(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

Virginia Peak

Virginia Peak

Location: Pyramid LakeSummit Elevation: 8,370Base Elevation: 4,870Elevation Change: 3,500Recommended 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...

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Mt. Whitney

Mt. Whitney

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...

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Mt. Goode

Mt. Goode

Location:  South Lake above Bishop, CAElevation: 13,085'Elevation Change: 3,317'Recommended Map: Bishop Pass - Tom Harrison The view of Mt. Goode from Long Lake is one you'll never forget, and quite easy to reach from your car. What you don't see is the HUGE south...

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Tahoe Area

Twin Peaks/Grouse Rock/Stanford Rock

Twin Peaks/Grouse Rock/Stanford Rock

Twin Peaks/Grouse Rock Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA Duration: 1 - 2 hours Elevation 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 to this...

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Silver Peak

Silver Peak

Location: Sierra Crest - Squaw Valley, CA Duration: 2.5 - 4 hours from Hwy 89 Elevation 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,...

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Mt Rose

Mt Rose

Location: Mt. Rose Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, NV Duration: 2 - 3 hours Elevation 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....

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Freel Peak

Freel Peak

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA Duration: 4 - 5 hours Elevation 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...

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Job’s Peak

Job’s Peak

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....

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Steven’s Peak

Steven’s Peak

Location: Carson Pass - Hope Valley, CA Duration: 2 hours Elevation 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 you car....

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Volcanoes

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Eastern Sierras

Independence Peak

Independence Peak

Location: Independence PeakSummit Elevation: 11,744Elevation Change: 2,700 This is a great introduction to East Side skiing at a moderate difficulty. With no approach time and a few hours, you can knock out a really cool looking and pointy mountain with awesome views....

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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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Virginia Peak

Virginia Peak

Location: Pyramid LakeSummit Elevation: 8,370Base Elevation: 4,870Elevation Change: 3,500Recommended 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...

read more
Mt. Whitney

Mt. Whitney

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...

read more

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