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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Tahoe Backcountry’

I Brought My Girlfriend Splitboarding – She Blew My Mind

Monday, May 6th, 2013

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

backcountry babe Tahoe

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

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

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

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

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

woman splitboarding

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

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.

May Powder Skiing – Awesome!!!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Tahoe Sunrise

Tahoe Sunrise

WHO: Dave, Kevin and Jeff

WHAT: Backcountry Skiing Lake Tahoe

WHERE: West Shore of Lake Tahoe

WHEN: May 17–18, 2011

GEAR USED: Black Diamond Drift Skis with Quadrant Boots, Outdoor Research soft shell pants and Smith Trace sunglasses because when that sun gets high in the sky this time of year, shades  are essential!

After the Amgen Tour of California folks decided to leave town due to a snow storm, we were all a little disappointed. BUTTTT, did I say snow storm? Yup, you bet I did. Since Sunday, Tahoe’s higher elevations have received 2-3 feet of some of the coldest and driest snow we have seen all winter and since none of us are really into road biking anyways, we decided to venture out and see what the coverage was like with the hopes of making some sweet powder turns. Wow, were we surprised to find that conditions were still like mid-winter in many places and the snow was insanely phenomenal!

We hit up Grouse Rock on the backside of Alpine Meadows on Tuesday in the midst of the storm. We were the first ones up so we broke trail most of the way and got to ski down first, always my favorite part. The bottom over here got a little wet and manky so we decided that as long as it snowed a little more, we were going to head further down the West Shore and see what some of those peaks had to hold. We were a bit unsure if we would even be able to ski from the road as we hadn’t been down there in a good month and didn’t know the status of the snow levels.

On Wednesday, we decided the snow had fallen and Rubicon Peak was the goal. We were able to skin right from the car as you can see in the pic at the top of this post. It started to clear a little as we made our way up and we got some nice views of the lake.

Skiing up Rubicon

Skiing up Rubicon

The higher we got, the deeper the trail-breaking got and we were about 1-1.5 feet deep in the skin track by the time we hit the top. We were also worried the sun was going to come out fast and furious today but lucky enough, there was just enough light cloud cover that the snow was staying perfect and we were getting more and more psyched for our descent. After topping out and taking in some of the views, it was time to go down and both Jeff and I could not stop yelling to each other how good the snow really was and how psyched we were to be skiing dry, light, fluffy, DEEP powder on May 18th. If you are in Tahoe, go get some and if you are reading this from somewhere else, hopefully it is warm and nice out there because our winter is still going strong!


Here are a couple more pics from our morning on Rubicon.

Top of Rubicon Peak

Top of Rubicon Peak

Descent from Rubicon

Descent from Rubicon

Jeff skiing down

Jeff skiing down

Lake Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Report

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

For this adventure of the week, we go to our own backyard. Dave, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports, took some time away during this busy holiday week to enjoy the bountiful goods the snow gods dropped around Lake Tahoe.

WHO: Dave and Jonny

WHAT: Backcountry Skiing

WHERE: Bearscratch – East Shore, Lake Tahoe

WHEN: President’s Weekend 2011

GEAR: Black Diamond Megawatt Skis, ContourGPS Helmet Cam, Mammut Albaron Jacket, Black Diamond Virago Gloves

With all the new snow we got the past week (some said up to 99 inches or more), it was time to get some of the lines that can only be skiied a couple times a year, if even that. The East Shore of Lake Tahoe is one of these places that holds those kinds of lines. The East Shore always gets the least amount of snow and with its western exposure, it warms up and melts out very quickly. So, timing is critical if you are going to get one of these lines. As the sun decided to poke its head out for the first time in 4 days, Jonny and I thought this was our chance, so we headed for possible one of the most aesthetic lines in the Tahoe Basin, Bearscratch.

View of Bearscratch from across the Lake

View of Bearscratch from across the Lake

The only thing that was going to stop us was the potential avalanche danger. This line goes straight from top to bottom with few trees or safe spots, especially in the top section. After 2 hours of very deep trail breaking and skinning (literally, thigh deep with every step), we finally made it just below the top where we could peek into the “Scratch” proper. Wow, did it look awesome and not a track in it……yet. So, we down climbed over some rocks and took shelter from the wind in some small trees at the top while we deskinned, checked the avy conditions and layered up as the wind was blowing about 30+mph. The first video of this post is the top section that was absolutely incredible and the BD Megawatts made all the difference. I love the perspective of all these videos because you can see my ski tips and Lake Tahoe all in the same shot. The next 2 videos I am standing still while fliming Jonny come down from above.

Other Details:

Skiable Vert: 2400 ft.
Base Elevation: 6200 ft. – Basically, the Lake!
Approach: NW Facing Treed Slope
Descent: The gut of the “Scratch”
Where to Park: We can’t give everything away;)

Tahoe Backcountry Report – 4/6/2010

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Before it starts to warm up here for good, I wanted to get some more powder skiing in and today looked like the last day for a little while. So, Jim and I headed up to Rose Knob in the Mt. Rose Backcountry area for a quick tour this morning.

The snow was still excellent with about 2 feet of fresh powder on most aspects.Jim skiing the powder

The wind has affected some higher, non sheltered areas and the sun was starting to warm the south and east facing aspects and I suspect that after today, even the North facing aspects are going to see some type of sun.
Jim skiing the powder But, it was still cold and powdery the whole time we were out.

Here is the gear talk section to let you know what kind of gear we were using and wearing.

Jim on the way up with his gear

Jim on the way up with his gear

Jim is now on his brand new pair of Black Diamond Telemark Boots, BD Zealots and Axl bindings while I am on the same setup but with the Black Diamond 01 Tele bindings. He was also sporting his brand new Mammut Ultimate Hooded Jacket with his Patagonia Sun Bucket Hat. I had my Deuter Backpack on my back with all my normal avy gear, including my Pieps DSP. All in all, we had a great morning out with the powder smiles to prove it!

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing and Axl and Pieps Review

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The last couple of days have been great in the Tahoe Backcountry, but we are now in for a warmer storm that might affect the snowpack pretty high up. We can only wait and see. On Tuesday of this past week, Jeff and I headed up to Rubicon to find some great, cold, north facing powder. Jeff has been using the 22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding this season and he is a big fan. The bindings skis similarly to the 22 Designs Hammerhead binding, but with the free pivot mechanism, he is seeing the big difference……touring!

22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding

The binding in tour mode

Jeff wrote a review of the Axl binding here, so check it out. Here are a couple quick shots of the binding in action.

22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding

Use your pole to switch between tour mode and ski mode

As you can see from the pic on the left, it is super easy to switch between ski and tour mode with the simple flick of your pole tip.

Generally, for those of you looking for the best Telemark binding for skiing down as well as hiking up, the 22 Designs Axl is a great choice for you.

We also had a chance to play around with our beacons a bit, and we did some testing between the 2 antenna BCA tracker and my 3 antenna Pieps DSP.

Pieps DSP Avalanche Beacon

The Pieps DSP in "send" mode

We cannot say enough about 3 antenna, digital beacons, but they are truly superior to the 2 antenna beacons of the old days. Not only was I able to search faster and more effectively, I was able to get readings until I was practically on top of the buried beacon. The Pieps DSP is fast, accurate, updateable and most of all, easy to use. Check out the screen shot of the Pieps DSP in the pic on the right. The newest software upgrade is to the 6.2 firmware and Tahoe Mountain Sports is the only authorized upgrade center in Northern California. You can bring your beacon into the store for an upgrade or send it to us and we will send it back to you within 1 business day.

Finally, Pam and I headed up to Jake’s on Wednesday after the very warm storm we got overnight. It was still raining/snowing when we got to the bottom of Jake’s but we went up and braved the weather anyways. It was very wet and heavy up to about 8,000 ft, but then the snow dried out nicely and made for some great skiing on the way down. Here are a couple of other pics of Jeff, Pam and I in the backcountry this week.

Rose Knob Corn Skiing in February

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Started hiking up Rose Knob this morning at 6:45am and made it to the skiers left saddle area around 8:30ish. I was on the Black Diamond Zealots with 01 Tele bindings and ascension skins. Mike was of course sporting his new Deuter Freerider Pro 30 backpack. A very difficult and steep skin up during the early morning light gave way to some softer snow once the sun came up and much easier skinning all around. We waited around at the top for about a half hour and our wait was well worth it. We jumped in to the true South face off skiers left shoulder and had just about perfect 1 inch corn all the way out. I was using my Pieps DSP Avalanche Beacon just in case anything had gone, as there was a pretty wet slide path right next to where we were  skiing. Then, it was off to work! Here are some pics:

Mt. Rose Backcountry – Dawn Patrol Report 12/29/09

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Headed up to the Mt. Rose Area this morning for an early dawn patrol run on Incline Lake Peak. Got about 3 inches at 6,000 feet last night and probably 6-10 in. at 8,000 feet. It was super dry, awesome powder that made for some great before work turns. Kevin and I had out Black Diamond Megawatts out and it was his first time on them, and all he could do was smile wide. We are both using the Black Diamond 01 Tele binding on them and they simply rule. Everybody had something from Tahoe Mountain Sports on and we appreciate that business very much. Mike is using his Deuter Freeride Pro 30 everyday now and Jeff had his new Black Diamond Guide Gloves on along with his BD Traverse Poles. Here are a couple images and some video from this awesome morning in the backcountry.

And some video for your viewing pleasure as well. This video was NOT taken with the Vholdr ContourHD 1080P.

Tahoe Night Skiing and Headlamp Review

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

A couple of us, including our Black Diamond rep went out for a night ski near Mt. Rose a couple of nights ago. It was a beautiful night for skiing although a bit dark, but the snow was powdery and light on the north facing slopes. I was hiking up with my Black Diamond Verdicts along with the 01 Bindings and BD Ascension skins while wearing a single layer of Icebreaker Bodyfit 150 Atlas Zip and some Icebreaker long underwear. I can’t get enough of my Icebreaker clothing and I can’t recommend it enough as it always is the best layering system no matter what the conditions.

Now, being that we were night skiing, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out the new Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp and put it up against the Mammut X Zoom Headlamp.

I will start with the Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp:

The first thing I liked about this headlamp was that it is rechargeable and in this day and age, there should be more of a selection of rechargeable headlamps. One thing I hate is to throw away batteries. So, with all that said, this headlamp already had a headstart at getting a great review.

The next item is really the brightness of this headlamp. It is amazingly bright for its number of leds and it is compact, fits on your head easily, is not bulky and in general is a pretty sleek design. While skiing down, the  Sprinter illuminated out a great distance as well as brightness. Like the other Black Diamond lanterns, this headlamp can go from dim to bright simply by holding down the button and it has a flashing red light on the back which made it easy to find everybody in the dark and would be very useful to a biker as well.
All in all, an extremely impressive headlamp at an even better price. As compared to the Mammut X-Zoom, this headlamp is $20 less and equally if not more bright. Highly recommended.

Now for the review of the Mammut X Zoom:

I am very impressed with this headlamp as well. It is by far the brightest headlamp with the farthest reaching beam that I have seen. Some of the positives that I really like about the X-Zoom: 3 brightness levels, adjustability on the beam (wideness vs. spot), ease of use and very lightweight. The simple idea that you can adjust the beam from a wide-angle halo type of light to a super focused, intense beam, is amazing and as far as I know, completely unique to any LED headlamp on the market.

The only negative I have so far is that outside the beam it gets really dark really quick. What I mean by this is that there is no residual light outside the beam because it is so focused. This really is not a big deal and is hardly a negative, but thought I should mention it. Overall, this headlamp is awesome and worth every penny.

There you have it. Take your pick when you are choosing your next headlamp and let us know if you have any questions. Here are a couple of night shots that actually came out pretty well.

More Videos from Incline Peak Pow Patrol…

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Filmed by Kevin, skier is me!



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