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State of the High Sierra Backcountry – April 9th, 2016

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz7 Comments

Happy April backcountry skiers and snowboarders! What a season. It is hard to process it all, but suffice it to say that it has been the best in years. Sure, the El Niño turned into something of an el None yo, and that left a lingering air of disappointment that many just couldn’t get over. On the bright side, complaints about snow quantity were tempered by consistently high snow quality. There were very few days this season where the goods …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – March 12th, 2016

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz6 Comments

Skiers and Snowboarders! Happy late winter to you all. We took a brief hiatus from writing this report so that we could do some investigative journalism on the topic of why this winter has fallen so short of the epic proportions that were advertised. I sacrificed some well-earned personal Sierra ski time to instead make a journey into the heart of the Pacific, to the source of our Sierra weather, to see what the heck is going on. What I found …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – January 29th, 2016

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz2 Comments

Howdy Skiers and Snowboarders, Just a quick update because we are getting lots of questions about recent backcountry conditions. Storms have been frequent and relatively small lately, but every bit counts. At this point the snow surveys are saying we are at just below average (93% of average to date) snowpack for the date in Sierra south of near the northern Yosemite border. The problem with this estimate is that it does not factor in that there is very little …

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Exercising the Power of Restraint

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

I quit drinking coffee this fall. Not forever, just for 5 weeks. I do this every fall. It is not easy as I have a mild addiction to the hot beverage. It is not the effects of caffeine as much as the taste. I compensated with more than enough black tea during that time, but it never satisfied the my craving for the ritual of the bean. The grind, the aroma, the percolation and of course, the rich, smooth taste. …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – January 11th, 2016

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Howdy backcountry skiers and snowboarders! Wow, what a run we are having. Snow conditions have been incredible for almost 4 weeks now. Aside from immediately after the mega wind event that destroyed the snowpack and many trees in the Eastern Sierra just before X-mas, the powder has been light, fluffy, and cold, from boot top to waist deep. Avalanche conditions have been mostly manageable this season to date, other than a couple cycles of disconcerting direct action avalanche activity. This …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – December 27th, 2015

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Happy Holidays backcountry skiers and snowboarders, December has been good to us. Small to medium storms with winds in between is the pattern. The winds of December 21-23 toppled dozens of full grown beetle-killed snags in the June Mountain backcountry and littered the snow surface with an unprecedented amount of detritus on top of sastrugi. Not such fun conditions, after a couple weeks of excellent cold powder skiing. Fortunately, it was a white X-mas and we got another 1’+ on top. …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report – December 18th, 2015

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie Schwartz1 Comment

Hi backcountry skiers and snowboarders, The 2015-16 snow season is underway! Hopefully you have had a chance to reconnoiter with the white stuff, either at the resort or in the backcountry. If you haven’t, don’t worry, this season is still being hyped and prognosticated as the Donald Trump of El Niños, it’s HUGE! Since the beginning of December, there have been 3 small to medium sized storms that have impacted our area. From these, Mammoth Mountain recorded 24 inches of …

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Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report November 24th, 2015

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Backcountry Snow Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Salutations backcountry skiers and snowboarders! The backcountry season is open! That means we at SMG now continue our tradition of reporting on the current and recent snow conditions for the Eastern Sierra. As a reminder, This report is not an avalanche advisory, nor is it comparable to information offered by any avalanche information center. The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center is the local avalanche center that keeps us all informed on snow and avalanche conditions for purposes of backcountry risk management. …

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Alpine Conditions Report – July 8, 2015

In Conditions Reports, From the Range of Light & Fast, High Sierra Alpine Report by Howie Schwartz5 Comments

Hi Sierra Nevada aficionados and enthusiasts, Quick update to our last report on July 1, as things in the high country are changing quite rapidly. As we have been reporting, the Sierra remains in a steady stream of daily thunderstorm activity from monsoonal air flow and warm, moist air rising that condenses clouds, resulting in precipitation and electrical activity. Precipitation has been in the form of intense short or, in some cases, up to a couple sustained hours of rain …

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Alpine Conditions Report – July 1, 2015

In Conditions Reports, From the Range of Light & Fast, High Sierra Alpine Report by Howie Schwartz4 Comments

Howdy mountaineers and high country enthusiasts, Hope you are all enjoying summer at this point. We are! After the driest winter on record, the High Sierra experienced one of the wettest calendar months ever. The town of Bishop hit May records for amount of rainfall and consecutive days with precipitation. In June, mountain weather has remained somewhat unusual with daily high temperatures spanning more than 30 degrees F in many locations. In Bishop, 17 days have hit highs in the …

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Alpine Conditions Report – May 8, 2015

In Conditions Reports, From the Range of Light & Fast, High Sierra Alpine Report, Uncategorized by Howie Schwartz2 Comments

Crazy year. After the biggest drought on record in California, we enter late spring with a series of storms, the last two of which are the biggest of the year to date. This weather is wackbards! It’s supposed to be high and dry in the summer/fall and stormy in the winter/spring. That’s what all of us high mountain lovers have come to expect and appreciate. The situation is out of sync, like a mountain guide trying to dance to 90’s …

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Alpine Conditions Report – April 18, 2015

In Conditions Reports, From the Range of Light & Fast, High Sierra Alpine Report by Howie Schwartz5 Comments

  Hi everyone, Welcome to the High Sierra Alpine Conditions Report! This is the first one of 2015, transitioning early from the Backcountry Snow Report for skiers and snowboarders which we will not be updating further this season, courtesy of “the big dry” (the biggest drought on record in California). The drought is a bane for almost everyone, and we should all be a lot more concerned than we seem to be, but it does represent a boon for alpine …