[Cdt-l] Snowshoes vs. skiis in the Sierra

ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com
Thu Dec 24 01:40:26 CST 2009

Yes, I totally agree, Mags, with regard to the CDT. However, in the High 
Sierra, below timberline and especially in and around creeks and lakes where 
the bushes can be a squeeze, we recommend snowshoes.

I have skied, 'shoed, and walked over sierra snow the length of the pct 
above 6000' and the month travelled will dictate which mode of flotation is 
best. If there is snow everywhere, and snow bridges adequately cover the 
creeks (like Feb or March), skis are the way to go. If the snowline extends 
down into the canyons and into the trees, but not all the way down to the 
creeks, you will have to carry those skis through the trees and bushes (say, 
April or May). If that's all right with you, then stay with skis. If you're 
pulling a sled, it will have to be portaged over the snowless trail areas. 
If the snow is only on the Passes and extending down to the tree line with 
dry trail below that to the creek crossing and up the other side, we feel it 
is easier and lighter to use snowshoes where needed and fly in the 
afternoons on the dry trail below the Passes.

Some will say not to use either conveyance and just to walk on your boots in 
the mornings when the snow is still firm enough to not posthole. If you time 
your ascents/descents such that you can hike the lower, dry trail in the 
warm afternoon (when you would be postholing miserably up in the snow), this 
can be done easily while still accomplishing the higher mileage days. 
However, this isn't always possible the way the Passes line up. You will 
have many days where you'll get your 10 miles in by 1300hrs (iffy postholing 
time for May-June) and still have lots of snow to walk through (note the 
wallowing "through" term). Your choice, then, is whether to stop for the day 
and avoid postholing injury and fatigue, find a rock-hopping route through 
it to dry trail, head straight down by the most direct route possible, then 
bush-whack to intercept the trail at a lower elevation, or put on snowshoes 
and simply keep going while enjoying the scenery. The choice is yours. While 
in your planning and preparation stages, please test out these methods for 
yourself to see which way you want to deal with snow and postholing.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Magnanti" <pmags at yahoo.com>
To: "CDT MailingList" <cdt-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:41 PM
Subject: [Cdt-l] Snowshoes

> In the Rockies, why not get skis?  Wide open areas perfect for kicking and 
> gliding.
> A good pair of backcountry skis with fishscales (perfect for beginners) 
> and some boots
> cost less used than most snowshoes. (Harder to find used snowshoes in good 
> condition).
> Snowshoes make more sense in the heavily wooded East than the Rockies IMO.
> I've hauled 50 lbs (wine and marinated pork roast add up in weight) on 
> skis..so they
> can be used for backpacking quite easily.
> I plodded on snowshoes..I switched to skis and now I glide. :)
> ************************************************************
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> --Thoreau
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