Eastern Sierra Backcountry Report – 4/22-4/26/10

Pam and I just got back from a 5 day trip down the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I will provide some condition details, but they have already changed so not sure what good that will do. Our trip started with powder tree skiing outside of Mammoth on the Punta Bardini ridge. We then headed north to June Lake for a day on the Hemlock Ridge, back south again to Little Morrison and Old Man’s Bowl and then north again to Dunderburg where we skied north and south facing aspects.

Pam coming down the "Tele Bowl" on Punta Bardini

All in all, very little corn so far as we went from powder to 60 degree temps in about 2 days and now it is snowing and super stormy once again. During our time down there, we did see mostly powder on north facing slopes, though those were starting to get super wind affected by Sunday. The snow was also getting fairly soft on most south and east facing slopes, but it was not consistent and it was more like soft snow rather than the corn that we all love to hunt!

Started the hike up Dunderburg with South Peak in the background

After 4 days of early rises and long skiing with lots of sun exposure, we decided it was time for our own private hot springs, so we called up the folks at Benton Hot Springs in far eastern California and they hooked us up with our own private tub and campground for the night. Wow, it was truly an awesome place with nothing else around and we loved our private hot spring. Here is a pic:

View from our hot tub to the White Mountains

Now, time for a little gear talk as that is what we were really there for, gear testing. I won’t mention everything here, but there are some hightlights. First and foremost is the Nemo Losi 2 Person Tent. If you don’t know anything about Nemo, start looking them up now! This tent has so much head room and easily fits 2 people. It has very steep walls thanks to the engineer’s design sense who built this thing and overall it is light, super livable and stands up to whatever elements it has to. Check out the headroom on this thing:

Showing off the head room in the Nemo Losi 2 person tent

Another highlight was my new Mammut Viento Jacket. I am a sucker for soft shell jackets, but they have to work, and with this Mammut jacket, I was not disappointed. It had amazing breathability and it kept the wind and light snow off me with no problem. When you are standing on a ridge and the wind is howling at 50 knots and you are sweaty but chilling down quickly, the Viento was able to keep me warm enough and active enough to stay on top of my game and not let the weather faze me at all. My final, and new favorite piece of gear is the Black Diamond Verdict skis mounted up with Dynafit TLT ST bindings. I chose the Verdict because I didn’t need a huge ski for all this touring and in the 170cm size, it was the perfect length for short turns as well as for skinning up with ease. I also can’t say enough about the Dynafit bindings as they offerred up effortless travel and easy climbing the whole way. I don’t know if I will ever Telemark in the backcountry again!

Verdict Skis with Dynafit Bindings

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