BACKCOUNTRY SKIING Mono County’s Eastern Sierra

Skiing off the south peak out of Virginia Lakes gives this skier a breath taking view.

Skiing off the south peak out of Virginia Lakes gives this skier a breath taking view.

MONO COUNTY, Calif. — For skiers and snowboarders with the desire and ability to venture beyond the ski area boundaries of Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain, Mono County offers some of the country’s best backcountry skiing.

Soaring peaks reaching over 13,000 feet, wide open bowls and tight, technical couloirs all blanketed in winter powder or spring corn snow make Mono County a backcountry mecca. But backcountry touring requires extensive knowledge, experience and equipment to stay safe and have fun, so going with a guide service is a great way to get started on the majestic slopes of the Eastern Sierra.

Sierra Mountain Guides offers a wide range of backcountry ski and snowboard trips across the Sierra, from Lone Pine in the South to Yosemite and the Sawtooth Range overlooking Bridgeport in the north. Ski the High Sierra crest or small wooded gems near June Lake with seasoned guides. From custom private backcountry trips to multi-day tours, a trip with Sierra Mountain Guides offers a great way to get out into the winter wilderness and experience something truly unique. Also located in Bishop, Calif., Sierra Mountain Center provides regularly scheduled trips or custom trips with private guiding, instruction and avalanche safety programs in the Eastern Sierra.

“Earn your turns” is a phrase commonly used among the alpine backcountry set. But for those who prefer to skip the hike up the mountains to ski or snowboard down, or who want to start their day bright and early, High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt based out of Virginia Lakes just north of Mono Lake offers snowcat rides and overnight stays in a yurt near Yosemite’s eastern border. Looming Dunderberg peak and its neighbors offer excellent skiing, including towering couloirs and wide-open expanses. High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt is excited to announce they have just opened a second yurt this season, their Dunderber Yurt, an 18-foot yurt providing access to the North and Northeast side of Dunderberg/Kavanaugh Ridge.

California Alpine Guides, a leading mountain guide service located at June Lakes near Yosemite National Park, provides backcountry skiing and Yosemite hiking tours in addition to mountain, ice or rock climbing classes. California Alpine Guides also conducts classes in conjunction with High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt.

“The Eastern Sierra is one of the most unique and special ranges in the West or the U.S.,” said Nate Greenberg, president of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. “With easy access to big terrain that includes large peaks and exceptional mountains, there is a gamut of experiences to explore.”

Greenberg, in conjunction with, recently announced the release of a new backcountry ski app. It is designed to deliver the content of a book he co-authored, Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra — a 350 page full color guidebook covering descents between Bridgeport and Lone Pine, in an interactive digital format that allows users to sort, filter and search for terrain based on a variety of criteria. Paired with the avalanche advisory and some proper training, this is a powerful tool to help skiers and riders make the best terrain decisions.

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding has inherent risks, and the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center offers avalanche forecasts and more at Additionally, Sierra Mountain Guides, Sierra Mountain Center and High Sierra Snow Cat offer avalanche education courses.

For supplies, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply and Kitteredge Sports in Mammoth Lakes are great shops to visit for last minute equipment purchases or to rent alpine touring gear.

For more information about Mono County, go to or call 800-845-7922.


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