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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.


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”.


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.




AOTW: Backing Down In Downieville – Mountain Biking Mishaps

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

 This Adventure Of The Week comes from Adam Broderick, a silly goose who could have seriously injured, or even killed himself, last weekend while visiting the world-class singletrack trails in Downieville, California. Thankfully, his mom scolded him enough as a kid…and he’s hit his head on enough rocks and trees…that he’s learned his lesson.


Sunday and Monday were awesome. We took our annual October adventure to Downieville, California, for two days of some of the country’s best downhill singletrack mountain biking. 15 miles of downhill sweetness, with a little rolling ups and flats mixed in. It’s pretty dreamy, and even during the short climbs the scenery distracts you, so you tend to forget how much climbing you actually do. At least, I do. I’m on a cross-country bike. My buddies on downhill monsters weren’t so casual about the climbs, but then again, they purchased their bikes with the intention of climbing less often. Nonetheless, everyone most certainly enjoyed the downhill. We all took our fair share of falls, too. Fortunately, none were very serious and everyone only brought home scratches and bruises.



I went over my bars. Upon deployment my shorts got caught and my bike came along for the flight. We went over one full rotation and landed on my feet. Well, I landed on my feet, but my bike landed on my shoulders, so I proceeded to slide another thirty feet down the steep canyon, toward the river. It came to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stop before the rocks and water below. Things got scary for a few moments. Finally, I was able to self-arrest and wait a few moments for Israel to get to me and help me untangle myself from bike and branches. Unfortunately, nobody got a photo of how far I slid downhill. I would have liked a copy of that image to look back on years from now. Top 3 most memorable bike wipe-outs of my life, for sure.

Heather went over her bars, but surprisingly that was her worst fall, and she came out with just a scratch. This was her introductory mountain biking trip and she impressed us all (Heather’s a quick learner). She’s been on a dirt bike for years, so after learning how to efficiently work through the gears and a few other cycle-specific tricks, she picked it up quickly and really enjoyed her first time on a mountain bike. Actually, we’re pretty sure she’s sold on the sport and will get her own bike next season.

Israel usually goes over the bars. That’s probably because he goes bigger and faster than the rest of us. At one point, and I know this because I was behind him when it happened, his front tire caught on a rock and his bars jerked to the left…away from the trail and down the hill. His bike did a 180 and stopped, upright, leaning against a short and skinny Aspen tree. Israel, on the other hand, kept moving through the air. He pretty much did a misty flip. The fact that he came out unharmed was sweet. The sight of him flipping through the air and down the hill, only to land on his butt in a pile of dirt, was even sweeter.


Eric went down twice in twenty feet. We’ll let those ones go, because he was exhausted and navigating a technical rock field, and sometimes when you’re delirious you fall. I think we can all agree to that. But what Eric did do that was most memorable was get a flat – immediately after helping Israel repair his, and they were all out of spare bike tubes by that point. So Eric got to walk the last three miles downhill on the second afternoon. I’m sure he slept well last night.


The next day when we returned to the summit ready to repeat the awesomeness of the day before, something went wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. My helmet wasn’t in the car. (more…)

Fastpacking: Packing Lighter, Moving Faster – Desolation Wilderness

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Want to see more wilderness in the same amount of time? Try lightening your load. The more experience under your belt, the more comfortable you become in the backcountry. The more comfortable you are, the less luxuries you require, thus enabling you to carry less weight and, in turn, cover more distance in less time. They call it “fastpacking”, and it offers grand reward for those willing to push a little harder.

lakes in desolation wilderness

I stopped jogging and stood here for a few minutes taking in the view.

Backpacking fast is really all it is. Carry a smaller backpack (30-40 liters), wear more agile boots or trail running shoes (or even fastpacking shoes as of Spring 2014!) and cruise at a quicker pace. I prefer to run most flat sections and quickly hike the ups and downs. Remember, this is my personal opinion. I tend to get bored just ‘walking’ and find myself wanting more, so sometimes I throw in an aerobic workout. I probably move faster than most other ‘fastpackers’, but I’m usually solo (and a trail runner on the side).


waterfall desolation wilderness

Nice place for an afternoon coffee break.

People knock the idea, convinced I don’t soak up as much natural beauty along the way because I’m moving too fast. I disagree. I take in more scenery, and I choose which scenes to stop and enjoy and which to enjoy on-the-move. Not everyone would find this sufficient, but hey, I cover more than twice as much ground by ‘fastpacking’, and occasionally this can be very beneficial. This past weekend, for example, I had one day off of work and wanted to make the most of it. My backpack weighed 18 miles when I started, including 60 ounces of water and dog food. I covered 23 miles in 23 hours, including time spent sleeping, eating, swimming, enjoying afternoon coffee, and really not having a care in the world besides wondering how long it would take to hitchhike home in time for work on Monday. When I pack light I can do more in one day than most backpackers can in two, and being more agile and light on my feet I have access to things most people wouldn’t otherwise find. Like a waterfall on the far side of Lake ______ that requires a curious, wandering eye and a 40-minute boulder scramble to access. When was the last time you made coffee from a waterfall?



pct echo lake aloha

Lake Aloha, Echo Lake, Pacific Crest Trail

dog hitch hiking

Tired pup needs a ride home.













Here’s what I packed for this trip. 18-lbs included dog food and two liters of water.

This was an overnight run in mid-summer at 8,500 feet. High of 80, low of 50. The colder (and wetter) it gets, the heavier your bag gets.

A Different Kind Of Paradise – From Lake Tahoe To Roatan, Honduras

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

roatan west bay panorama

A few weeks ago I left my beautiful home for a week on white sand beaches, eating fruit from a hammock and exploring the underwater ecosystems off the coast of Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. My girlfriend and I brought back some really cool photographs, which I usually do my best to capture during travel. Enjoy the pics and the short film. It’s difficult to tell such a great story in so little time, so I’ll let the visuals do most of the talking.

yoga in paradise

Tamara is really into yoga. The sandy bottom was tricky to balance on, but she did a great job holding this pose for over a minute so I could draw as much color into the frame as possible.

roatan west end west bay


map of bay islands honduras








Roatan is between Utila and Guanaja, north of mainland Honduras. We stayed at the upper-most end of the white sand strip, but we traveled all over the island. I snapped this from the plane window on the way out.


las rocas resort roatan

Yep, we got the room with the view. Las Rocas Resort was awesome! Wonderful hospitality, the best cooking in West Bay, dive tours and water taxis from their private dock, coconuts ripe for the machete,  privacy at the end of the sand strip, and all at $100/night.

macaw roatan

We hung out with Macaws and monkeys, and had a look-see at the different insect species on the island. Check out the Dalmation-lookalike butterfly!

monkey play in roatan

butterfly dog lookalike












I also shot some video footage with my iPhone, using a waterproof LifeProof case, which was fun to edit but frustrating to export from my computer – hence the incomplete subtitle during our crab encounter and the premature ending during the credits. Hey, it was good enough to be recognized as the LifeProof Video of the Week, so it must at least be kinda cool!


I Freakin’ Love This Place – Outdoor Recreation In North Lake Tahoe

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I live in Kings Beach, California. I freakin’ love it here. There are so many options for fun and adventure. I do web content and marketing work at Tahoe Mountain Sports, and I freakin’ love it there, too. Working in such a beautiful place with so many opportunities for outdoor recreation is a luxury I hope I never, ever, ever take for granted. Working in the outdoor industry is a big bonus, as I have knowledge of, and access to, top-tier outdoor equipment, making it easier to get out and explore the greater Tahoe region at my leisure.

stand up paddle board

Cruisin’ the lake.


Tahoe is a magical place. I just had two days off work, and I want to explain how many awesome things I was able to do during those two days. Well, since the following events began Saturday evening when I got off work, make that two days and a night. I also want to thank Tahoe Mountain Sports for letting me take several pieces of demo equipment along with for the ride(s).

WARNING: This blog is about a butt-load of awesome outdoor gear and how much fun I have with it. It is ‘hyperlink-heavy’ because everyone should be able to benefit from great gear. Simply don’t click the links if you don’t want to be distracted from the story.

First, when I got off work Saturday at 6:30 I rode my bike across the street to the beach and got on a stand up paddleboard. As soon as I took a few strokes and was gliding across the surface of the lake my mind felt at ease and much of my stress left my body. As I coasted along inspecting the random treasures visible through clear blue water on the lake bottom, I noticed I was the only soul on the water as far as my eyes could see. Paddling is a very tranquil way to enjoy nature and simultaneously cleanse the spirit.

Then we raced over to Alpine Meadows Road and found the trailhead for Five Lakes. It’s up between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, and only a bit over two miles uphill to a beautiful granite and pine setting with tolerable swimming temps and great views of the Granite Chief Wilderness. We sat around the fire that night with dinner, s’mores and a good Shiraz.

snow peak trekker kit

Breakfast and coffee with a view.

I also got to use my Snow Peak Trekker Kit, which includes a Gigapower stove and Trek 1400 cookest. They’re all incredibly lightweight and the stove boils water in 3-4 minutes. I’ve been waiting to get this stove for a while now, and was stoked to finally try it out myself. The next morning we sat on a Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping pad and enjoyed coffee from a rock overlooking the lake. Then I called dad and wished him ‘Happy Father’s Day’ – love you, dad! We took a dip in the lake, filtered drinking water with my Katadyn Hiker water filter, which took half the advertised time to filter one liter (34 seconds, 60 pumps), and went for a beautiful trail run among the wildflowers out toward Barker Pass.

It was hot and dry up there, so I was stoked for my Platypus soft water bottle. I like how portable and packable it is. It’s great for trail running, and easily fits in a jacket pocket so I’m also excited to try it backcountry skiing this winter. On this overnight trip I got away with only packing the 1-liter soft bottle, and used my fast-acting filter for refills. That saved me the weight of a hard water bottle and excess water.

platypus soft water bottle

Saw a Platypus in a creek along the Pacific Crest Trail.

After the overnight camping trip and day hike / trail run I met some friends at Moon Dunes, a local beach on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. We threw discs on the beach and drank a few cold cans of Tecate, then went to Tahoe City for some shuffleboard at Pete N’ Peter’s followed by a delicious Hop Song IPA at Tahoe Mountain Brewery. I’m an IPA kind of guy, and I’ll tell you what – this was a good beer. My buddy Eric had their Hop Dragon Double IPA, but at 9.5% it was a bit strong for me at the particular moment. Still, I had a couple sips and it was fantastic! Perfectly balanced, robust yet well-balanced hops a smooth finish. Both of our beers exceeded our expectations (I’ve only been in Tahoe for nine months).

The next morning I went for a trail run from the top of Mt. Rose Summit. I’m trying out lightweight overnight backpacks for a fastpacking trip coming up in mid-July. We’ll be running around Evolution Basin near Bishop, CA, and I need a good bag I can cover lots of ground with that will wear comfortably and hold enough supplies for a few days on end. This particular evening I took a Boreas Muir Woods 30 pack for a test run out to Galena Falls. I’d prefer it a little less rigid for fastpacking, but it may end up working out in the end. It’s a great pack, and I understand that it’s a bit stiffer so it can carry more weight and remain stable when doing stuff like whipping around turns on a mountain bike. We’ll see…I still have some time to figure all that out.

That afternoon I met a buddy for a bike ride in the wicked-awesome network of singletrack trails behind Kings Beach. (more…)

Last Ski Of The Season(?) – Purple Mountain, West Elk Wilderness

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

This guest post comes from Josh Whitney, a Boulder, CO-based pro mountain biker, cyclocrosser and lover of all things alpine. Josh occasionally contributes his trip reports, reviews and inspired mountain ramblings from the Rocky Mountain West to Tahoe Mountain Sports. His blog at blends bike racing and mountain adventures with musings on his day job in business, technology and sustainability.

purple mountain panoramic

My good buddy Mark and I woke at 5:30 on Memorial Day with the goal of climbing and then skiing from the peak of 12,958-foot Purple Mountain. The pyramidal peak, iconic and visible from downtown Crested Butte, offered nearly 3,000 feet of sweet corn skiing – if we could reach the top in time before the late spring sun softened the snow to the point of mashed potatoes and unsafe conditions. A moisture-rich April had given the mountains a serious recharge and conditions had finally settled, allowing for some bigger lines to be skied safely.

Following a fun fjord across the braided Slate River in the 4Runner, we donned hiking shoes and walked up the Daisy Pass road to snow line, around 9,800 feet, and put on our boots. Waterfalls cascaded all around us, and as we ascended up and through a small gorge the sunlight opened to gorgeous views up the valley and all around. Crested Butte is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth and we had arrived in time for the goods. A long slog on skins took us to a ridge-line bootpack and some class-3 scrambling put us on top of a nearly cloudless, windless, perfect day. (more…)

Surfing: Reef’s Shawn Dollar Paddles Into 61 Foot World Record Wave

Friday, May 17th, 2013

shawn dollar cortes bank

In case you didn’t hear the wave heard ’round the world, let us turn it up a notch for ya. Our Reef sales rep – that’s right, our sales rep - just took the Billabong XXL Big Wave Award for surfing the biggest wave of the year. He also paddled into this 61-foot monster, earning the Pacifico Paddle Award and setting the new world record for the largest wave ever successfully paddled into.

Cortes Bank is located 100 miles off the coast of San Diego. Massive ocean swells break on the bank, and if you pay close attention to the weather patterns and can a way there, you can score some of the largest waves in the world. That’s just what Shawn did on December 21, 2012, when he paddled into this beast:

“That wave was the biggest, craziest ride I’ve ever had,” Dollar explained. ” To be a 100 miles out to see and to catch an open ocean swell that is 60′ + is unreal.  Everything came together for me and I’m so stoked that I had the opportunity to be there.  That ride was by far the longest most difficult wave I’ve ever surfed.  It was also the most rewarding ride of my life.”

Shawn Dollar XXL paddle wave

Congratulations, Shawn. Don’t spend it all in one place.


Check out our selection of Reef Men’s SandalsReef Women’s Sandals and Reef Kid’s Sandals, in stock at Tahoe Mountain Sports thanks to Mr. Dollar.


I Brought My Girlfriend Splitboarding – She Blew My Mind

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.

backcountry babe Tahoe

I brought my girlfriend backcountry snowboarding. She blew my mind. She’s athletic to begin with and she rips on a snowboard, but this being her first tour out I didn’t expect her to do as well on the uphill. I called back to her as I searched for an alternate route around the steep, slick and sun-crusted skin track, “This is like an advanced skinning course on beginner-to-intermediate terrain!”

“What!?” she hollered back through the wind.

“Nevermind! Just keep your head up and put one foot after the other. Exactly like that!”

Coming from someone who has trouble getting comfortable in no-fall-zones and sketchy terrain, I expected her to complain and lag a lot more. I gave her a crash course on the basic climbing tips when we first popped up our heel risers, and I never had to repeat myself. Not once. Occasionally I would glance back to see how she was handling the side-stepping, weight-displacement or slippery surface crust, and she was usually steps ahead of my (unnecessary) guidance. She even figured out ‘different pole lengths on steep traverses” on her own and learned to use her pole to initiate her heel risers without my instruction. I repeatedly glanced back to catch her not struggling, but inhaling a deep breath of fresh mountain air and smiling out toward the wild world around us. She concurred with my appreciation for an aerobic workout while skinning up a mountainside: ”I can definitely see the appeal here.”

The only thing she wasn’t prepared for was bitter cold finger tips after going gloveless during the summit switchover, but she’s not to blame for that one. I told her she’d be cool with the pair of spring mid-weights she had, although they lacked the dexterity needed to handle some of the splitboard hardware, then I expected her to be fully engaged during the switch from touring to ride-mode. That was just me wanting her to get the maximum experience from an outing I’ve been praising since we met. I reassembled the first half of her board for her while she took notes for the second half, and I was happy to do so. She had impressed me plenty by this point. Plus, she’s really cute so it’s hard to let little things get under the skin. Especially something as minor as not fully sustaining yourself on your very first backcountry snowboarding adventure. She finished the switchover and we ripped back down the mountain.

woman splitboarding

Not many people have an extra splitboard setup lying around. Fortunately, I do, however (more…)

The Birthday Challenge: Climb As Many Routes As The Age You Turn

Monday, April 29th, 2013

This post courtesy of Luke Mehall and Deuter USA. Luke is the publisher of The Climbing Zine, and author of Climbing Out of Bed, a definitive collection of climbing and mountain town stories, available as an e-book on Kindle and Nook. If you’d like to read the original post on Deuter’s blog, click here:

This past winter was rough for many regions that were expecting higher snow accumulations, but the dry season made for better rock climbing and other outdoor sports. Thankfully Tahoe Mountain Sports is an all-encompassing gear shop, so they outfit athletes of many disciplines that train in all climates. Get gear for climbing, cycling, trail running, skiing, paddling…you name it. Deuter also makes gear for a multitude of sports, and several Deuter products were used in the making of this story.


birthday climb strapped sandals

My favorite thing about climbing is that if you try hard enough you can always be a champion. It doesn’t matter if you are the best, it matters how it feels.

The Birthday Challenge is a concept passed from climber-to-climber. The format is simple: climb as many routes as the age you are turning.

I’ve always been psyched on the concept, but my birthday is in December, a month when rock climbing and weather don’t always align.

Last spring, while climbing with a relatively new but equally psyched climbing partner, Jonathan “Badger” Mitchell, we discovered our birthdays were three days apart. To top this off, we are only a year apart in age. I told him about The Challenge, and he thought it was super cool. We decided we would do one together, except we’d bend the rules a bit and complete it in the summertime; with longer days and more sunshine it would be easier to achieve.

deuter rock climbing

We immediately began training for the challenge, doing extra pitches after we’d normally retire for the day. At the peak of the summer we reached 20 laps at our local sport climbing crag, The Golf Wall, an overhanging wall of limestone. Then like the summer does it faded away and we’d yet to do The Birthday Challenge. Our dream continued into the fall, but both of us hit the road more to climb. When I returned from my climbing trip I was beat up and had a couple nagging injuries. The Challenge seemed it would have to wait until next year.

But as our birthdays approached The Challenge still lingered in the back of my mind. (more…)

The Pain McShlonkey Classic: A Love For Skiing With No Boundaries

Friday, April 19th, 2013

This post comes from Matt Lucas, an avid explorer who, when he’s not guiding trips for Brooklyn Outfittersadventures around the country and beyond. His writing and photography on travel and skiing has appeared in many places online and in print. Based out of New York City, his addiction to clean alpine air keeps him both sane and on the move. There is no mission too small, far, or silly that he won’t consider.

Pain McShlonkey 2013

Hulk Hogan in all his glory

For those of us not lucky enough to live in Tahoe, the lake and its personalities may have an even larger presence than in reality. There’s always been something that resonated with me about it. While the area is not as “extreme” as Chamonix, in which local hero Glen Plake chooses to make his home part-time, or as fancy as Jackson, the home of top notch athletic talent in many disciplines, it has always seemed to have a certain amount of more fun to it. Maybe even American-ness, which to me is way more important, anyway.

pain mcshlonkey downhill

Snowlerblading in America

Maybe it’s the unpretentious way the log cabin architecture and the roadside stands ground the area, bearing witness to a lifestyle past that was brought to us by the promise of refrigerators and automobiles that make it so approachable. It certainly was not only the ski industry that delivered tourists to the shores here, even if the 1960 Winter Olympics brought athletes of the highest level to compete on the snowy slopes, some sticking around and many others migrating soon afterward.

If one man was to ever embody dual ethos of talent and levity, or at least populism, it surely would have been Shane McConkey, who was honored by Squaw Valley Ski Resort in the third annual Pain McShlonkey Classic weekend at the end of March. For me, this would be an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Tahoe, and to take an account of his influence on skiing today. It was also an opportunity to say goodbye to the winter season, as unpredictable temperatures and lower elevations on my native east coast will close most resorts by April Fools. (more…)

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