Being drawn to the big mountains that surround us, Ridge Merino's own Paz Mendelevitch and his buddy Danny Sandoval embarked on a multi-day splitboard adventure into the Ritter Range with the goal of summiting and snowboarding down Mt Ritter.
Words // Paz Mendelevitch
Walking on a dry trail with full backpacking packs and splitboards on our backs for what seemed like an eternity, we could feel our legs getting heavier with every step. We were hoping to be skinning from the trailhead but had underestimated what the warm weather had done to the snowpack recently. Still, the stoke was high and we were ready for an adventure into unknown conditions.
It was a warm spring day with the sun high in the sky beating down on us. We had made it through our third river crossing when we finally came across consistent snow to splitboard on.
We decided to greet spring by snowboarding off the top of an Eastern Sierra classic, Mt Ritter.
With Mammoth Mountain in the distance, this was our last sign of civilization before going off the grid for a few days
The snow is melting quickly so the water was plentiful but moving fast and ice cold! Danny seen here finding the route to cross one of many raging rivers we came across.
Knowing the snowpack was funky this year, and the tedious journey it took to get out to our basecamp at Ediza Lake, our expectations weren't too high. We were in it for the adventure of wandering into our favorite mountains while knowing in the back of our minds that snowboarding off the top of Ritter would be a bonus.
Danny brought a 'mid style' tent to keep our packs lightweight. A floorless tent has its advantages being held up by trekking poles, but the downside is there is no floor, so the wind can rip through underneath. It's always a good idea to construct walls around the tent.
After a good night's sleep we packed our food, water and Merino layers for the day to begin our trek to 13,143 feet. We had brought our boots and splitboard crampons just in case we found firm conditions and needed extra traction. Luckily, the snow was feeling soft and forgiving, which got us really excited for the ride down.
Approaching our objective in the distance, we knew we had a long way to go, but with every step we took I couldn't help but feel giddy knowing how fun our turns are going to be on the way down.
I was more than excited to be back on Ritter with great snow conditions. As a prominent ridgeline in the Eastern Sierra, everyone who lives in or visits Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort sees the Ritter Range and the more prominent Minarets on a daily basis. I've climbed Ritter once before in the summer time and attempted a winter ascent a few months prior to this trip. With dangerously icy conditions we decided to not summit that time. This go-around was different and we were ready to rip!
After hootin' and hollerin' all the way back to camp, we both stuck our feet in the ice cold river reflecting on some of the most fun spring skiing we've both ever experienced!
It was time to relax our worn bodies and have a mellow evening with good food and epic views!
With access to some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in the world, the Eastern Sierra is a special place that I am fortunate to call home.
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