Springtime backcountry skiing in the Sierra is, well, pretty darn pleasant, all things considered. The snow conditions are unlike the powdery fluff of winter. They change quickly with aspect, elevation, and slope steepness — sometimes, mid-turn, which can be exciting — but the sun is high, the temperatures are mild, and the views can’t be beat.
The tours have been local, close to home in the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Nestled between Lake Tahoe and Reno, Mount Rose encompasses most of the high country of the Carson Range. At almost 11,000′, Mt. Rose itself is the highest point in the wilderness.
We were surprised to see a snowshoe hare one day. Turns out Lepus americanus tahoensis is a subspecies found only between Mt. Lassen to Yosemite. This one is handsome at this time of year in its winter coat.
My partner on these tours has been fellow Reno-ite Iva Neveux, whose acquaintance I made through a mutual friend from Fairbanks. She is originally from the Czech Republic and has lived in the U.S. for around 10 years. She works in microbiology at the Desert Research Institute, and is an experienced telemark skier who has fun making turns, no matter what the conditions.
We’ve seen hardly anyone, which has been a surprising treat considering that we are less than an hour’s drive from the city. People are probably moving on to biking, gardening, and other springtime activities that don’t involve sliding around on snow. More room for the rest of us!