I've photographed sand dunes many times in Death Valley, New Mexico and Namibia and produced very well exposed printable negatives. There is a lot of very bright light bouncing about in any desert widerness and my approach in dealing with it is to give one stop more exposure than the Zone that I plan to print the sand on. If I want a literal interpretation of light sand I would normally print it at Zone VII but I would expose for Zone VIII. Clearly I determine the contrast range in the whole image and develop accordingly, usually by reducing development by one stop. Alternatively, if I decide that I want to make dramatic images of sand dunes I allow the shadows to go almost pure black by exposing for the highlight and then I increase development to increase contrast.

I have an old book about photography in Death Valley by Ansel Adams and he does talk about exposure problems and I'm sure that he recommends using an orange filter.