I usually try and take the last 3 or so weeks of the year off to chase snow adventures and clear my mind. This year i really still wanted to use our 4x4 170 sprinter van even though our kids are still pretty small, Kyler 4, and Riley 2. I decided to bite the bullet and finally buy and install an Espar Diesel Van heater and some extra bunks for the kids.
I have van ski camped quite a bit solo and with my wife Andrea over the years just to keep it economical and ski more. However my heater buddy propane heater set up still felt a bit sketchy, and always leaves condensation in the van. The Espar Diesel Van heaters cost about $1200 and took me about 10 hours to install myself.
Luckily i still have hair and the heater finally works correctly keeping the van cozy warm for weeks on end sipping diesel from the vans primary fuel tank. i also installed a Disco Bed kids bunk cot bed that fit pretty perfectly under my primary elevated bed platform i built into the van a few years back. Luckily Disco bed is a logistics client of ours for my other company www.easylogisticsmanagement.com so i was able to call in a favor and get a nice discount on a returned bed.
Although we stayed in hotels and with family most of the time, having the van all set up for winter camping offers a lot more flexibility for winter trips. Especially around holidays when hotels can 2x -5x there normal nightly rates. All in all the trip was great and Mammoth and the California mountain area received a record amount of snow for a December.
We skied the first day of the trip, but then it snowed so much Mammoth was basically closed the next couple of days. So like any sensible adventure people we pivoted and went straight to building shady booters for sledding and jumping off into the fresh super deep powder. I even used my son Kyler as a human grenade tossing him into the deep slow so you could only see his face and ski beanie through the freshies! He loved it!
Once we had our fill of deep deep snow and almost getting snowed in at Mammoth, we hoped in the family adventure rig and headed over to my home town of Bass Lake CA. As the crow flys, its only about 30-50 miles over the mountains from Mammoth. However when the passes close from winter snow, its a 7 hour loop down through Tehachapi pass to get back up to the western sierras and bass lake.
We scored a nice white Christmas with my mom and step dad and had a blast with the kids exploring and sledding in deep, fresh powder snow almost every day we were up there. We definitely have enjoyed our secret winter snow shoeing and sledding stash in the wilderness behind the Tenaya Lodge near Fish Camp. Hopefully as Kyler and Riley get bigger we will be doing more powder skiing and less sledding in the years to come. However it was still fun carrying on in the fresh snow and having fun with our kids.
Enjoy some of my favorite photos from our 9 day endless powder Christmas trip this year. Many of the adventures and Memories are what has inspired my overland t-shirt, and ski t-shirt designs you see on the online store. We would be honored to print you off a few fresh copies if you like our evolving designs!
Yours in stoke!