Click on Thumbnails to View Full Gallery Ascent to Scimitar Pass

Palisades Crest Tour


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

Maximum guiding ratio for this itinerary is 2:1.

This tour has a minimum of 2 to run on the listed dates at this promotional price. We also offer this itinerary or similar on a custom private basis. Click HERE for details.

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  • Description

    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 year when the snowpack is more stable and when we typically have powder on the shaded aspects and corn in the sun. 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!

  • Itinerary

    TRIP ITINERARY: Palisades Crest Tour

    DAY 1Meet your guide in the town of Big Pine. After a car shuttle to drop a vehicle off in the desert, we drive to Glacier Lodge where the tour begins. Hike and then ski tour up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. Tour over Contact Pass for an excellent descent beneath the towering East Face of Temple Crag, then up to camp near the Palisade Glacier.
    DAY 2Leave 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 Palisade Glacier Camp for the night.
    DAY 3Climb from camp to Glacier Notch, up to Apex Col and ski the famous L-shaped couloir. Descend technically from Glacier Notch back into the Southfork drainage. A roller coaster ride of a ski run lands us near camp beneath the North side of Norman Clyde Peak.
    DAY 4We get an early start for the ascent up and over Scimitar Pass - not really a pass, more like a snow swath over the shoulder of the 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 then 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 can be one of the longest moderate runs in the High Sierra. We camp at the bottom of the run, which is either at the big lake or down in the Palisade Creek drainage.
    DAY 5Ascend over Cirque or Chimney Pass to Palisade Creek to a camp on sunny slabs at the lakes below the South face of Disappointment Peak (technically Balcony Peak). With small packs we will either summit Balcony Peak and descend right to camp, or venture up to ski the North side of Mt. Bolton Brown. Great options for this day!
    DAY 6The Grand Finale! Ascend in the early morning beneath Southfork Pass and up to the technical col that accesses the South face of the Thumb. Ascend this amazing bowl 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 Eastern Sierra. From there we ski down one of the best ski peaks in the Sierra, finishing down Birch Creek where one can often ski 7000 vertical feet down to the desert sage and right to the vehicle we stashed way back on Day 1. Celebrate in Big Pine.