Category Archives: Backcountry Skiing

About last season…

It was a good one! I was able to ski a lot… it felt like this magic window of time where Mother Nature delivered an epic winter and my kids weren’t quite old enough to want to hit the magic carpet every day. Here’s a quick edit I put together with some of the highlights!

 

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Random rambling, Skiing, Tahoe, Triplets

Big Winter, Long Season, Still Going!

It’s been 80 degrees and sunny for what seems like months in Tahoe. Hard to believe we had a massive winter and are having an equally massive summer – if you can quantify summer by number of sunny 80 degree days in a row. If you haven’t been up here, come and jump in the lake, because despite runoff still cranking, it’s surprisingly temperate!

Lake is nice! Air is nice! Water ski season is in full swing!

Anyway, I really can’t let a ski season go by without skiing Shasta. I don’t know what it is about that mountain, but I love it! So, when a young friend of mine with only a bit of backcountry skiing experience called me up and asked me to take her up Shasta, I jumped at the opportunity!

We rallied up from Tahoe on a Thursday afternoon after borrowing everything we needed for her and arrived about 1 mile from the Brewer Creek Trailhead at 9 PM. We had to pop by Burney Falls because it is amazing! Worth the $8 entrance, don’t drive by this California State Park again!

Burney falls will blow your mind! The water is so cold, the air temperature drops 10 degrees when you approach it!

We woke up around 3 AM and starting hiking around 3:30 – a bit of a rough start in the dark… always surreal and dreamlike, but soon enough, we were on snow and Michael was skinning for the first time! 10 hours later, we were at the summit of Mt. Shasta! It was a long, hard, and hot hike, but Michael impressed the hell out of me!

Sun is rising, a ways to go!

Standing at 14,179′! First time on the summit since becoming a mom to triplets!

Michael slashing a turn on some grade A California corn!

Despite skiing about 2 hours later than I had planned, the snow was great as we chose a slightly more North facing line on the Hotlum ridge! Having skied Shasta about 10 times, it was a new line for me and that was really cool! It was also the first time I summitted Shasta since having the triplets. Last year we had to turn around due to hellacious head winds and post-holing 12″ at 13,300′. It was an amazing ski down though!

A great day on Shasta should always end with a jump in the McCloud River – turns out you can jump right into the Lower Falls!

All in all, I skied 3 x 14ers during the winter of 2016-2017. I had set out to ski 4 news ones, but only got 2. Shasta rounded it out so I skied 1 for each boy and I can’t be dissapointed with that! Next year I’ll try to get Williamson and Tyndall, but for now, back to summer!

The boys are such a fun age right now! Here is Beacan enjoying a surf with me!

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Tahoe Problems

Wow, what a season in the Sierra Nevada – it started snowing in January and really didn’t stop until March 6th. I skied my first groomer of 2017 in mid-March, that tells you something! A season like this has left me conflicted so many times. Ski powder or hang out with the triplets, ski powder or work, ski powder at the resort or in the backcountry… as a friend put it… Tahoe people problems.

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We got a lot of snow this year! 

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The triplets love playing in the snow too, but I wonder if they think this winter is normal

Yesterday I skied “the Cross” on Mt. Tallac – the South Shore’s gem of a mountain. There are so many lines on the Cross right now. I had gone in with the idea of skiing “the elevator” but seeing a few tracks in it, led me to a line that looked just as steep instead that was untracked. It didn’t go that well for me and I started a reasonable amount of slough and took me down for a few seconds. I was able to ski out of it, but I was shaken up a bit. It made me question my decision making ability and whether or not I should be in the mountains in precarious situations or home with my little guys. The answer is probably both, but I need to be happy with the decisions I make and also try to learn from them. I read this quote today, which made me feel a bit better:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

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When the mountain kicks your ass, it’s best to laugh it off. Exiting “the Cross” (Photo by First Tracks Productions)

I’ve had some victories and I need to remember those. I skied Halls of the Gods for the first time a line that’s been on my list forever and the conditions were pretty great. I skied Mt. Tom, hiking over 7,000 vertical in under 7 hours and skiing great snow all the way down. I skied the Eagle chute above Emerald Bay in powder. And I finally skied the Bear Scratch. In between some of these tick list lines, I had a lot of fun days skiing powder at the resorts and a lot of great backcountry runs with friends. There is still many days left in the season and if I keep putting this type of pressure on myself, I’m going to get burned out. I’m already starting to feel it. I love skiing and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was the same way with soccer and I’m the same way with triplets. In an ideal world, I’d be paid to ski until 2pm every day and then hang out with the triplets the rest of the day, but I’m not sure what kind of person that would make me. Would I then be immune to the struggles of all people, certainly. Let’s be honest, I have it pretty good!

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I got an AT set up this year which I’ve skied a handful of times, here I am skiing out of Halls of the Gods for the first time ever. Good to add a line to the tick list. 

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The summit of Mount Tom – skied from 12,800 down the Elderberry headwall to car at 5,600. Good to know I still had it in me. I missed my boys being gone just 2 days though.

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Luckily the skiing has been good close to home. Here my buddy Domi drops into one of the Emerald Bay chutes

After my little scare yesterday and my continued perception that I’m under performing in the mountains, I’m excited to spend a few weeks focusing on skiing with the triplets, skiing at the resort while it’s open, not comparing myself to some of the slayers on Instagram, and maybe getting out of the Tahoe bubble for a bit. I can always get back to objective skiing in late April or May – or in years to come. In saying this, I cringed a bit, knowing this is a once in 25 year season, but I need to accept that I am enough, I’ve done enough, and my decisions may not always be right, but they are better than making no decision at all.

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Skiing with Declan a few weeks ago! The boys have been skiing about 5 times each and last time was the best time yet! 

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Taking advantage of a warm week in March to hit the beach with my 4 favorite guys. 

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Season Recap via Video

 

About half way through the season, I had the goal of documenting my first real ski season as a triplet mom. I had an old GoPro that had likely crashed one too many times, so by the time I acquired a new one, it was late March. I still was able to collect a bit of footage and compile it into this Triplet Skier Mom Edit! I hope you enjoy it!

Kt Miller interviewed me for this story on Teton Gravity Research. It has more updates than I’m providing here!

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Desk Dreaming

After my morning routine with the triplets, I arrived at work at 8:30 and went through my emails and to do list for the day. I paused for a minute to dream of a generic great adventure, standing high above the world on a peak with amazing vistas, I inhaled the crisp clean air, imagining the challenges I overcame to get there. I snapped back to reality with a work related phone call and then decided to check Facebook where I saw that Matilda Rapaport had died after being caught in an avalanche in South America, undoubtedly the same type of adventure I yearned for. I cried – right there in my office chair. Paralyzed, I thought maybe I should take a break and walk my dog, but I decided to write this. I didn’t personally know Matilda, but she became the kind of person you thought you knew because we had a lot of mutual friends and I followed her on Instagram. I knew she was 30, just married. Though our lives are totally different, I can remember when I was 29 and recently married and all the great things that have happened since. I’m sad because she seemed like the kind of person that would’ve loved what the next chapter of life would bring. Last year, I had a similar reaction to the passing of Liz Daley, another beautiful soul who I may have only met once, but felt connected to. I don’t know why these deaths are so sobering. I feel I’ve gained a sense of risk adversity were I would not ski terrain in snow conditions where avalanches could occur – I mean, I won’t even bike scary things since having the triplets. As females, we’re also reassured in avalanche courses that we are more risk averse – statistics show it. But statistics do not mean it will never happen. I’m sad today for the years these women, who were smart, adventurous, loving, and fun, won’t get to spend on our planet, because we need more people like them now, more than ever. Sending love to Matilda’s friends and family.

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All the Guilts

I get all the guilts. It’s probably my Catholic upbringing. Thanks mom. Maybe the new Pope will change this practice? At any rate, whenever the triplets tear apart Lego structures or knock over a tower, I like to tell them “nothing is permanent” Maybe they’ll be Buddhists.

#1. Mom guilt – obviously. Is there a mom that doesn’t get this? I recently met my goal of exclusive breast milk for a year though and this has relieved a bit of the guilt. Now most of the guilt comes from simply not having enough time to spend with the triplets because I’m either working, doing adult chores, or trying to get outside and do something fun.

Here are my kids, under-dressed, in the snow, one is crying. I’m smiling. Mom guilt just looking at this photo.


A video proving I’m into “free-range parenting”

#2. Skier guilt – this is also commonly called FOMO or fear of missing out and it doesn’t just apply to skiing but that was fresh on my mind this winter. This guilt manifests itself with the following internal thoughts, “there’s good snow out there, I should ski it!” or “I haven’t skied Tallac this year yet” or “Lines are filled in here in Tahoe that haven’t been for years and I haven’t skied any of them!” Just thinking about this is overwhelming, makes we want to run to my car, get my ski stuff together, and drive to the end of Fallen Leaf lake and ski Halls of the Gods.

By the way, I did ski Tallac this year in a last minute skier guilt induced mission!


I also skied one of the Emerald Bay chutes which I’d never skied. See, writing is cathartic!

#3. Environmental guilt – Triplets increased my carbon footprint. No doubt about it. Shear time constraints have forced me to drive more. Shear number of family members have forced us to own bigger cars. At least I didn’t fly anywhere this year to ski. Every year I want to compost and I can’t seem to get it together. Oh yeah and SO MANY DIAPERS = SO MUCH GUILT!

I biked to work two times this spring! The bad thing about this is, see Scout back there, I just found out she has 2 partially torn ACLs… probably from biking and skiing… more mom guilt!


By the way, Shifting Ice and Changing Tides is now free to watch on-line!

#4. Community guilt – Attending that community meeting, friend’s social gathering, fundraiser, etc. is going to send me off the deep end. Sometimes I have to go to bed at 8:30. Other times I have to use the time between 8:30 and 9:30 to obsessively prepare wholesome food to assuage mom guilt as described above.

#5. Work guilt – I don’t have much to add about this except that in busy periods I wish I could do more work. Doing more work leads to more #1, #2, and #4 guilts – maybe a bit less #3 guilt since my job is to help improve the environment. Is that a catch 22? Or is it ironic? Damn it Alanis! I bet Buddhism holds the answer.

#6. Non-paleo guilt – I just ate 3 cookies while writing this post.

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Biking, Random rambling, Tahoe, Triplets

A day before the big day

1 day until the triplets turn 1! Unbelievable. Declan and Beacan have been standing on their own and trying to take steps. Cormac is close behind. He loves standing and swaying back and forth.

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Declan at the playground a few weeks ago!

Goofing around on Scout's bed the day before their 1st birthday

Goofing around on Scout’s bed the day before their 1st birthday

Martha came to town a few weeks ago and I had a great time showing here around.

Martha enjoying Tahoe's backcountry

Martha enjoying Tahoe’s backcountry

We capped off the week with a showing of Shifting Ice and Changing Tides at the Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema in Tahoe City. It was my first time seeing it on the big screen! Very cool! If the Winter Wildlands Alliance Film Festival is playing near you, check it out!

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Random rambling, Skiing, Tahoe, Triplets