Hi, I’m Mike, and I started The BackCountry shop in 1994.
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 as many local gear reps who we buy from.
This ski touring blog is in constant edit and add mode. I re-write nearly every time I look at my posts honestly. 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.
There is an absurdity in trying to describe a backcountry ski tour. There is way too much to say if I were aiming to warn you of every danger and explain how to find the best experience. I buy every guidebook for ski touring and rock climbing, and rarely find I needed the few sentences I read. But they got me in the car and pointed me towards the best stuff in the area. My main goal is to get people stoked on ski touring while I tap at a keyboard at 3am, looking over old photos.
You can now add a comment with pictures and tell us about you day or recommend how I should edit my posts. I will read it all and I really appreciate your participation! I may not publish every comment. Think about contributing to stoke, beta, or laughter.
Grab a map and guidebook from our shop or here on the E-com website. Search the web for more beta. Talk to me. Hire an AMGA guide to teach you the skills. 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 www.AlpenglowExpeditions.com. 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 full-size shovel, be nice to Law Enforcement and Cal Trans Drivers. Join Tahoe Backcountry Alliance please. Complain to USFS, CA State Parks and TRPA for unwillingness to facilitate access to our public lands in Tahoe for decades. I have spoken to the top officials at “stakeholder” meetings and delivered private presentations on ski touring in Tahoe many times in the last 20 years. They say they are listening and agree…meanwhile they only remove parking and access every year. They don’t stick up for us. They claim they have no control over Caltrans and CHP. These land managers are equally charged with the duty of improving public recreation opportunities, compared to environmental protection. All they do is work on development and tourism. They will literally tell you that ski areas are where we should be going.
Have a great time and please be safe!
– Mike Schwartz
SAC is Sierra Avalanche Center and ESAC is Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. Please donate to them on their website, they need the money, and you need the info.
Mt. Goddard 13,568′
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...
Virginia Peak 12,001′
Location: Pyramid LakeSummit Elevation: 12,001'Elevation Change: 3500'Recommended Map: Hoover Wilderness by Tom Harrison These pics are from 5/20/19 which was a big winter and still snowing at this time. This one had been on my list for years and I grabbed Hank Baker...
Mt. Whitney 14,494′
Location: Lone Pine, CASummit Elevation: 14,494Base Elevation: 8,340Elevation Change: 6,154Recommended Map: Mt. Whitney High Country - Tom Harrison These pictures are from March in 2005, which was my first and only time Skiing the Mountaineers Gully on Mt. Whitney...
Twin Peaks 8878′ ,Grouse & Stanford Rock
The the skiTwin Peaks/Grouse Rock Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CADuration: 1 - 2 hoursElevation Change: 1,678' - from 7,200' to 8,878'Recommended Map: Ward Peak & Sunnyside, California If you’ve skied Alpine Meadows, you may have wondered how to get over...
Silver Peak 8348′
Location: Sierra Crest - Squaw Valley, CADuration: 2.5 - 4 hours from Hwy 89Elevation Change: 2,328' - from 6,020' to 8,348'Recommended Map: Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: Visible from the Squaw Valley parking lot, and also near the 7-11 on Highway 89, this...
Mt Rose 10,776′
Location: Mt. Rose Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, NVDuration: 2 - 3 hoursElevation Change: 2,176' - from 8,600' to 10,776'Recommended Map: Mt. Rose, Nevada Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: The Mount Rose Wilderness Area is a backcountry winter wonderland for...
Freel Peak 10,886′
Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CADuration: 4 - 5 hoursElevation Change: 3,681' - from 7,200' to 10,881'Recommended Map: Freel Peak, California Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: Skiing Freel Peak is generally something you do for your tick list, or just to...
Job’s Peak 10,638′
Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CADuration: 4 - 5 hoursElevation Change: 3,633' - from 7,000' to 10,633'Recommended Map: Job's Peak & South Lake Tahoe, California Map of General Route: Heading out to Job’s Peak means you’re going to be busy for the entire day....
Steven’s Peak 10,059′
Location: Carson Pass - Hope Valley, CADuration: 2 hoursElevation Change: 2,611' - from 7,430' to 10,041'Recommended Map: Elevation Profile: Map of General Route: Steven’s Peak’s south side offers rolling, wide-open slopes to cruise for a long way back to your car....
Broken Top 8,500′ – Oregon
Broken Top - high point you'll get to is 8500' Location: Three Sisters Wilderness - Oregon The guidebooks I have at home are Oregon Descents by David Waag 1997, and Backcountryski Oregon by Christopher Van Tilburg 2001. You’ll also find some pics and home-made maps on...
Mt. Thielsen 9,182′ – Oregon
Mt. Thielsen 9182’ Location: Diamond Lake, Southern Oregon Elevation change: 3800’ The guidebooks I have at home are Oregon Descents by David Waag 1997, and Backcountryski Oregon by Christopher Van Tilburg 2001. You’ll also find some pics and home-made maps on an...
Mt. McLoughlin 9,495′ – Oregon
Mt. Mcloughlin 9,495’ Location: Sky Lakes Wilderness – Southern Oregon Elevation Change 4000’ SE Ridge or 5500’ SW Ridge This is one is excellent if you live in Tahoe (or anywhere). I would try and ski Lassen or Shasta in the same trip. Hit all 3 and you really start...
Mt. Wood 12,637′
Mt. Wood 12,637' Location: silver Lake, near June Lake Elevation change: 5500' Mt. Wood is one of the first big Eastern Sierra Peaks that people usually go for. I have skied the east side a handful of times. You can see it from hwy 395 near the North June Lake...
Mt. Williamson 13,375′
Mt. Williamson 14,375’ These photos are from 3/6/2010. John Crus and I went for the ultimate one day East Side suffer-fest in the Moynier book. John had a cold and didn’t tell me until we were a few hours in, so he really wanted it. The snow was so bad we didn’t make...
Mt. Gabb 13,471’ – Mt. Hilgard 13,361’– Julius Caesar 13,200’
Mt. Gabb 13,471’ – Mt. Hilgard 13,361’– Julius Caesar 13,200’ On May 4 2010 Greg Loring and I returned alive from this amazing 3 day ski tour. I had seen internet pics posted by a South Tahoe snowboarder BCD who posted about Mt. Gabb. I think he went down it, I’m not...
Pyramid Peak 11.728′ – Mammoth Lakes
Pyramid peak 11,728' If you are really into ski touring, just move to Mammoth Lakes. This is the epicenter for Sierra rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, and backcountry ski touring. I like to think of Tahoe as an ideal "center" position in California, in-between Mt....
Mt. Mills 13,451′
Mt. Mills – 13,451’ I dumped a ton of photos in this one, sorry! This was a 3-day tour not far from civilization with unreal beauty. I used a point and shoot camera. A friend and IFMGA guide Howie Schwartz invited me on this tour. He said wanted to try it out on some...
Mt. Ritter 13,143′ & Banner Peak 12,936′
Mt. Ritter - 13,143’Banner Peak - 12,936’ In May of 2002 John and I skied Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak in a 3-day tour. We tried to go up the North side of Mt. Tom in the dark, behind some of his friends, and bailed due to the chaos of a big group and unknown...