Tag Archives: backcountry skiing

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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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Tahoe, Triplets

Staying Motivated

Getting after it despite the conditions – that’s been my goal for the past few weeks and it’s tough to adhere to it. It hasn’t snowed much in Tahoe since January 10th. I was lucky enough to take a quick trip to Utah and the Rubies and find some good snow, but I haven’t hit one of those epic powder days in over a month. So my friend Domi and I made a pact to ski something that is scary or hard once a week in spite of the conditions. Last week it was the Crescent Moon Couloir off Roundtop. We met at 6 am and rallied out there, booting up the chute around 8 and skiing surprisingly edgeable snow that sloughed as we descended the 40+ degree pitch. We felt better immediately – accomplished.

Looking down the Crescent Moon Couloir from 2/3rds way up


Domi looking excited (?) to drop into the line.


If you think you get after it, ski with Domi, she charges always. Even when she’s “taking it easy” she is scoping out cliffs and chutes to add excitement to her descent. She both scares the crap out of me and motivates me to be better. We’re making a video to enter in the SheJumps contest for an all expenses paid trip to Tailgate Alaska. Stay tuned for the video or if you’re a female and have a backcountry partner, start filming and apply yourself!

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Random rambling, Skiing, Tahoe

Wow Part 2

I’m finally equipped to report on last week’s awesomeness. It started off by me throwing and mostly landing eight backflips on a kicker I built with fellow Kirkwood Freeride teammates Will B and Trout. The session made me feel strong and ready to throw them while freeskiing.

Then I had two great full days in the backcountry – one was home in Tahoe where we found powder nearly 10 days after the last storm.

Powder in the Desolation Wilderness

Powder in the Desolation Wilderness

The other was down in the Eastern Sierras where we finally figured out the lay of the land outside the Twin Lakes area and were able to find the Incredible Hulk. Conditions in the couloir were a bit firm for me to ski it as I had forgotten my whippet, but I’ll definitely return. All in all it was another beautiful day in the backcountry with great people.

The Incredible Hulk and one of its couloirs (Photo by Jeremy Martin)

On Monday morning I awoke to the amazing news that my team was the recipient of the 2013 Polartec Challenge Grant! Our proposed trip was to sail from Iceland to Greenland with an all female crew and ski first descents! We are extremely honored and have a lot of planning and preparation to do over the next few months!

So there you have it! Just four days will have me smiling for months to come!

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Tahoe, Travel

Eastside Exploration

Will, Juliana, and I forged a plan to head down to the Eastern Sierras near Bridgeport for the day to ski a bigger line and just escape the Tahoe Basin and explore a new place. As we made the scenic drive down to Bridgeport, the temperatures fluctuated between really cold and extremely cold with the lowest temperature at -17 degrees.

Approaching Bridgeport. Yep, it's cold.

Approaching Bridgeport. Yep, it’s cold.


We parked at the end of the road closest to our objective and saw one other car filled with Bridgeport locals heading out for a ski themselves.

“Grandmothers on the run.” Bridgeport locals know how to have a good time.

Starting our hike around 9:15 am, we weren’t quite sure how to reach the Northern couloirs of Mt. Walt, our days objective, so we just started hiking, hoping to get high enough for an open view. We probably climbed an extra 1200′ or so, but we were happy to get a tour of an area that we were unfamiliar with and Juliana and I even got to make some fun turns before putting our skins back on and starting the real climb.

Will skinning up the extra nob with Twin Lakes in the background


Back on track. Will puts in the track up to Mt. Walt's couloirs

Back on track. Will puts in the track up to Mt. Walt’s couloirs


After that detour and a bunch of trail breaking, we approached the base of the couloirs a little before 2pm and they were both in the shade. The low temperatures were nearly unbearable in the shade and the snow looked to be wind affected. Our main objective was also not quite filled in. So we decided to keep it mellow and stay in the sun as we crested the ridge. Stellar views greeted us and gave us more ski objectives.

Couloirs looked cold and wind affected, so we opted to stay in the sun and take in the beauty.


Will taking it in!


And then dropping in.


The skiing turned from good to great as we descended – the highlight being a steep north-facing sheltered slope that was just perfect. We made first tracks down the slopes and tried to find a better way in on ski out, skiing right to our cars through some dense trees. At the car we congratulated each other on a successful day in the mountains – we stayed safe, warm, skied great snow, and learned a lot about the area. A backcountry skiing trip to the Eastern Sierras is never complete without a stop at the hotsprings! So despite the single digit temperatures, we hit up the travertine pools just in time for sunset.

Will and Juliana enjoying the soothing springs and the stellar views.


Great day and I can’t wait to get back there!

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Travel

It was worth it!

Clear and cold conditions have made the skiing in Tahoe awesome. I’m not alone in thinking this season has completely made up for last season. I can’t remember it being this cold in Tahoe for this long and am hearing that from longtime locals as well.

Dawn at Elephants Back (Photo by Will B)

Pow turns days after the storm (Photo by Lauren Lindley)

Pow turns days after the storm (Photo by Lauren Lindley)

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Filed under Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Tahoe

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: http://www.highfivesfoundation.org/index.php/events/2012-11-12-19-50-00

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