictures are from an old website post when I skied Victoria Peak first around 2004 with John Crus. We had seen it...

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Dragon Peak

Dragon Peak

Location: Dragon PeakSummit Elevation: 12,955'Elevation Change: 3,800'Recommended Map: Kearsarge Pass/Rae Lake by Tom Harrison These pictures are from a 5 day Ski Tour with Dan Molnar in May of 2011. The Dragon Peak North Couloir was a highlight we looked forward to,...

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