Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt Trip

Classic Hut-to-Hut Ski Mountaineering in the Alps

by Rich Meyer Alpine Guide, Skiing, Climbing, & Avalanche Education

March 25-April 1 2013
Rich Meyer (in partnership with Dave Miller & International Alpine Guides) will be back in the Alps again this winter. Join us for a world class backcountry skiing adventure. Here’s a blog post I created after last seasons trip! If you make it to the bottom there is a link to more photos and to the IAG website. Cheers, Rich

Starting in Chamonix France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland, the Haute Route is often described as the ultimate European ski tour – and for good reason. It does not disappoint. There are a handful of variations of the route and some serious terrain, but it is VERY accessible for experienced backcountry skiers. The Alps are littered with high elevation mountain huts that allow you to travel from hut to hut with a very light pack. This is NOT backpacking on skis.

Ski touring from one glacier to the next, and from one hut to the next makes the Haute Route a unique experience. Most folks are blown away by the remote alpine beauty and massive terrain that does not ever seem to let up. Culminating on the final day with a brilliant ski descent down to town of Zermatt, with views of the Matterhorn the entire way.

While it is possible to ski the route own your own, most skiers elect to do the trip with a guide. The benefits of going guided are plentiful. The serious alpine terrain requires expertise in ski mountaineering, route finding, glacier travel & crevasse rescue, avalanche awareness, whiteout navigation, and a host of logistical hurdles.

Most guided adventures begin in Chamonix with a classic ski of the Valle Blanche. The Aiguilles du Midi Tram can take you from town to over 12,600 feet in 20 minutes! If the stunning views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks are not enough to blow you away, the heavily glaciated ski run back down to Chamonix will. This day is often used to access skills, acclimatize, and prep guests for the next seven days of ski touring.

After another night in Chamonix, most parties begin the Haute route with another tram ride boost up to 10,700 feet at the Grand Montets ski area. Once folks ski out onto the Argentiere Glacier it is a succession of high mountain passes and huts all the way to Zermatt, over 100 miles away.

The Huts all have their own unique character and design. All await your arrival with treats like cold beer and Rosti. This is an excellent choice after day of ski touring. “Rosti” is a Swiss-German dish of potatoes, often served with cheese, onions, bacon/ham, and the occasional fried egg on top!

As you might expect, most days begin early with a basic breakfast and an amazing sunrise, with the goal of moving safely and efficiently thru the day’s objectives. Managing the peaks, passes, glaciers, avalanche hazard, and other dangers requires due diligence.

Some days might cover as much as 10-20 miles and 3000-4000 vertical feet of climbing, others much less. Along the way, you might summit a third or fourth-class peak like the Rosablanche, or rappel down from the Col du Chardonnet. Each has its own character. The high point of the tour is the summit of Pigne d’Arolla (12,455 feet) on the way to the Vignettes Hut.

After arriving at the hut there is typically plenty of time to hang out with new friends, enjoy a cold beverage, go for a little bonus ski tour, take a nap, or just relax on the sunny deck. The final day of the tour takes you (literally) into the town of Zermatt. Where you could easily hang out for days skiing and relaxing under the watchful eye of the Matterhorn. Don’t worry, your guide has arranged for your bags to be waiting for you.

Sound good? Here are some tips for your Haute Route adventure:

Bring the right gear. This alone can make or break your trip. You will enjoy the trip significantly more if you ditch many of those little extras. Think fast and light! Don’t worry: the huts will provide pillows, blankets, hut shoes, and all the food & drink you need. Keep in mind; it’s perfectly acceptable to hang out in smelly ski clothes. That’s what the guys at the table next to you are doing.

Consider skis 85-95 mm under foot and not too long. To quote a long time ski mountaineering friend, “Of course you can turn a longer/fatter ski, the question is whether you need to?” For this year’s trip, I brought a pair of K2 Sideshow Skis that were 92 mm under foot, and only 181 cm – a small ski for me. I also used Dynafit bindings and Dynafit ski crampons, which are very light and very durable. Along with C.A.M.P. light aluminum crampons and ice axe.

Practice your ski touring skills. Good skinning technique is learned with a lot mileage… Especially those kick turns!

Be prepared for all conditions. You will inevitability encounter variable snow and weather. Some days will be epic corn and powder, some will not. Be ready for: cold, wind, sun, firm snow, wet snow, whiteout travel, and all sorts of crusts in between. This year I partnered with Dave Miller (Good friend and fully certified IFMGA guide) and we had to divert into a local town so as to avoid a really nasty storm! Having a well-prepared tour plan and the appropriate gear made it a minor inconvenience, instead of an epic.

Check out this year’s slideshow! 2012 Haute Route Photo Album and Slideshow

March 25 – April 1 2013
Cost: $2475 – remember to say you read about this trip on Snowpals

Contact Rich for details: 

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About Rich Meyer

Rich Meyer Bio PictureAfter graduating from college in 1994 Rich made the move to Tahoe City California, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was there that he began to immerse himself in backcountry adventure. Skiing, hiking, biking or climbing was the daily focus. As things progressed Rich was drawn into guiding and began to immerse himself with courses and organizations like the AMGA, NOLS, WMI, AIARE, PSIA, and others. One of Rich’s first guiding opportunities was leading a 39 day trip to Alaska for a dozen 16 year old kids, that included sea kayaking, backpacking, ice climbing, and rafting. He was hooked. Guiding has taken Rich to places like: Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, Denali, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, France, Switzerland, and throughout the western United States.

Guiding on skis or on foot, Rich strives to make every day educational. Teaching is a large component of every trip. Rich teaches avalanche courses, glacier seminars, backcountry ski skills, climbing courses, and trains aspiring new guides. From the Haute Route in Europe to the Andes of South America, Rich has made an effort to enhance his clients experience with effective communication. Giving folks the information and skills not only to follow, but to become confident backcountry skiers and climbers. After extensive travel and training over the years, Rich has been able to educate hundreds of guests as to the importance of taking care of our natural world. Along with safety (and fun), traveling with respect for the mountains is always a priority. Join Rich on an incredible mountain adventure!

 

Tahoe Snowfest

By Desiree Holroyde, Snowpals Newsletter Contributor 

Snowfest is coming! Get bundled up and ready to kick off Spring!

The Space Cowboys of San Francisco are beginning the festivities with some funky breakbeats on the patio of the KT Olympic Deck at Squaw Valley on March 1st at 1pm. Check out some of their music and djs here https://soundcloud.com/spacecowboys or hit up their main website to see where they’ll be bringing beats to Snowfest with their infamous UNIMOG. (The UNIMOG is fully equipped with sound, lights, and ready to provide a bass pumping party at a moment’s notice.) Don’t fret if you wander off from the party with friends, you can come back for more in the evening. The Space Cowboys will be hosting an after-party at the Olympic Plaza Bar, and you can catch them the following night at Lakeside in Tahoe City.

http://www.spacecowboys.org/

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Then head over to Mamasake in the Squaw Valley Village for the Extreme Food Challenge they are hosting from 4-6pm. Heck, why not enter? Mamasake is also featuring happy hour hand rolls from 3-5pm.

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If you want to keep dancing, Crystal Bay Casino has a free concert in their Crown Room Friday March 1st at 10pm featuring Dehli 2 Dublin, a live electronic band, with an after party featuring Izzy Wise (SF) and local bass music artist Benjah Ninjah. Here is what the BBC had to say about Dehli 2 Dublin: “The Vancouver-based collective combines dhol, fiddle and breakbeats in an Irish/Asian stew that is surprisingly varied, a marvellously wide-ranging and free-thinking concept.”

http://www.delhi2dublin.com/ or https://soundcloud.com/delhi2dublin

https://soundcloud.com/izzywis

https://soundcloud.com/benjah-ninjah

This is just a sample of what is going down for the opening daze of Snowfest! Check out the full calendar of events here and decide for yourself which are most worth catching. Snowfest events are ongoing from March 1st through March 10th.

http://www.tahoesnowfestival.com/#!vstc1=events

Sunday, March 3rd check out the Duncan Golf Dog Pull in Tahoe City, followed by a Luau at Sunnyside on the West Shore. If you would like to register your dog in the dog pull, you’ll need to arrive an hour early and the cost of registration is $10. Show up at 11am to the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park/Tahoe City Golf Course behind Bank of America in Tahoe City. Otherwise, the event is free and starts at noon. Afterwards, head on down to Sunnyside Resort… just a quick jaunt from Tahoe City down Highway 89. Sunnyside features an amazing view of the lake. The luau begins at 4pm, with the buffet starting at 5pm. Sunnyside is a family favorite and this all-you-can-eat event, featuring both cooked and barbequed delights, as well as sashimi and poke, and will run you $32 a head, or $16 for kids. Reservations are recommended.

http://www.sunnysideresort.com/events/view/sunnysides-hawaiian-luau-2013

Don’t miss another free show at the Crystal Bay Club on Friday March 8th showcasing the talent of Polyrhythmics, the funky world-beat band from Seattle.

http://www.polyrhythmics.com/home.cfm

http://polyrhythmics.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/polyrhythmics

The Crystal Bay Club is an excellent venue for live music, and if you just so happen to need a hotel for the night, there are affordable cabins for rent behind the Tahoe Biltmore – just across the street. They are even pet-friendly! Reserve your room ahead of time though, especially on busy weekends with free shows.

http://www.tahoebiltmore.com/

Whatever you choose to enjoy for Snowfest, please do it responsibly and be well! Happy Snowfest!

 

 

2013 Sports Basement SnowFest

Sports Basement Kicks off the Ski & Ride Season with SnowFest 2013. Gather family and friends to join in. Win raffle prizes, enjoy free food and drinks, music, and tons upon tons of free stuff from all your favorite vendors and Tahoe ski resorts! 

SnowFest is coming to three Sports Basement stores: 

  • Sunnyvale Friday Nov 1, 4pm to 8pm
  • Walnut Creek Saturday Nov 2, 11pm to 3pm
  • San Francisco Presidio Sunday Nov 3, 2pm to 6pm

Be one of the first 30 people to make a purchase of $150 or more to receive a free lift ticket to Kirkwood! Or, be one of the first 160 people to make a purchase of $85 or more for a two-for-one lift ticket voucher to Kirkwood.

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What’s happening next? Check out the Snowbomb SKI & SNOWBOARD FESTIVAL with Free & Discounted Tickets

 

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Top Pick for Bay Area Ski Shop

Snowpals’ Top Pick for Bay Area Ski Shop goes to California Ski Company 

 

 

California Ski Company is a premier San Francisco Bay Area’s ski equipment shop specializing in:

  • alpine skiing(aka downhill skiing)
  • backcountry – the only SF Bay Area ski shop specializing in backountry
  • expert custom boot fitting
  • professional ski tuning
  • high-performance ski rentals

What is most important to you when you’re looking to buy or get your gear serviced? California Ski Company provides stellar customer service and has an experienced,  knowledgeable and capable staff with insightful answers to your product and gear questions. Most importantly, they care about your snow riding experience and have the track record to prove it — thousands of loyal customers.

“For more than 16 years, California Ski Company has been the Bay Area leader in specialty alpine ski sales, offering knowledge, expertise and experience that few volume retailers can. Our staff is what makes our store unique. We are a group of ski enthusiasts drawn together by the desire to work in a SKI ONLY environment where skiers come to learn about the latest and best products from people who spend every available moment using those products.”

Exclusive promotional offer 

Receive a free beanie or cap with any purchase of $50 or more; just mention that you saw this video on the Snowpals website to get in on this promo.

“Please click on the thumbs up ‘like’ button if you find our Youtube video informative. Thanks!”

 

 

 

 

 

California Ski Company | 843-A Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710 | 510-527-6411

Website: http://www.californiaskicompany.com

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Top Picks Newsletter 

Sign up for the Snowpals’ weekly Top Picks Newsletter for the best of SF Bay Area and Lake Tahoe.

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California Ski Company Backcountry Mixer

Mark your calendar and drop by California Ski Company for a Backcountry Mixer on Sat, Nov 16 from 4-8pm. Attend the informational talk on backcountry skiing, gear and safety. Check out the latest avalanche airbags!

This will be a great opportunity for the winter sports community to come together. You can meet and greet, find ride shares/ski leases and celebrate the start of the season!

Blizzard, Head, Stockli, Tecnica, POC, Dynafit, Ortovox, Zealios Reps (to name a few) will present their new products and answer questions. http://www.californiaskicompany.com/

Don’t miss the raffle benefiting the High Fives Foundation, a Truckee non-profit dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes that have suffered a life altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports industry. Purchase $5 raffle tickets or donate a gently used jacket to benefit a local charity. Visit CaSkiCo at the Snowbomb Festival 11/9-10 at ATT Park to buy raffle tickets and see the raffle prize list.  http://highfivesfoundation.org/

What’s happening next? Check out the Snowbomb SKI & SNOWBOARD FESTIVAL with Free & Discounted Tickets

 

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Pre-Season Ski & Snowboard Conditioning Boot Camp

Get in shape for the ski season to prevent injuries; boot camp starts Monday Oct 21st. Register now!

  • Reap the most benefits from a 60 min workout
  • Condition muscles for skiing/riding
  • Get outside of the gym & change up your routine
  • Enjoy a fun and challenging workout

when & prices:

Option 1: Monday & Wednesday, 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM; 2x a week, for 5 weeks, from Monday Oct 21 to Wednesday Nov 20. Cost: $150 (a set of 10 classes)

Option 2: Saturdays only, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM; 1x a week on Saturdays, for 4 weeks, from Saturday Oct 26 to Saturday Nov 16. Cost: $60 (a set of 4 classes); supplement your gym workouts

Option 3: Sundays only, 10:00AM to 11:00AM; 1x a week on Sundays, for 4 weeks, from Saturday Oct 27 to Sunday Nov 17. Cost: $60 (a set of 4 classes); supplement your gym workouts

Option 4: Weekends Only (Saturday & Sunday), 10:00AM to11:00AM; 2x a week on Saturday & Sunday for 4 weeks from Saturday Oct 26 to Sunday Nov 17. Cost: $120 (a set of 8 classes)

Includes:

  • T-Shirt
  • Pre & Post Fitness Assessment
  • Strength Training Plan
  • Nutrition Plan
  • Completed Program Celebration Party($20 RSVP)
  • single class drop-in rate: $25
  • Give your favorite person a gift certificate to our boot camp.

where: The FIT Potato Studio, 6894 Village Parkway Dublin, CA 94568

 

Are you in shape for skiing/snowboarding?

When October arrives, there’s less than seven weeks left until the start of the 2013-14 ski season. Are you in shape? Skiing and snowboarding is one of the most demanding sports, both mentally and physically. Whether on a ski holiday or skiing 30 days per year, sign up for our preseason ski conditioning boot camp to increase your enjoyment, skiing performance and help prevent common skiing and snowboarding injuries.

Common ski injuries involve the knee, particularly, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury(see diagram below: source wiki)

acl knee injury - wiki pic at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Knee_diagram.svg

Other common ski injuries involve ligament sprains, soft tissue bruising and joint injuries. For snowboarders, common injuries typically involve fractures(broken bones), joint injuries such as dislocations (when the joint surfaces are completely torn apart) and subluxations (when the joint surfaces are moved out of position, but not completely). Most injuries are the result of poor or no conditioning.

Skiing and snowboarding are dynamic activities that recruit multiple muscle groups. These activities are carried out on even and uneven surfaces and place high levels of stress on muscles and joints which increases the likelihood of injuries. Incorporating functional exercises to strengthen muscle groups of the quadriceps, gluteals and hamstrings help to prevent injuries and get you in shape for the ski/ride season.

class description:

Each class will focus on snowsport-specific exercises integrating strengthening, balance/proprioceptive, agility, plyometrics, flexibility/yoga and core training.

learn & develop:

  • proper knee alignment through training
  • functional balance
  • plyometrics for power
  • interval training for stamina
  • abs/core strength
  • stretching/yoga for increased range of motion and relaxation

Each class is unique. You will get a great workout that will get you in shape for the ski/ride season. We maximize training effectiveness by combining circuits, interval courses, drills, calisthenics and functional ski/snowboard-specific exercises(incorporating typical athletic stances, and engaging all of your muscles in movement patterns typical of how you would move when skiing/snowboarding).

The exercise format is fun and easy to follow and can be modified to any level: beginner to advanced. You’ll get in great shape and meet other like-minded ski and ride enthusiasts.

pre and post assessments included:

Included in this class is a fitness performance assessment that will take place on the first day(to set a baseline) and last day of each class(to measure your improvements). Fitness Assessments include a body composition test (body fat testing) and taking your body circumference measurements.

coaches:

Francisco Gomez holds a B.S. in Exercise Physiology; currently earning a Masters in Exercise Physiology; National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association(NESTA) Certified Trainer and award winning college coach. Francisco enjoys skiing and snowboarding at Squaw Valley.

 

Juan Gomez holds a B.S. in Business Marketing; currently earning a Masters in Exercise Physiology; top running athlete and cross-country running coach. Juan’s favorite Tahoe resort for snowboarding is Heavenly.

“No Time Like Now”

To quote a phrase, it’s never too late to get started. According to Linda Crockett, education director for the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, “the six weeks before the season are the most important in strength training and anaerobic conditioning. Even if you haven’t been conscientious about training in the off-season, you should focus on a regime during these fleeting days before the snow flies. After all, you can’t get up to the slopes and expect your body to do something that it can’t even do on dry land,” she says.

Pre-season training is for everyone. Get fit and prevent injuries.

Our fitness assessments are included. Our workouts are different each day, our classes are never overcrowded, and our sessions are closed to the public once we’ve begun.

to register 

1. Submit the registration form below. Pay $20 to reserve your spot; the remainder of the balance is due on the first day of class. You will receive an e-mail confirmation within 24 hours that you have been registered.

2. If you’d like to try out the bootcamp, we offer a $25 drop-in class option. Keep in mind that the more frequently you go, you’ll get better results, and you’ll save more when you select one of our bootcamp packages described above.

*Please note that classes are non-transferable. Classes do not roll over and credit will not be refunded for unused classes.

For questions or to order a gift certificate: drop us a line via  or call (925) 487-6115.

Sorry, you've already submitted this form.

 

*what to bring to class

Bring a water bottle, a towel, sunscreen(for our Saturday morning classes), gloves if you don’t like putting your hands in the grass, comfortable layers of clothes and athletic shoes. Most helpful is to bring your unworried mind, high energy and positive attitude!

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Ski Company Fall Parking Lot Sale

Now is the time to get lots of great deals on all your ski needs at the upcoming California Ski Company Fall Parking Lot Sale! 

Aug 24-25, Aug 31-Sep 2, Sep 7-8. 

843 Gilman Street, Berkeley: 10am-6pm.

The sale takes place over three weekends and is designed to clear out all of last year’s inventory with huge price reductions along with some great deals on this year’s gear. 

After last year’s slow Winter, there is a lot left over and many great deals ready to be had! 

Get the beta on the 2013/14 equipment! Meet industry reps. Schedule your insole/boot-fitting appointment.

More details at

CALIFORNIA SKI COMPANY | 843-A GILMAN STREET, BERKELEY CA 94710 | 510-527-6411

Website: http://www.californiaskicompany.com

 

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Free & 1/2 off VIP Tickets to 2014 Snowbomb Ski & Board Festival

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Get 1/2 off Powder Pass & VIP wine and beer tasting tickets with promo discount code – snowpals

POWDER PASS:  ($12.50 Discounted 50%), regular $25
POWDER PASS admission comes with FREE LIFT TICKETS. See below for details.
 
VIP PASS:  ($25 Discounted 50%), regular $50

Festival hours 10-6 / VIP admission includes wine or beer tasting 1-5 / Also includes FREE LIFT TICKETS included w/ Powder Pass PLUS a BONUS Free Squaw Valley/Alpine lift ticket (buy one get one free)
 
FREE Friday Night Pre-Sale Entrance – 3 to 8 pm Fri Night
This ticket will get you into the sale on Friday night. It does not include free lift tickets. You must buy a POWDER PASS or VIP admission to get free lift tickets.
 
DATES & LOCATIONS
  • San Jose – Friday, November 7, 2014, 4:00 PM to Sunday, November 9, 2014, 7:00 PM at McEnery Convention Center 150 W San Carlos St San JoseCA 95113

buy tickets at

2014 San Jose Ski & Snowboard Festival presented by SnowBomb.com

  • SF – Friday, October 31, 2014, 3:00 PM to Sunday, November 2, 2014, 6:00 PM at Fort Mason Center 2 Marina Blvd San Francisco, CA 94123

 

2014 San Francisco Ski & Snowboard Festival presented by SnowBomb.com

 

 

* Win 1 of 5 VIP wine/beer tasting entry tickets by retweeting (RT) the following to help us get the word out..  ” @SnowPalsDotOrg Get 1/2 off Snowbomb Ski & Board Fest VIP Wine/Beer Tasting tickets at http://www.snowpals.org/2014/free-half-off-2014-snowbomb-ski-board-festival/ “ .. winners will be announced via our twitter feed @SnowPalsDotOrg 

 

Powder Pass & VIP Pass Include the Following Lift Tickets/ Perks

Bear Valley Lift Ticket

  • Valid Sun-Fri, non-holiday
  • Holiday sates defined as: December 26 – Jan 4th, January 17 – 19th, February 14 – 16th 2015

China Peak Lift Ticket

  • Valid Sunday – Friday, non-holiday.
  • Holiday dates defined as December 26-31, January 1-4, January 17-19, February 14-16.

Badger Pass Lift Ticket

  • Valid Sunday – Thursday, non-holiday.
  • Holiday dates defined as December 14 – January 3,  January 17-18, February 14-15.

VIP Pass Includes the above plus

Unlimited Tasting

  • Saturday – Wine
  • Sunday – Beer

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

  • Buy one get one free lift ticket.
  • Valid Sunday – Friday, non-holiday.
  • Holiday dates defined as December 20 – January 3, January 17-18, February 14-21.

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How to join SnowPals

Life is about the friendships we cultivate, the places we visit, and the memorable experiences we share; SnowPals invite you to join us to share skiing and snowboarding experiences that will contribute to your collection of life’s treasured memories. Join us to connect with skiers and snowboarders of all levels for trips to Tahoe and to snow destinations beyond.

You know the story, after college, once settled in with a professional career, our circle of friends and activity partners become smaller by each passing year unless effort is made to reach out and connect with people who share common interests; well, here’s your chance. 😉

“Create ski and snowboarding memories today so when you’ll look back through the years, those are the moments that will be most vivid and will likely to triggered joyful smiles.”- Snowpals

What adventure(s) have you checked off your bucket list this year?

How do I join? Is there a membership fee?

We have a one-time membership fee of $20. This one-time fee helps us pay for web hosting, technical website services, group management and various operations such as facilitating Bay Area-Tahoe ride shares and organizing social events. Our aim is to help you connect with like-minded folks whose interest is snow-sports, network with other Bay Area professionals, and generally, grow your circle of friends. Our activities include pre-snow season ski-and-ride movie screenings, social events, and ski season parties. SnowPals is a dynamic, fun, friendly and engaging alternative to traditional ski and snowboard clubs for busy Bay Area professionals. Members range from newbies to experts in snow sports. Members ages vary from 18 to well into the 70s (single people and married couples with and without kids).

Membership perks include:

✔ Access to our Tahoe ridesharing members network of 8,025 members as of March 2017 (a free alternative to fee-based Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services)
✔ 10% off selected social events
✔ Swag and lift tickets raffle giveaway at our events
✔ In the off-season, we often facilitate connections for outdoors activities such as hiking, road cycling, mountain biking, wakeboarding, surfing, etc. to encourage an active lifestyle.

Founded in 1999 by a small group of friends; as of April 1, 2017, we have grown to 8,025 members. Join us to celebrate 18 years of snow sports activities and connect with members for Tahoe trips. Read some feedback from folks who’ve joined.

Screen shot of postings from our forum from April of last season:

Snowpals-group-forum

New Member Sign-Up

To become a member of SnowPals, submit this application and pay a one-time $20 membership fee payment using the PayPal payment button below. The fee is nonrefundable, however, your membership is transferable to another person if you so choose within 14 days of payment. Please note that, in accordance with our Privacy Policy, your personal info will not be given or sold to anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

** Once you’ve submitted the above membership form, please send payment with the PayPal button below. Once payment have been processed, we’ll send you an invite to join the forum. Look for our invite in your inbox (with some email services, it may show up in the spam folder). Please note: allow up to 24 hours (Mon – Fri, non-holidays, 9am to 5pm) for your membership application to be processed and an invite to be sent to the email you specified in the form above.


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* Please note: the group’s name was changed from Ski Pals to Snow Pals to include all snow sports (ski, snowboard, cross-country, telemark, back-country, and snowshoe).

Got a question? Drop us a line via  and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Kirkwood Under New Management: Oh, By The Way — Part 2 of 2

24 December 2012 

By Vicki Olds, aka Shibumi – “Snowpals Reporter At-Large”

Last week we asked some “locals” how they felt about the new management at Kirkwood. This week we’re highlighting a few dining destinations, and one historic B&B, along the way, and in Kirkwood Valley.

Let’s face it: Kirkwood is Big Mountain Fun—so close to the San Francisco Bay Area, you can practically smell it in the tule fog that makes your passage through the Central Valley, at times, harrowingly poetic. Yet getting from here to THERE can be a long haul, chomping 6-8 hours of your waking life in the to-and-fro, and that’s not accounting for a traffic accident (drive safely, always!) on two-lane Hwy 88. Boo. Goodness gracious, aren’t we lucky to have SnowPals to ride with to make the time fly?

Certainly, hitting the road in the pre-dawn to make the slopes and back by 9pm in a whirlwind, mission-from-God-type, herculean effort, is something many of us have done because, like, there’s no good reason to dally in the valley? Are you one of those people who feels lost if your smart phone can’t find a Starbucks near? Do you race along the byways of the Sacramento River delta, determined to put as many miles behind you as your gas tank and bladder will allow with no favorite pit stop?

LOCKEFORD, CA

On Hwy 88, and about fifteen miles northeast of Stockton, you will find the hamlet of Lockeford, home of the COUNTRY CAFÉ that opens every day at 5:30am. This is the place you bring your big appetite, to leave it behind. Breakfast burritos ($7), chicken fried steak and eggs ($9), and the Combo Special of waffles plus 3 eggs plus 3 sausages ($8.50) are eye openers. Fish & chips, homemade salsas and generous Mexican dinners, such as Chili Verde Steak with rice & beans ($10.29), are served until 8pm—except on Tuesday when the cafe closes at 2pm. Have a beer and try the Gnarley Head house wines, locally-produced by Oak Ridge Winery in nearby Lodi CA.

THE INN AT LOCKE HOUSE is a beautifully restored bed and breakfast operation on property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, about 1,000 feet north from town center on Elliot Road. Proprietors, Lani and Richard Eklund bought the original estate of Dr. Dean J. Locke, founder of Lockeford, twenty years ago; fixed it up with love of finer things for six years, and now offer guest rooms with private baths—some with their own fireplace—all with views of English gardens. They’ll make you an Early Bird breakfast to-go if you want to hit the road before breakfasts are served between 7-9:30am. (209) 727-5715 http://www.theinnatlockehouse.com

JACKSON and PLYMOUTH, CA

Hwy 88 takes a dogleg in Jackson, to merge, briefly, with Hwy 49 in Gold Country. You’ll pass lots of eateries and hotels here. If you want sushi, OKO SUSHI is a gem for tempura lovers. It’s by the Safeway and other fast food joints at the north end of town on Hwy 49. If you keep going north just 12 miles, the town of Plymouth is the unlikely home of Zagat’s “#1” rated restaurant in the whole Sacramento Region, TASTE. Dinner entrees range from $31 to $50; yet we have filled-up on an array of appetizers … and wines! Plymouth calls itself the gateway to famous Amador Wine Country, and Taste is a five-time winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. But it’s not fussy. And you can’t miss it as it seems the only bustle on Main Street. (Gee, I just can’t say enough about this place, so I won’t.) Try it, someday.

KIRKWOOD, CA

You’re here! Before you buckled your boots, there are several hot BREAKFAST options to hold out for. MONTE WOLFE’S MOUNTAIN KITCHEN is to the left of the Kirkwood tickets office, off the main Mountain Village plaza. Daily, from 8a-4:30p, Starbucks coffee is served alongside pastries, eggs, salads, sandwiches and soups. Say hello to Chef “Daddy Wolfe” (he’s a burner) who makes a mean Wolfe Burger with chipotle aioli, cheese, bacon, and sautéed onions—totally non-fattening! There’s a “baked potato” bar and the full-service THUNDER SADDLE BAR here to hoot in, too. Or, slide into the Red Cliffs lodge where the KIRKWOOD GENERAL STORE offers “the best breakfast sandwich on the hill,” with a full service espresso bar, at their deli, as well as other sundry comforts, 7:30a-6p. SNOWSHOE THOMPSONS at Timber Creek, Chair 7, has hot pastries, burgers and pizza—no wonder the kids love it! Open 10a-4:30p, 7 days a week.

Did you know the KIRKWOOD INN & SALOON offers a Saturday Night Prime Rib Dinner ($26.95), and $2 tacos during Happy Hour, Monday through Friday 3-5p? BUB’S PUB (nee Cornice Grill) with nine beers on tap, and veggie and casual menu options served in the glow of big-screen TVs, is everyone’s favorite sports bar. It’s been getting a facelift lately, yet when Bub’s reopens they’ll be serving Pizza & A Pint ($7.25) and Dirty Blonde Ale pints for $4 from 11a-9p. Dinner reservations are required at OFF THE WALL BAR & GRILL but you can enjoy their primo location, and upscale wine and bar choices Sunday through Thursday, with a lunch menu on Friday and Saturday only, from 11a-5p. 209-258-7365

For a full list of Kirkwood noshes, please visit http://winter.kirkwood.com/site/resort-services/resort-dining.

Why not enjoy the ride, on and off the hill?

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