Men’s Journal has a great article on their website about a team of skiers who went in search of snow in Death Valley, and came up with one of the best kept secrets in backcountry skiing anywhere in the U.S.
The eight members of the team set out to find skiable snow in the Mojave Desert, which, in and of itself, sounds like a crazy idea. But when they stopped to think about it, there was only one place that could offer what they were looking for — Telescope Peak, Death Valley’s highest mountain.
Telescope Peak stands 11,049 feet in height, and due to its unusual location next to Death Valley, which actually plummets 282 feet below sea level, it offers some unique and interesting challenges.
For instance, the mountain offers more vertical rise than any other found in the lower 48 states, and as the article points out, it requires a longer climb than any of the 14ers in Colorado, or even Whitney and Rainier. It also happens to be snow covered on its higher ridges, despite the fact that it regularly hits 100ºF in the desert below.
The climb to the summit, while not technical, was a challenge in and of itself, and the ski team was racing against time. When that warm sun got too high above the horizon, it would turn the powder into slush.
After putting all that effort into the trek, they wanted to experience some good snow. The result? One of the best runs that any of them had ever made, in part because they really had to earn it, and in part because it was so unexpected, remote, and wild.
This article is a great read, and it’ll get you thinking about making your own exploratory ski run. Really fun stuff.
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