Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
Leavit Peak in December with Snow Plume
East Peak on Leavitt Massif


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traill guide section index last next this map miles and elevations this forest-wilderness all forest-wilderrness trail guide index all pages maps index


This is a small representative sample of my bookshelf.

Have you any good suggestions to share off yours?

Send them to Alex at
or see the
Literature, News, Guidebooks and High Sierra Science Forum
Also see the
Backpacking Links Page


Nature Guides

Trail Guides



Adventure, History

Nature Guides


Basic Nature Guides

High Sierras

The Sierra Club's Naturalist's Guide to the Sierra Nevada touches every aspect of the Natural History of the Sierras.

If you could only pick one book from all of the nature guides, this would be your best choice.


A Sierra Club Naturalist's Guide to The Sierra Nevada, by Stephen Whitney, Sierra Club Books, SF, 1979. Classic Reference.

Birds of North America, National Geographic Society, 1995. Classic Reference.

A Field Guide to Western Birds, Peterson, National Audubon Society, Houghton Mifflin, 1961. Classic Reference.


Animal Tracks of Northern California, Chris Stall, The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1989. Small Handbook.

Flowers, Zim & Martin, Golden Press, NY, 1950. Small general handbook.

The Observer's Sky Atlas, E. Karkoschka, Springer-verlag, Berlin, 1990. Handbook, Best of Breed.


Classic Trail Guides


The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, Thomas Winnett, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1989.

The Pacific Crest Trail, Southern California, Schaffer et al, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1977.

The Pacific Crest Trail, Northern California, Schaffer et al, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1977.


Trail Guides

The classic High Sierras trail guides are the Winnett and Schaffer books published by Wilderness Press.


Sierra North, Winnet et al, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1993.

Sierra South, Winnet et al, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Starr's Guide, (1934), Walter Starr, Jr., Sierra Club, SF, 11th ed., 1970.




Guides, safety

Basic and advanced information on backcountry safety.

Also See
The Mountain Safety Forum


Accidents in North American Mountaineering, Annual, American Alpine Club, Golden, Co. Reports on backcountry accidents, rescues, and analysis. Other's mistakes will keep you sharp.

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, Climbing Committee of The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1979.

NOLS Wilderness First Aid, Tod Schimelpfenig and Linda Lindsey, NOLS and Stackpole Books, Lander, Wyoming, 1991.


My Snow Skills Book, Lauren!

Sierra Club Guide to Practical Meteorology, Weathering The Wilderness, William Reifsnyder, Sierra Club Books, SF, 1980.




Dynamics of Fitness, A Practical Approach, G. McGlynn, Brown & Benchmark, Madison, 1993. College PE Text: a classic.

The Sports Medicine Book, Mirkin & Hoffman, Little, Brown, & Co., Boston, 1978.


Guides, Fitness




Adventure, history classics

From Twain to London, Shackelton vs Scott vs Admundson, to our generation's Krakauer vs. Boukreev, (bless his badass soul!) wilderness literture is a rich field.

May this sample open you up to new vistas of literary and physical exploration.


History of Western High Sierra Exploration

(Read the first section)


Roughing It, Mark Twain, 1872, Signet, NY, 1962. Twain's Tales of the West between 1861-1867. Lake Tahoe, 1861

Mountains of California, 1894, John Muir, Penguin, NY, 1984.

Best Short Stories of Jack London, Fawcet, 1962. Classic London Shorts: To build a Fire & Love of Life.

Jack London's stories evoke both the extremes and contradictions inherent in wilderness. London's stories are great trail companions. About Jack London, his life and adventures;
The Wilsons' Perspective.

Who was Jack London?

Farthest North, 1897, Nansen, Modern, NY, 1999.


This Accursed Land, Bickel, Macmillian, Sydney, 1977.

Heart of the Antarctic, 1909, and South, 1919, Shackleton, Signet, 1999 &2000. Classics.

Shackleton's Forgotten Men, Bickel, adrenaline classics, NY, 2001.

The Last Place on Earth, Roland Huntford, Random House, 1999. Exceptional account of the two leading explorers of the early 20th cen., Admundson and Scott.

Epic, ed. by Clint Willis, adrenaline, NY, 1997. Excerpts from the modern classics of mountain climbing.

Annapurna (1952), Herzog, Lyons Press, NY, 1997.

Everest: The West Ridge, Hornbein, Geo. Allen & Unwin, London, 1971. A window into Himalayan climbing before Tibet and Nepal were trashed by "modernity."

The Climb, Anatoli Boukreev, St. Martin's, 2002.



Backpacking Literature

High Sierra Backpacking Books span the perspectives that we can bring to the Sierra.

The first explorers who crossed the Sierra came for one reason, the scouts who followed for another, and the migrants who followed on their heels a third.

Each of these first Westerners had perspectives that viewed the Sierra Nevada quite differently. The first explorers were mountain men trappers, the next were government scouts, and then came the explosive torrent of humanity that characterized the Gold Rush of 1849 and the Silver Boom that followed in the 1850s.

Once the initial rush of "discovery, colonization, and conquest" was complete we find different motivations pushing completely different types of folks into the Sierra.

The sheep and cattle herders moved in and with them were the explorers, adventurers, artists and scientists that the great discoveries of gold, fertile land, and vast natural resources had drawn to the West Coast.

Once the lowlands were "settled" we find a steady stream of folks pushing out into the mountains for the beauty and experiences, its natural and social history, as well as for the wealth of its natural resources.

The Sierra came to be seen as a natural treasure through the work of Muir and others who understood the inherent value of nature in man's experience.

This last phase of the "discovery, colonization, and conquest" process finally brought those who sought the High Sierra for its beauty on its own terms. These types of folks are are the last product of the cultural evolution of the very society that created the dangers that threatened the Sierra back then as today.

Thus was born the ethic of preservation out of process of destruction.

These are the ethics that could save what remains of the Sierra Ecosystems, and possibly the world from utter environmental catastrophe, if they were shared widely enough. They are not.

Alas, we have built 53 great cities of multiple millions of folks who are only motivated by what they need to gratify themselves today and tomorrow.

Greed is the only motivation shared universally across the diversity of our population. We would have been safe if we had constrained our growth within and while maintaining our Constitutional principals.

We did not. We expanded based on greed.

I doubt one in ten thousand of the urban denizens in our country give a shit about nature or our Constitutional principals.

Man and Nature suffers as a result.

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What Up?

The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Forum are this generation's evolution of the classic art of trail guide writing into the digital age.

The web has not been great for trail guides. There are far too many "composite" trail guide sites composed of random trail reports by different backpackers. Rather than a guide writer sharing trail information these sites are built by programmers who create "forms' for various backpackers to fill in. This is spotty and uneven, inconsistent coverage at best. This is a far cry from a decent trail guide, and miles below the quality of the classic written guide. This seems to be about the best the web can do. Until now.

Tahoe to Whitney takes the classic approach to trail guide writing a few steps further. The ability to post up massive amounts of graphical data, of videos, images, and maps allows us to get a much more detailed view of the trail than through the limitations of the hard-copy book.

Then we write the guide on top of the detailed digital accounts.

Then each segment of the trail has a comments link where backpackers can update, question, comment, or otherwise add their two-cents worth.

We're trying to take the best of the old and the best of the new to make something that has the ability to keep up with the changing times.


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Outdoors Literature
Alex Wierbinski

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Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Bear at Silver King Creek, Carson-Iceberg Wilderness
© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail