Winter & early-season


Crampons & ice axe: Recommendations for the High Sierra

By Andrew Skurka / May 26, 2019 /

In July I’m running six trips in Yosemite National Park, split between two guide teams: two intro-level 3-day courses, and four more advanced 5- and 7-day trips. We will be hiking sections of the John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Sierra High Route, and Yosemite High Route, in addition to other trails and off-trail routes. Because…

Reader Q: Do I need an ice axe or crampons on the Pfiffner Traverse?

By Andrew Skurka / November 27, 2017 /

A question from reader Stan P. of Alexandria, Virginia: This is a great question, because the answer is both nuanced and consequential. A multitude of factors are at play, and you want to be right — or else you’ll be carrying several pounds of unnecessary equipment, bailing off your intended route, or exposing yourself to excessive…

Early-season backpacking || Merits of skis, snowshoes, crampons & axes

By Andrew Skurka / March 30, 2017 /

The early-season is a messy inbetween — it’s no longer winter, but not yet summer, either. Snowpack and cornices still linger in the higher elevations and on shady and leeward aspects, while snow-free trails are found lower down and on sun-blasted slopes higher up. This inconsistency presents backcountry travelers with a dilemma: What will be…

Thoughts and conclusions about ski shopping for Amanda

By Andrew Skurka / November 27, 2013 /

Shh, Amanda is getting a new alpine touring ski setup for Christmas. While I’ll have to pick up the tab, it’s a win for me, too: If my wife can now backcountry ski, I’ll get to backcountry ski more. Ski shopping is a good excuse to create another spreadsheet — it’s useful to compile and…

Costco does it again: two 21-oz telescoping aluminum backcountry shovels for $20!

By Andrew Skurka / November 20, 2012 /

This past summer I was delighted to find Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles at Costco for Amanda. The twist-style locks are failure-prone, but for $27 they were by far the best value on the market, featuring carbon fiber shafts, faux cork grips, carbide tips, and several types of baskets. This past weekend I found another fantastic…