Category: Backcountry Skiing

An original, firsthand account of the remarkable first ski crossing of Tioga Pass

Editor’s Note: This account, previously never published, was written by Dennis Jones in the late 1950s, and is provided courtesy of Starr Walton Hurley, niece of Dennis Jones, and Norm Sayler, president of the Donner Summit Historical Society. The story below contains some added detail from that was merged into the story from another typed retelling of the adventure that Jones wrote some time later.

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The Truly Great Ski Race

So, Mr. or Ms. Backcountry Skier, you want to be a nordic ski racer, you say? Maybe you watched the last Olympics, and marveled at the athletes and their amazing oxygen uptake and strength. Or perhaps a friend dragged you over to your local cross country ski area, and you – with your mega-wide boards and heavy tele boots – kept getting buzzed by a bunch of folks wearing colorful skin-tight lycra, leaving you feeling like you were standing still as they powered up the hill. OK, maybe you can live without the spandex; but still, it looked like fun. Those skinny little skate skis can sure fly over the trails.

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A Slackcountry Attitude

Paul Oelerich slays the Mt. Reba slackcountry during last year’s Bear Valley Tele Fest. A lot of folks are taking issue with the label “slackcountry” recently for its derogatory attitude. Get over it. Keep in mind I say that with a full measure of self-deprecation. There’s no point in lying, it’s my favorite kind of tour. Usually. I still love revving the meter full tilt when the tilt is at the edge of reason, but not all the time, and admittedly, not at the same RPM as 20 years ago. You too? Thought so.

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Backcountry Skiers: Make Room on Your Bookshelf

In conversations the past month with avid local Sierra backcountry skiers about Dan Mingori and Nate Greenburg’s new guidebook Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra, 166 Ski and Snowboard Descents in the Range of Light between Tioga Pass and Bishop Creek (Wolverine Publishing 2008) immediate comments from those newly aware of the book fell cleanly into two camps. A majority exclaimed, “Really? That’s awesome!” While others grumbled, “Really? That sucks!”

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C’mon in and Shut the Door!

Whether you’re a seasoned winter explorer or a four-season greenhorn, there are few feelings as joyous as skiing to the door of a snowbound backcountry hut. Just as the natural world is at its most inhospitable, wind and snow swirling in the air, here you are at the threshold of a magical landscape with little more than a sleeping bag, playing cards, and flask in hand. At night, you lounge under the coziness of a roof, warmed by a wood stove and shared with good friends. By day, you shred lonely backcountry peaks until exhaustion. Can it get any better?

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To Uganda With Skis

“The Mubuku River is too high – too high for the dry season,” our Ugandan guide John says, shaking his head. He fears we might not be able to cross the footbridge ahead. We’ve only been hiking for a few hours and already the trail is lapped over by whitewash. The river rampages through the rainforest right next to us. It is the kind of water that would make the evening news back home – the kind of water that leaves people stranded on their rooftops while a TV helicopter hovers nearby.

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Breaking Trail

Craig Dostie started Couloir magazine 20 years ago (then “Le Chronicle du Couloir”), when backcountry skiing was very much a fledgling, little-known sport, and he did so out of a very unlikely birthplace, the LA suburb of Moorpark. It grew to become the country’s leading backcountry ski magazine and helped promote backcountry skiing and snowboarding during a period of tremendous growth that brought it into mainstream consciousness – relatively speaking, as it remains somewhat of a fringe sport, guarded by sweat and effort.

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59th Annual Warren Miller Film Tour

The opening footage of Warren Miller’s 59th annual homage to the global ski lifestyle, “Children of Winter,” features two Tahoe locals who run an Alaska heli-ski operation, two race-bred Olympians and a converted fishing trawler with a heli pad cruising the Chugach Range of maritime Alaska. The floating foursome picks off virgin big mountain peaks like they’re shooting ducks at a carnival booth.

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Sizing up Two Epic Tours: The Sierra High Route and Alps Haute Route

We’re at the Symmes Creek trailhead, in the high desert sage out Onion Valley Road west of Independence, about to embark on the Sierra High Route. Pioneered by Dave Beck in 1975, this ski tour became an instant classic. Beck envisioned this line across the southern Sierra as California's answer to the famous Haute Route of the Alps. Traversing 50 spectacular miles from the Owens Valley near Mt. Whitney to the grand conifers of Sequoia National Park on the west, the route crosses the highest portion of the Sierra, including six major passes that top 12,000 to 13,000 feet.

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Thigh Deep in Patagonia

While winter holds here in the Sierra Nevada, southern Chile melts into summer. The snowy couloirs and valleys of the Cerro Castillo National Reserve are now rocky slopes and tree-lined trails. Just a few months ago, I finished a blog entry from the one computer with Internet access that exists in the quaint and colorful village of Cerro Castillo, where we spent our last night in warm beds before heading out into the spectacular grandeur of the Patagonia backcountry.

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After a two-year pandemic hiatus, festivals are back! ⁠

Pick up a copy of our latest issue or check the 🔗 in our bio ⬆️ to see our 2022 Festival Guide. ⁠

📷 Vivian Lee / Joshua Tree Music Festival⁠

#musicfestivals #festivals #bestofthefests
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“Once people found out there was some idiot out there willing to capture donkeys, they called and called and called. I actually lived apart from my wife for two years.” — Mark Meyers⁠

Mark and Amy Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue have been saving wild donkeys for over 25 years. ⁠

Learn more via the 🔗 in our bio ⬆️.⁠

Pictured here are wild donkeys in the Saline Valley of Death Valley National Park. 📷 Mark Meyers Photography⁠

@donkeyrescue #wilddonkeys #peacefulvalleydonkeyrescue
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Hunting for sea Glass. ⁠

California has some amazing sea glass beaches and winter/spring is the season for hunting. ⁠

Check out the 🔗 in our bio ⬆️ to get some tips from ASJ contributor and author of the book Santa Cruz Sea Glass, Krista (Hammond) Houghton. ⁠

📷 @wavehuntress1
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Happy Earth Day! ⁠

Going Paperless? A few thoughts on the environmental impact of printed magazines in a digital world. ⁠

Check the 🔗 in our bio ⬆️ to read more. ⁠

#earthday #traditionalmedia #printisnotdead #myasj

📷 GettyTim82
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Lost & Found — A beautiful day on the bike and all for a good cause. ⁠

Registration is open for the 100, 60 & 35 mile ride options. Or just bring some friends and come to the Lost Sierra for the weekend and enjoy good food, craft beer, live music and camping. ⁠
🍔🍉🍺🎶🚴🏻‍♀️🏕️🌻⁠

Learn more about the @lostandfoundbikeride and Connected Communities via the 🔗 in our bio. ⬆️
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Our annual festival guide is hitting the streets. Woohoo! Grab your copy at over 1000 distribution spots throughout California and Nevada. ⁠

We are excited about this illustrated cover by Kevin Howdeshell of @thebraveunion. He put together a montage of elements from this issue that captures the spirit of festival season and the hard work of our editors. Tag us in your photos when you grab your copy!
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Less than two hours from San Francisco, Sonoma County’s riding is world-class. Routes range from rocky dirt roads and #singletrack to deserted stretches of swooping asphalt that feature soaring sea views, misty stands of #redwoods and miles with barely a car in sight. Names like King Ridge and Fort Ross appear regularly on lists of the world’s best cycling routes, not to mention the incredible off-road riding that hides inland or the gorgeous stretch of coastal Highway 1 that runs from #Gualala to Bodega Bay.⁠

Read all about it on the website! 🔗 Link in bio
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Ahoy sailors! Have you signed up for the @summersailstice ? It’s a great way to spend the Summer Solstice 🌞⛵️ ...

General registration for @ca_enduro opens TONIGHT (Sunday March 20) at 8pm PST for Round 3 - China Peak Enduro (Race Day June 25) and Round 4 - Mt. Shasta Enduro (Race Days July 30-31)!

Register for your CES Rider ID: race.californiaenduro.com.

More info about the 2022 CES schedule: californiaenduroseries.com/2022-race-season-update/

Photo: @bixxel.media

@skichinapeak / @mtshastaskipark #embraceyourinnermountain / @iamspecialized @iamspecialized_mtb #iamspecialized
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March 1906 “Snow Shoe” races at La Porte, CA. Photo: Plumas County Museum, Quincy⁠

Want to learn more about those super long skis? Check out the link in our bio!
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We are loving this shot by @nellysmagicmoments of his buddy @danishanderson 🏄 ...

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