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SKIS & BIKES: CATCHING UP WITH KATERINA

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Tahoe Mountain Sports caught up with three-time Olympian Katerina Nash as she was preparing to teach a Nordic clinic at Royal Gorge

Katerina Nash

Katerina Nash

TRUCKEE — If the prospect of taking a ski lesson with an Olympian is a little intimidating, Katerina Nash says to have no fear.

Tahoe Mountain Sports recently caught up with Nash, a three-time Olympian, as she was preparing for one of her frequent trips between Truckee and the Bay Area. She was headed to the first of her two intermediate skate ski clinics she’s leading at Royal Gorge, with clinic two set for Feb. 27.

In addition to being a three-time Olympian for the Czech Republic — Nordic skiing at Nagano in 1988 and Salt Lake City in 2002 — and mountain biking at the 2012 London games, Nash notched three NCAA Nordic championships during her years at the University of Nevada, Reno and Colorado.

Closer to home, Nash is a two-time winner of the Great Ski Race between Tahoe City and Truckee. Along with her upcoming ski plans (including the Great Race on March 6), we wanted to know what 2016 has in store on the bike for her and the LUNA Pro Team.

TMS: You’ll be leading the second of your two intermediate skate ski clinics Feb. 27 at Royal Gorge: After competing in two winter Olympics, what motivates you to go out and teach a class to folks who may not have huge — or any — competitive aspirations or who are just trying to sort out their V1 and V2 technique?
KN: Technique is a major part of cross-country skiing and even the racers are always working on it. It feels good to share some of my knowledge and it’s always good to have an excuse to go skiing for the weekend!

TMS: Considering your Olympic résumé and your continuing career as a professional cyclist, do some people come into your clinics a little intimidated? What can people expect from a clinic?
KN: I hope not. I think once they meet me they are fine. Expect a lot of technique and some drills and hopefully some skiing at the end. Mainly we just chat and ski a little and share a few tips on how to become a more efficient skier.

Katerina Nash on her way to winning the inaugural 2015 CrossReno cyclocross race.

Katerina Nash on her way to winning the inaugural 2015 CrossReno cyclocross race.

TMS: What are your fondest memories from your competitive skiing years — Olympics, World Championships, World Cups?
KN: I really liked Nagano Olympics, a couple of Junior World Champs and also college skiing. It was all fun and now I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on it. I really appreciate the time I spent ski racing. I still love to ski and hope to do lot more of it once done racing bikes. I like all kinds of skiing, but backcountry is probably my favorite.

TMS: How did skiing set up your professional cycling career?
KN: From overall strength and toughness to really good endurance and speed. It gave me a unique set of skills that have helped to be successful in multiple cycling disciplines.

TMS: Speaking of cycling, what are your plans for the 2016 season? Any surprises on tap like the Enduro World Series or Red Bull Rampage!?
KN: Cross-country mountain bike World Cup, cross-country World Championships and more cyclocross, but not until the fall of 2016. I’d like to continue to explore more variety of mountain bike racing, but this year is looking pretty cross-country oriented for the LUNA Pro Team, and therefore for me as well. I’m very sure to confirm that I’ll never do Rampage!

TMS: LUNA Pro Team General Manager Dave McLaughin won the men’s Great Ski Race a couple of times and you’ve won it too. Head-to-head this March, who would cross the line first?
KN: Me! Dave may have 100 more days of skiing but I have the racing fitness. I sort of hope to jump into it this year again after years of not having the Great Ski race. Maybe you should talk Dave into it and then we would really see who can take it.

ADVENTURE DINING GUIDE: AVY SHOVEL AS COOKING UTENSIL

Monday, December 28th, 2015

By Michelle Shea

Grab your pack shovel and get creative with these five tips for cooking with one of your essential pieces of backcountry gear. Whether you’re looking to dig a snow pit or dig into a snow-camp meal, Tahoe Mountain Sports has a variety of backcountry shovels to choose from for your next adventure.

Fire Starter!
ADG1Use your shovel to build a fire when the ground is wet or covered with snow. First, line thin, dry pieces of timber along the base of your shovel and spread a Vaseline-soaked cotton ball over the timber. Next make a pyramid of timber around the base. Light the cotton ball and let the flame build. When the flame is steady and you’re ready, slowly pull the shovel from the fire and try not to disturb the structure (think of a magician pulling a table cloth from a set table). When the shovel is free and clear, add additional timber and larger dry wood pieces to build your fire.

 

Grill Tool!
ADG2Speaking of fires and shovels, your backcountry shovel makes a great tool for flipping and grabbing food from your fire pit. There’s no need to carry extra tools for cooking on a backcountry fire; your shovel does it all. You can also use the shovel to fan the fire to build the flames.

 

 

 

 

Pot Cover!
ADG3Who needs a lid when you have a shovel to throw over your pot!? The light “u” shape molds perfectly to any size pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Cooling tray!
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Use your shovel as a cooling tray to make backcountry treats, like these “Bear Scat Cookies.” You can heat and bind your ingredients with a backcountry stove and then cool your goop directly on your shovel’s non-stick surface to make delicious cookies without an oven.

 

 

 

 
Freezer!
ADG5
Cool leftovers and make dessert with a shovel and snow. Dig a shallow hole in the snow. Lay shovel with leftovers on shovel surface in the snow and cover with aluminum foil. Cover the shovel with a light layer of snow and remove when food reaches your desired temperature. This is especially great for making desserts when you’re staying in a warm hut. Try ice cream, pumpkin peanut butter bars, or frozen fruit treats.

 

 

 

For more creative backcountry recipes visit www.adventurediningguide.com 

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives at 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 it’s about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at www.adventurediningguide.com

SPORT CLIMBING IN GREECE: BOLTS WITH A SIDE OF GOAT POOP

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

It may be snowing in the Sierra, but that didn’t keep TMS Ambassador Rachel McCullough from heading to warmer climes to climb

Rachel McCullough is 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 McCullough, Garrett
What: Rock climbing
Where: Kalymnos Island, Greece
When: November 2015
Sunset view of Telendos. This island got separated from the island of Kalymnos following an earthquake hundreds of years ago.

Sunset view of Telendos. This island got separated from the island of Kalymnos following an earthquake hundreds of years ago.

I was at the top of my warm-up route and enjoying the view. The view of poop. Right next to my fingers, 60 feet off the ground on a near vertical wall. These goats really don’t specialize in making you feel good about lugging around a bunch of heavy climbing gear halfway across the world and jumping on your first route. I did learn quickly. Check holds for poop before committing.
We were climbing on limestone, which is very different than the Tahoe and Yosemite granite I am used to.
Can you find me? I am about halfway up the photo in turquoise.

Can you find me? I am about halfway up the photo in turquoise.

Instead of smooth cracks, I found sharp and jagged slots, nice pockets formed by water drops, no fall zone cheese grater slabs and these strange broccoli-head type features that seemed glued onto the rock. Then there were the million holds but no holds. At least that’s what I called them. The water eroded away much of the surface leaving small features sticking out everywhere. But they all seemed just a little too small for your hands or feet, making it hard to figure out which, if any, would be secure enough to use.

The nice thing about arriving in Greece in November from Tahoe is that it is warm. Like 70 degrees and humid warm, which might actually be considered too warm for someone with Tahoe blood. I sported t-shirts, while the mostly European crowd dressed in puffy jackets. Not just a light layer, but the really big puffy jackets with hoods. The kind of jacket I might consider for a trip to the Arctic.

Enjoying the warm weather on a hike.

Enjoying the warm weather on a hike.

Kalymnos is known for its well-protected sport climbing.  Most crags have amazing views of the Aegean Sea. And I guess they have seen too many tourists mistakenly climb the wrong route, since the name and sometimes grade of each route is written on the rock right at the bottom of the route.

Most people got around on motorbikes, but in true form, we walked everywhere. It made us feel like we were at home and just like in Truckee, people seemed uncomfortable with the fact that we didn’t have motorized transport (or maybe we just looked completely worked), so we were offered rides by locals and tourists alike. We didn’t want to seem weak though, so we held out until the last day when the sun went down during our final mile back to our place.

Here’s a photo tour of our adventure.

View from the base of one of the crags.

View from the base of one of the crags.

I am going to wreck this cool photo for everyone. I am about 10 feet off the ground and not even on belay. Some days there weren't any other climbers at the crags, so we had to get creative with picture taking.

I am going to wreck this cool photo for everyone. I am about 10 feet off the ground and not even on belay. Some days there weren’t any other climbers at the crags, so we had to get creative with picture taking.

These lovely goats left "presents" for us on the slabby climbs. Sometimes they also try to knock rocks down from the top of cliffs onto climbers below.

These lovely goats left “presents” for us on the slabby climbs. Sometimes they also try to knock rocks down from the top of cliffs onto climbers below.

This used to be an underground cave. It collapsed a long time ago and now has lots of "3D" climbing on tufas and stalactites.

This used to be an underground cave. It collapsed a long time ago and now has lots of “3D” climbing on tufas and stalactites.

View from our apartment. This is what we woke up to every morning. No complaints!

View from our apartment. This is what we woke up to every morning. No complaints!

A little too cold for a beach day, but gorgeous nonetheless.

A little too cold for a beach day, but gorgeous nonetheless.

Got a stiff neck from looking up at your belayer? Just turn around and look at this instead!

Got a stiff neck from looking up at your belayer? Just turn around and look at this instead!

Acropolis and the Parthenon. This whole place was undergoing restoration and there is scaffolding everywhere. At first I thought we just had bad timing, but this has been going on for about 30 years.

Acropolis and the Parthenon. This whole place was undergoing restoration and there is scaffolding everywhere. At first I thought we just had bad timing, but this has been going on for about 30 years.

Somehow I got a photo without scaffolding or other tourists. Actually I know how. Get jet-lagged and be the first one there at dawn. You'll have enough time for one photo like this before the crowds descend on the place.

Somehow I got a photo without scaffolding or other tourists. Actually I know how. Get jet-lagged and be the first one there at dawn. You’ll have enough time for one photo like this before the crowds descend on the place.

The original Olympic Stadium for the 1896 Olympics in Athens. The seats are all marble and the adjacent museum is filled with Olympic torches.

The original Olympic Stadium for the 1896 Olympics in Athens. The seats are all marble and the adjacent museum is filled with Olympic torches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SIERRA IS ALL ABOUT SKINNY SKIS AND SNOWSHOES TOO

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Before heading out to one of Truckee-Tahoe’s many XC-ski resorts or to snowshoe, stop by Tahoe Mountain Sports to stock up on gear

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Yep, thanks to a quick-moving storm that rolled through Truckee-Tahoe Thursday night there’s even more snow on the ground now. That means all the big downhill resorts are getting the attention. But for those who prefer skinny skis the area’s gems are open for business too.

But before you head out to Tahoe Donner Cross Country, Royal Gorge, Auburn Ski Club or Tahoe XC be sure to stop into Tahoe Mountain Sports for all your cross-country ski gear.  

And if you just wanna hike out in the snowy woods, TMS sells and rents a variety of snowshoes from racing models to snowshoes for kids.

TMSsnowsoe

CONDITIONS AT THE XC-RESORTS
As of Dec. 4, there are 20 groomed trails open at Tahoe Donner Cross-country with 20km of skate and striding skiing available. Unfortunately there are no dog trails or fatbiking trails open so far. Check out tahoedonner.com for more information and grooming updates.

Also as of Dec. 4, Royal Gorge up on Donner Summit is open with a total of 17km of groomed skate and striding trails. As with Tahoe Donner dog trails are not ready yet. For more information on passes and grooming reports, go to royal gorge.com

According to the Auburn Ski Club Training Center’s website, they saw about 10 inches of new snow overnight and have about 10km of single track and some double track open. Additional loops are being added each day to their trail system.

Over on the north shore, Tahoe XC saw 5 inches of new snow with the latest weather front and is snowmobile packing its trails. But “please no dogs until further notice,” they say. Find out more here.

 

FULL HOUSE AT PART 1 OF TMS AVY ED SERIES

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Part 2 of Avalanche Education Series set for Dec. 9 with final installment Jan. 27

TMS-TV

TRUCKEE — Tahoe Mountain Sports hosted a full house on Nov. 18 for the first installment of its 2015-16 Avalanche Education Series.

With a lineup of experts that included NOAA meteorologist Zach Tolby, Don Triplat from the Sierra Avalanche Center and Steve Reynaud from the Tahoe Mountain School, attendees of the first-of-three avy ed sessions were briefed on what El Niño could mean for the Sierra as well as avalanche basics.

KTVN out of Reno was in the house with a live shoot for the evening’s broadcast. Check out the station’s recap of the event.

The free, three-part series presented by Ortovox continues on Dec. 9 with the “Beacons and Beers” session. For more information about part 2, check out the TMS Facebook pageExperts will go over basic transceiver and shovel use and group-rescue strategies. Attendees will break into small groups for outdoor beacon practice including burial scenarios. In addition to in-store discounts, TMS can update Ortovox, Mammut, Barryvox and Pieps transceivers for $5 on event night.

Part 3 of the series takes place on Jan. 27. For more information about part 3, check out the TMS Facebook page. The evening will focus on the physics behind avalanche airbag packs and understanding the differences between passive and active backcountry safety gear. TMS will offer free exchanges of all air or gas cylinders on event night only to practice and to test systems. A season-ending raffle supporting Sierra Avalanche Center will follow with the grand prize of a Mammut airbag pack ($900 value) highlighting the evening.

While the series is not intended to be an end-all education on avalanche safety, it is an exceptional opportunity to learn directly from Truckee-Tahoe’s resident mountain guides, avalanche safety instructors, meteorologists and local non-profits, such as the Sierra Avalanche Center.

PROJECT ZERO: AN EFFORT TOWARD ZERO AVALANCHE DEATHS

Monday, November 16th, 2015

pz transparent

Project Zero is a collaborative effort striving to change perceptions of avalanche risk and shift the goal toward zero deaths.

By Shaun Nauman

The experience of backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the alpine is bliss beyond words. Snow carpets the alpine landscape and shimmers like diamonds when the first light hits. On the approach through snow covered spruce trees, humanity is left behind. It has a peaceful resonance, and tranquility that no words or pictures can truly capture. As you break tree line you are beckoned by a landscape bigger than the mind can comprehend. Rocky crags paint the landscape in an ocean of winter bliss as you work your way to the summit. Within the blink of an eye all that can change. A large persistent slab can shatter across the slope like a windowpane of glass, and the tranquility is suddenly changed in to in to a surreal nightmare.

pz_pres3In the past few years we have lost many legends, and, on a personal level, a few friends. The fact is, if you spend enough time in the backcountry you are eventually going to know someone that has died in an avalanche. If you don’t already, you will. At some point it becomes personal, for all of us. The sobering fact is that the more we read through avalanche incident reports, we see a recurring theme – same avalanche – different face. It has forced many of us to step back and evaluate why this is often happening to people with avalanche training.

The power of avalanche education is the industry-based framework that places everyone on the same page, with the same terminology and understanding. This process forms stronger communication of group dynamics while evaluating avalanche hazards, snow stability and terrain choices. However, it seems that even when armed with these skills we do not see a reduction in accidents and fatalities.

As educators, instructors and industry leaders we realized a need to look beyond teaching just the techniques of avalanche safety. Is the message telling people to get a beacon, shovel, probe and take an avalanche course fragmented? Is there a deeper layer that needs to be addressed? Avalanche safety and rescue techniques are a critical component, but not the entire picture. There is mounting evidence that a pattern of human factors is emerging. People tend to get pulled in to presumptuous and general rule-of-thumb behaviors, often referred to as heuristic traps. The common denominator lies not in the training but in the patterns of evaluating avalanche hazards.

pz_presHow do we address the bigger picture? Project Zero was launched as a collaborative effort with the mission to shift the perception of avalanche risk and to move the goal toward zero deaths. It is a ground-breaking unity of avalanche forecast centers, educators, equipment manufacturers and industry associations across North America.

When I first learned of Project Zero, the message struck me on a personal level. I sought a way to become a part of the initiative and was invited to take a role as a Project Zero Ambassador. I gave a presentation at the 2015 Silverton Splitfest in Silverton, Colorado under the current campaign, The Backcountry Starts Here. At the core of the campaign are the “Backcountry Basics” one should follow before entering backcountry terrain. These are five call-to-action pieces that serve to reinforce the baseline of a positive backcountry experience.

Backcountry Basics • Get the Gear• Get the

The first three call-to-action pieces are relatively self explanatory. (1) Get the Gear: Includes a beacon, shovel, and probe. (2) Get the Training: By taking an avalanche course, it puts you on the same sheet of music, same terminology and same understanding as others in your group. (3) Get the Forecast: Check weather and avalanche forecasts before deciding on an objective.

The next two call-to-action pieces are more complex and are the key components I elaborate on to streamline the complexity of “Get the Picture,” which is the importance of a routine. Backcountry users need to have a rigid, rule-based routine much like any other high-stakes industry. The analogy, as Bruce Tremper of the Utah Avalanche Center puts it, “is much like that of a commercial aviation pilot, performing pre-flight checklists.” The use of a method-based routine prevents us from making assumptions and rule of thumb shortcuts.

alptruthTo fully grasp this concept, people need to put their mind in an analytical mode that seeks and filters facts and look for clues. The clues are everywhere, and are often referred to as nature’s billboards. Systems that are employed for environmental traps such as ALPTRUTH, originally developed by avalanche researcher Ian McCammon, is an acronym used to stay on course and give you mental clues during pre-planning and while you are out. From a practical perspective, when ALPTRUTH is employed as an obvious clues system, it can help us gauge the bigger picture. As McCammon put it, “If I run through this checklist and notice one or two clues it gives me a gauge. If I start to see three or more of the ALPTRUTH clues, I know I am getting pretty far from shore and it’s time to reassess my goals.”

The amount of information, data and resources available today can be overwhelming. In order to make good decisions we need to be able to sort and prioritize information and filter these facts. The mountains are not static. A complex understanding of terrain and snow science is essential to make fluid decisions. When making key decisions in avalanche terrain I always ask myself how I could be wrong. I emphasize to others to always be willing to reevaluate and change their plan based on new information. Employing a method such as ALPTRUTH can help keep you on track identifying environmental traps.

facetsThe final call to action – Get out of Harm’s Way: Daily, we make hundreds of decisions both large and small and we must make them efficiently. We are largely unaware of making them, even when they are critical decisions. Our decision-making is heavily affected by our biases and reliance on success of habits. Intuitive decisions are made on almost an unconscious level whereas analytical thinking is systematic. These intuitive decisions, or rules of thumb become “heuristic traps” when they are applied unconsciously and can be deadly when we use them in avalanche terrain unconsciously. McCammon also developed an acronym for basing decisions on familiar but inappropriate cues known as FACETS. Like facets in the snowpack, we want to avoid them. Heuristic traps account for the lion’s share of avalanche incidents. Basing our decisions on familiar, but inappropriate clues.

Employing system acronyms such as APLTRUTH for environmental factors and FACETS for human factors are a few tools for developing a routine and helping us stay on track. Consistent use of such routines and changing the mindset of backcountry recreationalists may help evolve the patterns of avalanche accidents and, ultimately, that is the goal of Project Zero. These are practical tools that can help novices recognize the conditions and events that have taken lives in the past and start them on an advanced routine in the backcountry.

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.

FREE AVALANCHE EDUCATION SERIES AT TMS

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

 

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With forecasts of El Niño ushering a potentially epic winter into the Sierra, Tahoe Mountain Sports’ upcoming Avalanche Education Series will help ensure the safety of you and your backcountry partners.

Tahoe Mountain Sports’ 2015-16 Avy Education Series presented by Ortovox is a free, three-part opportunity to learn practices that can keep you safe while participating in backcountry snow sports.

In addition to free, hands-on activities aimed at learning rescue techniques and how to use and service beacons and avalanche airbag packs, TMS will offer special, in-store deals each night during the series and raffles benefiting the Sierra Avalanche Center.

While the series is not intended to be an end-all education on avalanche safety, it is an exceptional opportunity to learn directly from Truckee-Tahoe’s resident mountain guides, avalanche safety instructors, meteorologists and local non-profits, such as the Sierra Avalanche Center.

All events are free and held at Tahoe Mountain Sports; 11200 Donner Pass Rd. in Truckee. Doors open at 6 p.m. Programs start at 6:30 p.m. For more information contact TMS at 530-536-5200 or info@tahoemountainsports.com.

Part I – Reading Avalanche Reports, Understand Mountain Forecasts & Making Good Decisions
Weds. Nov. 18 – 6:30 p.m.
Zach Tolby, a NOAA meteorologist, will discuss mountain-specific forecasts and what a strong El Niño means for the Sierra. Don Triplat from the Sierra Avalanche Center and Steve Reynaud from the Tahoe Mountain School will discuss problem solving in winter scenarios and safe backcountry movement. Interactive weather and decision-making scenarios will follow in a small group setting. Great raffle will cap it all off. Ortovox presents this event with additional support from The North Face and Black Diamond.

Part 2 – Beacons and Beers
Weds. Dec. 9 – 6:30 p.m.
Learn the basics of avalanche rescue including proper transceiver and shovel use and group-rescue strategies. Jared Rodriguez and Tom Carter of Ortovox will discuss the history and tech behind avalanche transceivers. Attendees will break into small groups for outdoor beacon practice including burial scenarios. TMS will offer discounts on products in the store this night only. TMS can update Ortovox, Mammut, Barryvox and Pieps transceivers for $5 this night only. Ortovox presents this event with additional support from The North Face and Arva Equipment.

Part 3 – Avalanche Airbag Sessions – Rep War & Party
Weds Jan. 27, 2016 6:30 p.m.
Learn the physics behind avalanche airbag packs and understand the differences between passive and active backcountry safety gear. The night’s highlight will be the “Rep War,” where representatives from major airbag companies debate each other on who makes superior airbag systems. TMS will offer free exchanges of all air or gas cylinders this night only in an effort to practice and to test your system. A season-ending raffle supporting Sierra Avalanche Center will follow with the grand prize of a Mammut airbag pack ($900 value) highlighting the evening. Ortovox presents this event with additional support from The North Face, Black Diamond, Mammut and Backcountry Access (BCA).

 

 

Leave No Trace: Adventure Dining Guide

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

By Michelle Shea

Who: Sam and Jenna, the Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers. Michelle Shea (host), Skyler Mullings (cameraman), Connor Stohlgren (sound)
What: Paleo car camping meal and Leave No Trace cooking methods
Where: North Lake Tahoe
When: August 2015

Click on the photo to learn more about leave-no-trace cooking techniques.

Click on the photo to learn more about leave-no-trace cooking techniques.

Spending time with Leave No Trace experts Sam Ovett and Jenna Hanger during their visit to Tahoe emphasized the importance of taking care of all the little details when cooking outdoors. By planning ahead and paying attention to what we might be leaving behind, we can all do our part to keep the wilderness pristine.

Sam and Jenna are ambassadors of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The duo live, work and travel out of a brand new Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. Sam and Jenna came to Lake Tahoe in August to work several events and were kind enough to sneak in an afternoon of hanging out on the beach, stand up paddle boarding and Paleo car cooking with the Adventure Dining Guide team.

This is an episode you don’t want to miss! Click the “view recipe” to get some more Leave No Trace tips and learn how you can prepare this healthy Paleo meal on your next camping excursion:

Check out Tahoe Mountain Sports for your outdoor culinary needs:

I hope that this episode of Adventure Dining Guide encourages you to always be responsible and to always Leave No Trace!

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives at 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 it’s about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at www.adventurediningguide.com

 

Polar Opposites: A photo journey of Antarctica in Truckee

Monday, October 5th, 2015
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Todd Offenbacher and Tahoe Mountain Sports host an early season pow wow for pow featuring Todd O’s slideshow from Antarctica.

Who: Todd Offenbacher – Mammut athlete, mountaineer and Tahoe local
What: Polar Opposites: A photographic journey of ski mountaineering in Antarctica and Svalbard
When: Oct. 21 | Doors-shopping specials: 6 p.m. | Program: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Tahoe Mountain Sports; 11200 Donner Pass Rd. Truckee
Why: Get stoked for snow and raffle benefiting Sierra Avalanche Center

Truckee, CA — Join Tahoe Mountain Sports on Oct. 21 to get psyched for snow with Todd O and his Polar Opposites slideshow.

TMS will host its free, all-ages, in-store season kick-off with adventure skier and climber Todd Offenbacher (Todd O) as he takes us on a photographic journey of ski mountaineering in Antarctica and Svalbard. Along with Todd O’s stunning photography, Tahoe Mountain Sports will feature a raffle to benefit the Sierra Avalanche Center, of which Todd O is a board member.

“Penguins in the south and polar bears in the north,” Todd O says about Polar Opposites. “With a little bit of big wall climbing thrown in for fun.”

From 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., TMS will be offering shopping specials for those stocking up on their stoke due to Todd O’s adventures.

“It is a funny and inspiring show,” he says. “I try to explain how to get invited, or invited back, to the best trips in the world.”

The South Lake Tahoe resident and Mammut athlete is also a guide for Ice Axe Expeditions, the host for Outside TV Lake Tahoe and the creator of Tahoe Adventure Film Festival, which will premier this year on Dec. 11 at the MontBleu in South Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Mountain Sports – www.tahoemountainsports.com(530) 536-5200

A Sky Island Kuna Crest in Yosemite

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Time lapse of the recent Walker Fire outside Yosemite.

Who: Rachel McCullough
What: Hiking and climbing
Where:
Tuolumne/Yosemite National Park
When:
August 2015

It was a surprisingly warm morning last month in Yosemite National Park, which was nice because our destination for the day was more than 12,000 feet in elevation.

A week before the trip my hiking partner, Tom, and I studied the Yosemite map and bemoaned that we’d done nearly all the established trails close to the road.

So, we set our sights on a high-elevation hike with no established trail. This hike would take us to the top of Mammoth Peak at 12,117 feet and then south along the Kuna Crest, which rose and fell above and below 12,000 feet.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

If you’ve read any of my other posts that involved Tom and Theresa (Hiking Yosemite’s Bermuda Triangle: Tenaya Canyon or Gorgeous Day Hike from Lukens Lake to Tenaya Lake in Tuolomne), you know that while we always intend to get an early start, it doesn’t actually ever happen.

We left the trailhead at 8:45 a.m. and immediately stepped off the trail and into the conifer forest, our objective coming in and out of view to the southwest.

Abandoning our usual fast clip we settled into a one-mile per hour kind of pace that involved frequently looking for the easiest route to the summit and agreeing upon our path. We went from a pond to forest to meadow to forest and then to the craggy upper reaches of Mammoth Peak.

Throughout our journey we spotted sheep poop and hoped to spot a bighorn sheep, which were rumored to be in the Mono Pass area just to our east.

We gained the ridge to the west and followed it to the summit, but not before I called a “food emergency.” Some in our group are known to realize they are absolutely starving just before the “hangry” phase sets in. Instead of the usual summit food and water break, we stopped just below the top of Mammoth Peak, with expansive views to the west, north and south.

Summit bound.

Summit bound.

This is where you can really see the difference between areas in Tuolumne that were glaciated and those that rose above the glacier. The Tuolumne domes that many are familiar with, such as DAFF, Fairview, Medlicott, and Lembert, were smoothed over into their dome shapes as the glaciers ran over them. The taller jagged peaks, such as Cathedral and Unicorn, stood above the glaciers.

We summited Mammoth Peak about four hours in, after a little more than 3.5 miles of off-trail hiking and scrambling. And that’s when we saw that the small wisps of smoke we’d spotted earlier that morning were now billowing. In those few hours, what we would later learn was the Walker Fire expanded quickly, and even closed Highway 120, which is the nearest park exit.

We signed the summit register and saw that the last party to sign had been up three days prior. We had the top to ourselves, but didn’t linger long. We headed south along the Kuna Crest.

SKY ISLAND

Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Kuna Crest is a sky island, which is one of the reasons Tom and I (the planners for this hike) were interested to check it out. We were drawn to it after watching the Yosemite Nature Notes Sky Island video, which explains that sky islands are isolated high elevation places with unique plant species that don’t grow anywhere else. There are a few of these sky islands in the Park and Kuna Crest happened to be relatively easy to access.

Although we didn’t see the famed blue sky pilots (you can see them in the Nature Notes video), we saw many of the other plants known to grow in the sky islands, such as alpine gold, Sierra columbine, lupine and buckwheat. From afar, you’d never guess that, such as rocky place, was full of so many plants.

We followed the Kuna Crest up and down, stopping along the way to take a time-lapse of the growing Walker Fire, which started billowing white smoke at the top of the plume partway through the day.

The nice thing about our plan was that we could find a place to come down off the crest whenever we felt like it and pick up the Mono Pass trail to walk back to the car. There was a short section of talus to get off the Crest to reach the lakes below, but after that, it was easy walking back to the trail.

We timed it well and were back to the car well before dark, and were eating our pasta dinner in no time. The only thing we didn’t time well was the line at the Tuolumne store, where we stopped to get typical camping essentials, like chips and our ice cream appetizer.

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.

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