If you’ve ever spent time in the eastern Sierra, you know it’s one of the most magical places in the world. From the highest mountain in the lower U.S., Mount Whitney, to the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, this side of the Sierra is truly a remarkable outdoor lover’s paradise.
While most visitors flock to the eastern Sierra in the summer for the world class fishing, hiking, and camping, you’ll find us there during the winter. and for good reason. Not only can you ski and soak in natural hot springs on the same day, escape the crowds in Lake Tahoe, gaze upon the glorious Mono Lake, you also can snowcat ski and sleep in backcountry yurts with High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt.
Our CEO, Jen Gurecki, set an intention for 2022 to spend more time cultivating lush experiences and relationships. And this dream team delivered. What an absolute joy to spend two days completely unplugged with this group of people, relishing the Eastern Sierra. Photo of Coalition Ambassador Andrea Suslarski by Calen Albert.
Where is the eastern Sierra?
The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is located along the eastern border of California, stretching from Lone Pine, California in the south to the Nevada line at Topaz Lake. You can reach Bridgeport, our go-to hot springs stop in less than two hours from Reno or Lake Tahoe. Mammoth Mountain is a quick 45 minutes more down Highway 395.
Indigenous people have been caring for the land long before the ski resorts of Mammoth Mountain and June Lake were built, and it is their land that we are so grateful to be able to recreate on. The eastern Sierra is home to the Big Pine Band Of Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Indians Of The Big Pine Reservation, Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony Of California, Fort Independence Indian Community Of Paiute Indians Of The Fort Independence Reservation, Paiute-Shoshone Indians Of The Lone Pine Community Of The Lone Pine Reservation, Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, and Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe Of The Benton Paiute Reservation.
Skiing in the eastern Sierra
You’re likely familiar with Mammoth Mountain, a behemoth of a ski resort that offers up jaw dropping turns and views for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It’s one of our favorite resorts in California, and it sits just south of the lesser known, hidden gem of the Sierra, June Mountain.
If you’re like us, you might be craving outdoor experiences with less humans and more adventure. That’s where our friends at High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt come in to save the day. Their mission is to provide an alternative to the traditional ski resort by providing backcountry enthusiasts access to remote skiing, over-night backcountry accommodations, guiding, safe transportation, and exceptional service without the lift lines and tracked up slopes.
Coalition Snow Ambassadors Coral Taylor and Jillian Raymond transition from the skin uphill to the ski downhill. What's waiting below? A frozen lake to cross.
What to expect with High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt
If you don’t want to keep reading, let us leave you with this: It’s a shit ton of fun. From the moment you load up on the snowcat from the trailhead off of Virginia Lakes Road, to making dinner in the pizza oven, to finding sweet pow stashes in the trees, every bit of the experience will make you want to come back for more.
What’s really unique about this location is that not only can you snowcat ski, you can also backcountry ski directly from the yurt and the snowcat. There’s so much terrain to access, and there is no one there. It’s like having your own private ski resort.
There’s also this low key vibe that is really appealing. Snowcat skiing isn’t like heli-skiing; you don’t have to sit and wait for perfect conditions and then rush because the fuel is burning. You go at a slower pace, enjoying the scenery and conversation with friends on the way up. And when you’re done, it’s there waiting for you at the bottom of the run.
We skinned across frozen lakes. Brushed up on our skinning skills. Made some sweet powder turns. Survival skied over sastrugi. Told jokes. Laughed hard. Shared meals. Savored cold beers. IT WAS FANTASTIC. Photo of Coalition Ambassador Sammy Oleson by Calen Albert.
Let's talk about the snow
We’ve already established that snowcat skiing with High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt is a shit ton of fun because it’s your very own low key 9,000 acre private ski resort. But the snow. The SNOW!
There’s a ton of low angle open faces that are perfect right after a storm. The trees are well spaced and wind protected, so you can make tons of pow turns weeks after a storm. And when the experience of your team lines up with the avalanche conditions, there's some world class exciting terrain to access. The terrain choices are determined by the snowpack stability, weather conditions, and the experience level of the group, which are all assessed by the incredibly friendly and supportive guides. Mike and his team deliver the goods in all the ways.
Whether you’ve never snowcat skied before, or you’re a seasoned veteran, snowcat skiing in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains should definitely be something that you cross off your bucket list.
Thank you High Sierra Snowcat And Yurt for bringing us all together. It was more than an epic snowcat trip. It was an experience that filled our empty cup.