Part 3 Interview with Robert Shattuck, founder of San Francisco Backcountry Skiers (SFBS) Community on Facebook Groups – Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series
Could you tell us a little about yourself, how you got into BC snow sports, the background of your backcountry Facebook group and how it came to be created, and where are the majority of members based out of?
I got into Backcountry Skiing after realizing there was more to being in the mountains, than summer backpacking, but I started off on snowshoes, learning the basics of winter camping, then figured out I should actually learn to ski–why walk down all those hills?
I was about fifty-two and hadn’t skied more than a few days in my entire life. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have partners and I couldn’t really afford gear–at least not new gear.
I bought everything used. I looked for rides on Craigslist and I found a super cheap lodging option near Northstar and decided to get a season pass. I kept trying to find weekday skiers, with cars, that maybe wanted to head into the backcountry, mainly just to cruise around and camp, sit, enjoy the solitude. I’m not out to nail big lines, go fast or take chances.
I still didn’t really know anything about backcountry awareness, safety or AIARE courses and then one day, on a lark, I created San Francisco Backcountry Skiers(see the group’s link below under resources to visit/join), thinking if I got just one or two people, that lived in the city and had cars, that didn’t mind being out in the snow, getting wet and so on, I might increase my chances of getting out more, with the right people.
The importance of trying on gear and testing them out before you get into the backcountry can be visualized with the following photo of Bob at the beach geared up with a backdrop of waves crashing yonder.
With the impact of resort closures due to the COVID pandemic from mid-March of this year, describe from your observations if you’ve seen an increase in demand for backcountry skiing/boarding/snow-sports?
I think that there might be an initial increase in backcountry users and hopefully they buy a lot of nice gear (wink-wink) and get the proper training, but then I think about the guy that I bought my first set of real touring skis ( not the rusty cable tele-skis I was using ) from—a guy who looked like he was made of money and had no problem dumping a nice set-up on me for a super bargain price and when I asked why he was selling them, he said that backcountry skiing was a lot more work than he had thought it would be.
My hope is that the masses, the weekend skiers, hauling the kids and mother-in-law up for the weekends, will in fact figure out that backcountry skiing is, in every regard, ” a lot more work” and they’ll just keep those weekend lift lines busy.
Do you have backcountry snow sports folks from around the world visiting Tahoe/Sierra Nevada? Would BC ski visitors be able to connect with your FB group to freeski/ride with when they join your group?
When we first started San Francisco backcountry Skiers on Facebook and I should add that by “we” I mean, with the addition of Andy Rathbun and Tom Cal and later, Alyssa Oldenberg Meltzer, I figured the group being fairly name/region specific would bring in a lot of locals and it was almost a point in my member selection process to just go for SF locals, but really, it’s Facebook, it’s world-wide and the group benefits from all sorts of input, from skiers and boarders all over the place, not to mention the wisdom and resources of several professional snow safety/guiding experts and organizations.
There you have it; share your passion and for those whose world resonates at the same wavelength, the beginning of beautiful relationships coalesce 😉
Backcountry Skiing, Snow-Sports Resources
✔ San Francisco Backcountry Skiers Facebook Group: ‘San Francisco Backcountry Skiers (and Riders) is a resource and inspiration for people in the San Francisco area (and beyond) who are interested in backcountry skiing and riding. SFBS welcomes both experienced and aspiring backcountry skiers and riders.’ Membership type: free, public group. 3.3k members. Visit their FB group page.
✔ SnowPals.org is a non-traditional snow-sports club for busy Bay Area professionals. Join SF Bay Area professionals to expand your circle of ski and ride buddies (resort based and backcountry), btw, that’s how we came up with our name: Snow (Snow-Sports) + Pals. Membership type: one-time paid membership fee of $20; join SnowPals. Read members’ intros to get an idea who joins. Founded in 1999 by a small group of friends; we are now 8,249 members and growing. Celebrating our 21st year of connecting folks to expand their circle of snow sports activity partners.
✔ California Ski Company in Berkeley is one of the top ski shop retailer for ski gear for sale and rentals, plus boot fitting and equipment service. Cal Ski Co is a ‘specialty ski shop focused on ski equipment sale and rental since 1989. They sell and rent equipment for both Resort and Backcountry Ski Touring. Their team of expert ski boot fitters are the best in the business. They repair and tune about anything that slides on snow.’
✔ Backcountry and Outback Adventures for Telemark and Randonee Ski Rentals, Fremont, CA and Larkspur, CA – Outback Adventures is a comprehensive outdoor adventure guide service, rental shop, and paddlesports and nordic ski specialty retailer located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Located in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park, Wuksachi Lodge is a modern lodge with 102 guestrooms. It offers a cocktail lounge, a full service restaurant and both a retail and ski shop. At an elevation of 7,050 ft. (1,980 m), Wuksachi Lodge is only 4 miles away from the Giant Forest Museum.
Delaware North Parks & Resorts offers multiple services like overnight accommodations, retail, food and beverage, etc. at Kings Canyon National Park in the area of Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. Limited Internet is available in some areas of the main lodge. Wuksachi Lodge is open throughout all the seasons.
At an elevation of 6,500 ft (1,980 m), the Grant Grove Cabins is located in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. It offers 6 types of cabins; some are even opened all year. Main attractions like a sequoia grove, gifts shop, markets and restaurants are half a mile (800m) away from the Grant Grove Cabins. Open: All Year (limited in the winter)
✔ PEAR LAKE WINTER HUT
Managed by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Pear Lake Winter Hut is a rustic hut of 10 bunk beds that opens during winter and requires reservations but only for wilderness skiers who travel to Pear Lake during the cold season. At an elevation of 9,200 ft. the hut sits high above Lodgepole. This hut includes a wood-pellet stove. To get to it, you need to go through six miles on skis or snowshoes. Reservations can be made online or by phone: 559-565-3759.
Got a key backcountry resource not listed here that you’d like to share? Contact . Advance thanks for sharing.
* Browse Tahoe area rentals and private seasonal ski leases:
* Browse shared ski leases: :
* How to increase bookings for your rental, ski lease listing on Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey, Craigslist: