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Archive for the ‘Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding’ Category

Winter 2012-2013 Skiing & Snowboarding Photo Recap

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Since we’re anticipating snow and the winter hype is strong, I thought I’d share some cool shots from last season. Get stoked…unlike most other places on Earth, Tahoe sees sunshine up until just about the time it snows. Sure, our radical weather systems roll through a later than our neighbors in the PNW, but we also avoid those melancholy transitional periods. Here’s to living in Lake Tahoe!

northstar-terrain-park

Cool contrast in the Northstar terrain park. Unknown flyer.

 

dave-summit-shasta-ski

Dave (TMS Owner) skis off the top of Mt. Shasta. Click the image to read about it.

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Splitboarding in Austria: Tirol, Near Schlick – Panoramic & Cashew

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

splitboardingBlog

Investing in a splitboard is way cheaper than a heli-trip!

With the advances in manufacturing processes the market for splitboards has exploded. Splitboarding allows snowboarders the ability to traverse steep, snow-covered terrain that was previously only accessible by skis or snowshoes. With splitboards the only extra equipment required is a pair of collapsable poles which you can stow for the ride down. If you’ve never seen them, a splitboard does exactly what it’s called. A snowboard that splits down the middle and allows the rider to attach skins to use them for uphill climbing. At the summit, the rider then detaches the skins, reassembles the board and rides away clean. Our K2 Panoramic Splitboard in particular is great on steep, fast terrain and varied conditions so it’s ideal for powder as well as Spring corn. As we inch toward Spring conditions in the backcountry get safer and that makes it the perfect time to get out there.

Check out our write-up of the K2 Panoramic Splitboard Package here. Also be sure to view our current sales and promotions on tons of winter gear going on now.

Shasta/Lassen Mid-Winter Assault

Friday, February 15th, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Who: Zach, Mike and Dave

What: Winter roadtrip from Tahoe to Shasta and Lassen Volcanoes

When: February 2013

Gear: The North Face VE25 Tent and Inferno 0- Deg. sleeping bag, Deuter Backpacks and Dynafit Huascuran Skis with Dynafit Bindings

The Tahoe doldrums had set in and we were ready to hit the road. Zach rallied the troops, we jumped in the Subaru and off we went to the North, the zone where the Sierras end and the Cascades begin.

We B-lined it for the Bunny Flat trailhead, which is the highest you can drive on Shasta in the winter months, and found ourselves alone at about 1am. Bust out the tent, sleeping bags, water bottles in the bags (hot water in a bottle + bottle in bottom of sleeping bag = warmth), and we were off to sleep in sub 10-degree temps. At this point, the wind was not nuking but it was blowing steadily. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We woke with a plan to camp on Shasta and summit on Sunday, but from the wind clouds and blowing snow that we woke to, that plan quickly changed to a day assault on the mountain and summit goals were left for another trip. You can see the howling winds in the pics below and bottom right:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

When we returned to the car that day and checked some remote wind meters, we saw crests of about 65 mph at 9,000 ft. Considering we made it to 11,000 ft, we were judging the winds consistently at 40-50 with gusts to 80-100 mph at times. We made it above Lake Helen, dug ourselves a little trench so we could get a little shelter before heading back down. The views and our time up there were beautiful and we were all bummed to have to leave so quickly. The picture below and left is the trench we dug that pretty much filled right back in within minutes of us digging it: Shasta Winter TripSki lookout over Shasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shasta in background

 

 

 

 

 

After a few beers in the parking lot (more…)

After Summiting Denali, Reflections on Training for the Climb

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Brad Miller and Clay Kimmi of Adventures for Action set out last May to climb the West Buttress of Denali (Mt. McKinley) to raise awareness and funds for the International Health Partners of the United States and Tanzania (IHP-TZ). This blog post is the third in a series Brad and Clay are writing for Tahoe Mountain Sports, who is helping to gear them up for Denali. In past posts, Brad mused on the difficulty of big mountain training and how they were training for the summit.

Anyone who participates in a big mountain expedition inevitably gets asked the same few questions over and over again. One of which is this one:
“Did you train hard enough?”
In the case of Clay and I the answer is yes and no.
However, when it was all said and done, we were definitely prepared enough to get up Denali, which we did in a very respectable time. After being stuck in weather for 4 days at 17,000 feet, we were able to summit on day 12 and were down on day 15. We were definitely up for the task.
Climbing Denali is definitely not easy. We both had times where one of us would crash and were hurting by the end of the day.  More than once I had to fight tooth and nail just to stay awake in camp long enough to quickly choke down as much food as possible before passing out in my sleeping bag.
Most amateur climbers occasionally have a few of those days where you think that you should have trained harder because you feel like you just can’t go on.  But, those days are one of the reasons we all get out there in the mountains.  Those days are the tests we seek; they are the proving grounds.  During the times when you feel like you are at the end of your reserves, you have the opportunity to grit your teeth, dig deep and find the hidden strength to succeed.  And, after all, that is what big mountain climbing is all about.

CLAY

Once on the mountain, Clay found that there was a distinct hole in his training regiment that left him hurting up to 14,000 feet.  When I asked him if he thought his training was adequate, his to-the-point reply says it all:
“Overall . . . no.  It was quite simply the lack of sled training that kicked my ass.  Not living and training at altitude was a small part of it, but the lack of strength training with the sled was what really affected me.”
No matter how much altitude you do with a heavy pack, everything changes when you pull a 70 lb sled. You have another item to deal with that is constantly trying to foul and trip you up.  You use different muscles than when just packing loads on your back. And combining all of this with skis makes everything that much more difficult.
In Kansas, Clay focused on stair climbing and running. While those activities certainly helped prepare him for the mountain, he neglected training with a sled and paid the price. Having trained up to 70 lbs with a pack while in his hotel stairwell in Kansas City, he felt fit and prepared. However, adding another 70 lbs on a sled that constantly fought upward progress showed him just how possible it is to take yourself to the end of your energy reserves while hauling heavy loads.
In addition to the hard work of pulling a sled up, Clay, a Kansas dweller, was not able to practice skiing downhill with a pack and sled. This missing skill set was desperately missed on our descent.  Add to that bad breakable crust snow conditions, the descent was a constant fight instead of a pleasant cruise back to base camp.
In reflecting back on how he trained, Clay said that aside from obviously adding a heavy sled element, he would have focused more on interval training in place of long distance running as he feels the intervals were more beneficial.

BRAD

For my part, training in the Tahoe region served me well.  Throughout the summer months I was able to pack very heavy loads to altitudes of 10,000 feet on a regular basis.  The winter months allowed me to train in a manner that exactly reflected the work we were to undertake on the mountain.  Being able to work up to a 65 lb pack and 70 lb sled while skinning  up and skiing down packed forest service roads helped my mind and body comprehend and prepare for the task ahead.  Doing all this work at an altitude of over 6,000 feet made me that much more fit and I feel like Clay underestimates how much working out at 700 feet set him back.  Although he spent a week in Colorado before flying to Alaska, I don’t think this “acclimation trip” helped him much.  To access Denali’s West Buttress route you fly in to base camp at 7,200 feet. While my blood was already accustomed to this “daily living” altitude, Clay had to immediately started acclimatizing and so was handicapped from the start.
I agree with Clay that interval training was very important, surprisingly so in fact.  It is counter-intuitive to think of interval training as preparation for mountain climbing because there are no sprint-rest periods like in soccer or football.  What we discovered, however, was at 17,000 feet and above, a simple slip or stumble that requires a fast movement to correct constitutes a sprint.  These snap reactions skyrocket your heart rate and breathing and intervals definitely helped in recovery during these situations.  Intervals also greatly helped me lower what I call my working heart rate — the heart rate level I maintain when slowly slogging up the hill in a pace where I can climb for an hour or two without stopping to rest.

Mammut Alyeska Jacket
Mammut Alyeska Jacket
MSRP: $698.95

Summer Skiing at Mt. Shasta

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

For this Adventure of the Week, Truckee resident and skier Mike Vaughan writes about an early-summer tradition to summit and ski Mt. Shasta. While the rest of the state is baking in June sunshine, Mt. Shasta still holds perfect corn for thousands of vertical feet.

Who: Aaron Breitbard, John Riina, Mike Vaughan

What: Climbing, summiting, and skiing the Hotlum-Wintun Route from the Brewer Creek Trailhead.

Where: East side of Mt. Shasta.

When: Sunday June 16

Gear: backcountry ski gear, ice axe, crampons

First rays of morning sun hit the east side of Mt. Shasta

For the past four years, I have been prying myself away from the great early-summer mountain biking around Truckee and North Tahoe to make an annual pilgrimage north for one last ski. The east side of mount Shasta provides a sustained corn run of close to 7,000 vertical feet. Alright, it’s generally not perfect corn the whole way — but when timed well, it’s an awesome ski considering it’s summertime in California.
The road to Brewer Creek Trailhead is not plowed and generally melts out sometime in June or July. Last year, I couldn’t quite drive to the trailhead when I skied it on July 30. This year we drove straight up to the trailhead on Saturday night, June 16th.
The forecast low on Saturday night was 39 degrees at 12,500 feet, and the forecast high in Redding for Sunday was 104. An early start was definitely in order. Many people choose to take two days, but we opted for the 24-hour turnaround. Camped at the trailhead Saturday night, making coffee by 3:30 am, and hiking shortly after  4:30. Just after 5 am we were on snow skinning.
One great thing about the east side of Shasta, as opposed to the more popular Bunny Flat Trailhead on the southwest side, is the fact that you can see the summit shortly after starting your hike and you get to watch an amazing sunrise. (If you miss the sunrise, you must hike really fast and can afford a late start.)

Skinning up at sunrise

Pat Harwood hiking up the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge, 2009

Snow was soft, due to the non-freezing temps overnight and we were able to skin to about 12,000 feet. From there it’s skis off, crampons on, and ideally ice axe in hand. We summited (14,179 feet) shortly after 10 am. We were met there by a steady stream of people hiking up Avalanche Gulch from Bunny Flat and Lake Helen. On a busy Sunday, 100 people might summit from the southwest side of the mountain, many with guides, and most without skis or boards. There were about 20 people climbing the east side of the mountain, all with skis or boards.

 

After some time hanging out on the summit we dropped in around 11 am. When skiing the east side, you can literally put your skis on 15 feet below the summit and drop in to the true east face above the Wintun Glacier. It’s about 45-degrees at the top, and remains relatively steep for 3,000 to 4,000 vert. The snow on this whole pitch was perfect corn. Then we traversed left to the lower portion of the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge we hiked up earlier. More good skiing, followed by some very sticky skiing, dirt skiing, and ultimately some dirt walking. Beers at the car shortly after noon.

Pat Harwood shredding down the Wintun Glacier, past a group of jealous hikers, 2009.

In the years I have been skiing this route I have encountered boiler-plate re-frozen snow, all-time corn, painfully sticky snow, a little pow, and large sun cups. All in all though, the east side of Mt. Shasta has never failed to produce an awesome day of skiing to wrap up the season.

 

The east side of Mt. Shasta, from the road to Brewer Creek, June 2009

Black Diamond Neve Pro Crampons
Black Diamond Neve Pro Crampons
MSRP: $159.95
Pieps DSP Avalanche Beacon
Pieps DSP Avalanche Beacon
MSRP: $449.95

Tioga Pass Opening Weekend – April 2012

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

This Adventure of the Week comes from TMS owner, Dave, who ventured down to the Eastern Sierra to salvage this crazy, low-snow season for some high elevation, alpine fun!

Who: Dave, Andy from Sierra Descents, Zach, Sara and Molly the dog

What: Backcountry spring skiing

Where: Tioga Pass Road, the Eastern Gateway to Yosemite National Park

Gear: Deuter Guide 45 Pack, Black Diamond crampons and ice axe, Sol Sunscreen, Mammut Gobi Hat and so much more……..

Caltrans doesn’t take a big liking to skiers I don’t think, but when fishing season is due to open, you can rest assured that means most of the roads on the Eastern Sierra are going to try and open. And luck just has it that every year, the fishing opener coincides with some of the best spring skiing the country has to offer. Yup, right in our own backyard, the Eastern Sierra is a spring skiing mecca, and when the roads open up to 9,000 ft+, you can’t really go wrong.

View of False White from the parking area on Hwy 120

View of False White from the parking area on Hwy 120

Being a horrible snow year in this part of the Sierra, we were quickly turned around from a lower route on Mt. Koip due to miles of hiking that would have had to be done on dirt, and instead opted for the snow start and end. We parked at the intersection of Saddlebag Lake Rd and Hwy 120 both days. False White is a pretty easy and straightforward 2.5–3 hour climb from this parking area. Saturday was super warm with almost no wind, so we opted to explore a bit as the regular descent (southeast face) was a bit mushy already. Instead, we headed to this notch we spotted that would drop us on the north side into the Skeleton Lakes Basin.

The shoulder on False White by which we accessed the North Bowls

The shoulder on False White by which we accessed the North Bowls

This proved to be a great choice as the skiing stayed wintery over there and gave us an extra long tour to get out. We were still off the snow by 2pm as the warming was getting extreme and the snow was turning quickly. Our views and ideas just as quickly turned to Sunday and the idea to bag one of the couloirs on Mt. Conness.

For Sunday, Andy from Sierra Descents and Sara (Zach’s wife) met up with us for what was sure to be an epic. I had never traveled in the winter back to Saddlebag Lake and Conness in particular so I was extremely excited to see this new terrain and ski some of the best stuff we could find.  We started at 6:30am to ensure the midday heat would not be as much of a problem as it was on Saturday and headed out towards Saddlebag Lake. Once rounding Saddlebag, getting overtaken by some super fast and crazy backcountry Nordic skiers (see this photo album), we pushed on to the Conness Glacier and eventually the Y-couloirs on another route to the ridge.

The Conness Basin as seen once rounding Saddlebag Lake

The Conness Basin as seen once rounding Saddlebag Lake

It took about 4ish hours to reach the base of the Y-Couloirs and based on the look of them and the possible bergshrunds that we could see in the shorter, Summit Couloirs, we decided this was the way to go. Crampons and axes out, we headed up. Andy lead the first half and then I took over for the second on some pretty steep and exposed terrain; we sure were happy to have those crampons on. After about an hour in the chute, we pulled up and over and were on the ridge with a view out into the rest of the Sierra that can’t be beat.

Sierra PanoramicThe snow in the chute was perfect, edgeable and carveable with even a little pow thrown in for fun. And then, the way out was just perfect soft, corn snow and we were able to kick and glide our way back to the car without donning skins again. This video from Andy at Sierra Descents pretty much sums it up. Can’t wait to get out there again!

See the rest of the pictures from this Tioga Pass skiing trip on our Facebook Album.

Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe
Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe
MSRP: $109.95

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

The Top 12 Avalanche Safety Tips from my AIARE Level 1

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Avalanche safety is forefront on our minds in Tahoe with this season’s uncharacteristically weak and shallow snowpack and friends’ lives lost and endangered. I was lucky to be one of the Squaw Valley Avalanche Education Fund’s 2012 scholarship recipients and get a full ride to an AIARE Level 1 avalanche course at Expedition Kirkwood last weekend. Here are the top 12 things I learned during the course, or at least the ones I wrote down. I learned so much!

I highly recommend getting AIARE certified, and I can’t speak highly enough about Expedition Kirkwood and our instructor Geoff Clarke. While you’ll notice my list has a lot of “don’ts,” Geoff was very positive about the sport and the inherent dangers. We ski because it’s fun to push the limits. His course was all about knowledge. Know when and where it’s ok to push it, then go for it. There are just certain aspects on certain days that you must be aware of. AIARE Level 1 is a great place to start. Kirkwood is a great mountain to do it at since it’s a Class A avalanche resort, with loads of terrain that your AIARE guide can tour you through so you can see avalanche-prone terrain first hand.

Some stats to get you thinking: 90% of avalanche accidents are attributed to human factors traps. 95% of skiers who’ve gotten caught knew there was avi danger that day.

1)   Here in California (Maritime climate, prone to more loose snow avalanches), many of us assume that trees are safe zones, but when you’re dealing with slab avalanche conditions (deeper snowpack instability more common in Inner Mountain and Continental climates), trees are not your friends. They instead can act as trigger points for a slab, and hazards if you get caught.

2)   That said, know the primary avalanches concerns for every day you ski backcountry, and act/plan accordingly. Don’t plan to ski a peak a week earlier and not have an alternate. Always scout out your safe zones/escape routes before you drop in.

3)   Watch for wind-loading. Wind can turn 1 foot of snowfall into 10 feet of wind deposit, creating hazardous conditions even when it hasn’t snowed recently. NOAA has remote mountaintop sensor data to show you peak conditions.

4)   30- to 40-degree slopes are the most prone to slide, with 38-degree slopes (equivalent to a resort’s double-black diamond in steepness) being the magic number. Above 40 degrees, slopes usually self regulate. Below 30 degrees you can still get in slow, wet slides or be poised in the run-out of a slide path or a concave terrain feature that can trap you.

5)   Beware of false senses of security: seeing tracks down a slope, a well-set skin track. Even though many people may have gone before you, it doesn’t equal safety. They may not have hit the slab’s trigger, or wind loading that day could create a dangerous zone above the skin track.

6)   Don’t ski like you’re in a resort: convex rolls and gullies are very unsafe in the backcountry.

7)   Keep your phone off or on airplane mode. Cell phones interfere with transceivers.

8)   See the avalanche path, not just the ski run. A wide-open run in the backcountry is often wide open for a reason. Look for flagging (the uphill side of trees with broken or missing branches) and snow deposits at tree bases, which indicate avalanche activity.

9)   Ask questions; communicate with everyone in your group. You need a leader, but never give anyone “a halo” of authority; trust your instincts and own knowledge.

10)  Learn to ski in all conditions—it all exists in the backcountry.

11)   Know your transceiver, and practice, practice, practice with it. Recalibrate your transceiver every 5 years, or buy a new one. Take the batteries out after each season to prevent corrosion, and insert new ones at the start of each season.

12)  Know when to say no. Turning around if needed and making other safe decisions that may not be as fun in your mind is just part of the backcountry experience. Mental discipline can save your life.

For more avalanche safety advice, stay tuned to the TMS blog. I plan to write a few more avalanche safety posts from my AIARE training, including what to do if you’re caught in an avalanche. I also want to plug a piece, “A Winter in Avalanche Country,” I wrote for Moonshine Ink’s April 2012 edition on backcountry and avalanche safety trends. We’re seeing more people in the backcountry, more gear sales, and more avalanche safety course enrollment in Tahoe. Interesting trends to follow…

Snow, Glorious Snow! Tahoe Ski Conditions March 2012

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Well, our thirst for snow was finally quenched in a big way this past weekend. Sugar Bowl reported a 114 inches for the storm, so there was much powder to be had. The brunt rolled in Friday night, making powder day #1 a busy one since it was Saturday. Here, a few TMS folks report on the goods:

WHO: Dave, Greyson, and Lis

WHAT: Alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and sledding

WHEN: March 17–19, 2012

WHERE: Alpine Meadows, Paige Meadows, Kings Beach, Mt. Rose

GEAR: Mountain Hardwear Effusion Jacket, Lole Sandy Jacket, Mountain Hardwear, Smith IOS Goggles, K2 Skis.

DAVE

Finally the snow came back and made Tahoe feel like winter again. After a few backcountry outings on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was time to spend some time at home with my daughter and not rush off to ski so much. But, back to the skiing first. Randomly met up with Craig Dostie, author of EarnYourTurns.com, and we had a great hike and ski in the Mt Rose area on Saturday. It was still snowing lightly but the skiing conditions were perfect. Here are a couple of shots of Craig on the way down and then a great one that Craig shot of me (orange jacket).

On Sunday, it was time to take my daughter out sledding in this great snow, and she was a total trooper. She even carried her own sled up the luge run that we built with our neighbors. I couldn’t get any of her huge smiles from her runs down because I was too busy making sure she didn’t crash into stuff at the end!

Then, took the dog for a walk down on Kings Beach and caught these other 2 great shots. In one, you can see the snow hanging over the west side of the lake and quickly approaching Kings Beach; the other is showing just how much fun everybody was having with this new blanket of white, as these 2 guys from Europe were so happy they were skiing on the Kings Beach pier!

GREYSON

The temptation of a true powder day was too much to pass up, even if I was coughing and sputtering my way out of a cold on Saturday. I wasn’t the only one who rallied for new snow at Alpine Meadows, so I decided to be content with lapping cut-up-but-still-soft powder on the lower mountain, leaving the longer lift lines for the bigger chairs to everyone else.

Sherwood, the backside of the mountain hadn’t yet opened, and there was no indication of when it would, but I got a feeling late morning that I should be ready in case it did. I got into a long line for Scott chair, which puts you into position to get to the back side, and ran into Justin, our Mountain Hardwear rep. He, I and a few others started traversing toward the back. And like magic, the word came that Sherwood was opening, and the handful of us in position went into a full-on stampede, landing us on the first few of chairs up above the still-untouched slope.
The next five laps were the best of my season — fresh tracks, long, arching turns that my new K2 powder skis had been aching for all season — until the rest of civilization rushed over to join us. So one more steep line that drops from back to front through blower powder spraying up to my chest, and I was content. Back to nursing the cold, and wiping the huge grin off my face.

LIS

As for me, I got out to Alpine Meadows Saturday and Monday and had two great days, Monday by far being the best. Funny to hear Greyson’s tale of Saturday because I must have been a turn or two in front of or behind him that day. We too were hoping for Sherwood. We were lapping Scott and timed it perfectly, getting to the top of Scott right at the patroller flipped the sign. Our first two runs were beautiful! A pretty much vacant slope all to the few lucky ones. Then, on my third run, it began. Little ants covered the slope… and another run later and the Sherwood line was 10 minutes long. We pretty much called it a day after that, and I took this parting shot of Promised Land from the parking lot.

Sunday, I took the day off and went cross-country skiing with some friends and dogs. It was a winter wonderland! Light winds and a good dosage of snow made for some spectacular scenery. My Mountain Hardwear Effusion Jacket (in orange below) was perfect for the half-snow/half-sun conditions. And check out the difference between the trees on Saturday (above) and then the trees on Sunday (below).

But Monday, oh Monday! I got to Alpine around 8:45am, and spent the whole day seeking out pow with some lady friends. Our first run was a quick Roundhouse lap because the Summit line was daunting from all the waiters, and there was so much fresh that it didn’t matter. Back down to Summit (no line this time) we shot straight over to High Yellow for amazingly light untracked powder. Here’s a peek from the High Yellow hike, looking toward F tree above Sherwood.

We then hiked over to the just-opened Beaver Bowl but it was a hot mess with the sun baking the goodness out of it already. Hey, Alpine, how about opening at 8am in March?!

We spent the rest of the day hanging around High Yellow and Arts Knob, and sneaking in some mellow low angle turns around Lakeview. It was a beautiful day… so sunny! Felt like a Tahoe spring day, with Colorado powder thrown in. I topped it off with $1.50 PBRs at Crest Cafe, then some hot-tubbing. Caught this snow bunny on camera by the hot tub.

Thanks Miracle March! Tahoe snow was back! At least for a day. Yesterday’s warm temps put the Tahoe ski conditions right back where they started more or less.

Tahoe Backcountry Report and Folsom Custom Skis

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

Jesse from Folsom Skis ripping up some pow

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

What: Finally a good powder day in the Tahoe backcountry

Where: West Shore, Lake Tahoe

When: Valentines Day 2012

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

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

Getting ready for the ski down

Getting ready for the ski down

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

Skinning Up on Valentine's morning

Skinning Up on Valentine's morning

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

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

Folsom BlueNote Skis on the way up

Folsom BlueNote Skis on the way up

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

Some of the selection from Folsom Custom Skis

Some of the selection from Folsom Custom Skis

 

Demo fleet from Folsom Custom Skis

Demo fleet from Folsom Custom Skis

 

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

Eastern Sierra Spring Adventure

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Eastern Sierra Road Trip Snowkiting

WHO: Dave and Pam – TMS owners

WHAT: Annual Corporate Retreat

WHERE: Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California

WHEN: Early April, 2011

GEAR: So much, impossible to list! Highlights: Nemo Espri Tent, Snow Peak Hozuki Lantern, Deuter Cruise Backpacks, Black Diamond Drift Skis and on and on and on

We headed out of Tahoe under a sunny sky but uncertain forecast. The plan was to ski, kite, camp, soak, discuss and strategize while testing some of our best gear in one of the most beautiful places on earth that just happens to be in our backyard!

Day 1: Got a late start from Tahoe, but the forecast was for wind so the goal was snowkiting. We ended up at Conway Summit, just south of Bridgeport, CA, and skinned out about 30 minutes to a clear ridge with a good breeze. I managed to get the Ozone Manta 12 launched and kited for a couple hours while Pam toured in the surrounding hills and got some great shots of me. See below:

Dave Snowkiting the Sierra

Dave Snowkiting the Sierra

Snowkiting with an Ozone Kite

Snowkiting with an Ozone Kite

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Really, this day started with the night before. The storm rolled in with 60-80 mph wind gusts in the desert and even though the hot springs were close by, they weren’t enough to cut the chill of the night coupled with the dust flying through the air. Then, the snow started around 3am. It was a long night with little sleep, but we woke to a whiteout. Drove into town, Mammoth ski area was practically closed down and visibility was basically nothing, even in town. So, we went for a tour to really get in touch with the elements. It turned out to be a great decision as we  skinned around Lake Mary in the middle of a blizzard.

Nemo Tent, Snow Peak Lantern, Pam ReadingWaking up to some big flakes in the Nemo Tent

Still snowingBuried street sign at Lake Mary

Day 3: Pow, Pow, Pow….. It had been snowing about 36 hours at this point, and the area around Mammoth was up to about 24 in. of snow. These conditions required sheltered trees where we could ride the powder and be safe in the backcountry, all at the same time, ripping it up on our Dynafit setups with Black Diamond skis and boots.

Pam skiing the backcountry powder

Day 4: We started north, and the Cocaine Chute up to the Dana Plateau was the goal for today. We had no idea if the weather would permit this, but it was shining brightly (though still windy) when we got our late start. We made it to the base of the Chute before the weather turned us around and told us to head back down the hill before it got worse. You can see in the pics below there are 2 folks who made an earlier start and got to the top even with all the wind blowing that snow around. By the time we got to the bottom, we couldn’t even see the ridge anymore. What a great trip!

Skinning up among the big treesSkinning up towards the Coke Chute2 people mid Coke ChuteDeuter Cruise Backpack in Action

Looking down on Mono LakeV-Bowls in Lee Vining

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

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