Backcountry ice skating in the High Sierra
By Leonie Sherman
You can’t carve a tele turn in the first three inches of powder that fall in the High Sierra, and that thin white blanket makes backpacking a grim affair. Climbers flee to the Buttermilk or the Gorge. Skiers haunt the bars and pray for
snow. Backpackers relive the glory days of August and patiently await the return of the light.
But two East side hard-men and a small but dedicated cadre of enthusiasts eagerly anticipate that lost shoulder season. Before the first major storm and after a few weeks of plummeting mercury is prime back-country ice skating season.
“About 20 years ago, I was working in Mammoth at the Tamarack Ski Center, and it just would not snow,” John Dittli explains. “But all those lakes above Mammoth were freezing solid. Well, hockey skaters just started converging on these lakes …