RSS Subscribe 866.891.9177

TMS Blog

Archive for February, 2012

Sport climbing and traveling in Turkey

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

WHO: Max Neale and Anna Joseph
WHAT: Sport climbing and traveling
WHERE: All over Turkey
WHEN: January–February

GEAR: 60L backpack, Nemo Astro Insulated sleeping pad, Marmot Plasma 15 sleeping bag, Smartwool socks

I’m thirty-four days into a two-month trip to Turkey. Traveling with a college friend, Anna, my mission here has two parts: one, get into rock climbing shape for the upcoming season in Yosemite, and two, immerse ourselves in a foreign country that neither of us have previously been to. We’ve dividing our time roughly equally between the two.

Turkey is a dream for American tourists and rock climbers alike. The Anatolian peninsula—which lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and comprises most of Turkey-is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions of the world. Historians say that people have lived here since 2300 B.C. Ruins are scattered across Turkey like cheese on a pizza. Perhaps the most famous site in Turkey is the ancient city of Troy, the setting of the Trojan War. Other newer buildings are equally impressive. In Istanbul we toured the Hagia Sophia, a church built in 532 AD, and the opulent Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman sultans from 1465–1856.

Combine ancient history with Western influence and you get modern Turkey, the ultimate juxtaposition of old and new. Electric trams emblazoned with corporate logos whizz by two-thousand-year-old buildings. iPhone-bearing teens wearing skinny jeans walk the same streets as their grandmothers in headscarves. Religion and culture clash. As do the small market vendor and giant supermarket. The difference between new and old is stark and ubiquitous.

Geographically, Turkey is large and diverse. It’s slightly bigger than Texas, produces most of its food, and is well known for producing ornate handwoven carpets. As a tourist, it’s hard to decide where to go. The western half of the country hosts the greatest number of ancient sites, the Mediterranean and Aggean have sunny sand beaches, and the farther east you go the drier and more rural it gets. We’ve focused our traveling efforts on the country’s western half.

Outdoor recreation is relatively new in Turkey. Mountaineering got started several decades ago and continues to become more popular. (At 16,800 ft., Mt. Ararat, in the far east near the Armenian and Iranian borders, is the country’s highest peak.) Technical climbing is going full swing now. The largest and best-known climbing destination in Turkey is Geyikbayiri, which lies near Antalyla on the Mediterranean coast. Geyikbayiri boasts a warm climate and long limestone cliffbands. With nearly 500 sport routes this is an ideal winter destination. Drippy stalactite tufas, pockets, and small edges cover the red, orange, and grey walls. The climbing here is gymnastic in style and steep—the antithesis of Yosemite’s polished granite. Yesterday I teamed up with an Iranian climber, Nasim, to climb 32 routes graded 7a (5.11d). Dubbed the “7a Marathon” we started climbing by headlamp at 4am and stopped at 8pm for a massive dinner.

starting the 7a marathon

Did I mention the food? It’s fresh, tasty, healthy, and cheap. The world’s best baklava goes for only $4 per pound.

Logistically, Turkey is easy. Flights to Istanbul come direct from New York and are inexpensive. From there, an air ticket to Antalya costs a mere $35, and an hour in a bus or shuttle will bring you straight to Geyikbayiri, where one can choose from a variety of lodging options. With tenting, bungalows, and a communal kitchen, Climbers Garden is my top pick. Whether you’re looking for a sport climbing, cultural, or Mediterranean beach destination, consider Turkey for your next trip.

Steals and Deals: 5 Deuter Packs at Unbelievable Prices

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Welcome to a new series on the Tahoe Mountain Sports Blog aimed to keep you in the know on the best prices on the coolest outdoor equipment. Every so often we get great prices straight from the manufacturer on outdoor gear and outdoor clothing we love, and we pass the savings on to the customers we love.

First up, we’ve got Deuter Backpacks, some of the best hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, traveling and backpacking backpacks available. We’ve got a handful of last year’s packs on sale – and when many of them haven’t changed this year except for colors, these prices are a no-brainer.

Deuter Quantum 55+10


Reg: $228.95


Sale: 159.95


First up is the ideal travelers pack, marked down from $228.95 to $159.95, saving you 30%. Ideally sized for world travel, with a detachable day pack, a rain cover that turns into a travel sack if you have to check the pack on a plane, and of course Deuter’s famous suspension system.

Here’s what one reviewer on our site had to say:

“I backpacked through Japan with this product. It had an amazing amount of storage space for not being such a huge bag, and the travel bag turned out being tremendously useful.  The bag was also not too large for travel on the trains in Japan which can be very crowded. I could minimize my impact on space to the point where I was not a burden to those around me.  Overall I rate this bag excellently, it has a lot of storage and it has adequate ventilation and the travel bag is a nice bonus,” Robert Garfinkle.

Deuter Futura Pro 38 Backpack


Reg: $148.95


Sale: $98.95


The Deuter Futura Pro 38 backpack – down from $148.95 to $98.95 (33% off) – can fill the role of the ultralighter who doesn’t need as much room for an overnight, a hut trip hiker who doesn’t need to bring a tent and other camping gear, or a day hiker who wants the suspension and technical features that make bigger Deuter packs so comfortable. The aircomfort system pulls the pack off your back with a mesh “trampoline” making this one of the coolest packs around (studies have shown a reduction in persperation by as much as 25 percent!)

This is the perfect pack when you need something more substantial than a frameless, shapeless rucksack, but don’t need a big, burly backpacking backpack.


Deuter Futura 32 Backpack

Reg: $128.95




The little brother to the Futura Pro 38, this 32-liter backpack has been slashed from $128.95 down to $89.95 (30% off) and is a great all-around day pack with tons of organization, super-comfortable suspension and the same airy back panel that keeps you cool. This is a great do-it-all, use-it-every-day backpack that’ll work for so many different outdoor adventures.

Here’s what one of our customers had to say:

“This backpack is great and I can’t wait to use it on my trip. I love that there are side pockets that allow for more storage and accessibility. There is also a rain protector included with this bag so you don’t have to purchase one, which cuts down on the cost of buying one,” – Jacqueline.

Deuter Pulse One

Reg: $24.95


Sale: $14.05


Sometimes you just don’t need a whole backpack. Down from $24.95 to $14.95 (40% savings!), this well though out hip pack carries a water bottle, canted to one side for easy grabbing, and a zippered pocket for small essentials. Perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiiing or running, this waist pack water bottle holster keeps you light and agile.

Here’s what one of our customers who really puts in the miles had to say:

“I bought this to use on longer runs (6 to 8 miles). It works great. Holds the water bottle as well as keys, cell phone and a few other things,” – Dottie.


Deuter Giga Office Backpack

Reg: $108.95


Sale: $75.95


We’d all love to be in the outdoors all the time, but the truth is work or school seems to get in the way. Priced down from $108.95 to $75.95 for a 30% savings, the Deuter Giga Office is the perfect pack for the everyday grind, designed to comfortably carry your laptop and other daily essentials for the office or the classroom. It’s the perfect size for traveling with a laptop, too.

Deuter really thought out every detail with this pack – it’s not just a padded laptop sleeve added to an ordinary ruck-sack.





These aren’t the only backpacks we’ve got on sale, surf around our backpack page for more deals on the best backpacks on the net, or stop by our store to check them out in person.

Bennett Goes Big at the Winter Teva Mountain Games

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

A big congrats to TMS-sponsored telemark skier and Truckee resident Bennett Drummond, who competed in the inaugural Winter Teva Mountain Games Telemark Big Air last weekend in Vail, Colorado. Two days after the comp, Outside magazine blogged about the Games, with Bennett headlining: “13-Year-Old Bennett Drummond Wows Winter Teva Mountain Games.” We caught up with him post-comp—after he caught up with his homework first—to see how it went. Hear it from the man himself:

What can you tell us about the comp? Outside reported you hucked “a 70-foot gap and launching over a raging fireball produced by a gigantic blow torch on a course shared by freestyle snow bikers.” Wow.

The gap was intimidating and the take off was way too lippy, but it was cool watching the other competitors throw down sweet tricks. The bikers were insane! I did 360s with different grabs and one 720.

How did you stand up against the competition?

I won the “Random Act of Radness” award, $100 from the Vail Valley Foundation for being the youngest competitor in the event.

What was your favorite part about the Telemark Big Air?

My favorite part was meeting & skiing with all the other competitors and watching them land new tricks.

What was it like to see your name headlining Outside’s blog?

It was exciting to see it and unexpected.

Why do you like freestyle telemarking? What are the challenges you have telemarking versus alpine skiing in freestyle comps?

I like it because it’s different and more challenging (and probably easier to fall on the landings). I think it’s more fluid and fun to watch than alpine.

What’s up next for you competition wise?

I am going to compete at Grand Targhee for a telemark big mountain comp this weekend and then Crested Butte in March for the telemark extreme championships.

Ski Airbag Pack: How It Saved Tahoe Skier Elyse Saugstad in Stevens Pass Avalanche

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

If you’ve been watching the news, or listening to it the past few days, you’ve heard about the deadly Stevens Pass avalanche that took 3 lives on Sunday, and spared Squaw Valley local skier Elyse Saugstad, who credits her survival to an ABS avalanche airbag pack. This accident is yet another reminder for us all to be extremely snow safe. We send our thoughts out to the families of the victims, and are happy to be able to welcome Elyse back home.

With this news breaking all over the nation, we thought we’d give our readers a quick refresher on what an ski airbag pack is. Check out our post from earlier this year on the new Mammut Ride RAS Avalanche Airbag pack to see a video of the avalanche airbag deploying in our shop.

Similar to an airbag in a car, a ski airbag pack is an inflatable safety device. Its function is primarily to keep you afloat on the surface of the slide so you don’t end up buried and asphyxiated. But there are two other bonuses to the system: the airbag deploys around your head and neck and thus offers some protection, and the bag is big and bright, making it very easy for your friends to find you and dig you out of the snow debris.

The technology is nothing new, but has just entered into the US market in the past few years. The idea came about in the 1970s, according to ABS, the company who manufactures the bags, when a German forest ranger caught in an avalanche determined that the game he was carrying on his shoulders kept him afloat. In 1980, Peter Aschauer acquired the patent and founded the company ABS.

ABS pack statistics are impressive: of 267 persons who activated an ABS avalanche airbag, 97 percent survived, and 84 percent were uninjured. Elyse Saugstad is now one more testament to the technology.

For more information, read the first informative article on the avalanche, published on; see Elyse Saugstad interviewed live on MSNBC; read the NPR story with testimony from Powder Magazine senior editor John Stifter, who was there that day; or listen to NPR’s report on the science behind the airbag with Doug Abromeit, former director of and now consultant for the US Forest Service National Avalanche Center.

Update – we’ve taken an up-close look at the ABS Avalanche Airbag System, and brought them into our store too:

We stock the Mammut Ride RAS pack that’s avalanche airbag equipped, and for more avalanche safety packs, check out the Black Diamond Avalung technology. And look for ABS ski airbag packs from The North Face and Dakine at Tahoe Mountain Sports next year.

Mammut Ride R.A.S.
Mammut Ride R.A.S.
MSRP: $699.95
Black Diamond Anarchist Avalung
Black Diamond Anarchist Avalung
MSRP: $279.95
ABS Vario Avalanche Airbag 40 Package
ABS Vario Avalanche Airbag 40 Package
MSRP: $1,234.95


The Best Skis of 2013 – Demoing Next Year’s K2, Black Diamond, Volkl, Moment, Salomon and Dynastar

Monday, February 20th, 2012

2013 is going to be another big year for skis – as we found out first hand at the annual demo day at Alpine Meadows last week. Testers Dave, Pam, Lis, Kevin and Greyson got on some of the better looking prospects for 2013 from K2 Skis, Black Diamond, Volkl, Moment Skis, Salomon and Dynastar.

Sure, the hardpack snow wasn’t the best for our focus on powder skis and backcountry skis, but as they say – any ski is fun in super hero snow; the true test is when the conditions are less than ideal.

Kevin and Lis ready to drop in to Alpine Bowl.


Shaun White’s Perfect Halfpipe Run, from the X Games’ head judge

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

We caught up with Kings Beach resident and head X Games snowboard judge Tom Zikas on the heels of Shaun White’s historic, perfect-100 halfpipe run at the 2012 X Games in Aspen, which he judged. White had already taken the competition with a run that scored a 94, but perfection came unexpectedly during his victory lap, which included his newest trick, a frontside double cork 1260, as well as an 18-foot backside air, a fronstside double cork 1080, a cab double cork 1080, a frontside stalefish 540, and a double McTwist 1260. White is now officially the first person to land a frontside double cork 1260 in a competition, and beat his previous all-time high score of 97.66. This gold was his 17th X Games medal.

Tom Zikas had the best seat in the house to see the action. Here’s what he has to say about judging the world’s first perfect halfpipe run.

What was it like being there/judging such a historic run?

It was pretty awesome. I think we all just knew it. All the scores came in, and at that point I had a quick discussion with the whole panel. I said, “Guys, it’s coming in as 100,” and everyone was like, “Yeah.” It was unanimous as to what it should be.

What was so amazing/”perfect” about Shaun’s run?

He had four double cork rotations, which one on its own is pretty insane, and his amplitude, height above the pipe, was 15 feet average, which is tough on its own too. So it was the combination of having the height and four double corks, the two pairs of them back to back. It was definitely the best run in snowboard history, the best run of the night, and it was the last run of the night so no one could top it at that point so we were safe with the score of 100.

Typically when someone has already won an event, their victory lap is usually just coasting through the pipe and doing a few fun tricks, but he just threw down. You never see someone going balls to the wall on their victory lap, and he did it. It was really cool to see.

Did those tight zebra pants help in his perfection? The pattern has been described by the media as snakeskin, leopard, and zebra… tell us, what were they?

I saw them fairly close. He was claiming they were leopard-zebra. That was straight out of Shaun’s mouth.

What do you say to the “haters” who point to Shaun’s “hand drag” after his final hit as not deserving of a perfect 100 score?

I looked at that on video again after the event. Basically he’s coming down off his last hit and he puts his hand out horizontally and grazes maybe 2 or 3 fingers against the pipe wall. It’s really insignificant, because it’s not like he reached down forward to hold himself up. It was more of his hand being out a bit horizontally and skimming the wall. So yes, 100. Scores from each event are relative to the competition that day. This was the best run of the day, not to mention in the history of pipe. The hand touch on the last hit? After a double cork frontside 1260 [first one ever landed in a competition], 15 feet out… please, this is not figure skating we are judging.

Shaun does seem to get a fair amount of hating-on in general, not sure if it’s due to his popularity within the mainstream public or his choice of apparel. Either way, as judges we are simply looking at what he and all the riders are doing in the pipe.

Can you tell us how the judging process works? Where are you sitting, and what’s the protocol?

We judge from the third floor of the main tower at the bottom of the pipe. Our area is walled off on three corners with glass open to the pipe. The judges are fairly isolated; we have a few production guys around us for TV; since it’s live we have to make sure our scores are in a timely manner. There are 5 judges plus a head judge. Each run is scored from 1 to 100, and we throw out the high and the low score and average the remaining three.

We have our own system for judging. Snowboarding is a unique sport, and each judge really has their own opinion of a run, and their own style of riding, which ultimately translates into their scoring. We try to keep it fairly loose and not be so structured in scoring. We like to avoid riders trying to ride to a system.

The 5 judges have a keypad, and each judge is actually writing down each trick and any notes during the run in shorthand, so it’s really detailed. Each judge can recite each person’s run to a T, what they did, what imperfections they had, how high they went, pretty much every detail so that if anyone does ever come back with a question we can say, “well, this is exactly why.” Each judge then enters their score and that comes into the head judge’s monitor. I review each score and then submit it and it goes live.

What’s next for you?

I’m just finishing up judging the World Snowboarding Championships in Oslo, then heading to Tignes, France, for Winter X Europe in March.

When he’s not judging snowboarding competitions like the Dew Tour, X Games and World Snowboarding Championships, Tom Zikas works as a professional photographer, and is the official photographer for US Snowboard team. What did you think of Shaun White during the Winter X Games 2012? Let us know in the comments.

Tahoe Backcountry Report and Folsom Custom Skis

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Jesse from Folsom Skis ripping up some pow

Jesse from Folsom Skis ripping up some pow

Who: A group of 4 including Jesse from Folsom Custom Skis

What: Finally a good powder day in the Tahoe backcountry

Where: West Shore, Lake Tahoe

When: Valentines Day 2012

Gear: A sweet pair of Folsom Custom Skis, Black Diamond Quadrant Boots, Smith Vantage Helmet and our headlamps to start the day

Valentine’s morning with our wives/girlfriends or light, fluffy backcountry powder? Well, for a bunch of snow starved Tahoe ski bums, the choice was easy (though we might regret it later). Tahoe Mountain Sports web editor, Greyson happened to be riding the lifts with Jesse from Folsom Custom Skis earlier in the week and they made an instant connection so Jesse decided to come and visit the shop and see if anybody was going out skiing this week. Luckily we had a pre-planned dawn patrol trip scheduled for Tuesday morning so it all worked out.

Getting ready for the ski down

Getting ready for the ski down

With about 12-14 inches up on the Sierra Crest and 6-8 inches down lower, we chose the west shore of Tahoe for our early morning jaunt and it was well worth it. The West Shore seems to have squeezed the most snow out of the most recent storm, so we headed straight there and started skinning up in the dark only to get engulfed in a misty, rimey cloud about half way up.

Skinning Up on Valentine's morning

Skinning Up on Valentine's morning

The powder was incredibly light and fluffy on top of the hard crust that has formed in between the January storm and this one. At the top, we could barely feel the crust, but down lower, the 6-8 inches were not enough to keep you from hitting bottom. We were able to ski right from and then back to the car with hardly any bushwacking so the coverage turned out to be much better than expected.

The other purpose of this mornings trip was to check out these skis Jesse had brought with him. Luckily he had a Dynafit setup on a pair of BlueNote’s so I got to ride those. They were 100 under foot with a rocker tip, poplar/bamboo core, ABS sidewalls and one of their stock top sheet graphics. While you might not have heard of these guys yet, you are likely to start hearing about them soon. They are in business to make ONLY custom skis. They have a questionnaire on their website that is about 25 questions long and depending on your answers, the type of ski you want and how much you are willing to throw down, you can create your very own ski with your very own graphics. Currently they are making about 250 pairs a year of these things, but look out cause once everybody finds out about them, they are going to be cranking.

Folsom BlueNote Skis on the way up

Folsom BlueNote Skis on the way up

So, the ski, did I like it or not? I most certainly did. It skied incredibly solid, was very logitudinally and torsionally consistent and midly stiff. The tip  profile made it very fun and somewhat floaty in the light powder and equally fun at the bottom when quick turns and a solid platform were needed to make our way out. This ski was certainly a 1 ski quiver. With semi-custom skis starting at $850 to fully customized skis going up to $1200, these are not for everyone, but if you know what you want, want it to be the highest quality, Made in the USA and ski like a dream, these could be the skis for you. The Aspen Highlands ski patrollers have adopted them as their ski of choice for their durability and unique shapes. Jesse had a chance to stop by the shop after we skied so we could see some more options from them and you can see those below.

Some of the selection from Folsom Custom Skis

Some of the selection from Folsom Custom Skis


Demo fleet from Folsom Custom Skis

Demo fleet from Folsom Custom Skis


You can check out some more of the pics and some closeups of the skis on our Facebook page here.

Meet the Tahoe Mountain Sports Giveaway Finalists!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Meet the Tahoe Mountain Sports Giveaway Finalists!

Holy entries!  This giveaway had the most entries to date for Action Sports Now with over 200!  After narrowing the field to around 30 semi finalists, we randomly picked 15 finalists to compete for this amazing giveaway.  Voting starts, Monday, February 13th at 12pm EST.  All you have to do to vote is go to Tahoe Mountain Sports’ Facebook page, “Like” Tahoe Mountain Sports, click the left hand poll button or the link on their wall, and vote for your favorite entry.  Whoever has the most votes on Sunday, February 19th at 5pm EST will be our winner.  The winner will take home the following:

Deuter Freerider Pro 30 Ski/Snowboard Pack
Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL Women’s Ski/Snowboard Pack
Contour Roam Helmet Camera
Hestra Ski/Snowboard Gloves, the Army Leather Wool
Hestra Ski/Snowboard Gloves, the Henrik Pro
– $100 Tahoe Mountain Sports Gift Certificate, useable online or in store
– Apple Red Special Edition iPod Shuffle, 1GB
Check out the finalists’ entries below and good luck to everyone!!!

Craig Slocum from Yuba City, CA

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are my favorite place to play. So many memories from hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, snowboarding, 4 wheeling; I could go on and on.  I will continue to visit the Sierras with my kids and hopefully they will appreciate the amazing beauty of the mountains, rivers and lakes.

Paul Osborn from Armstrong, CA

This is more of a love hate relationship, but a year ago I attempted to summit a mountain in Bolivia named Illimani.  It was my first ever real summit attempt and it was a blast.  I made it to around the 6000 meter mark and had to turn back.  It got me hooked on mountaineering.  Unfortunately I didn’t make to the top, but it is now my goal to try it again this summer.  I’d love to have a couple pieces of new gear to help me in that attempt!

Here’s a video I put together of that summit attempt.

Brandon Bethea from San Diego, CA

My favorite mountain is Table Mountain in South Africa because it was my mom’s favorite and holds special meaning.  After she was diagnosed with cancer, I promised I would go and see it one day, plus it will be my 6th continent whenever I do go!

Anthony Girelli from Asheville, NC

I like Cataloochee Mtn. It’s certainly not the best boarding, but the people and prices are great.  It’s super close and convenient and I can go 3 or 4 times a week.

The Cat
Bounce, Bounce, Clink
The bar rises
One motion up
Blades meet white
Click, Click, Bump
Board and body one
Momentum builds
Deep grooves cut
Swish, swish, scrape
A pendulum
Frozen, moving
Along the hill
Left, right, left
Snaking along
Lost a field of others
Racing down
Gust, gust, whoosh
Wind whips
Cuts through clothes
Ears hear, not feel
Sip, sip, gulp
Hot inside
Cold without
Both lodge and me.

Rob Caughron from Oakley, CA

Me at Bear Valley! I love snowboarding!

Craig Strom from Truckee, CA

My favorite mountain is Squaw Valley USA because it gives instant access to the steeps. Good après doesn’t hurt either.

Jennifer Causby from Mt. Pleasant, SC

Copper Mountain, CO!!  Well, we haven’t actually stepped foot on the slopes there yet, but we will be there on February 9th!  As a southern girl from South Carolina, we get really excited over a few snow flurries (which rarely happens.)  If we want to play in the snow, we have to drive to North Carolina, for some of the man-made mush.  To celebrate my husband’s 31st birthday, we decided to take an adventure to Copper Mountain to see the real stuff – SNOW.

We can’t wait to see the powder and taste it on our tongues as it falls from the sky.  Since I have never snowboarded, we are going to spend one day on boards and one day on skis.  I don’t know if the pros in the mountains will be more surprised to hear me say, “Hey Ya’ll”, or to see my excited from seeing so much real snow.  Since we live near the beach, and not near the mountains, we have lots of preparing to do for our trip.  That’s where this amazing (dare I say, Kick-Ass) giveaway would come in.  This prize pack would be put to use almost immediately, and I see ourselves becoming addicted to our new found sports.  It would be used more often.

Please, help us go out West in style so we won’t be identified as rookies immediately.  You know the saying, “Fake it till you make it” – that’s our plan and this gear is a major part of that plan!

John Maguire from Denver, CO

To you Mr. Action Sports Now,

I have ridden a lot of mountains, I even work for one currently in Colorado, but I owe it all to my hometown hill where I started and fell in love with this sport. I grew up living one mile away from a small mountain in the middle of Vermont named Suicide Six. Google it I dare you, hopefully a result shows up.  Out of all the trail maps I have collected over the years, Suicide Six is my favorite because it’s so awkward!  Three chair lifts including a ‘J’ bar.  Look at this, AMAZING.

Back then I thought this was a mountain.  A real mountain.  I landed my first 3, jumped off my first chair lift, and even broke my first bone here at S6.  Memories I would never trade for other experiences at these huge resorts.  I know everyone else is bragging about their mountain being Vail, Breckenridge or another giant resort, but we owe it to these little gems out there which still run.  We owe it to you little guys!  Here is a picture from Suicide Six in my collection.  I hope you enjoy Mr. Action Sports Now.

Joe Flannery from Truckee, CA

Before I knew what a bivy sack was, before I learned the Yosemite Decimal System, or slipped skins onto my skis, I walked up Bighorn Peak in the North-West corner of Yellowstone National Park.  I had just graduated from college and was working in the Park for the duration of the summer.  Within a few weeks of that first season I lusted after something a little longer than the average hike.  A co-worker suggested Big Horn, so I made plans for my next day off.

Big Horn Peak rises above the Sky Rim Trail, a ridgeline route running along the boundary between Yellowstone Park and the Gallatin National Forest.  A pack of wolves roams this region, and the high density of whitebark pines promotes an equally high density of grizzlies.  This rugged backcountry corner receives some stock use, but is largely ignored by the visiting summer throngs.

I woke up late the morning of the hike and that, plus the long drive, put me at the trailhead by 11:00.  I shouldered my stuff.  Back then my outdoor gear consisted of the same backpack that had recently carried my textbooks, a pair of hiking boots, and a two Nalgenes.  To play it safe I threw in an extra apple beside my customary PP&J.

The first section of trail paralleled Black Butte Creek and I walked along in the dappled light of lodgepoles and creek-side willows.  I passed a few fishermen sight-casting for trout in the larger pools, but within a half- hour I walked alone for the rest of the day.

Three miles up, and just before the trail left the drainage on a little shelf, I jumped a large animal bedded down in the shade.  It stood and crashed through the underbrush.  I flailed at my bear spray canister, numbed in panic by the dark brown fur seen flashing between the branches.  It was a bull moose.  He stomped away, splashing across the creek before stopping for a moment on the other side to display his rack and glare back.  The sudden adrenaline rush left me empty and starving; after the moose’ departure I sat and ate the apple and half the sandwich, then finished off the first Nalgene.  The day was hot, and I had been guzzling unconstrained.  Water filled only half of the second water canister when I peeked into my bag to take stock –I must have drunk some it in the car.  And now the trail left the trees.

The trail steepened once out of the drainage.  The sun beat down.  I crawled a mile up the trail past the creek, tiring quickly and awakening to the fact that I had severely under-packed; most of my water was gone, I had little food, and my journey still was only one-third of the way through.  The few trees that spotted along the trail cast ever-lengthening shadows.  I picked up my pace.

Another mile.  Then another.  I greedily drank the last of my water and ate the final sandwich half.  The last mile steepened even further, and turned into a sort of loose scramble.  False summit after false summit added to my exhaustion.  I stumbled over rocks and nearly tripped every fifty feet or so.  Strange thoughts crossed into my mind, filling a void the dehydration created.   A few more sloppy steps and then I was there, the earth leveling lush and green high in the sky.

The summit of Big Horn contained a scene I will never forget:  High alpine tundra, as fresh and blooming as a valley meadow, covered the flat-topped mountain for a space as large as two football fields.  Purple and yellow flowers smiled up at the sun.  The peak itself stood at the opposite side, rising twenty feet above the horizon-line like a rocky steeple.  A trail, beat into the turf by hikers and wildlife, held water in puddles.  I lurched forward punch-drunk over the trail, sending hundreds of thirsty butterflies into the air.  Halfway between myself and the peak, a herd of bighorn sheep, mostly ewes and lambs, bleeted and grazed amongst the grass.  The flock parted as I walked through.  In the jumble of rocks on the prominent, I found the register and scrawled some indecipherable message, lost in memory to my thirst and exhaustion.  On the north side of the peak I found a patch of snow.  I packed each Nalgene half-full each, then started down.  It was well after dark when I finally made it back to my car.

Years later now, with enough gear to fill half of my garage and a few more trips under my belt, I still smile at my summit on Bighorn despite the disastrous planning and self-created miserable conditions.  Maybe it was the delirious lightness in my head and step, or the way the butterflies swirled and danced, or the cry of the ewes calling to their lambs, but that peak will always seem holy to me, almost biblical against the blue sky.  And so Big Horn is, and will always be, my favorite mountain amongst many a range.

Vanessa Nicola from Shamokin, PA

Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  It is a beautiful, scenic place.

Natasha Sheu from Longmont, CO

Hi, I decided to write my entry in the form of a Haiku. My favorite mountain is Solvista Basin in Granby, Colorado!  Thanks for doing the giveaway in the first place and the opportunity to win this sick prize package.

It is White. All White
Suddenly Heaven on Earth
Snow just for shredding

Riding on the chair
Higher and flyer we get
Hanging with homies

Now hit the powder
Get mad air on all the jumps
Wind hitting my face

I love snowboarding
Never want to leave this haven
Solvista Basin

Milena Regos from Incline Village, NV

OK, my favorite mountain is Bansko, Bulgaria. The reason is that I grew up there skiing when I used to race at the ski team in Bulgaria. Now, it’s a big town and one of the more popular resorts in Europe.  It’s a funky, very old town with cows going out and coming in every day.  You can hardly understand the locals as they have their own accent (and I speak Bulgarian fluently).  It’s a fun town and a very cool mountain.  I hope you will go there one day!

Stephen Springer from Greenwich, RI

My favorite all time mountain is Killington Resort in Killington, Vermont.  This mountain is awesome and you can shred a different slope every half hour and still not even have seen the whole mountain yet. Also the terrain parks are killer!  They are always grooming and fixing the parks so each ride down is as good as the first.  THIS MOUNTAIN IS AWESOME!!!!

Aidan Tinelli from Syracuse, NY

Hey guys!  My favorite mountain is Phelps.  It is one of the 46 high peaks in New York.  It’s my favorite because me and my family climbed it in the middle of winter and also it has a great view!

Francesco Viola from Charlotte, NC

The Favorite Mountain that Never Was

It was a clear morning in February at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia.  Fresh Snow had just fallen and my coworkers, friends, and I had just gotten all of our snowboards and gear packed up for an awesome day of snowboarding.  The Mountain was in tip top shape and everyone was excited about getting some solid runs in during the day.  This trip was attended by some coworkers and some friends of mine.  About 5 of the coworkers had never been snowboarding before and me being the nice guy that I am, decided to volunteer myself to go down the green runs with them and teach them some good techniques to use.  I was no expert, but growing up surfing and skateboarding, I would consider myself better than average.  I had been to Vermont at Jay Peak and Stowe and to the North Carolina Mountains so I figured that I at least had some knowledge that would help mold my coworkers into better snowboarders.  We had gotten to the green runs as soon as they opened the mountain and started our descent down the mountain.  As soon as we began, I immediately knew that it was not going to take an hour to help my coworkers out and that I may be stuck with them for more than what I originally bargained for.  My friends had gone to the more experienced runs and I was to meet up with them later after I had helped my coworkers.  As the sun rose in the sky, I realized that I was going to be stuck with my coworkers on the greens for a while.  Three hours later, around 12 o’clock, we finally met up with my friends at the bottom of the mountain and my coworkers were going to get lunch so I was finally free to go with my friends to the blue and black runs and the terrain park.  At this point I was ready to get off the greens and to get to the good runs and the terrain park.  We all rode the lift to the top of the mountain and my coworkers headed to the lodge for lunch so me and my friends went directly to the terrain park.  I was super pumped at this point and was ready to hit some jumps and just go all out.  Me and my buddies strapped in at the top of the terrain park and I was the first one to start the run. The first jump was a table top jump which I cleared and started to the next jump.  I built up speed and tried to get a lot of air and as soon as I got in the air I realize I was about 6 ft higher in the air than I realized because the second jump was not another table top, but a ramp.  I panicked a little in the air and was going to do a controlled bail out.  Then all of a sudden BOOOOOM and I’m laying on my back screaming at the top of my lungs “help”.  My buddies rode up from behind me to see if I was ok.  My one friend walked up and said, “Hey man, are you alright, did you hit your head?”  I said, “No I broke my arm really bad.”  At this point, he proceeded to look at my left arm which was bent at a 35 degree angle from the normal position that it should be in.  At this time, my friend began to freak out and bolted down the mountain to get help.  I was in the worse pain I had ever experienced and now wished that I had ridden down the terrain park to check everything out before proceeding with the jumps.  Mistake on my part. To make an even longer story short, I was taken to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital to get pumped with Morphine for 6 hours before they decide to drive me two and a half hours away to the nearest large hospital.  2 plates and 17 screws later, my arm is back together and on the long road to recovery.  I still have the plates in my arm and haven’t been snowboarding since the accident.  That was 3 years ago.  From being at Snowshoe, the small amount of time I was there, I could tell it would have been my favorite mountain, but unfortunately it turned out way differently.

Its time for me to get back out on the mountain and what better way to go than winning this prize pack. Thanks Guys!


Dave Honored by Leave No Trace

Friday, February 10th, 2012

We are excited to announce that Tahoe Mountain Sports owner Dave Polivy was honored by Leave No Trace as one of its extraordinary member-activists of 2011. Dave is one of 11 chosen out of the some 60 members nominated, so it’s quite an honor!

His involvement with Leave No Trace began in late 2010, when he chose the nonprofit as the beneficiary of a fundraising Facebook campaign. For every new Facebook fan Tahoe Mountain Sports got in a 2-week span, Dave donated $1 to Leave No Trace. The fans poured in, and helped raise more than $700 for Leave No Trace.

From that successful campaign, the collaborations continued. Dave organized Leave No Trace’s participation in SnowFest 2011, in a partnership with TMS and the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, and spearheaded two Leave No Trace awareness trainings, one in the 2010–11 winter season and one in the summer of 2011, as well as a family hiking event.

I caught up with Dave to ask him a few questions about this honor.

Why did you get involved with Leave No Trace?

Ever since I took a NOLS course back in 1994, I have been involved with LNT principles. Now that my work directly connects me with the outdoors, I feel obligated to pass on that education to as many people as possible. If my business is to get people excited and inspired to play outside, then we also need to be a steward of that playground. Since we want our children to be able to enjoy the same natural environment that we do, we must take care of it ourselves and teach others the same. We also see a lot more people enjoying the outdoors and it is necessary to properly educate them on the best way to leave no trace so others can find it in the same condition they did.

You really went above and beyond typical member-activist involvement, can you tell us why?

We really felt that LNT did not have a big presence here in Lake Tahoe. And with the lake being one of our nation’s natural jewels, we felt there was a need to heighten the principles of LNT and we took it upon ourselves to assist in that. Since the whole goal of the environmental community in the region is to improve the health of Lake Tahoe, we felt this was our little part that we could do to help out.

Why are Leave No Trace values so important?

They instill a sense of responsibility when recreating in the outdoors, and it is important to pass that sense of responsibility on to the next generations.

Have you met any of the other honorees?

I have not, but I hope to in the near future.

What does this honor mean to you? Were you surprised?

I was totally caught by surprise and I am very excited and flattered to be honored. I am also humbled by this honor because I thought I was just helping out a good cause, but to think that they as an organization thought I went above and beyond is very humbling. I found out I was honored during Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. When I ran into the LNT folks, they pretty much floored me when they told me. All I kept doing was expressing my happiness and pride to them all night. Every time I saw one of them I ran up and gave them a big hug!

Any future plans with LNT?

We are always working on fun and innovative ways to get the LNT message across. We are working with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association this spring on their Annual Guide Training and helping to spread the message there. We will likely put on a couple more awareness workshops during the year, and after that, you have to wait and see what we have up our sleeves, but I promise, it will be fun, unique and educational just like how we have done things in the past!

Congratulations to Dave Polivy again, one of Leave No Trace’s “Eleven People We Love” for 2011. Click through to read about the other member-activists honored.

Yosemite Ice Climbing: Clouds Rest

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Zac of Seattle, Washington, contributed this post to our Adventure of the Week Series. Follow him as he ice climbs up the northwest gully of Clouds Rest in this trip report.

WHO: Aaron and Zac
WHAT: Ice Climb on Clouds Rest’s NW gully
WHERE: Tenaya Drainage, Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park
WHEN: December 28, 2011
GEAR: 6 screws (all stubbies), assorted climbing nuts, few cams to 2″, 70m dry rope, some PB+J’s, and RadioLab podcasts

It’s been one of those winters where we have to get recreationally creative, and it’s no secret that Sierra’s ice is in rare fatty condition. Complete with easy low-snow access makes it feel like cheating in the alpine. The photos of Drug Dome from early December were enticing, but learning that up to five parties were hitting it on a busy day we feared it would be more a peg board than an ice climb. So we made some calls, got some vague beta, and ventured out to look at Clouds Rest’s steeper NE flows.

We left the western edge of Tenaya Lake just after 7am in the morning twilight. Some quick forested navigation brought us to the top of the creek’s outlet where it flows toward open southern slabs. Running around Tuolumne comfortably without gaiters in the dead of winter felt awkward, but that all changed when I punched through the ice up to my knee. Pulling my left leg out as fast as possible my boot and pants were only 90% wet. I live in the Cascades; we consider that still pretty dry. Moving to the south bank to avoid the creek’s frozen flow, we then scampered down the slabs as the sunrise’s alpenglow was taking fine form.

The beta was minimal, and the only ice we found in this first valley looked like WI 1 at most with no flow dropping down even half way. Our optimism started to transition to slight skepticism that anything had the volume to create a long or steep enough line. But we continued down into the pocket forest at the bottom of the huge granite spoon where we wrapped around the north edge until we regained Tenaya Creek. We were hoping the steeper NE-facing gully on the map with stacked contour lines would offer what we were seeking.

Once at the top of the canyon close to where the rap sites start for the Tenaya to Valley route, we crossed the creek and moved up slope using a talus field to gain a couple hundred feet of elevation. This provided good access for contouring around toward the steeper wall. On a drier day one could have used the slabs to shave some time, however we had surface hoar-like crystals on the rock which made even a little exposure pretty nerve racking. A couple hours earlier Aaron exercised his rally car driving skills with a hard left turn drift as common in blockbuster films. With Geo Metro sideways at 45 mph sliding by the Tioga Pass Resort, he looked over calmly and stated, “little slick up here, eh?” Classic sandbag comment.

As we came around a talus’d sub-ridge we finally got an eye on our sought gully. Ice was indeed extending down to touch the snow field where steeper cleft offered better shade. Things looked rather thin on pitch one and pitch two, but moderate angle enough to give it a shot. Aaron, who is always grinning when a rope comes out of a bag regardless of how scary something might look, was salivating for pitch one. With a few careful steps he worked up the intermittent sheet of 1-inch ice for about 30 feet before it finally thickened up enough for a stubby. A few ice steps and a couple screws later brought him up to a rock anchor well positioned just left of pitch two.

We transferred the gear, and I headed up into an auditory-brail assignment. This steeper sheet was noticeably more hollow with a thin 2 inches at best. Listening for the sounds was like hunting for a stud in dry wall. It hinted to traverse right 20 feet before committing to the slightly runout wall above. Precise yet soft swings followed by tip-toeing steps let me gain the first of two small rock roofs that offered a marginal cam placement. 35 more feet of thin and steep terrain opened up to much more solid ice. I took a couple big breathes, and then stretched the 70m rope up to some comfy ledges under pitch three.

This final steeper wall was fun WI 3 climbing. Aaron made quick work on its right side with a shallow ice dihedral, which was steeper but had great stemming. A handful of screws and a few rock placements gave way to straight forward ground as the gully kicked back. We downed a quick lunch, and assessed the mellower slopes above. Starting out simo’ing a couple pitches we soon realized that was rather pointless and de-roped. Another 300-400′ vert of soloing small but fun ice steps (WI 2 max) brought us to the forested bench above the gully.

We packed up and found the trail to Clouds Rest’s summit just beyond the horizon line where we topped out. A short hike to the summit allowed us to enjoy the sunshine as we took in the view of Half Dome and the rest of the valley below.

Shouldering our packs, we turning around and heading back on the trail to Tenaya Lake. Podcasts were deployed to keep us in the zone as we motored in the final two hours of daylight. We arrived back just in time to catch the evening alpine rays on Tenaya Peak. With road sodas issued we headed a few miles west to the overlook to enjoy the last part of the sunset and gain perspective on the ice line.

Certainly not too technically challenging of a line (WI 4- would be generous as the cruxes are limited), but Clouds Rest offered a fantastic day in the mountains with a high novelty factor; easy access only comes in once every decade or two. Wandering around a very vacant Tuolumne was a bit surreal as it is rare we get to experience National Parks so uncrowded.

Here is our timing if it helps with your planning:
7:15am Trailhead
9:45am Base of Climb
2:00pm Top of Climb
2:30pm Cloud’s Rest Summit
4:45pm Trailhead

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, bike, surf, Yosemite ice climbing trip) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Tahoe Mountain Sports Gift Cards Fast, easy, and one size fits all. Buy Now! Follow us: