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Running a Remote Aid Station at One of the Toughest Ultra-Marathons: Hardrock 100.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

This post comes from Shaun Nauman, a blogger (snowboardmountaineer.com) and Boulder, CO resident. When Shaun isn’t studying snow hydrology and forecasting avalanches, the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Instructor is finding new adventures in the backcountry on his splitboard. Watch for more adventures, gear reviews and fun reading from Shaun and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

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The Hardock 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world. The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra-marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

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The San Juan mountains are home to some of the most rugged mountains in Colorado. The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Runners must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations are located in the towns and a few remote aid stations throughout the course. The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

For the past five years, I have been part of a team who runs a remote aid station at roughly 12,200’ elevation just below Engineer Pass, known properly as Engineer Aid Station. The logistics and planning that go in to running a remote aid station begin several weeks, if not months, before we even arrive in Silverton, CO. To start, last year the design and engineering of new lightweight canopy shelters would replace the tarp shelter we have used for many years, it was enough to make even the most weight consciences backpacker jealous. Several boxes of gear are inventoried and packed away for the trip to Silverton. Once in Silverton we draw even more equipment from Hardrock 100 (food, beverages, emergency bags, and all the fill-in items that complete an aid station). We then attend general, medical, and radio communication briefings. Once the briefings are complete, equipment is loaded and the last few things are gathered to fill empty spots, and the pilgrimage to Engineer Pass begins.

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We typically arrive at the top of Engineer Pass via a four-wheel drive road late Thursday afternoon the night prior to the race start. From there we load up packs and descend in to the Bear Creek valley right at tree line below Engineer Pass. Wildflowers and snowfields fill this valley, and when the light is right, it is a natural spectacle beyond words.

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It takes a full day to get the aid station setup. The Hardrock 100 begins the next morning (Friday) at 6 a.m., at the same time we are setting up our station. Engineer Aid Station is right at about the 50 mile mark. Each year the race is run in a reverse direction, but since we are in the middle, it has little bearing on us. The logistics of bringing in food, beverages, tables, and cooking supplies are calculated almost to the pound. Water has to be filtered from a nearby stream, roughly 75 gallons of it. 15 gallons of broth will be prepared, and over 200 pounds of food and beverages will be packed in. Two large wing canopies, four ultra-light tables, lights, a stove, fuel, and emergency supplies are also packed in. All of this is just for the runners and their pacers. Volunteers at the aid station are responsible for packing in their own food and supplies beyond what they are hauling on behalf of the aid station.

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The canopies were made using aerodynamic wing designs reminiscent of that seen in MSR Wing or Kelty Noah Tarps and designed from lightweight Tyvek, shock cord, and high tensile strength aluminum. They proved to stand up to all the elements this year, which in a 24 hour period included rain, snow, lightning, wind, sunshine…you name it. While the wing canopies each cover an area of 24’ x 30’, they weigh less than 8lbs apiece!

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Once the amenities of the aid station are set up, a radio base station is established between aid stations and with Silverton headquarters some 15 miles away over mountainous terrain. The radio communications are critical, and the use HAM radios and creative uses of radio equipment are employed. Often times we can hit a radio repeater on Engineer Mountain at 13,200’, but not always. At times it is a matter of aiming a lightweight yagi antenna at a cliff wall and bouncing the signal down Bear Creek Canyon to Ouray. Other times it might include a cross-band repeater set up in a vehicle parked several miles away on Engineer Pass. In many instances, our communications have to be intermittently shut down due to electric storms. We stay busy, to say the least.

In actuality, the radio network to cover the 100-mile race is quite a marvel. A diagram of the radio schematic from various aid stations would look like a spider web to some. But it all falls in to place. With all the challenges, we make contact and track every single runner and pacer that comes through our station. Our first runner usually comes through at around 4pm on Friday. For the next 16 hours runners will continue to pour in to our station. Our busiest time is between 10pm and 2am, but we will see them well in to the morning hours.

We have seen just about everything imaginable come through our station. Some runners appear as if they are taking a casual stroll through the park, in high spirits. But, with Hardrock, and the elements of the mountains, a pass that is sunny and still one moment can be a whiteout of graupel, rain, and lightning the next. The runners reflect the experiences they encounter on the course. Even though we only see the runners briefly at our aid station, their experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.

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After all runners are accounted for to the next aid station, we get the all-clear to pack up our station. We practice Leave No Trace ethics. In essence, the aid station and any clue of its existence vanish upon our departure. The long hike out of Engineer begins, hopefully getting to the top of Engineer Pass to our vehicles before the afternoon storms hit. This year we encountered a blinding white mix of rain, graupel, and snow ascending to the top of the pass.

In all, it is a tremendous amount of work running this station. But we love doing it and have returned for many years, as a group we have run this station since 2010. The runners in Hardrock are quite honestly some of the most genuine people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Hardrock is a race like no other, and from a runner’s perspective is a mental challenge as well as a physical one. All of the runners have stories of Hardrock 100 and how they persevered both the external and internal challenges. It’s the inspiration of the runners, and the genuine human spirit that keeps us coming back.

Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
MSRP: $69.95

Sierra Crest 30K/50K – Course Preview

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

This post comes from two Donner Party Mountain Runner members, Lorenzo Wimmer and Jon Murchinson. Both are avid runners and in preparation for the Aug. 8th Sierra Crest 30K/50K Ultra Run, they took to the trails to give us a course preview!

Register TODAY and enjoy these scenic views: sierracrest50k.com

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Donner Ridge (Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer)

Jon Murchinson’s Sierra Crest Preview:

Distance: Approximately 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2k+ feet

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

The Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center is the starting point for the 30k. Runners pass through the corals and head west into the extensive Tahoe Donner trail system. This first section of the course is largely on horse trails (roots and manure are the obstacles to beware of) which winds through the trees. It is largely flat until the course turns up Boot Hill and starts a slight climb on a broad and exposed trail at Marker 37.

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners continue on Dogs in Space past Marker 38 and onto Marker 38a. At this point the course turns right and starts up a series of switchbacks. This is the first significant climb of this section of the course. It is exposed so runners will benefit from having a visor, hat or bandana and sunglasses. As the course climbs it provides views of the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area, Prosser Creek Reservoir, Martis Valley and Northstar. The climb ends at Marker 17b,and runners turn right onto Crazy Horse. This section is rather flat although it is somewhat rocky.

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

Crazy Horse leads down to Marker 17 at which point the course turns left and starts a long climb up Andromeda towards Hawk’s Peak. This is the longest climb in this part of the course although runners will enjoy additional views of Martis Valley and Northstar. Runners will pass the Hawk’s Peak Loop Trail, at approximately 7,600’ the high point of this section, and continue on towards the Drifter Hut and some of the most stunning vistas of this part of the course.

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

At Marker 36 the Euer Valley is off to runners’ right and Castle Peak comes into view for the first time. After a brief singletrack uphill, the course continues on towards the Drifter Hut, turns left and starts a welcome downhill towards Marker 18a.

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners start the final uphill of this section at Marker 19, which is the bottom of Sunrise Bowl. The climb is undulating and steep in sections, although not as long or taxing as the Andromeda Hill, it could present challenges due to some loose and rocky terrain. Once again views of the Tahoe Donner Ski Area are abundant. At the crest of the hill there is a stand of trees that provides welcome shade. Runners will enjoy a mild downhill that starts at Marker 19.

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Ph: Jon Murchinson

The ridge behind Donner Lake is directly ahead and Tinker’s Knob and Mount Judah can be seen off to the right. At Marker 20, the course turns left and runners do an out-and-back section to the Glacier Way Aid Station.


Lorenzo Wimmer’s Sierra Crest Preview:

I began the run from the Glacier Way aid station number two. I bypassed the starting line to Aid Station #1. The Glacier Way Picnic area was quite a beautiful setting!

The course starts off flat, with a series of gentle rollers following the winter cross country ski trails. (It probably would have been more understandable if I had skied or gone out on snowshoes these runs in the wintertime) I didn’t know any of the names or side trails, therefore I was a little uncertain at some trail junctions. I’m confident with trail markers the ambiguity will disappear.

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Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The trail is in pristine condition, especially from Glacier Way to just below the Donner Ridge, dropping down into Negro Canyon. No obstacles that I could recall, very few tree roots or loose footing to worry about. Only a few areas of vegetation growing over the trail but not enough to make a difference.

One confusing sign was that of the Negro Canyon Overlook near the picnic table, that said the trail was a dead-end, when in fact it was not. Fortunately for me a mountain biker came by and I watched him fade into the distance, asserting that it was not a dead-end. With the mountain bike traffic, one would think that trail may have been torn up a little, but it was fine.

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Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The switchbacks started down the hill, all footing in good shape. Only slippery areas were under the pine trees that had lost a considerable amount of needles from the recent strong winds, and the green needles over the dry, made for a couple of loose steps. It was a warm day in spite of the wind, and the shade now and then under the pine trees was quite welcome. I was the only runner on the trail, so it felt like Disneyland, and I had it all to myself. Only four mountain bikers total that day, two going up and two going down.

The trail junction for Wendin Way Access Trail splits off to the northeast (left) at the creek with decent flow enough to refill water bottles (with a filter) This was the only water source along the route. (No problem as the Aid Station was close by) There is the possibility of someone turning to the right, but I’m sure with trail markers, everyone will be fine.

Not far after that split, a large sign indicating the new Wendin Way Access Trail goes to the left. It is well marked and in good shape, however more stones to navigate around than the earlier part of the trail. This rerouted trail does have a more convoluted route than the trail indicated on trail maps on iPhone applications.

One different turn I took it would seem, was about 100 meters from the Second waypoint. The route on the website indicates that that the trail turns southeast to join the service road… but I didn’t see any obvious trail showing that direction. As you can see from my tracks, my route was a bit more direct to the open area near the Aid Station.

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Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

That’s about it, it was over too soon for me, I wanted to keep going as I had just finally warmed up enough to run. I was waiting for a girlfriend to come pick me up, so unfortunately that was the end of the line for me today. My friend wants to do this segment with me again sometime, as it is quite easy and with such beautiful views, you can’t pass up an opportunity to see it all again! (Follow Lorenzo at TahoeMarmot.com)


On Aug. 8, the Auburn Ski Club will host the Inaugural Sierra Crest 30K / 50K which is an exciting point-to-point trail run that takes advantage of some of the Truckee/Donner Summit region’s best single track. The Sierra Crest begins at 6650ft, on trails heading out from Tahoe Donner’s new Adventure Center, joining up with the Donner Lake Rim Trail, and finally ending on the trails at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center at 7200ft. For those new to trail running, the 30K (just 18 miles), is an excellent opportunity to join the sport and push themselves in a beautiful environment!

This unique race offers spectacular views of the Sierra Crest and some of the Northern Sierras most spectacular mountain peaks (including, Euer Valley, Frog Lake Cliffs, Donner Lake, Summit Lake, Castle Peak and the many other mountain peaks along the Sierra Crest). Fully stocked aid stations along both courses will be in place to keep runners well fueled, 5 stations for the 50k, and 3 stations for the 30K.

The Sierra Crest Trail Run is organized by the Auburn Ski Club as fundraisers to help support the work the Club does in the Truckee, Tahoe & Foothill regions. Hundreds of local children and teens benefit from the Club’s low cost cross country ski trails, their support of High school skiing and its own quality Nordic, Alpine & Snowboard Teams. auburnskiclub.org

King of the Lake 2015 – A Player’s Retrospective

Friday, July 24th, 2015

This post comes from Amanda Zaccone, a friend of TMS and avid disc golfer (PDGA #59547) residing in Sacramento, CA.  Amanda was a top 10 finisher at the 2015 King of the Lake Tournament! 

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Amanda teeing off with great form!

There are a select few disc golf tournaments which I consider to be a must attend every year. The first on this rather short list is the King of the Lake A-Tier event which takes place in Tahoe and Truckee. This tournament features 5 epic North Lake Tahoe courses over 3 days; Bijou Park & Zephyr Cove in South Lake, Sierra College & Truckee River Regional Park in Truckee, and Lake of the Sky in Tahoe Vista, which solidifies this event as the ultimate challenge and test of disc golf endurance I have ever had the privilege to experience.

This was my second year attending King of the Lake and it proved to be just as wonderful both years. Sponsored by several well established and young disc golf companies local businesses, including Tahoe Mountain Sports, competitors receive awesome player’s packs loaded with gear, attire, souvenirs, and snacks for the trail. This years pack had both a DGA disc, (I picked out the new Hellfire) and a dri-fit KOTL shirt which I was ecstatic about! Most tournaments I’ve played have one or the other, so this made it more memorable. I do love my swag. I take home with me these tokens of my experience and wear my shirt with pride. I’ve been asked about it several times and this gives me the opportunity to tell people all about the King of the Lake Tournament in Tahoe!

As for the disc golf portion of the event, King of the Lake really has everything a player could want in a tournament. In addition to the stacked players field, the courses each offered its own set of challenges and features to make this event truly memorable. We started our first day at Bijou Park for the first round and then headed over to Zephyr Cove for round 2. Bijou Park is one of my personal favorite courses to play. With 27 holes there are so many different kinds of shots to take and with it being relatively flat, you are not exhausted after a round there. Bijou has plenty of trees to navigate, and some nice hard ground for your skip game, but you better be careful of the stumps that might just stop you short. Bijou is perfect for your first round, because when you get to Zephyr Cove, you’re going to be hiking up some steep hills and you’ll want that energy to see you through. The challenges at Zephry Cove include more elevation changes than Bijou, which faces you with some strategic decision making when it comes to your game. A player will always feel accomplished after a round of 18 at Zephyr Cove, and those hikes are really worth the effort because when you get to Hole 9 up top, you are treated to one of the most breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe. Zephyr Cove is truly a gem and not only a local favorite, but famous among disc golfers from all over the world.

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Is it the socks? Amanda always is on target!

The second day this year and last year were held at the Truckee Courses; Sierra College and Truckee River Regional Park. This would be a day opposite from the first day where the more difficult and challenging course that is Sierra College comes first, and then we finish round two at Truckee Regional, AKA Truckee River, on account it runs right along the banks of the Truckee River. Sierra College offers those changes in elevation which requires some adjustment in a player’s game and also has plenty of trees to throw around. This course has a couple par 4 holes and some ups and downs. Sierra College is definitely a hike, but also has some incredible views of Truckee once you get to the top of Hole 5 and Hole 12. After a round at Sierra College, Truckee Regional feels like a nice walk along the river. Challenging and fun, this course has plenty of birdie opportunities and some really fun shots. Truckee tends to get a bit breezy, so players will now have to play their best wind game.

On the last day we finish up the tournament at another of my favorite Tahoe courses, Lake of the Sky (in Tahoe Vista, CA). This course has everything. Long holes, short, holes, wide open and tight, technical lines, elevation changes,a little hike here and there, and of course, a fantastic view of Lake Tahoe. I really have a lot of fun at this course.

The stellar design at all five King of the Lake courses along with the wonderful and dedicated disc golf community make King of the Lake a memorable and unrivaled tournament!

Mud Lake: The Journey Was Better than the Destination

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel and Garrett McCullough
What: Hiking
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail – Brockway to Mt. Rose segment
When: June 2015

Only I could think up a hike where the destination was a muddy lake that would require 23 miles of hiking. And only my husband, Garrett, would think this was a good enough idea to tag along cheerfully. 

So, it really had to be all about the journey; as is my goal of day hiking the entire Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Tahoe Rim Trail has presented a challenge to Garrett and me. Not because of the hiking itself, which seems to be the easy part, but in the logistics. Being a one car family, and the fact that no one has shown too much interest in 20-30 mile day hikes with us, shuttling is a bit difficult.

The Tahoe City to Brockway section took 4 modes of transportation to complete. We drove to Brockway, rode our bikes down to the bus stop in Kings Beach, took the bus to the trailhead in Tahoe City, walked the trail to the car, then drove back to pick up the bikes in Kings Beach! And while that seemed somewhat reasonable (except to anyone we explained this convoluted plan to, planning for the others hasn’t been as easy).

We completed the Brockway to Mt. Rose section a bit differently. Last year, we started at Mt. Rose, with our goal destination being Mud Lake, about halfway between the Brockway and Mt. Rose trailheads. We didn’t quite make it all the way, but we came close. So this particular weekend, we headed out from Brockway to tick off the remaining piece. That made our destination somewhere past Mud Lake.

So as my wise friend, Gretchen, pointed out when I hatched this plan of day-hiking from either trailhead to the middle – when we are done we’ll have hiked nearly the whole trail twice. So here’s to hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail twice, once in each direction!

Our adventure on the Brockway to Mt. Rose section began by loading up with 5 liters of water (each!) and setting out at the not-so-early hour of 8:30 from Brockway towards Martis Peak. Have I mentioned before we are not morning people?! Almost immediately, we were both drenched in sweat. Garrett asked me if the trail seemed harder than usual (we’d done the first part many times). Maybe it was all the water we were carrying to prevent getting overwhelmed by the heat.

This did not seem like the way to start 23 miles. I think the problem was that it was actually warm out. Summer temps plus some morning humidity wasn’t something we’d gotten used to yet.

The lake came in and out of view on our right side for the first several miles, until it eventually opened up so that all you could see was blue. The blue of the sky, the blue of the lake; what a gorgeous color.

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One of our earlier views of Lake Tahoe. It just kept getting better.

The trail meandered and switchbacked through the forest, before eventually leading to more open and treeless terrain. We stopped for a break at the last bit of shade, not so much because we were tired, but more because we were scared of the sun-baked terrain in front of us! We might wilt! Luckily as we climbed higher, it cooled down and we got a nice afternoon breeze. Being at over 9,000 feet definitely helps.

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Someone needs to go back for this photo in a couple of weeks. The yellow flowers will be gorgeous!

We joked along the way about our goal of Mud Lake. We wondered if there was even going to be water. Garrett still hasn’t let me live it down that I built up our hike to Twin Lakes on the Mt. Rose to Spooner section, only to find no water upon reaching the first lake. He claimed I was leading him on again. I started to wonder myself since we had decided on the route late the previous night and hadn’t asked around.

We agreed this was the best section of the trail so far. Views like on the Flume Trail, but without the bikes or crowds.

On the way to Mud Lake, there were a couple of tempting diversions. One was a rock outcropping with an easy climb and a lake view. Garrett reminded me that all diversions should be done on the way back. That way you know if you have enough energy to make it to the end. And he’s right! It’s easy to be excited 7 or 8 miles in! We did end up stopping for the short rock climb, but held off on Rifle Peak to see how we felt on the way back.

Then, I spent the next few miles tripping over my own feet as I forgot about the trail and stared at the lake. The most gorgeous part of the hike definitely went by the quickest.

We finally reached Mud Lake, and while it wasn’t as disappointing as one might think, it might not be the destination most people have in mind after hiking 10+ miles. But it did have water and it wasn’t muddy at all! So, we grumbled a bit about carrying a total of 10 liters of water, but oh well.

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Mud Lake. It seemed clearer in person, I promise!

At this point, we figured we must be getting close to the spot we’d left off last time. So, we commenced what seemed like the longest part of the hike, which consisted of about a mile, with more uphill than perhaps we had envisioned. I say envisioned because the topo clearly showed the uphill, we just didn’t quite internalize what we saw.

We finally reached a familiar spot and were able to remember where we sat to rest and a trail that could be seen in the distance. Somehow we still questioned ourselves a bit. We couldn’t come all this way and miss a few hundred foot section in the middle! So went just a little bit further until we spotted Ginny Lake. Now we were sure. Ginny Lake is a muddy lake. Strange that the clearest lake in the area is named Mud Lake and the muddy lake is named Ginny Lake. I didn’t take long to ponder that because we started to head back and I had my sights set on Rifle Peak.

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Garrett and Ginny Lake (that small puddle in the background). This was our turnaround point.

Rifle Peak is not too far off the trail, but it’s a little steep! We found another hiker at the summit who snapped our photo. Confusion ensued when we told him where we came from and how we got there. And then counted out the miles for him!

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Rachel and Garrett on the summit of Rifle Peak.

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Rifle Peak summit with clouds building.

We only spent a couple of minutes at the summit, wondering if the building clouds would produce any rain. It wasn’t in the forecast, but they did seem to be staying east.

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Garrett descending from Rifle Peak, which is seen in the background.

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More descending from Rifle Peak. No complaints about this view. Except that it made me trip over anything in my path. Too distracting!

We took our longest break of the hike right before we lost our most expansive lake view. It was hard to motivate to leave that spot, but after 10 minutes, it was go time.

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Panoramic view of North Tahoe from the trail, with Garrett.

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There’s me. About to trip on something as I look at Lake Tahoe, I’m sure! Good thing for hiking poles!

The final miles somehow melted away. Good conversation definitely helps. We hit the road at about 5:45pm, ready for some dinner. Our evening plans entailed walking two miles to happy hour at a friends’, putting us at 25 miles for the day. We joked we should make a lap around the neighborhood and make it a full marathon. Oh well, another time!

Tahoe Mountain Sports Gear We Used:

 

I Found Snow and it Tried to Get Me Lost: Day Hiking From Tahoe to Truckee

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel, Adam
What: Hiking
Where: From Tahoe City to Truckee, along the Tahoe Rim Trail and the 06 Forest Road
When: April 2015

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Photo: Rachel McCullough

“Did you do an idiot check?” I asked Adam as we left our rest spot. [The idiot check is the last glance back to make sure that you actually packed everything that you came with, so you don’t feel like an idiot later when you realize you left your water bottle sitting on a log.] Never having heard that phrase, he asked if I was checking for him since he was an idiot for coming along on one of my crazy hikes! Unfortunately, I am not sure he is the first to have that thought cross his mind while hiking with me. While we had hiked together many times since we met in college, I have pushed myself towards what some would call the extreme, while he has been enjoying hiking like most people, five to ten miles at a time. But, he can out ride me any day, so I figured what’s a few extra miles?

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A First Attempt on Shasta, via Casaval Ridge

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Chris Cloyd is a TMS ambassador athlete based out of Truckee, CA. He and Steven Benesi, a distance runner and mountain athlete from Truckee, are attempting to run and climb all of the peak on the Western States Climbers’ OGUL List by the end of 2016. Their successes and shortcomings will be recounted in this space – subscribe to the TMS blog RSS feed to follow their story!

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And…we’re Off! (Photo: Chris Cloyd)

Living in California, Mount Shasta possesses a particular mystique. If you’ve ever driven down I-5 from Oregon, you’ve laid eyes on Shasta’s imposing bulk and (if you spend any time in the mountains at all) considered what it must be like on its summit block. Many visitors every year climb or skin to the top, and you can ski all the way from the summit (conditions allowing) to your car for a 7,000 foot descent that is truly unique. This past week, I went up for a first attempt for Shasta’s summit with my friends Michael Jaskot and Matt Hardwick, and it was a trip to remember.

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TMS Goes to Golden Alpine Holidays (B.C.)

Saturday, March 21st, 2015
Sunrise Hut with the ridge of Melting Faces in the background.

Sunrise Hut with the ridge of Melting Faces in the background.

If you are a backcountry skier or boarder and ever have the chance to travel to Golden, BC…GO! Go NOW!

While Tahoe wallows in the throws of our fourth consecutive dry winter, one can only hope that by going North, you will eventually find what you are looking for. This year was no different because even though it hadn’t snowed much in the two weeks before we arrived, the temps stay crispy cold and the sun is low keeping all the but the most southern faces in prime skiing condition.

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Earning Turns

This year’s plan was for 2 days at Roger’s Pass and then a rare, partial week at the Sunrise Hut operated by Golden Alpine Holidays. We arrived to sunny, bluebird skies and that is what would persist our entire time. It felt like we were back in California, but the mountains were blanketed in white, the temps never got higher than -10C and instead of Snickers bars we ate EAT-MORE bars!

Zack and his old school Iron Cross move!

Zack and his old school Iron Cross move!

The first two days we spent touring on Roger’s Pass from the two most popular and centrally located trail heads. Day ONE took us to Balu Pass with some great North facing pow on the way and Day TWO took us on the Young’s Peak traverse for our longest day of the trip.

 

Check out the Suunto Movescount video below for a quick glimpse:

(Utilize the Suunto Movescount App on your laptop, tablet or phone to make it work its magic.)

On Day THREE, a quick eight minute Heli ride from the staging area took us to the Sunrise Hut at around 7,000 ft. We got in, ate our first of the most awesome lunches and hauled water as fast as we could, so we could get out and get skiing. The terrain around the Sunrise Hut is pretty perfect for all day ski touring. We were able to ski about 600-1,100 ft runs all around the hut and in most cases, up into the alpine.

Asst guide Hayden grabbing some pillow action

Assistant guide Hayden grabbing some pillow action

We were particularly fond of hitting the Ridge of Melting Faces for our first few runs everyday as it was the only time the sun was on it. When we arrived at the hut, the faces were clean and void of any ski lines so this made them extra tasty. Even after day FOUR, we still weren’t crossing even our own tracks and that is one of the best parts of a trip like this.

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Admiring our brush strokes on a previously blank canvas

Thanks to our guide/cook team of Julie and Rich Marshall we were incredibly well nourished and well guided throughout. We even got to celebrate Zack’s leap year birthday with some sparkler magic!

Zack's Leap year birthday party!

Zack’s Leap year birthday party!

Sara enjoying her Tele turns

Sara enjoying her Tele turns

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Photo Album: http://goo.gl/qeWxRE

Tahoe Mountain Sports’ Mountaineering Move #SuuntoClimb #Suunto #Ambit3Peak.

Learn more about Golden Alpine Holidays and book a trip of your lifetime: http://gah.ca/

Learn more about Golden Alpine Holidays and book a trip of your lifetime: http://gah.ca/

 

 

Adventurous Dining at the Peter Grubb Hut

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn  more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Chef Brian Robinson from the Clair Tappaan Lodge, cameraman Calvin Scibilla, dogs Bella and Shogun, and myself
What: Hike to Sierra Club’s Peter Grub Hut and cook lunch in the hut
Where: Tahoe National Forrest and the Clair Tappaan Lodge
When: November, 2014

This was the first official episode that I filmed for Adventure Dining Guide with a cameraman, a script and an experienced chef. I was both nervous and excited for this adventure and spent weeks making sure everything turned out as planned.

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Calvin and I arrived in the morning to the Clair Tappaan Lodge to be greeted by Chef Brian and the friendly staff and volunteers who were at the lodge. We all sat down to enjoy a family style breakfast, where Calvin and I were able to hear some great stories about the lodge and its long history.

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Prepping the taco meat ingredients in the Clair Tappaan kitchen

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Thin Tahoe Winter Provides Us With Multi-Sport Paradise

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbutt outlines all there is to do and be active in Tahoe during another low-snow winter. The following is his report on this re-imagined winter pastimes. Follow Mike on Instagram at @irontebby

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On top of Mt Baldy with Donner Party Mountain Runners for some off-trail running.

As I wrote this, Tahoe and Truckee were getting some much deserved snow!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the lack of snowfall this winter, and scared for what this means for all of California as we are forced to fully embrace this severe drought we are in. However, the Lake Tahoe/Truckee region always provides us with the goods by which to enjoy this world-class destination. And in my 26 years of living in the area, I have seen many drought years that leave the “experts” telling you it will take several years of big winters to bring the Lake back up to capacity, only to have them contradicted by one winter with the HUGE precipitation that the Sierras are so famous for.

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Skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe with my wife, Liz

This year has been an exceptional winter in that we have been able to enjoy Mt. Biking, Hiking and Trail Running all winter on the trails down low and still get some great skiing in up high. With these unique conditions, I have made it a point on several occasions to get in multi-sport days, even a couple of what I like to call “Tahoe Triathlons”. These triathlons consist of heading out early with my dog, Loosey, for a run on frozen dirt trails before the lifts open, then making my way up to Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (which has been surprisingly good ALL winter) after breakfast for a few hours of skiing, then coming home to take Loosey out for round two and some quality “brown pow” mountain biking. I have also enjoyed some great off-piste running on the firm snow up high, as well as a handful of lift served and backcountry powder days.

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Stormy backcountry skiing with Sam Skrocke and Loosey on Mt Rose

I’ve seen many others taking advantage of the warm and calm days out on Tahoe and Donner lakes stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, even a few brave swimmers. Others have also enjoyed some epic surf and kite surfing conditions this winter with the couple big storms that packed strong winds along with the snow.

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Mt Biking the February “brown pow”

I know we are all dreaming of bluebird and waist deep powder days, but until Mother Nature decides to bless us with those conditions, life is always good in Tahoe! While it hasn’t be waist deep this winter, we’ve still been having fun!

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Pond ice skating in Tahoe Vista!

Deuter Backpacks Shine in Yosemite

Monday, November 24th, 2014

The following trip report and gear review is brought to you by Kevin Snow of Tahoe Mountain Sports:

“I should have bought another banana,” I thought as I turned onto Highway 140, entering the Merced River Valley. I wasn’t sure how long the drive was going to take me, and I’d hastily misjudged my morning hunger level as I flew through the gas station just outside of Lee Vinning hours earlier. “I heard there’s a pizza place down there somewhere,” I remember thinking, when all of a sudden, I realized what was happening, my car slowed, and a tear came to my eye. I had just entered the Yosemite Valley and what had just come into view was one of natures’ most awe inspiring, grand, and massive gifts of beauty, towering three thousand feet above the valley floor. I stood before El Capitan, in all of its majesty, in pure astonishment, as I contemplated not only the massive geologic events it would have taken to make this gargantuan monolith, but the amount of monumental historic events for the climbing world that have taken place on its walls and in its shadow. I felt like an ant. All of a sudden the world had been pulled into perspective for me, I felt small in it, and another tear came to my eye.

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The gang at the trailhead in Camp 4 in front of Midnight Lighting. The iconic bouldering problem is defined by the chalk lightning bolt in the background, and has been kept up by climbers outlining it in chalk for 3 and a half decades.

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