Category Archives: Backcountry Skiing

The Shift

2012 has just felt different for me – like I’m suddenly starting to understand at least myself better. Friends and I have been discussing this shift in consciousness and it definitely brings me hope – for both humanity and the earth.

2012 seemed to drastically change the lives of so many people – many, unfortunately, for the worse. As humans though, we can cling to hope, faith, heroic acts, or lessons in the wake of tragedies. I appreciate how all of the skiers involved in the fatal avalanche at Stevens Pass last year have been so forthcoming with their story. Here is an incredibly comprehensive version from the New York Times. No judging, just teaching. I know we’re all better off because they’ve shared this.

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We’ve been blessed with some great snow so my friend Canyon and I went out early to take advantage of it and get some shots for the local paper. We’ll, we made the cover and got some other great shots. And if you’re a photographer or know one, check out Canyon’s new company Lite Pro Gear.

Front page of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, weekend edition

Front page of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, weekend edition

Photo by Canyon Florey

Photo by Canyon Florey

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Get Avy Savvy! Upcoming Avalanche Education Opportunities!

There are a number of really cool and affordable or free avalanche awareness clinics coming up in Lake Tahoe that I’m looking forward to attending. Some of these are women’s only, but others are open to everyone and the price is right – FREE!

Friday, December 7th: Free Community Avalanche Seminar at Alpenglow Sports, 6:30 pm

Saturday, December 8th, 7am – 5pm: S.A.F.E. A.S. Women’s Only Clinic / Squaw Valley
Women’s Intro to Avalanche Safety and FUNdraiser Day, to benefit the High Fives Foundation. Locals Elyse Saugstad, Michelle Parker, Lel Tone, Sherry McConkey, Ingrid Backstrom, and Jackie Paaso are proud to present this one-day event at Squaw Valley that will raise snow safety and avalanche awareness in a comfortable, fun, and welcoming environment. All levels welcome. The price is $80 -includes lift ticket, lunch, and yoga (all money goes to charity). AMAZING DEAL! Limited to 30 so sign up now! For more information and to register go to:

Also, if you’re not a female and still want to get involved with High Fives and become more educated on backcountry travel, check out their B.A.S.I.C.S. program launching this year.

Thursday, December 13th: Greg Hill Slideshow, 7pm, Squaw’s Olympic Village Lodge
FREE and raffle ticket sales benefit the Sierra Avalanche Center! Come hear the man who skied two million feet speak about his journey and the deadly slide on Manaslu this past fall.

Wednesday, January 9th: Avalanche Safety-The Human Factors
Alpenglow Sports, Tahoe City / 6:30-8:30pm
Megan Michelson will share her first hand experiences from last year’s Steven’s Pass avalanche where three people were killed. Megan wrote about this tragedy in this fall’s Outside Magazine. Read the article, Tunnel Vision on her website. Megan will lead a discussion about the human factors of avalanche safety, an ever-growing field of study. What is human nature when traveling in groups? How does group mentality contribute to or hinder safety? We’ll discuss some rules of thumb to follow. Enjoy wine, snacks, and door prizes as well as 20% off everything at Alpenglow Sports (excluding skis, boots, bindings, beacons, skins and poles).

Get educated and have fun all season long! Hope to see everyone there!

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

Fun Times Out There Today

I went out to Carson pass with a crew of splitboarders today. The wind kept us from our planned objective, but did not keep us from having fun!

Windbuff on Elephant’s Back – Photo by Justin Befu

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Pre-Season Prep for Backcountry Skiing

Heavenly Mountain Resort opened yesterday and Kirkwood Mountain Resort opens tomorrow meaning that ski season in Tahoe is officially on! A few of us have already been out in the backcountry and were treated to deep powder and fresh tracks as early as October. Here’s a shot of my buddy Stu from last weekend.

Stu getting in deep near Chair 10 at Kirkwood

The same exact day, a fatal tragedy occurred at Alpine Meadows. A young women struck a rock under the snow which then propelled her headfirst into some rocks. It seems everything was done right in an attempt to save her, but she died a few days later. It saddens me greatly to lose another skier in the mountains, especially a female skier who was getting after it early, but I’m going to keep skiing and learning in dedication to her and everyone else we’ve lost.

Speaking of learning, I just completed my WFR refresher yesterday, which leads me to this post. Pre-season prep for backcountry skiing…

1. Wax your skis, tighten your binding screws, check your skins, get your binding repair kit together. I use 22 Designs binding repair kit, but in general, zip ties, duct tape (better yet, gorilla tape), bailing wire, and ski straps are good to have for this.
2. If it’s been 5 years, get your beacon tested by sending it back to the manufacturer. If it hasn’t, conduct a range test with your friends by getting a bunch of beacons and standing the same distance apart and checking the reading in both transmit and receive.
3. Do a few practice sessions with your beacon and probe. Check out the latest probing and shoveling techniques. There has been debate about the 3 hole per step technique and concentric circles technique.  The 3 hole per step method is seen as more methodical and easy to execute in high stress situations whereas the circles can be irregular. Whichever method  you choose, be sure to be able to quickly assemble your probe and to get it fully into the snow at a perpendicular angle.
4. Refill or make your BC 1st Aid Kit. This is as important as having your avalanche gear in order. In mine, I keep meds (child’s tylenol, advil, aleve, benadryll, prescription pain meds if you can get them from a travel doc), ace bandage, bandaids, sterile 4 x 4s (3), roll of gauze, 3 triangle bandages, mole skin, moist toilettes, med tape, steri-strips, Sepp, skintight or neuskin. Many of these things come in small packets and are pretty easy to carry.

Traditional mountaineering 1st Aid Kit ( Mine looks a little different.

5. Headlamp and extra batteries in each bag.
6. Practice building a sled with things you actually have in the BC. I carry 4 – 6 Voile ski straps and some cordelette (6mm x 4 m) on most day trips. Longer trips I might have a ski mountaineering rope (30m 8 mil rope) and some carabiners.

Remember to practice all year long. Bored at a party? Practice. Need something to do with your friend’s kids? Practice? Check and refill your 1st aid kit as necessary. is a good source for supplies. Stay safe and get some this season!

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Winter Stoke Throwback This Saturday!

The Sierra Avalanche Center and SheJumps are teaming up to have a retro ski party that could just be the party of the year! The festivities start at 6pm on November 10th in the parking lot of the American Legion with a giant airbag, “The Funbag,” for patrons to jump into.

The “Funbag” will be there! Huck yourself off scaffolding with a super soft landing!

We’ll also have someone from SAC there to do a short beacon search training and games in the parking lot. At 8pm, the bands and DJ will start inside and the festivities will include dancing, a costume contest, raffles, a ski boot dance off, and a live auction! We’ll also be showing the winning film contest entries from our short film contest. Donations from sponsors including Flylow, Kirkwood, Smokin Snowboards, BCA, Lakeside, Shoreline, Big Truck Hats, Sierra at Tahoe, and more! See you there in your one piece throwback!

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Sisters in the Backcountry

When I returned from the coast, it was snowing. My sister still had one more stop on her California tour and that was Tahoe – so we headed out for an easy backcountry tour to Elephants Back off Carson Pass when the storm broke.

Feels so great to be on skis in the mountains

The author ripping a few turns down Elephant’s Back (Photo by Nicole)

Nicole skiing below the Elephant’s Back prow.

Happy after making creamy October turns.

Surfing and skiing in the same week! AWESOME!

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Yes, it’s winter in Tahoe. More wintry than it ever was last year. Even enough snow to make some turns!

Quick session yesterday at Heavenly to work out the kinks before a full on session today at Kirkwood. Bring it!

Here’s a quick video of the turns before my GoPro ran out of batteries.

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Dreaming of Winter…

Photo by Lynsey Dyer, Selkirks, BC

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More Shasta Awesomeness

A photo from our Shasta trip was the “Extreme Photo of the Week” in National Geographic.

Lynsey Dyer ripping it up on Shasta during the annular solar eclipse. Om. (photo by Patrick Orton)

Lynsey Dyer ripping it up on Shasta during the annular solar eclipse. Om. (photo by Patrick Orton)

Check out the story here! Lynsey also wrote this story which was published on TGR.

Nice photos Patrick Orton!

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