I didn't mean to talk about this before the trip as there are so many things can go wrong before and during a two week winter trip in the Sierra. (Well it's technically the trip starts in early spring but the Sierra is as likely to feel like winter then as spring). The JMT gets skied only every 10-30 years and I've been planning to ski it for the past several years. It has taken several years to dial in the equipment, hone the travel style and develop a couple of very fit friends with the ski skills to do the trip.
Initially I planned to do it without resupply to show what can be done with ultralight gear but currently I plan one resupply. It could be done without resupply but after skiing up Mt. Whitney a couple of years ago with 11 days of food=a 55# pack I decided to cache 6 days of food for this attempt. That attempt (2008) was aborted after I dislocated my shoulder and had to start a month late. Light snow and heavy winds cleared masses of snow (we walked to the top of Whitney and down to Guitar lake on dry trail). Telemark boots made for very miserable and slow walking. We just weren't going to finish in the alloted time. My skis did have a relaxing vacation riding in my pack. When we could ski the wind affected crusts and fins were pretty awful. It sucked! We skied out and my sister dropped us at Lee Vining and we skied across Yosemite home.
This year better conditions seem to be developing and it seems mother nature is cooperating. I'm allowing two weeks though hope to be done sooner. I'll be traveling for a week each with two running friends. At this point I'd do it alone if I didn't have partners and conditions were safe enough. I've been running and skiing XC at resorts for fitness, pounding a few lift days for the leg strength 30,000' of descent provides and spending days in the backcountry skiing the dreamiest powder and worst crap I can find. You don't get to pick your snow on long tours. Skiing all snow types is one of the necessary skills you need to develop. A 15 degree slope is unskiable if it's covered with breakable crust. Powder, corn, hardpack and ice are all fun to ski though when they're jumbled together on a given slope and it's hard to tell them apart the slope skis with a bit more challange. You can't wait for perfect conditions--you've just got to keep skiing.
We'll use a BD Megalight or similar tarp to sleep under (its extra weight is made up for by not having to dig a snow trench each night), a custom double size Bush Buddy for cooking and melting snow (it doubles as a nice firepit in a snow kitchen). I've taken to skiing on Karhu 10th mountain skis. Their fishscale base on an otherwise fairly traditional metal edged telemark ski makes for more efficient travel. The glide is more efficient and it reduces the transition time for skinning and de-skinning. I use full width kicker skins when it's icy and Kahtoolas on boots when it's steep and icy. I'm planning on the Rossignol BC X11 boot which is about as minimal as you can get to drive those skis. They're a dream touring, OK for descending except on ice where the chatter is quite disconcerting. My friends may use Garmont Excursions.
We hope to cover 15-20 miles per day but everything depends on the snow. I've covered 35+ miles in the backcountry on corn and as little as 12 breaking trail in powder--both days working just as hard.
I plan on 4000 calories per day and will probably lose 1/2# per day. As the fat craving is high on long winter trips nuts and butter will certainly make up some of the calories.
I don't necessarily plan to follow each turn and switchback of the JMT. Conditions on the ground will dictate what is safe, fun and skiable. It should be a challenging trip and I'm excited to be getting out to my backyard for a private couple of weeks. Perhaps I'll write up a report when I get back.