Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – February 25, 2015

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz8 Comments

Hi bc skiers and snowboarders,

The pictures tell most of the story. Best worst winter ever! People are asking us about where to find the goods. It is a bit tricky at the moment but if you succeed then you will be welcomed to nirvana. Cold smoke and face shots are so cool and refreshing after an eternal indian summer. Here’s the secret: The snow is incredible between 10,000′ and 12’000′ where the terrain is sheltered from the wind, shaded from the sun, between 30 and 40 degrees in steepness, and there is enough of a base remaining from earlier storms. There you may find up to 30-40cm of cold smoke pow for your consumption and enjoyment. So the game is still about access, and there are only a handful of “trailheads” that will get you to these special places with relative ease right now. The logical choices are Virginia Lakes, Mammoth Lakes zone, and the June Mountain backcountry using the ski lifts for those with a season pass or money to spend. Beyond that you can expect some adventurous 4WD roads and/or some snow-covered bush walking/skinning – but this might be worthwhile. The next system is due to arrive by week’s end with a northerly trajectory again and may produce showers and accumulations up to 6″. Strong winds from he north though will likely degrade the skiing quality from the epic conditions of now. But more precip, cold temps, and clouds will keep things rolling and prevent the inevitable melt-off of desert snows. Actually most of what we were able to ski on yesterday below 9500′ in the sage will be gone by tomorrow. If we get lucky, and Ullr knows we deserve it, the Sierra will see a continuing parade of storms in March that coat the mountains down to 6 or 7000′ and maybe we will even see one Sierra March dump. That’s really all we need for a real season. Just one big storm in March. Yesterday we observed soft, touchy, and isolated surface windslabs that are expected to grow and become more dangerous in the next few days, so be careful out there and check out the ESAC and BAC snowpack discussions to help you make better decisions. It’s not too late to take an avalanche course this season and there is currently space on our March 14-16 AIARE 1. Otherwise, keep your schedule flexible if you can so you can take advantage of the fleeting yet blower conditions we are enjoying now in the Eastern Sierra, and be safe out there.

Feast your eyes…




  1. Would love to see an update. Especially for points south like Rock Creek to Onion Valley.

    1. Author

      Thanks Mark. Will be giving a State of the Backcountry Report live tonight in Mammoth then will post it online shortly thereafter. Sorry for the wait but we’ve been busy skiing up the last of it…

  2. How are conditions looking this week around Mammoth and to the south in places like Rock creek?

    1. Author

      Pretty grim coverage out there at the moment. Transitional snowpack and not freezing at night. Will update with a full report shortly. Thanks for checking in!

Leave a Reply to Andrew Cancel reply