Trans-Sierra or Bust!

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California has truly been blessed this year with record snowfall. With that in mind, some colleagues at the Atlas Snow-Shoe Co. came up with the wild idea to do a traditional skiing route across the Sierra Nevada on snowshoes. While this was admittedly for our own personal fun, we could justify it as a work trip to test the snowshoes.

The result was a 45-mile trek across the breadth of the Sierra. We started just east of Independence, Calif., off Highway 395, and hiked up Symmes Creek. After 12,000 feet of vertical gain and traveling and camping for six days above 11,000 feet, we arrived at the Wolverton Ski Area in Sequoia National Park. The route is usually done on skis with a few mountaineering sections to get over the highest passes, including Milestone Col on the Great Western Divide at more than 13,000 feet.

The epic journey was filled with the thrill of the unknown: for example, just how would the snowshoes hold up on this type of extended trip? That question was to be answered by Atlas General Manager Daniel Emerson, Product Engineer Peter Chapman, Explore Winter Women’s Workshop Manager Teri Smith, and me, as trip correspondent. We strapped on some of the company’s newest products and set off.

We pushed our physical and technical limits, and discovered how truly rugged and functional our snowshoes turned out to be when tested hard. Best of all, we enjoyed a great bonding experience, as our friendships matured in a way that can only take place outdoors.

In the end, we departed with an unforgettable experience, great photos and one very important piece of advice: snowshoes are the ticket for accessing the winter backcountry if you don’t want to bother with the technical aspect or steep learning curve of skiing and snowboarding.

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About the author


Cameron L. Martindell

Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure and expedition writer and photographer who is always “Off Yonder: Seeing the world for what it is.” In addition to writing his own popular blog [], he is a Senior Editor for Elevation Outdoors Magazine [] and contributes to National Geographic Adventure, Wired Magazine and Backpacker among others.

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