Category Archives: News

Dave Rosenbarger killed in avalanche

On January 23 American ski mountaineer Dave Rosenbarger was killed in an avalanche on the Italian side of Mt. Blanc. Originally from Oregon, Dave had spent summers in Tahoe and winters in Chamonix since 2003. He was a passionate soul skier and his zest for life rubbed off on nearly everyone he met. He was thirty eight years old.

Powder Coverage of Dave Rosenbarger

Backcountry Magazine Coverage of Dave Rosenbarger

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Git yer skate on

Noah and Kate Gaffney find blissful skating conditions near Kirkwood.

Noah and Kate Gaffney find blissful skating conditions near Kirkwood.

Here we are waiting for winter to show up for the fourth season in a row. There is some descent skiing up high but no snow whatsoever at 6,000 feet which greatly limits access and options. A recent NPR broadcast used the term Junuary referring to the balmy mid winter conditions which have become a regular occurrence. Meanwhile the ice skating has been quite good. Hockey has become popular on many reservoirs near Truckee. Some high alpine lakes have clean slates of spectacular black ice. Around the New Year a small shallow section of Lake Tahoe froze creating a once in a lifetime opportunity to skate on the majestic lake that never freezes.

Hockey on Prosser Reservoir.

Hockey on Prosser Reservoir.

Tahoe Weekly cover photo of Robb Gaffney ice skating on Lake Tahoe.  Photo: Matt Bansak.

Tahoe Weekly cover photo of Robb Gaffney ice skating on Lake Tahoe. Photo: Matt Bansak.

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The Glass is Half Full

Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley on December 13, 2014.

Many Tahopians were thoroughly disappointed that last week’s storm did not live up to to the hype generated by the media machine. Snowfall totals did not even scratch the low end of the forecast and virtually no snow fell at lake level. That said, there is still plenty to be grateful for. Most of drought stricken California received multiple inches of much needed rain. Higher elevations in Tahoe received a couple of feet of wet snow followed by cold nights and days which created velvety powder conditions.

The Funnel and the Roof at Squaw Valley.

The Funnel and the Roof at Squaw Valley.

Pristine conditions at 8,000 feet.  Photo by John Heyne.

Pristine backcountry conditions at 8,000 feet. Photo by John Heyne.

Idiot's Delight at Alpine Meadows.

Idiot’s Delight at Alpine Meadows.

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Squaw’s winter prep includes enhanced tree skiing

A Shinook Helicopter hauls trees down from the Red Dog / Heidi's area of Squaw Valley.

A Shinook Helicopter hauls trees down from the Red Dog / Heidi’s area of Squaw Valley.

Several projects have kept Squaw Valley and KSL busy this fall. Earlier this month a helicopter placed huge burlap and mesh foil mats over ski runs on Red Dog and Resort Chair terrain. The mats are designed to help with vegetation seeding and erosion control. One might also think they could help the resort open groomers with a minimal amount of snow since the mats basically create a glorified carpet over select ski runs.

Squaw is also undertaking an aggressive forest health management plan which will remove 5,000 dead or diseased trees from the Red Dog region of the lower mountain. Lower level vegetation that could serve as fire fuel will also be removed from Red Dog Face to Poulsens Gully. Although the primary intention of the project is to improve the natural habitat and reduce the risk of wildfire, skiers will be delighted in over 100 acres of new tree skiing access. This should be especially noteworthy on storm days when Squaw struggles to get the upper mountain open.

Lumber from the tree thinning project ready to be driven out of Squaw.

Lumber from the tree thinning project ready to be driven out of Squaw.

Burlap and mesh sheets in the Squaw parking lot await placement by helicopter onto lower mountain ski runs.

Burlap and mesh sheets in the Squaw parking lot await placement by helicopter onto lower mountain ski runs.

Crews work on the hanger of the Squaw tram during annual fall maintenance.

Crews work on the hanger of the Squaw tram during annual fall maintenance.

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High Country Dusting

A few inches of snow fell above 7,000 on Saturday. More precipitation is forecast for the weekend.

New snow at Boreal on Saturday.

New snow at Boreal on Saturday.

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Truckee River Day

Volunteers remove milfoil from the Truckee River.

Volunteers remove milfoil from the Truckee River.

The 19th Annual Truckee River Day was held Sunday. 400 volunteers completed restoration work at 14 different sites including Prosser Creek, Martis Valley and of course the Truckee River. The three year drought has reduced water levels enough to access and remove large amounts of Eurasion milfoil, an invasive weed which has flourished on the upper portions of the Truckee River.

Truckee River is merely a trickle just past the dam in Tahoe City.

Drought has reduced the Truckee River to a trickle just past the dam in Tahoe City.

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JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson killed in avalanche

JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson died in an avalanche on Mount Cochrane in southern Patagonia Monday.  JP Auclair was one of the founding fathers of the New Canadian Airforce freestyle movement nearly 20 years ago and has been an innovator, leader and mentor in the sport of skiing ever since.  In recent year’s Auclair gravitated toward bigger ski mountaineering objectives.  Andreas Fransson had a passion for extremely bold and unforgiving descents, including the first and only descent of the South Face of Denali.

Powder Coverage Auclair and Fransson

ESPN Coverage of Incident

Backcountry Magazine Profile on Andreas Fransson

Reaching My Limit Eisode 2 from Bjarne Salén on Vimeo.

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

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Heavy Precip Drowns King Fire

Drenching rains have doused the King Fire and brought much needed relief to the Lake Tahoe Region. The fire, which has been burning since September 13, is now 87% contained. Higher elevations around Tahoe also received their first snowfall of the year with 4 inches reported at Squaw Valley.

rain in squaw

The first round of rain hit Squaw Valley on Thursday, September 25.

Fresh snow on Saturday morning.

Fresh snow on Saturday morning.

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King Fire threatens Tahoe Basin

King Fire as seen from Kings Beach on September 18, 2014.

King Fire as seen from Kings Beach.

Thursday, September 18, 2014
The King Fire, which began over the weekend near Pollock Pines, CA has now exceeded 70,000 acres in size and entered into Placer County. Boosted by strong southwest winds, the fire more than doubled in size overnight Wednesday and is now reportedly only 12 miles from Tahoe City. Heavy smoke and ash poured into Squaw Valley by noon today. The fire is 5% contained and has nearly 4,000 firefighters on the scene. East winds are predicted for Friday which should help reverse the current track of the fire.

Squaw Valley at 1pm Thursday, September 18.

Squaw Valley at 1pm Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on September 7.

KT 22 on September 7.

Smoke from King Fire on Wednesday, September 17.

Smoke from King Fire on Wednesday, September 17.

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RIP C2

Cornice II zone in fairly low snow.

Cornice II zone in fairly low snow. Photo: Scott Gaffney

The Cornice II Chair at Squaw Valley was officially retired when the lift was dismantled and hauled away last week. The chair rarely spun in the last decade since the Headwall Express serves the same terrain and more, making C2 virtually obsolete. Practicality aside, C2 epitomized the slow, spectator friendly lifts that helped define Squaw’s reputation for rowdy terrain. The lift crept up the right side of C2 Bowl which is littered with cliff hucks, steeps and protected north facing powder stashes. C2 unloaded skiers at the bottom of the Light Towers ridge which could also be easily viewed from the chair. C2 allowed you to study your line before skiing it and look for zones that were still untracked. Cornice II Bowl will probably look better aesthetically without the decrepit chairline but we won’t forget the lift that was almost as fun to ride as it was to ski.

Sikorsky pulls C2 on May 23, 2014 from Nut Hut Studios on Vimeo.

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