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    Palisades Crest Tour

    Palisades Crest Tour

    per person

    The Palisades Crest is a 6-day ski mountaineering tour-de-force with ever-changing views, spectacular positions, and epic ski descents every day!

    One of the most demanding and rewarding of our original Sierra Crest Tours, the Palisades Crest is a 6-day ski mountaineering tour-de-force with ever-changing views, spectacular positions, and epic ski descents every day!

    Maximum guiding ratio for this itinerary is 2:1.

    This tour is available on a custom private basis. This itinerary is not recommended for splitboarders, but a custom Palisade Glacier basecamp trip could be a perfect alternative.


    Designed for expert skiers and experienced ski mountaineers who want to enjoy some rowdy guided ski mountaineering in an outrageous itinerary.

    This little gem idea for a 6-day high tour of the Sierra Crest was pioneered by IFMGA ski and mountain guide and SMG owner, Howie Schwartz, and has since become a modern ski mountaineering classic. The Palisades are the most definitively alpine group of peaks in the Sierra, containing the largest glacier in the range and 7 summits above 14,000 feet. What is incredible about the Palisades is the access to fall-line skiing in steep couloirs and wide open bowls, connecting each destination on route. We aim for the time of season when the snowpack is more stable and when we typically have powder on the shaded aspects and corn in the sun – usually March through early April. This tour finishes with a 7,000 foot descent from a 13,000+ foot summit all the way down to the desert sage. Designed for expert skiers and experienced ski mountaineers who want to enjoy some rowdy guided ski mountaineering in an outrageous itinerary. Get ready for the ride of a lifetime!

    • Included
      Crest tour
      high tour
      ski mountaineering
    • Not Included
      3D chute
      3rd pillar
      3rd Pillar Dana
      AIARE 1
      AIARE 2
      Alaska skiing
      alpine climbing
      alpine rock climbing
      Alps climbing
      Alps running
      Alps skiing
      Alps trilogy
      American Mountain Guides Association
      avalanche awareness
      avalanche course
      backcountry 101
      backcountry ski
      Backcountry Skiing
      backcountry snowboard
      Bear Creek Spire
      Berner Oberland
      Bernese Oberland
      Bishop Skyline
      Blacksmith Peak
      Bloody Mountain
      California fourteeners
      Cardinal Pinnacle
      Carson Peak
      Celestial Aretes
      Chamonix climbing
      Charlotte Dome
      classic rock climb
      classic Sierra rock
      climbing camp
      climbing skills
      climbing Swiss Alps
      Clyde Minaret
      Convict Creek
      courses instruction
      Crystal Crag
      custom private ski
      Dana Plateau
      Devil's Slide
      Dolomites climbing
      Double Eagle Resort
      Dream Bowl
      East Buttress
      East Face
      Eastern Sierra climbing
      Eastern Sierra skiing
      Eastern Sierra Winter
      Evolution Loop
      Fishhook Arete
      Four Seasons
      Glass Creek
      guide course
      Haute Route
      heli assisted
      heli skiing
      Hemlock Ridge
      High Sierra
      High Sierra skiing
      Horse Creek
      Horsetail Falls
      Hut to Hut
      ice 101
      ice axe
      ice climbing
      ice climbing course
      Incredible Hulk
      intermediate level
      introductory ice climbing course
      John Muir Trail
      John Muir Wilderness
      June Lake
      June Mountain
      Kautz Glacier
      kids climbing programs
      Las Vegas
      lee vining
      Lee Vining area
      lee vining canyon
      level 1
      level 1 refresher
      level 2
      light and fast
      Lone Pine
      Lone Pine Peak
      Lovers Leap
      Mammoth Lakes
      Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite
      Mammoth Mountain
      Mammoth to June
      Mammoth to Yosemite
      Matterhorn Peak
      McGee Creek
      Merriam Peak
      mixed climbing
      Mont Blanc
      Mont Blanc run
      Mount Conness
      Mount Dana
      Mount Emerson
      Mount Gabb
      Mount Humphreys
      Mount Mills
      Mount Rainier
      mountain running
      Mountaineers Route
      Mt Conness
      Mt. Dana
      Mt. Emerson
      Mt. Humphreys
      Mt. Russell
      Mt. Sill
      Mt. Tom
      Mt. Whitney
      Mt. Winchell
      North Palisade
      North Peak
      north ridge
      onion valley to mt. whitney
      Owens River Gorge
      pack outfit
      pack support
      Palisades Glacier Camp
      peak descents
      Peter Croft
      Pine Creek
      Polemonium Peak
      Positive Vibrations
      private custom
      professional development
      Red and White Mountain
      Red Dihedral
      red rock
      Red Slate Mountain
      rescue skills
      Ritter Range
      rock 201
      rock climbing
      Rock Creek
      Rock Creek to Mammoth
      Sabre Ridge
      San Joaquin Ridge
      self arrest
      self belay
      self rescue
      Sequoia National Park
      Sierra 5.10
      sierra alpine
      Sierra Mountain Guides
      Sierra Nevada
      Sierra skiing
      single pitch instructor
      ski guiding
      ski tour
      ski touring
      snow skills
      sport climbing
      Starlight Peak
      Temple Crag
      third pillar
      Thompson Pass
      Thunderbolt Peak
      trad climbing
      trail running
      Twin Lakes
      Ultra Trail Mont Blanc
      Via Ferrata
      white line
      wilderness trip
      yosemite national park
      Yosemite ski
      Yost Meadow
      Zermatt Valley

    TRIP ITINERARY: Palisades Crest Tour

    DAY 1 Meet your guide early in the morning at the SMG office in Bishop. We recommend taking a couple days to acclimatize up at Mammoth Mountain if possible, and to arrange with your guide to meet the evening prior to get gear and packing sorted out. The trip begins at Glacier Lodge in Big Pine Creek. Hike and then ski tour up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. Ascent the south side of Contact Pass for an excellent descent beneath the towering East Face of Temple Crag, then up to camp near the Palisade Glacier.
    DAY 2 Leave our heavy gear behind and enjoy a day of fantastic ski mountaineering. Here we have the option of skiing on the flanks and couloirs of the mighty 14,000 foot Palisade peaks Mount Sill, Polemonium Peak, North Palisade, and Thunderbolt Peak. Return to the Palisade Glacier camp for the night.
    DAY 3 Climb to Glacier Notch, up to Apex Col and ski the famous L-shaped couloir on Mount Sill. Technical descent from Glacier Notch back into the Southfork drainage. A roller coaster ride lands us near camp beneath the north side of Norman Clyde Peak.
    DAY 4 Early start for the ascent up and over Scimitar Pass - not really a pass, more like a snow-covered shoulder of Palisade Crest. This is a spectacular and airy place to be with sheer rock faces both looming above on the left and dropping off precipitously to the right. We descend carefully down to the West and then North to take a side trip up the Southeast bowl of Polemonium Peak. In good conditions this is one of the longest moderate runs on the west flank of the Sierra Crest, and off of a 14,000' peak. Conditions will determine camp location, which is either at the big lake at the head of Glacier Creek or in the Palisade Creek drainage.
    DAY 5 Ascend over Cirque or Chimney Pass or continue up Palisade Creek, past Palisade Lakes to a camp on sunny slabs in the basin beneath Southfork Pass. With small packs we can either summit Balcony Peak and descend right to camp, or venture up to ski a grey steep line on the north side of Mt. Bolton Brown.
    DAY 6 The Grand Finale! Ascend in the early morning beneath Southfork Pass and up to the technical col (class 3-4 ridge traverse) that accesses the south face of the Thumb. Ascend the hanging cirque to a ski cache and a quick scramble that takes us to 13,356’ at the summit of one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the Sierra. From there we ski down a classic ski peak of the Sierra, ascend Kid Mountain back to Big Pine Creek, or continue down Birch Creek or where either way we ski over 7000 vertical feet down to desert sage and right to our vehicle in style.


    • Advanced-expert downhill skiing skills
    • Ability to control speed and execute fall-line turns in control and comfort in difficult snow conditions (deep powder, heavy and/or moist snow, breakable crust, firm or icy, etc.)
    • Ability to execute hop turns on 40 degree+, firm slopes, coming to a complete and immediate stop at the finish of each turn
    • Ability to sideslip forward and backward, with edge control, on steep, firm slopes
    • Experience ski touring in the backcountry using ski touring equipment (boots, bindings, skins, transceiver, shovel, probe, etc.)
    • Ability to make uphill facing kick-turns in an uphill track on a steep slope
    • Experience in multi-day winter camping and/or mountaineering
    • (Recommended) experience on multiday technical Sierra ski mountaineering tours
    • Experience with the use of climbing ropes and technical competency in use of ice axe, crampons, and ski crampons
    • Excellent fitness

    Cost Includes:

    • SMG Guide(s)
    • Group camping gear and technical gear
    • Meals (dinners and breakfasts)
    • Use of avalanche rescue gear (beacon, shovel, probe)
    • Wilderness Permits

    Not Included:

    • Travel to/from the Eastern Sierra
    • Lodging in the Eastern Sierra
    • Food or drink in towns
    • Snacks/lunches or drinks on the tour
    • Personal or rental equipment
    • Trip Insurance and Mountain Rescue Insurance (recommended)