Skiing Stoke from Lake Tahoe

Month: January 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Dicey Snowpack in Colorado

Large avalanche near Berthoud Pass Colorado. Photo courtesy Friends of Berthoud Pass - Dedicated to Safety, Access and Education.

A highly unstable snowpack in Colorado has resulted in an alarming number of avalanche fatalities recently. Inbounds deaths have occurred at Winter Park and Vail.

Denver Post report on in-bounds avalanche fatalities
Vail Daily reports avalanche danger still high
CBS Report on recent Colorado avalanche deaths
Friends of Berthoud Pass

From Zero to Hero (sort of)

Last week’s storm was a great example of how a single Sierra storm cycle can bring us from nada to Prada. The fact that Squaw was able to open KT after just three days of snow is rather astounding. It’s just too bad we got this in late January instead of mid November. Although conditions are pretty manked out right now, we have a great base should winter decide to show it’s face again. Here are some before and after photographs of KT22 and Tram Face on Thursday, January 19 and Monday, January 23.

KT 22 on January 19, 2012

KT 22 on January 23, 2012.

Tram Face January 19, 2012.

Tram Face January 23, 2012.

Flip the Switch

Harvesting cold smoke along the Pacific Crest.

We needed a wet storm to kickstart our winter but when I heard it rained to 9,000 feet well into Friday night I began to worry. On Saturday Squaw looked better than it had but definitely not like the game changer skiers had hoped for. I skeptically planned a tour for Sunday morning and am really glad I did. We skinned into a wind protected zone just below the Pacific Crest and when I took off my skis I sank up to my thighs in dry powder. We prospected the zone for three runs as the day turned from sunny to imposing as our next storm rolled in. Conditions far exceeded my expectations. If the Sunday night storm produces the 15 to 30 inches being called for above 7,000 feet, it should start feeling like ski season has arrived. That is until temperatures return to 50 degrees later in the week. Hopefully north aspects at higher elevation will hang in there.

Finally looks like winter in Tahoe.

All smiles in the Tahoe Backcountry on January 22.

B.A.S.I.C.S. Premiere at OVL January 21

B.A.S.I.C.S stands for Be Aware and Safe In Crazy Situations. Program Director JT Holmes wants to promote a progression into sports that maximizes safety and sustainability. High Fives has produced a short film about their athletes, the injuries they sustained, and how their injuries could have been prevented. Showtimes are 4:30 and 6:30 at the Olympic Valley Lodge on Saturday, January 21.

High Fives BASICS Premiere

A Rookie Observation

by Geoff Forcier

As we all know the weather finally looks to be changing in Tahoe to more reflect the date on the calendar. This could not come at a better time. I have been in Tahoe almost three weeks and my experience thus far has been a little strange to say the least. Let me explain.
I had spent ten years in Summit County Colorado where I enjoyed life as a typical mountain town dude. Breckenridge to be exact and though life was challenging at times, the lifestyle was excellent. The small community of kindred spirits was truly a great thing to be a part of. From powder days to endless single-track, river trips and hut trips, the life was worth all the challenges.
After many years of braving long cold winters my wife and I felt the calling for warmer climes and a new adventure. We decided to relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area and started exploring and enjoying the high quality of life in the Wine Country. The Bay Area (most of it anyway) is fantastic with access to most anything you are looking for. This includes the mountains as I could be in the parking lot of Squaw Valley in three hours from my house. This allowed for a handful of ski days over the last couple of years but the six hour round trip was starting to get old. My wife and I enjoyed the Bay Area but missed the mountain lifestyle and started throwing around the idea of checking out Tahoe. Unlike Breck, Tahoe has this large blue body of water that is a totally new dimension. After a new opportunity presented itself we finally had the impetus to pull the trigger and make the move. We arrived in North Lake Tahoe on December 29th. Needless to say something was a little off.
As a passionate skier I was looking forward to being in close proximity to a multitude of chairlifts, apre ski bars and some of the most accessible backcountry anywhere. I was pumped. I acquired my Squalpine pass, dialed my kit and started soaking in any type of multimedia to get the stoke going. It was actually a small blessing for us that it was a slow start to the season as moving our life in the middle of a Tahoe tempest would have been challenging to say the least. But I thought to myself that as soon as I moved the last box of junk into our Tahoe City rental the skies were welcome to open up and get the party started. Well, as we all know, that has not happened.
I had been here before. We had our slow starts in Breck for sure. But this was different. This was really slow. I didn’t know any different. For all I knew this was normal in Tahoe. It did not take long to realize that this was not normal, at all. So although I was jonesing as hard as anyone for powder skiing, I started to observe the effects of this on the community. There has been the obvious impact on the local economy. It has been tough. No snow, no people, no business, no work. It is felt everywhere. That being said I have been amazed by the POM (positive mental attitude) displayed by most of the people I have met thus far. Confidence that the snow will come has barely waned. People seem to be holding on and making the best of it. From ice skating on perfect glassy ice found on the multitude of small lakes dotting the landscape to cycling and hiking. It is my understanding that backcountry ice skating such as what we have experienced this season happens only every 15 years or so. I feel fortunate to have hit this one dead on. I even observed one die hard playing golf in Kings Beach. I also attended a super fun “pray for snow” car wash. A friend who, upon realizing this was going to be an extended drought, loaded his touring bicycle and put in 1000 miles around the entire Sierra Nevada. He called it making the best of a bad situation.
So here I sit watching every weather forecast known to man and from what I can tell we are about to get things started, hopefully. To be honest I won’t truly believe it until I see the stuff falling from the sky and accumulating on my deck. But I have a POM and am looking forward to putting my truck into four wheel drive for the first time this year. I know we need a lot to really get it going but you have to start somewhere right?
The point I wanted to make was that I do not regret my move, at all. I to have gained confidence that this ski season will be salvaged and we will all get to make powder turns soon. So in the meantime I will be keeping my eye on the sky and waxing my boards. Thank you to everyone who has helped welcome Amy and me to Tahoe and we look forward to experiencing with you everything this amazing place has to offer. We hope to see you at the Chamois. Cheers!

Smith, Scott Partner with Recon, Deliver Heads Up to the Masses

Get ready for the next level of ski geekery to hit the slopes next season. Recon’s Micro Optics Display (MOD) Live is dashboard that projects live data from your ski experience out in front of you so that you can monitor your stats without taking your eye off the snow. With it, you can track your speed, altitude, airtime, distance and location. You can also track your friends, find your position on a map, view your texts, see your camera shot through a viewfinder and more. A glove-friendly bluetooth remote lets you control what you see on the go. Now, Smith and Scott will offer this technology in their lines. With this new partnership, getting this technology in your googles will be easier and more stylish than ever before. They’ll be on display at SIA this month and on the hill next season.

Powder Sequence from Janky Films, Boot Deep

I like the fact the Janky Films Crew don’t take themselves to seriously. However, there is nothing janky about this gorgeous powder edit from their 2011 release, Boot Deep. The storm system for later this week is predicted to start wet which is exactly what we need to get a base going from scratch. Drier snow is expected by the end of the weekend. It won’t likely be the Alta quality found in this segment but let’s hope for the best. Do yourself a favor and watch it full screen with good sound…it’s a gem!

Boot Deep Powder Segment 2011 from JANKYfilms on Vimeo.

Backcountry Ice Skating Continued

Backcountry Ice Skating Video

I recently hooked up with a few friends for a magnificent backcountry ice skate tour in Desolation Wilderness. Hiking and skating conditions were superb. You could not have ordered up better weather. Hanging out under the low January sun in the middle of a frozen lake with granite slabs in every direction and no one else around for miles was nothing short of magical. If this winter is handing us lemons, I think we concocted the sweetest possible lemonade.

Friday the 13th isn't that scary.


Four top and a poodle in Desolation Wilderness.


Looking at the ice is almost as cool as skating on it.


Hang time.


The tour from one lake to the next is as pleasant as the skating.


The lunch rocks on Azure Lake.

Lazy days of summer…I mean winter

Ridin' to ski at Squaw on January 11

Afros, fishnet stockings, cut off shorts, BBQ’s, PBR’s, disco beats and soapy cars being hosed down in the warm afternoon sun. Another summer day in Tahopia? Nope. The PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn hosted a pray for snow car wash today and it rocked! The event raised over $500 for Disabled Sports USA Far West.

PlumpJack Pray for Snow Car Wash on January 11

PlumpJack employee Rob Birney getting his scrub on.

PlumpJack Managers Steve Lamb and Kristina Jetton

Ride out the Drought with SNL Digital Shorts

This winter has not been great for skiing. It’s actually been about as bad as one could imagine. Some people have seen the lighter side of a dry winter by taking up hiking, mountain biking, golf, surfing, paddleboarding, ice skating, and day drinking. Many skiers, however, lost their sense of humor a while ago. That said, perhaps a sense of humor is just what we need to break on through to the other side. As weather models begin to indicate a storm train arriving next week, SBDC has dug up some SNL digital shorts to help get us down the stretch. What do they have to do with skiing? Absolutely nothing. But Andy Samberg and the gang are frickin funny so here you go and pray for snow!

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