Ask Us Anything: Backpacking the High Sierra in 2023

Last week I wrote about the High Sierra’s record-breaking 2023-23 snowpack and its implications for trip planning, gear selection, and essential skills. In short, this season will be far from normal. Are you ready for that?

This week Katie Gerber and I are hosting an “Ask Us Anything” online event to answer your questions about backpacking in the High Sierra this season. Our primary goal is to help make your trip safe(r), and hopefully more feasible and fun, too.

Event details

  • Wednesday, May 31
  • 6 PM to 7 PM Pacific Time (7pm MT, 8pm CT, and 9pm ET)
  • Free


We’d like to stay focused on the:

  1. Likely conditions during the 2023 backpacking season, and
  2. Their implications on trip planning, gear selection, and essential skills.

But we can also answer more standard questions, like about permits, recommended routes, and thru-hiking logistics.

We want the discussion to be driven by viewers, by way of questions. During any lulls, Katie and I will be prepared with quick tutorials on Sentinel satellite imagery, river levels, and my creek hazards map and list, and more.

Send us your questions

Already have questions? Email them to [email protected], and we’ll try to answer them during the broadcast.

Watch the stream

The event was recorded. Watch it below.

About Katie Gerber

Katie has thru-hiked the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Oregon Desert, and Colorado Trails, as well as the Wind River High Route and an end-to-end thru-hike of the Grand Canyon. She’s been guiding for me since 2020 and joined this year full-time as the Co-Director.

About Andrew Skurka

Most pertinent to this conversation, I have been backpacking in the High Sierra for nearly twenty years, including as a guide for twelve. I’ve thru-hiked the JMT, the JMT/PCT through the High Sierra (twice, including once in the second half of May), and the Sierra High Route; and I wrote the guidebooks for the Kings Canyon High Basin Route and Yosemite High Route.

Posted in , , , on May 27, 2023


  1. Mark Glasser on May 31, 2023 at 8:27 am

    Hello Andrew: I will plan on joining the YouTube event this evening. I am planning a trip over Cottonwood Pass in September. It will be my 60th anniversary of backpacking in the Sierras.

    On a related note, my father lived in Bishop for many years and was known by many as Sierra Sam. He is now 94, lives in Arizona, and still goes walking everyday. He has an excellent memory, still, of the many adventures he had in the Sierras.

  2. Mark Glasser on June 1, 2023 at 5:21 am

    Hello Andrew: That was an informative presentation yesterday evening. You had some excellent tips on how to explore your options when crossing streams and rivers.

    Regarding gear to bring with you on a backpacking trip, I have always marveled at how people backpacked long ago without the modern equipment we have. The history of the Sierra Nevada and it’s early explorers is something worth reading for those who venture out today.

    Speaking of history, 2 things come to mine. One, the Native Americans in the Central Valley who crossed the Sierras every year at Taboose pass to trade with the people who lived in the Owens Valley. They even had a camp that has been discovered near the top of Taboose Pass. Second, was the sheepherders who took their sheep to graze in the high valleys in the summer. One of the places they went was the Arrow Lakes basin, and you can still see the effects of the sheep today by the stunted grass. How they got their sheep up to the high country from Paradise valley is amazing.

    Speaking of Paradise Valley, I think the original route there was over Goat Mountain. This was before the trail was built up the South Fork of the Kings past Mist Falls.

    Thanks again for an excellent presentation.

  3. Frank on June 7, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    Lake Dardanelle snow conditions for late June ?? Do I need to snowshoes to get in?

    • Andrew Skurka on June 7, 2023 at 2:33 pm

      Based on the research that you’ve done, what do you think?

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