The Backcountry skiing in the Eastern Sierra from Bridgeport down through the Rock Creek area has been comparatively good in recent weeks (Comparative to the last four years of drought!). With a regular refresh of fresh powder finding good snow hasn't been too difficult. As usual in mid winter, you want to look in the North and Northeast facing trees.
We have lots of snow on the crest of the Sierra with a bit less as you get down lower to the East Side of the crest. Some spots are truly awesome while others further from the crest are a bit “low tide” with lots of obstacles. We still could use a good Sierra dump lower down on the East Side. We are really only one 2-3 foot dump away from having what could be a truly spectacular backcountry ski season. That may come these weekend, let's hope for the best! Here’s the low down:
Bridgeport Area and the Sawtooth Ridge Area
Skiing is great above 9,000 feet in the Horse Creek Canyon and Sawtooth Ridge areas with about a 3-5 foot base. The couloirs of the Matterhorn Peak and Horse Creek area are filled in with Ski Dreams looking good. However, recent wind loading made these objectives too dangerous to ski, but hopefully things will stabilize soon. It is possible to stay on skis all the way to the trail head but below 8000 feet the snow pack is too shallow to really make turns and it’s “just getting down” from there.
June Lake Area
Above 8500 feet the snowpack is deep enough to provide great skiing. The Negatives are in shape and very skiable, but once again, recent wind loading as made them a bit too unstable to safely ski. Skiing the low angle slopes off the backside of J7 lift at June Mountain has been very good. Not really enough snow to reasonably ski all the way down to the highway but you can “make it down” if you’re careful. Most people are skinning back to the resort after skiing the backcountry.
Chicken Wing and White Wing off of Deadman Summit have been great with enough snowpack to have good skiing all the way back to the car. The trees have protected much of the snow from the wind. There are still obstacles down low however.
Mammoth Lakes Area
The best skiing has been off the Mammoth Crest such as Red Cone Bowl. This area has been getting hit hard from the recent storms and there’s around a 4-6 foot base and little to no obstacles. Great skiing is to be had on the crest, but as with other areas there has been lots of wind loading recently so the steep stuff above 35 degrees hasn’t been skied in the last few days and is still dangerous. They recently just got 7-13 inches of new snow up on the crest.
Further East, Punta Bardini and the Tele Bowls are finally good with enough snow depth to provide mostly worry free skiing. However, there are still some obstacles down low. Areas such as Solitude Canyon and most of the Sherwins are skiable but with areas of low snow cover. We could use more snow in this area for sure.
Convict Creek and Rock Creek Area
No many reports from here, but the word is that the further South you go from Mammoth the less snow there is. Sounds like these areas South of Mammoth and East of the crest really need some more snow to make it worthwhile.
As always, check the local avalanche conditions before you head out. In the Eastern Sierra we do not have an official avalanche forecast. However, you can check to latest snowpack summary at the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center And if you don't have any avalanche training or backcountry ski exeperience, you should go take a AIARE avalanche course or hire a qualified backcountry ski guide.