Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Best time for Sierra Mountains
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  • #577736
    10 Posts

    Hey guys,

    I’m a new user here at, but long time follower and reader. I’ve never replied to a Trip Report, but they sure have a big influence on what I do. I use a splitted Prior Khyber on a Voile setup and Drake Mentor bindings. You can see a few of my adventures here (including a solo traverse of the Beaufortin, in the French Alps) :

    This year, I’d like to plan a trip to Sierra Mountains and Yosemite with my girlfriend and wonder what would be the best time. A few things I’ve considered :
    – 2 weeks trip, about 1 week of splitboarding
    – My GF isn’t an incredible rider. So I’m looking for intermediate terrain along with steep couloirs.
    – I have much gear, including for overnight (4 seasons tent, down sleeping bag, stove…)
    – Not to be pretentious, but I’ve somewhat good mountaineering skills
    – We also love to do rock climbing (lead 5.10), road/mountain bike and tourism
    – We’d like to visit a city (San Francisco?) and the Yosemite valley
    – Maybe not looking for deep powder for safety reason (even if we have avalanche gear). Spring conditions could do the trick

    I tough March-April would be the best of both world. Any idea how are the conditions in late April in the Sierra? What would be your take on that trip? Anything else we should discover?

    Thanks for your help!

    668 Posts

    April is probably a good time. Hard to tell what the snow will be like then, could be pow, could be corn, likely some of both, but that is generally considered prime time for big Eastside riding. Should be a good time to visit Yosemite, as the crowds should be light, and the waterfalls should be going good, as well as wildflowers and greenery in lower elevations outside the park. Mountain biking and climbing are always in play, but likely just in lower elevations that time of year.

    330 Posts

    April is a great month in the sierras, could dump 30 feet (it did a few years ago) or be mostly spring conditions. The sierras typically have big springs though. If you want to go to Yosemite to rock climb and hike, May might be a better month.

    If your going to SF and Yosemite, go to Tahoe. There’s a ton of accessible stuff off I-80 and Donner pass. Then take a drive down the 395 towards mammoth and Sonora pass has the goods. There’s also rad terrain all the way to Lone Pine where Mt. Whitney is,( highest point in the lower 48 states.) I would stop in June and Mammoth as well

    10 Posts

    Thanks for your help guys. Just wanna make sure I’ll have stuff to ride in the last 2 weeks of April…

    2486 Posts

    March-April in the Sierra is the fat end of the season. We start late and finish even later. There will be plenty to ride the last two weeks of april. The last two weeks of may will be great too. But, that early may mean highway 120 into the east entrance to yosemite wont be plowed yet. So, you may have to come into the park from merced

    Dont forget we have hot springs, mountain biking too

    1421 Posts

    This link should give you some ideas of things you can do in the Sierra with a 2-week block of time in the spring. 🙂 That was the last 2 weeks of May a couple years ago. Granted, that was huge spring, but personally I think I would have had just as much fun during the same 2 week period last year, which was a record LOW snow year.

    I’d probably recommend the first 2 weeks of May. You will get some epic spring riding guaranteed, and maybe even some pow if you’re lucky. You’ll have a lot more options for lodging/dining as many more places open for the eastern Sierra fishing opener, which is April 27 this year. More roads will be open to higher trailheads at that point, exponentially increasing your terrain options. It is highly likely that Hwy 120 will be open to the east gate of Yosemite, which gives you car shuttle access to some of the best terrain on the eastside (but I’m biased…). The days are longer, weather likely better… and the Mo-mart will be open, which is really the only reason you need (do a search if you don’t know what that is). 🙂 A little birdie also told me that there are rumors that there might be an eastside splitfest being organized around that timeframe, which would be a good opportunity to meet some fellow splitters.

    One potential downside is that it is highly unlikely that Hwy 120 will be open through Yosemite until the end of May or later. You can still say fly into San Francisco to visit the city, and drive from there into Yosemite valley… but you can’t get to the east side (which is where all the good bc riding is) w/o driving a LONG way around. This probably means going through Tahoe, which as mentioned above is worth doing anyway. Just plan on driving a lot.

    PM me when you get your plans sorted or if you have questions.

    668 Posts

    Not the least bit surprised Jimw comes out of the woodwork to mention Mo-Mart. 😆 But really, any time in the spring should be good in the Sierra, just check the weather, check in here, and something will be good then.

    1669 Posts

    great time to go. could get corn or pow and lots of climbing on the eastside to keep you busy. there won’t be a lack of snow during that time

    yosemite will either be too wet or perfect – but the waterfalls will probably be pumping – don’t miss the valley if you’ve never been before.

    10 Posts

    Thanks all for your help. Awesome support in here!

    I just got plane tickets from April 12 to 30. Not sure yet if we will rent a car or go for the public transports and backpacker style…

    Jimw, very nice report. Haven’t read all of it yet, but I’ll definitively steal some of your lines…

    “The MoMart has gained a reputation for the best food you will ever get at a gas station, and in the eastern Sierra for that matter”

    That’s it? You want me to stop at a Gas Station!

    Otherwise, is there any possible traverse in the park to go on the eastside without H120?

    EDIT : Is it possible to skin on the Tioga Road (H120)? How long would it takes to access de valley?

    Thanks again!

    2486 Posts

    If Hiway 120 is closed you wont be able to skin all the way to Yosemite valley, but you will be able to skin up to some good riding, and then drive arounnd and come in from the north. If you come all the way to the states and come that close to Yosemite valley you have to go. I would say its the number one, or two spots you have to see in the U.S. The other being yellowstone in Wyoming

    You will need a rental car. There isnt much public transportation in the Sierra. Although it is in California its a very remote part of California.

    Again though as your trip gets closer just give us a shout. We will be glad to help you out, give you an updated snow report and tell you where you will be better off.

    here are a few places you can goggle and plan on hitting a few of these

    Mount Dana ( Dana Couloir)
    Bloody Mountain(Bloody Couloir)
    Mount Gibbs
    Mount wood
    Virginia Lakes/Dunderberg
    Convict lake
    Incredible Hulk

    or, order up BCD’s Guide book and drool

    10 Posts

    Thanks for your advices TEX. Yellowstone, Jackson Hole and the Tetons are already checked on the list 😉

    We may rent a car then. Probably not the best forum to ask this, but is there any desert worth seeing near the Sierra (and in April)?

    I’ll keep you updated for sure!


    10 Posts

    Hey guys,

    So the trip is coming really soon as we are leaving on April 12. It will be much more a climbing trip then I expected, but we will still have a few riding times.

    We are mainly looking for two area : Carson Pass and Bridgeport/Incredible Hulk next to jimw and TEX recommendations…

    First, do you think this map is ok?

    Also, any idea if there are cabins for a multi day trip?

    And how are the snow conditions in California? I checked in the Cali Topic, but it ain’t really up to date…

    Do you guys have any other recommendations?

    Thanks again for your help!


    336 Posts

    Hey Loche,

    Still too early to tell what conditions you’ll find in April. The Sierra/Tahoe area had a pretty bleak Jan/Feb cycle after a great start to the season. Cold temps kept coverage okay, but we are still a little behind… Not bad, but not great…

    The good news is winter is trying to get started out here again. Snow is starting to fall, and by mid month, we may have some real storms rolling through for the first time since December…

    I’m sure you’ll find something to ride, and something to climb, without much of a problem…

    As for the map, it’s a good section for that area. Not sure if there are better resources for grabbing it online though.. I’ll let someone else reply…

    Greg - NoKnees

    330 Posts

    for snow conditions go here

    and here

    They update everyday with forecasts and avalanche observations

    The sierras typically have good springs so you may be in for a treat after the recent dry spell

    740 Posts

    If you have a car rental, Death Valley is pretty kick ass! I am heading that way end of March for some on/off road touring on my motorcycle :thumpsup: . You could spend 4 days alone in DV and not see all the goods. Drive down to Big Pine and head over Bristlecone Pine forrest into DV. Highly recommend.

    That will also put you near some good climbing/bouldering outside Bishop as well.

    1421 Posts

    Hey Loche, did you end up doing this trip? How did it go/is it going? Looks like you were coming out April 12. Even with the lame snow year we had this year, that would have been a pretty perfect time to come out, as Hwy 120 opened the weekend after that to the east park entrance at Tioga Pass, so that would have given you access to the goods higher up. If you’re still around some of us will be out that way this weekend. Also Sonora Pass just opened, which provides access to yet another zone.

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