This is “it”; the ultimate Sierra Classic ski tour. First skied in its entirety in 1975 by Sierra veteran Dave Beck, this subtle line linking high passes and long contours around huge snow filled bowls has become the goal of many a backcountry skier. Starting in the low desert of the Eastern Sierra and crossing some of the more rugged parts of the Sierra Nevada this is not a tour for the beginning skier.

Often compared to the famous “Haute Route” of the European Alps or Colorado’s Tenth Mountain Trail, this is a true extended wilderness ski tour, with no huts, few other people and no nearby roads. For the experienced backcountry skier with good backcountry skills it will be a truly outstanding venture; the essence of ski mountaineering.


Kearsarge start
7 days, 6 nights. 37 miles. 12,800 feet of ascent; 14,700 of descent

Shepherd start
6 days, 5 nights. 36 miles. 13,000 feet of ascent; 12,200 of descent

This is a long tour and pack weight needs to be kept as low as possible. We will be carefully selecting equipment to reduce weight and we will work with you to ensure that packs do not weigh more than about 45 pound plus the weight of your skis when we start out.

We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000 feet) just prior to the trip. Spending a night or two in Mammoth or camped at the trailhead campground would do the trick.

SMC does not rent ski equipment, but we work with Mammoth Mountaineering (760-934-4191) to get you set up on the correct equipment. MMS has a very wide range of rental equipment that is probably the best you will find anywhere in California. All gear is current state of the art, well tuned and rental fees are deductible if you buy a set up from them. (We highly recommend renting before you buy so as to find what suits you best, since a full setup is pretty pricey). We can coordinate the rental and suggest that if you can you arrive Mammoth the night before and get fully set up since boot fitting can take some time.

Read an account of skiing the High Route with SMC by Ray Purcell

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