When you find yourself driving up the US Highway 395, the Sierra Nevada mountains have a special way of calling you to their summits. We had the opportunity to follow professional skier Chris Benchetler on an early season backcountry adventure to the summit of Mount Locke, 12,634ft, to produce a new series "All Time" for Powder TV. The desire to explore and the wanderlust for un-skied, un-tracked terrain will lead us to the summits of these mountains, year after year, to experience pure Valhalla.
With the Sierra Nevada snowpack measuring 115 percent of normal, thanks in large part to El Niño, the vast backcountry is finally in shape for skiers to head out to the Eastern Sierra classics.
On Friday, January 29, Chris Benchetler and Wingate Motion did just that, pointing it south from their Mammoth Lakes homes to Bishop, California, where Benchetler was born. There they bouldered around the Buttermilks before heading up to the Wahoo Gullies. The crew hiked the center gully to the top of 12,634-foot Mount Locke before skiing 3,000 feet of pure bliss down the northeast-facing couloir. Truly, an all-time day in the Eastern Sierra backcountry, allowing the crew, for a brief bit, to forget about the severe drought from the last four years.