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Archive for January, 2014

TMS Winter Giveaway: Win A Smith Vantage Helmet or I/O Goggles!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Smith-Goggle-Helmet-Contest

Between February 1 and 14, you can win brand new winter gear by simply entering your e-mail address!

Just visit this link – http://woobox.com/ear9sj – and enter your e-mail address to win a pair of Smith I/O Goggles ($175) or a Smith Vantage Helmet ($220)! I/O Goggles have a Black frame with Green Sol-X Mirror Lens and a Free Bonus Red Sensor Mirror Lens; Vantage Helmet size = Medium, color = Matte Gunmetal.

Two random winners will be be selected at random! Winners will be contacted via email on February 15. One winner will receive a brand new Vantage helmet, our favorite Smith snow helmet, and the other winner will get a pair of I/O Goggles, the industry standard for snow goggles with interchangeable lenses.

Don’t need new gear yourself? Give the gift of safety, comfort and top-performance! Either of these items would make a great birthday present, or just a sweet gesture for someone you care for.

Don’t worry…we won’t overload your inbox. We’ll only contact you if you WIN, or to send you cool updates about the outdoor industry and let you know when we’re having huge sales on outdoor gear and clothing.

Sweepstakes runs February 1 – 14, 2014. Only one entry per user. Must be 18 years or older. Winner pays shipping outside continental U.S.

Enter here: http://woobox.com/ear9sj

Smith Vantage Helmet - Women's
Smith Vantage Helmet – Women’s
MSRP: $219.95
Smith IOX Goggles
Smith IOX Goggles
MSRP: $174.95

2014 Tahoe Mountain Sports Avalanche Education Series

Friday, January 17th, 2014

sierra-avalanche-center-tahoe-event

Part 3 – Feb. 6 – Read, Interpret, Decide – Analyzing Avalanche Reports with the Sierra Avalanche Center

As the third and final installment of our three-part 2014 TMS Avalanche Education Series, representatives from Sierra Avalanche Center, a Lake Tahoe Region non-profit dedicated to providing a free daily avalanche advisory for the central Sierra Nevada, will lead an extremely useful presentation about how to properly read and interpret the avalanche report.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss technical and situational issues that arise in the field to create a good platform for safe decision making in the backcountry. There will be a HUGE raffle at this event and everybody is sure to walk away with something. All raffle proceeds and a portion of sales from this evening will benefit Sierra Avalanche Center.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Come get some free tips to help properly read and interpret the avalanche and snow conditions reports in order to make better decisions and keep safe in the backcountry!

This event will take place between two different locations: Tahoe Mountain Sports (8331 North Lake Blvd, Kings Beach, CA 96143) and across the street at the North Tahoe Event Center (8318 N. Lake Blvd)

In case you can’t make the full event or just want to stop by for part of it, here’s the event schedule:

5:00 – 6:00 – Reception with S.A.C. and Backcountry Gear Specials at Tahoe Mountain Sports
6:00-7:15 – Formal Presentation with Sierra Avalanche Center at North Tahoe Event Center (NTEC)
7:15 – 8:00 MEGA Raffle to benefit Sierra Avalanche Center (at NTEC)

Generous raffle donations provided by 22 Designs, Arva EquipmentBlack Diamond, Boreas Gear, Honey Stinger, Marker Bindings, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Ortovox, Osprey, Pieps, Smith Optics and Vapur.

Find the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/398839930248480/

Join the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Adventure Group and stay connected with Tahoe Mountain Sports and their community events: http://www.meetup.com/LakeTahoeOutdoorAdventureGroup/events/161146902/

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Avalanche Education Series Recap: Part 1 – Nov. 20 - Beacons & Beers: Avalanche Companion Gear & Rescue Techniques

Many backcountry enthusiasts came to Tahoe Mountain Sports on November 20 to learn the basics of beacon use and brush up on their avalanche expertise and transceiver techniques. Experienced mountain guide and Level 3 AIARE instructor Tom Carter, and Ortovox Rep Jared Rodriguez, were present to lead a discussion about the basics of companion rescue gear and techniques. Tom also led a hands-on lesson on how to properly and efficiently use your avalanche transceiver. Participants brought their own avalanche gear to practice with, and others demo’d some of the newest Ortovox models.

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Part 2 – Dec. 20 – Avalanche Airbag Party Sponsored by ABS featuring Pro Skier Elyse Saugstad

As the second of our three-part 2014 TMS Avalanche Education Series, we filled a large room at the North Tahoe Event Center with a bunch of Tahoe backcountry enthusiasts for a free, community-oriented, fun night. Elyse Saugstad, a professional skier and airbag backpack advocate who was saved by her pack in a large avalanche near Stevens Pass, WA (Tunnel Creek, 2012), and ABS backpacks Rep John Clausen were on-site to lead a technical discussion about avalanche airbag backpacks, how they work, survival rates and statistics, personal accounts and learning experiences from the field.

Participants got to activate their airbag packs during the event, which added even more fun to the evening. Since all Avalanche Airbag Backpacks should be serviced annually, this was a great opportunity to receive a free servicing and full canister for their ABS, The North Face, Mammut or Ortovox airbag packs. We also offered special discounts on Avalanche Airbag Backpacks for attendees! Thanks to our sponsors for the evening, ABS Avalanche Airbag SystemsOrtovox Avalanche Safety Equipment and The North Face!

Want a quick course in Avalanche Airbag technologies? Read this detailed blog about ABS packs:
http://blog.tahoemountainsports.com/2013/01/16/abs-101-the-avalanche-airbag-backpack-system/

Kids Do Tahoe Right – Skiing / Snowboarding Schools & Day Camps

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

skiing-with-kids-tahoe

Lake Tahoe is usually a snowy paradise featuring spectacular resorts filled with fun adventures for the entire family. With between 300 to 500 inches of snow in many years, this family-friendly ski destination is always ready to be enjoyed all season long. As California’s premier ski destination, there is no shortage of stunning scenery and world class resorts ready to welcome your family and their love for snow sports. However, it is important to remember that while most resorts welcome kids and offer skiing for children, there are some that are able to cater to specific needs better than others. To help ensure that your family enjoys a memorable vacation in the mountains, we’re highlighting some of Tahoe’s favorite family ski resorts.

Resorts for Families with Younger Children

If you can’t wait to get your little one on skis for the very first time, a number of the Tahoe ski resorts offer schools for the tiniest of tots. Squaw Valley Resort features a program that can teach kids as young as three. Each child learns on the flats and is in a class that has 3 students for every teacher. As learning can be tiring, it is recommend to only enroll your child for a half-day and then place them into daycare for the rest of the day while you enjoy personal time on the slopes. When it comes to daycare, it’s hard to beat Minor’s Camp at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. Not all resorts offer on-site child care in Tahoe and Northstar’s Minor’s Camp accepts children between the ages of 2 and 6. The facility is licensed by the state and boasts a ratio of 1 adult to every 5 children. There are plenty of activities for the children and the best part is that parents can get a free adult lift ticket when they book their child for an entire day. In addition to Northstar, the Child Ski Center at Diamond Peak Ski Resort teaches kids between 3 and 7, also at a ratio of 5 kids to each instructor, and their separate learning area with a surface lift is a great place to learn. They’ll also have access to activities only available in the Child Ski Center, like tubing, sledding, crafts and fun games. If your children are younger than 2, the only childcare available is at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, which will accept children 2 months and older.

kids-skiing-programs-tahoe-400

Resorts for Learning to Ski

When it comes to teaching kids how to ski, parents have two choices: to enroll in ski school or teach their own kids. If you want a school that is cost-effective and offers good value, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is a great place to go. Located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, this smaller resort has a great program for kids learning to ski. The full and half-day programs at Alpine are designed for children as young as three years old. The cost is highly affordable relative to other resorts in the area with lunch and kid’s ski equipment rentals included and the resort itself is less crowded, creating a comfortable environment for families. Each child is also tracked with a Falk GPS tracking device to ensure that they never go missing.

If you would rather teach your own kids to ski, Soda Springs Resort is not a bad place to start. Designed with children in mind, this resort features an area known as “Planet Kids” for children 8 and under that enables parents to coach their kids as they learn to ski or snowboard. The area features a number of small bunny slopes and the best part is that it comes with a magic carpet that will slowly and safely take your kids back to the top of the hill. It’s incredibly affordable and if your child gets bored of skiing, there are snow tubes and the popular tube carousel to enjoy.

Resorts for All-Inclusive Family Adventures

Although it’s likely the most expensive ski resort in Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley Resort is a favorite among families for the stay-and-ski experience offered. The best part for most families is that it’s a one-stop-shop filled with upscale stores, restaurants, luxury hotel rooms and plenty of snowy adventures. Once you arrive at the resort, you never have to leave…except to visit Tahoe Mountain Sports and get an up-close view of the lake, of course! The entire experience in all aspects of resort life is consistent with what you would expect at a luxury hotel. Families have a number of activities to enjoy including ski school, ice-skating, hot tubs, and a heated pool. There is also the ever-popular tram (cable car) ride that boasts incredible views of Squaw Valley and even a climbing wall.

Resorts with Fun for the Whole Familykids-ski-school-tahoe

If you’re looking for a resort that can offer a great time for all members of the family, Heavenly Ski Resort is a good choice for your family. You won’t need any divine intervention to enjoy this resort that boasts the highest elevation and most vertical feet of any ski resorts on the West Coast. For the younger children, skiing and snowboarding lessons are available while others can check out the wide array of other snowy activities including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing, and snow-biking. The Gondola is a highlight for almost everyone featuring amazing views of Lake Tahoe from a fully enclosed lift. In addition, there are plenty of intermediate runs for families to enjoy skiing and snowboarding together as well as the only day care that can accommodate children as young as 2 months old. The daycare also features ski-play programs for children that need to be gradually eased onto the slopes. Although there is no accommodation on-site, there are plenty of dining choices scattered along the mountainside including healthy options, gourmet cuisine, and tasty burgers. The staff bring the resort to life while the competitive prices make it affordable for many families, leaving plenty of opportunities for wintry adventures in 2014.

Tahoe is just filled with family-friendly ski resorts that offer something for your entire group of loved ones. For those that want added adventures in the snow beyond traditional snowboarding or skiing, there are always plenty of places to check out, including snowmobiling at Kirkwood Mountain Resort as well as tubing and sledding at Boreal Mountain Resort. It’s just a few of the many reasons to come on a ski vacation in Tahoe this year!

 

Smith Zoom Helmet - Kid's
Smith Zoom Helmet – Kid’s
MSRP: $59.95

Ortovox Snow Safety Gear: Beacons, Backpacks, Shovels & Probes

Saturday, January 11th, 2014
ortovox-avalanche-safety-gear

Tahoe Mountain Sports
is proud to carry the top-dogs in the snow safety game, and we’re especially stoked on
 Ortovox Avalanche Emergency Equipment for 2014. They recently teamed up with ABS to launch a line of avalanche airbag backpacks, a partnership that we’re excited about not only because we love Ortovox backpacks, but we also stand by ABS airbags and their commitment to excellence in snow safety. The Twin Airbag System is top-of-the-line (click here to read more about the ABS Twin Airbag System), and Ortovox went the extra distance to make the system removable in their ski and ride packs so you can choose to ride with or without, depending on conditions and the extent of your backcountry adventure.

Not only are we backing the Ortovox ski packs for 2014, but their avalanche transceivers, backcountry shovels and snow probes are also a favorite here at the shop. Their transceivers feature Smart Antennae and Third Antennae technologies that pinpoint multiple burial victims and give the most accurate distance and directional readings. Their shovels are super-strong, rigid and lightweight so you can pierce through tough crusts and move lots of dense and heavy snow quickly and efficiently. Ortovox probes are also light and strong, and you can count on them during emergencies to deploy without delay and penetrate snow without snapping or fracturing under pressure.

When we leave the house, the hut, the tent or the trailhead, we all hope that unless we’re going out to practice our backcountry safety skills, our emergency snow equipment will never have to leave our backpacks. When the time does come to use that gear, we have to know we can depend on it. Our lives and our friends’ lives will depend on it. Practice all you want; if your gear can’t be trusted you’ll be no good in the field when disaster strikes. That’s why we only carry the best avalanche safety equipment in our fleet, and why you see Ortovox throughout the shop and our online gear store.

Thanks to Ortovox and the American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE) for providing the slides for this instructional avalanche safety video:

Check out these top contenders in the snow safety category for 2014:

ortovox-mass-twin-airbag-system Ortovox M.A.S.S. Modular ABS Airbag Safety System
Weighing less than three pounds and deploying in about three seconds, the Ortovox ABS system is compatible with all Ortovox avalanche packs. With twin airbags, you’re protected from the head to the torso. Ortovox couldn’t have made a better decision than to team up with ABS’s 28 years of airbag expertise and Twinbag technology.
ortovox-tour-32-7-backpack Ortovox Tour 32+7 ABS Ready Backpack
Back, hip and shoulder muscles are relieved by the Vent-O-Flex back system and an O-Shaped frame, and an extra 20% of space can be added for larger tours by simply unzipping the middle section. The Ortovox Tour 32 + 7 is ready for you to add the airbag system, but if the terrain or conditions don’t necessitate airbags, just leave them behind save a bit of space/weight. Securely attach your skis diagonally or strap your board vertically, stash your skins and crampons in a separate pocket, and rotate the activation handle from left to right arm depending on user-preference. This is one really, really versatile backcountry pack.
ortovox-s1-avalanche-transceiver Ortovox S1+ Avalanche Transceiver
The Ortovox S1+ is super-smart. Users can now see a display screen with the relative location of burial victims and be directed toward them along the fastest route. This beacon also features the Smart Antennae, which gives you 43% more range than other transceivers by choosing the best signal to transmit based on the body’s position in the snow. Multiple burials? No problem. Well, that’s actually a major problem, but the S1+ will locate up to 4 buried victims and mark each individually so you can continue searching while your partners dig. Also includes built-in slope Inclinometer and will automatically revert back to transmission-mode if it doesn’t move for over one minute during search mode (think ‘follow-up’ or ‘secondary’ avalanche).
ortovox-beast-shovel-saw Ortovox Beast Saw Shovel
High sidewalls and a robust aluminum scoop provide ultimate strength and rigidity in a pack-friendly, collapsible snow shovel that weighs less than two pounds. Inside the shaft lives a snow saw, ideal for carving Rutsch blocks during snow-stability tests and cutting firewood when you end up in survival-mode. The Beast Saw Shovel is ergonomically advanced: a T-handle and lower-hand-grip improve efficient digging in wet conditions, and the oval-shaped, aluminum shaft is stronger than standard snow shovel designs. Don’t need a blade? The Ortovox Beast offers all the same great features and strength, minus the saw for $20 less.
ortovox-240-hd-pfa-probe Ortovox 240 HD PFA Probe
A PFA quick-release tension system deploys in seconds so you’re not stuck wasting any time during a rescue. It also packs back up really fast in case you need to book it out of the backcountry after the rescue. It only weighs 0.7 lbs and is one of the strongest avalanche probes on the market, with a piercing tip that penetrates hard snowpacks with little effort. AL 7075 TS aluminum light and stiff, thus the best choice for probe construction, and an EVA grip is easier to manage and keeps your hands warmer so you can dig more efficiently.

It seems there were some popular terms used frequently in this post: “safe”, “strong”, “efficient”, “lightweight”, “smart”. Do those words mean anything to you, as a backcountry traveler? This is not a coincidence. You can trust in Ortovox Avalanche Emergency Equipment.

Tahoe Mountain Sports also does Ortovox Firmware upgrades for Ortovox transceivers, updating them with the latest versions of Ortovox software to keep you as safe as possible with each passing year. To update your Ortovox beacon, click here: Ortovox Beacon Upgrade – you can either send your beacon to us, or bring it into the shop, and we’ll turn the update around within 24 hours.

 

 

Ortovox 3+ Transceiver
Ortovox 3+ Transceiver
MSRP: $369.00

What To Do When There’s No Snow Around Lake Tahoe

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

I don’t need to tell you. If you’re here, you know it. If you’re not, you’ve probably heard. The snow conditions are seriously pressing on our nerves in Tahoe. It hurts. It hurts the bottom of your skis, it hurts local businesses and it hurts the local morale.

no-snow-year-tahoe-things-to-do

This is where I could mention some hurtful stats about this year being California’s driest winter on-record or drop some depressing figures regarding snow- and tourism-related economics. Instead, I’ve got some great news! Lake Tahoe has more year-round outdoor fun than any other ski town…probably anywhere. The lake itself offers a plethora of activities, from stand-up paddling, kayaking and boating off-shore to countless foot paths and bike trails on-shore. Although, you may need to stay closer to lake-level to find completely dry and clear trails. If you’re into fishing, the local tributaries will offer you a challenge in beautiful terrain. If you climb, you’re in luck; we’re completely surrounded by granite. You may not find as much ice to climb this time of year, but there are plenty of frozen ponds to go for a skate.

When you’re fortunate enough to see the views that I do every day, it’s possible to eventually take advantage of the fact that you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m not saying that I do, just that it’s possible! Since I make it a point to Do Something Awesome Every Day, I figure sharing some ideas for adventure would be appropriate. Especially given these “winter” conditions and the notion that we’re all thinking the same thing: “What do I do around Tahoe when there’s no snow?”

Run On The Beach
The fact that a sandy stretch of shoreline is available to our free use is almost unbelievable. In the winter months, when the sun’s shining and the temps are in the 40’s, the weather is perfect for running and you’ll often have much of the beach to yourself. So get into some cold weather running clothing, seek out a public access point and take a jog. If the amazing views, solitude and the pleasure of an aerobic workout aren’t enough to keep you moving, then think of it as “late-season ski conditioning”.

running-beach-north-lake-tahoe


In-Bounds “Backcountry” Skiing
You got all your backcountry skiing gear ready for the season, and now you have no powder fields to explore. Sure, the lifts are running from 8:30-4:00 daily, but that’s just not good enough. You want a workout, and you want to slap on those climbing skins that hung out in your closet the past nine months. Skin up the resort! Most ski resorts let the public use their groomed runs during non-operational hours (4:01 p.m. – 8:29 a.m.) *If you have information that proves me wrong, please correct me before you fine me for doing something awesome every day. So, if you want to get some exercise on your touring setup or you’re itching for some softer snow, take advantage of the man-made morning corduroy at the local resorts. Bonus: Starting a little after 4 p.m. and climbing an hour or so to the top usually rewards with a killer sunset. Pack a headlamp for skiing just in case; if you want to be off the mountain by 8:29 a.m. and don’t want to move too fast uphill, or you want to take your time watching the sunset before descending, you may be required to travel in the dark. And once again, Leave No Trace so we don’t ruin our reputation with the resorts. In my case, I bring extra doggy bags.

inbounds-backcountry-skiing

 

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2014 Avalanche Airbag Reviews, Comparison & Buying Guide

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

My job is to pick the best gear to present to the TMS customer base, and with the growing popularity of the Avy Airbag category, these packs have been hot topics of conversation around the shop the past couple of weeks, both in the store and through our online customer service channels. So, here is my take on the pros, cons, ups, downs and all-arounds of this dizzying category of backcountry ski gear.

abs-avalanche-twin-airbag

I am going to break this up into a couple sections and parts since its a deep and intricate topic with lots of info. So, this first post will focus on the differences between the ABS and Mammut systems with a brief discussion about the packs and options for each system.

Quick summary:

ABS Avalanche Twin Airbags:

Twin Airbags situated on side of backpack/body – Provides redundancy in case one bag gets punctured. Airbags are long (ranging from about knee-height to above the head). This keeps your entire body above the snow and provides the flotation needed to “ride” out a slide and remain on top. 170 liters of volume is the most offered by all airbags on the market.

Compressed Nitrogen w/Pyrotechnic Trigger Mechanism (Activation Unit): Compressed nitrogen is housed in a smaller canister than compressed air and therefore takes up less room in your pack. It must be filled at ABS headquarters or swapped out with an ABS canister exchange at a certified ABS exchange center (Tahoe Mountain Sports does this!). The Pyro trigger is easiest to pull when under duress as there is no physical puncturing that takes place. The handle can also be switched from side-to-side for use by lefties, righties, or snowmobilers who wish to keep their hands free for throttle-access. The ABS Activation Unit includes the compressed nitrogen canister plus the pyrotechnic handle.

Here’s a brief rundown of how the ABS avalanche airbag system works:


Mammut RAS
(Removeable Airbag System) and PAS (Protection Airbag System)
:

Single Airbags Deployed from Top of Pack: RAS and PAS systems utilize a single airbag that deploys out of the top of your pack. The RAS system is the first generation of the Mammut (formerly SnowPulse) systems and is the least expensive. It is basically a large pillow behind and above your head. The Mammut PAS system was released to the North American market in the Fall of 2013 and comes down through the shoulder straps as well as above the head. Basically, the PAS system is meant to protect against head trauma. My one con with the Mammut airbag system is that you can still get buried up to your airbag (neck area) and if you were solo, you would likely still be stuck in the debris of an avalanche and not able to dig yourself, given that you even survive the slide.

mammut-ras-pas-airbag-system

Compressed Air w/Physical Puncture Trigger: Mammut packs utilize a compressed air canister which is slightly longer and wider than the ABS canister. Compressed air is more readily available in the marketplace as you can get your canister filled at a local filling shop (like Tahoe Mountain Sports!), scuba shops or paintball stores. The only potential problem here is user error when filling. Scuba and paintball shops are usually unfamiliar with the specific type of filling that needs to take place and therefore there could be user error on the filling side. We always recommend coming in and allowing us to fill your canister or just exchange it for a full one that we always have waiting for you in the shop. On the trigger side of things, the Mammut trigger requires a small pin to mechanically puncture the canister. Through testing in the shop, this takes slightly more effort than the ABS version, but not much. (more…)

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