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How To Use This Guide

Read this section to increase the usefulness and ease-of-use of Ski Tours in the Sierra Nevada. The time you spend doing so is well worth it. Included in this section is material on:

Computer Hardware and Software Requirements

Computer system

Just about any computer system capable of accessing the internet will be sufficient. Because this guide is written in html, the code used for websites, the speed of your computer is not critical. Speed is primarily determined by the speed of your internet access (see next section).

Internet access

The speed at which you can access this guide depends on the speed of your internet access. You may well find the access intolerably slow if you are using a dial-up connection because loading the map for each tour will be slow. With broadband, that is DSL or cable, you will probably find access acceptable.


The browser you use to access this guide interprets the html code. Unfortunately browsers do not interpret all html code in the same way although there is a standard. This is the result of changes in standards and quirks in the individual browsers.

Your best bet is to use a current version of one of the major browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. This website has been tested extensively with these browsers. It is suggested that you download a current version of one of these browsers if you are experiencing problems with display of this guide. They are available for free at:

Mac users will find the results with Safari less than optimum. Try Firefox for a better experience.

This guide uses Javascript. Current versions of the above browsers implement Javascript. However, your browser may not execute Javascript until you give it permission. If you don't, this guide will not work correctly.


Great care has gone into making navigation through this guide easy. Flash and glitz has been replaced with simplicity and consistency. Nevertheless a few comments on navigation are appropriate.


You can use the print button on your browser to print any page. The tours will automatically be reformatted so that all text, the map and the elevation profile will be printed.

Finding Tours

Finding tours that meet your needs is pretty darn simple using the interactive maps provided.

Understanding the Tours

Almost every tour includes all of the following materials. In a few cases there are omissions because the specific materials are not relevant.


The summary gives you at a glance the significant characteristics of the tour including:


The description of a tour presents the aesthetic features of the tour, special considerations, alternate routes, and general information, which will be helpful in planning a tour.

Mileage log

The mileage log is a detailed description of the route in an easy-to-follow format that allows you to keep track of your progress. Keep in mind that the log is not a substitute for knowledge, skill, and common sense. The mileage log is omitted for tours in meadows adjacent to a road.

The following sample mileage log entry begins at mile 1.1 and ends at mile 1.4, and the elevation change in this section is +50, -300 feet. The first sentence after the elevation change briefly describes how to navigate the section. The end point and its mileage point number corresponding to the map are displayed in blue for easy recognition. Any material following the first sentence is provided for clarification. The first entry in each mileage log also includes the starting point and its mileage point number in blue.

Miles: 1.1 - 1.4
Elevation change: +50, -300 feet

Descend northeast for 0.3 mile until you reach a clearing (4) below. The first 0.1 mile is very steep.

Be aware that the starting elevation plus and minus all the elevation changes may not be consistent with the ending elevation. The error, if there is one, is small and is caused by cumulative round-off of elevation changes between mileage points.


A topographic map is provided for each tour. Use the zoom slider at the top of the map window to zoom to the desired magnification. You can also type in a magnification if you desire. Use the "hand tool" to drag the map in order to display the desired portion in the map window. You can also use the normal pan and scroll sliders to move the map in its window.

A button in the lower right-hand corner of the page opens a full page map. This allows you to see the entire route at one time. The quality of the full page map will be poor because of the low resolution of monitors and the fine contour lines. Printing the page will provide better results.

The maps were created using National Geographic TOPO! software.

Elevation profile

An elevation profile is provided for most tours. A profile is not provided where the elevation change is very small.


A list of waypoints corresponding to the mileage points in the mileage log and on the associated map are provided as a list and in txt and gpx file formats. The numbering is identical for both the waypoints and the mileage points.

The txt and gpx files were created using TOPO! 4.0. You can import the data back into TOPO! (early versions will not accept gpx files) or into any program compatible with these file formats. Some programs, such as TOPO!, allow you to transfer the waypoints to GPS units. Consult your software and GPS manuals for information on compatibility and procedures.

You may want to consider GPSBabel if you desire to transfer waypoint data to your GPS via a free software program. It has been successfully tested with a Garmin Legend HCx GPS and GPX data provided for tours. It is supposed to work with most Garmin and Magellan GPS units. Note: To download GPSBabel first click on "Downloads" at the top of the page. Then scroll down to the area for "Latest Release" and click on the appropriate one. There is also a link to the online documentation.

The waypoints are provided for your convenience. As already noted, they were calculated using National Geographic's TOPO! software. The data was not verified in the field. Locations of landmarks, e.g. huts, that are not shown on topographic maps are especially subject to error. Use this data at your own risk. Remember, there is no substitute for map and compass navigation skills.


This guide is continually expanding, improving and changing. What's New? lists in chronological order all significant changes to this guide. Visit this page regularly to see what tours have been added and what important changes to the website have been made.

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