How to join SnowPals

At SnowPals we help foster friendships and encourage personal enrichment by sharing snow-sports experiences. Join SF Bay Area Professionals to expand your circle of ski and ride buddies, btw, that’s how we came up with our name: Snow (Snow-Sports) + Pals.

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. Also, a great way to network professionally since most of our members are busy Bay Area and Silicon Valley professionals who share a keen interest to make the most of their recreational time for trips to Tahoe and other powder destinations (road trips & air travel after the pandemic is behind us) for snow-sports. In addition, socially connect with skiers and snowboarders in regards to all things Tahoe.

Read members’ introductions to get an idea who joins SnowPals.
How to join SnowPals
View Upcoming Bay Area & Tahoe Events: opportunities to meet in-person (after the pandemic) with skiers and boarders near you.

Connect with skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels for trips to Tahoe and to snow destinations covered by your multi-resort ski season pass especially like Epic, Ikon, Powder Alliance and the Mountain Collective Pass.

As a result of the COVID pandemic, we encourage all to abide by state and county safety guidelines as specified for your county’s COVID color coded tier. For Tahoe ridesharing, please keep updated with safety requirements detailed here and arrange ridesharing/carpooling with one or at most two other people for the entire winter season to maintain the same rideshare bubble to reduce risk.

How do members connect for rides to Tahoe and other snow destinations?

SnowPals’ members only forum connects members for trips almost every day of the week since we have members who are college students, Bay Area working professionals, digital nomads, visitors on vacation to Lake Tahoe as well as retirees(who likes to ski off-peak weekdays, non-holiday periods) who engages in an active snow sports lifestyle.

Below is a screenshot of SnowPals’ members forum messages for Tahoe ride-share:

snowpals-members-forum-2020

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: I live in Monterey/Santa Cruz/Sacramento/Davis/Roseville/Stockton/Central Valley California, are there Bay Area members who can give me rides to Tahoe?

A: Yes, if you live along the route to North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada ski resorts, you can find rides since members stop along the route for a pitstop/to pick-up passengers on the way to Tahoe or other high Sierra resorts.

Q: Do you have ski/snowboard families? We are a skiing/snowboarding family and would like to meet other families who frequent Tahoe often to share snow sports experiences to give kids opportunities to meet new ski/ride friends to make the experience more fun.

A: Yes, many of our members have kids and would like to connect with other families to enjoy snow-sports together; often-times members collaborate to share a ski cabin to reduce their ski cabin lease expenses. Some parents enrolled their kids in resort based ski, snowboarding race training team programs. Many of our members got married over the years and became parents so naturally they would like to connect with other like-minded parents.

Q: I mainly do backcountry skiing/boarding, are there backcountry skiers/riders in the group?

A: Yes, we have many members who are backcountry skiers at various levels from beginners to expert touring level.

Q: I want to find folks for Nordic skiing/cross-country skiing and snowshoeing; are there members who engage in Nordic type snow sports?

A: Yes, we have members who cross train and who enjoys Nordic skiing/snowshoeing; a favorite destination is Lake Tahoe area’s backcountry trails, in addition, many often go to Yosemite National Park to not only engage in snow sports but to engage in winter snow photography and to enjoy off the beaten path Nordic skiing adventures.

Q: What’s the best way to meet people?

A: Make a point to attend our meetups to meet skiers, snowboarders in person to quickly establish rapport and plan Tahoe trips. Nothing beats in-person socializing which instantly creates rapport and connect by way of sharing similar interests and activities.

Screenshot of Tahoe Ride-share Contacts Preferences:

tahoe-rideshare-contacts

After college, it’s likely that our circle of friends become smaller and smaller with each passing year as family and work responsibilities require a bulk of our personal time, so at SnowPals, we would like to help expand your circle of snow-sports buddies so you can go on more powder ski and snowboarding trips than you have done in previous years.

At SnowPals, we help to expand your FUN horizon by connecting with SF Bay Area professionals of all ages/skill levels, college students and even retirees for Tahoe ski, ride trips and POWDER trips to snowy destinations world-wide. Network, connect and socialize with our active and friendly members.

Before the ski season starts (in October), join our pre-snow season ski-and-ride movie screenings, ski/board festivals, connect for ride-shares and join winter ski leases to make the most of your ski pass.

Our members often extend group activities into the summer seasons. We encourage an active lifestyle of not only snow-sports but the entire gamut of outdoor recreational activities, in the off-season, members often engage in various activities from active travel adventures to tropical R & R destination vacations or travel to bucket list destinations, or locally connect for nature hikes, surfing, sky-diving, rock climbing, mountain biking, wake boarding among other outdoor activities.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that ..

Ski and snowboard friendships often last a lifetime as they are built on a core shared interest.

“Create ski and snowboarding memories today so when in later years, you’ll reminisce about moments that will likely to triggered joyful smiles. That is in two words: ‘truly priceless’ 😉 “- SnowPals

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

* To get an idea of folks who join SnowPals, the following are excerpts of members’ intros:

“I love snowboarding and starting to get into backcountry riding. Open to riding with new people and meeting others who are into BC riding/skiing.” – Daphne from Newark, CA

“Will be based in Tahoma and skiing on the Tahoe Local Epic pass this season. Getting back to skiing after a 10-year hiatus.” – Lydia

“I finally moved back to Roseville after living in Portland for the last 5 years. I’ve got season pass to Sierra at Tahoe & hoping to have a good snowboarding season! Ill be mostly going on the weekends, and taking a few days off here and there on weekdays. Im interested in tahoe rideshare & possibly finding mates for snowboarding!” – V from Roseville, CA

“I’ve lived in the Bay Area for nearly 4 years now. I’ve skied off and on for about 19 years (with a big layoff in between). I started skiing annually again about 5 years ago. I mainly ski in Park City, UT (A big group of friends host an annual ski trip there).
This year I decided to really lean in and embrace skiing more. I purchased my own equipment and an all resort Epic Pass. I plan on visiting Tahoe a few times this year and hopefully a few non-CA resorts as well. I would love to find a buddy or group to join for a few trips this year. I’m open to joining a ski lease as well.” – Kevin from Emeryville, CA

“I am a digital nomad and thought it would be fun to spend some time up in Tahoe improving my boarding and skiing skills. I would love to find a ski lease that could be a month continuous or at least two to three weeks at a time, maybe twice over the season. I am a fun, easy-going person who can be social or quiet, as needed. I don’t want to live in a party house, but love to cook, enjoy wine, beer and cocktails and board games (sorry!). I am from LA, but please don’t hold that against me, I love San Francisco” – Dagney from SF, CA

“I am an intermediate snowboarder who enjoys park and free riding. 19/20 will be my 2nd full season. I have a season pass for Heavenly and Sierra and looking to ride up with people who enjoy snowsports. I live in San Jose.” – Mike

“Hi Skiers and Snowboarders!

I’ve been snowsporting in Tahoe my whole life and would like to move there someday. My boyfriend Aaron and I are from Los Gatos, and we have both Ikon and Epic passes but love to visit smaller resorts as well. I also love going to ski movie premieres to get pumped up for the season. We can cook pretty well so you definitely want us in your ski lease. Can’t wait to meet you!” – Anna

“Hi, I am from Chicago, moved here in 2018 from DC and spent many excellent weekends at Kirkwood last season. Typically overstoked Midwesterner, have AWD car, Epic local pass. Mostly a weekend warrior to save vacation days, open to ski lease options, and living in Oakland. In warmer weather I’m climbing in Yosemite and elsewhere. Looking for folks excited to hit the slopes all day long!

Looking to connect with others who have Epic Local- Kirkwood is my favorite, but also open to Northstar/Heavenly.” – Josh from Oakland.

Hi my name is Claire and I’m based in SF. I have the Ikon pass, and am interested in finding people to carpool with to Squaw Alpine.

I like to Ski and do Cross-country skiing too.”

“Hi, I grew up in SF, am 24, and recently got into skiing. I am hoping to go up more this season and am looking for a group or ski buddies to go with! 🙂 ” – Harmony

“Hello, I’m frequently driving back and forth from South Lake Tahoe to the Peninsula close to the weekends. I ferry my 6 year old daughter back and forth so we can ski together, but she’s with her dad during the school week. So, sometimes she’ll be in the car and sometimes it’s just me. I have a ski lease now, but hope to relocate to the area. I only travel during low traffic times. Hoping to connect with some weekly carpoolers!” – Ellen

“Hi All! I just moved out to San Francisco after spending some time in Chicago and New York, I currently am on Volunteer Ski Patrol at Squaw Valley So I’m up most weekends and looking to offer rideshare or catch a carpool with others. Myself and some of my family and friends are currently starting a new ski lease in Homewood and we’re hoping to use it to make some new friends! I’m 26 and work as a Programmer.” – Brian

“I am an intermediate skier living in the East Bay. “I’d like to go ski more often than I used to. Willing to team up with others to share rides to Tahoe. I have flexible schedule and can go most days during the week. I am professional in the tech field. Prefer to go Kirkwood, Heavenly & Northstar.” – John

“Hi, I’m from the UK working as a doctor at UCSF and looking to do as many day trips/weekend trips as possible. I’m mainly looking for a ride, but if friends happen, it was meant to be! I am clean and travel without skis.” – V.

“I love skiing (resort and backcountry) and all sorts of climbing — rock and ice, especially alpine routes. Most of my climbing was up in the OR + WA Cascades, so I’d love someone to show me around the Sierra climbing and backcountry skiing. For 2018-19, I have an Ikon Pass and looking to connect for rides to IKON resorts.” – Alex

Hello POWDER LOVERS, I’m Brian, 47, and I love to Snowboard, advance level, Surf, watch the SF Giants, and go to Happy Hour. I’m married with two great kids (in the middle school range). My wife is from Canada, and she’s realized her dream of making me a devout snow monkey. We bought season passes for the first time this year, so I’m aiming to put as many miles on my Epic Pass as I can. The kids play sports so our Tahoe trips are tag team with one schlepping kids while the other ski’s/boards. I drive our Subaru Outback when I go and like not needing chains. I’m interested in carpooling with anyone else who wants to day trip. I typically go to Kirkwood from San Mateo on weekends, and some weekdays.” – Brian

“Hello! I’m AJ, a PhD student at UC Berkeley who loves XC skiing. I also like snowshoeing. I’m hoping to get out to Tahoe on the weekends, and maybe even for longer during the holidays. Here for good company, new friends, ride shares, ski buddies, and also lodging-sharing.”

“Hi everyone! I’ve lived in in SF for about 3 and a half years and am hoping to get up to Tahoe as much as possible on the weekends for some riding (intermediate/advance) this year. I would definitely be interested in ride-sharing with anyone who has space in their vehicle (I don’t have one). I’ve got the Ikon Base Pass so I will likely mostly be going to Squaw/Alpine, but open to other locations on Blackout Dates.” – Mike

“Hey, I live in Menlo Park, moved here from Toronto, Canada 1.5 years ago. Interested in carpooling up to Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar. Epic Local Pass holder. Preference is to drive up Friday nights. I have an AWD SUV with chains, can comfortably take 3 plus gear. I don’t have a ski lease so very interested in exchanging driving for a guest stay nights at a lease. I am planning on getting into the backcountry scene as I accumulate the required gear.” – Andrew

– “Hi, I have been in the Bay Area for awhile (since 2000), married with kids, but still like to go snowboarding / skiing when I can. I have used the ski bus a number of times in the past, but this year I have an Ikon pass so have to focus on ride-sharing to Squaw Valley as often as possible. Either me driving up and taking a passenger, or joining in with someone who is already driving up. I’m the “quiet / dependable” engineer type. If I say I’ll be ready to go at 4 am I’ll be there on time and ready to go. Cheers!”- Eric

“I’m super excited since I just relocated to Petaluma which is a bit closer drive to Tahoe and one of my fav most beautiful places to snowboard. I’m mainly interested the Tahoe rideshare because I don’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and don’t trust driving in storms. I am flexible on resort we go to and am interested in crashing at a ski lease as a guest for only a couple of nights if available. I usually can take off Fridays so we can leave early in the AM. I’m also able to meet up somewhere in East Bay or Sacramento and then we carpool from there. Super excited to shred some gnar!” – Megan

“Hello there! I moved here from Illinois last year and tried snowboarding for the first time last season. Fell in love with the sport and bought a pass to Sierra at Tahoe as well as an Epic Local for the upcoming season! Along with a ton of awesome gear so I don’t have to stand in long rental lines anymore. I’m interested in finding people who plan on getting out to Tahoe pretty much every weekend this season. I was told I should come here, so here I am!” – Marcus

“New to the Bay Area and pretty clueless about the various Tahoe resorts. I had a great ski group back East and I definitely miss them. Have Epic Pass and opened to Tahoe trips. Originally from South Carolina have been a Bay Area Resident as of August 2018.” – Matt

“Hello, A little bit about myself: single mom with 2 kids. We live in Scotts Valley. I work in Tech in Menlo Park so lots of commuting and computer hours.

I have been a skier since I was about 8. Last season we were at Heavenly quite a lot and spent $$$ on ski school and accommodations. I did find the ski school absolutely fantastic though and one of my friends recommended their ski team.

So here we are, I have signed both kids up for Heavenly’s Comet program and so looking forward to it and connecting with SnowPals who have kids who are in similar resort programs.

Thanks and looking forward to a great season.” – Mercedes

“Hello there! I moved from France to the Bay Area a couple of years ago but finally decided to get a season pass this year (Epic Local for Kirkwood, Heavenly and North Star) I don’t have a FWD car so I’m looking for ski buddies who would be willing to share the ride, ideally super early Sat mornings, but could also make it work some Fridays. I am an intermediate / advanced skier, perfectly comfortable skiing on my own but I would love connecting with people of similar level – powder is always more fun with friends!” – Laura

“Hi, I’m a Montana-native, newly transplanted to the Bay Area. Driving three hours (each way) alone is a bummer, so let’s ride together. I like to Ski, Snowboard and do Back-country skiing or snowboarding” – Adam

“Long time advanced level snowboarder. I prefer weekdays as Friday to Sunday are too crowded. I have the epic Tahoe local pass. I go to Northstar, heavenly and Kirkwood. Interested in finding snow board buddies and interested in a ski lease.” – Patricia

Hello there, I grew up snowboarding in Colorado and have been in the Bay Area for the last year. I am trying the Ikon pass this year so hoping to get a few trips to Squaw. I like to Snowboard (Advance level), Cross-country skiing, Snowmobiling, Snow shoeing and Ice skating” – Ellen

“Always looking for a ride up to the mountain. Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar. Epic Local Pass holder. My family owns a cabin about an hour away (depending on conditions). I like to leave the Bay Area Thursday evenings, stay at the cabin, ski Fridays and Saturdays and be home by Sundays. Can definitely host at the cabin. Rustic, but sleeps 3 comfortably. Can meet at any BART station for ride share.” – Josh

“Hi! I live in Sausalito, expert skier ( I lived in Vail for 3 seasons and taught 6-12 yr olds in ski school), and i purchased the Epic Pass this season— will be going to Vail for a week, Mar 9-16, but looking to utilize Epic Pass more this season, Locally~! Looking for other advanced/expert skiers to carve some turns with in Tahoe, at any of the Epic Pass accepted resorts. Also looking for ride shares to Tahoe, and occasional places to stay/share. I work for myself, so driving schedule is VERY flexible—-prefer to NOT be stuck in traffic, and weekdays are fine with me. I have an AWD Cayenne that fits 4 -5 people and equipment, or am happy to pitch in, if someone else can drive. Im also single, successful professional, i own my own company, and am hoping to meet other singles (men) that are active and enjoy the sports I am passionate about—- which include skiing and road biking/cycling:) Lets go skiing!!” – Janna

“Hi, I’m from Sonoma and work as a Chef. Been skiing Tahoe my whole life; have a family cabin on Donner. Currently living in Sonoma and ski primarily midweek, storm chaser looking to connect with same, all business; got a Sugar Bowl pass.” – Brannon

Read additional feedback from folks who’ve joined SnowPals.


Why are new members required to send in a self-intro as part of SnowPals’ new member application?

Although internet interactions are quick and easy, they tend to be very one dimensional, unlike meeting someone face-to-face where you can immediately relate with and can readily establish rapport with; hence, to offset this, we need a catalyst in the form of a self-introduction whereby new members send in a self-intro as part of their membership application to facilitate social connections. Reading a person’s self-intro helps members to get to know more about the new member and to learn more about what his/her snow sports interests which helps to serve as conversation starter and can result in cultivating new friendships, or, at the very least to connect for Tahoe ride-sharing to share carpool trip expenses and to help reduce our carbon footprint impact to our natural environment for our benefit and for our future generations.

Membership perks:

✔ Access to our Tahoe ridesharing/carpool members network of 8,249 members. We’re a free alternative to fee-based Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. Expand your circle of ski and ride buddies for resort skiing and riding or opt for the backcountry and have the safety of a wing man and woman to stay safe.
✔ Participate in fun and engaging social events
✔ We often hold giveaway raffles for swag and lift tickets at our events and online
✔ In the off-season, we may facilitate connections for outdoor activities such as hiking, road cycling, mountain biking, wakeboarding, surfing, etc. to encourage an active lifestyle.

Our members range from newbies to experts in snow sports. Members ages vary from 18 to well into the 70s (single people and married and separated couples with and without kids).

How do I join?

Unlike traditional ski and snowboard clubs with yearly membership fees, join SnowPals community for free; here’s how:

1) Post a message with a link to SnowPals.org on your social media Facebook/Instagram to promote us.

2) a screenshot of your post and the link to your social media post.

3) Within 24 hours of receiving your screenshot of your social media post promoting us ((Monday to Friday and excluding holidays), we will a) verify your posting and then b) we’ll send you an invite to SnowPals members forum. Please note this process can not be rushed.

New Member Sign-Up

New member application. Please complete the required steps above to promote us on social media which will earn you an invite to join our member's forum.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Have a question? .

* Please note: our club/group’s name was changed from Ski Pals to Snow Pals to be inclusive of all snow sports (ski, snowboard, Alpine skiing, kite-skiing, riding, cross-country, telemark, backcountry, ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, ice hockey, snowmobiling, etc).

** In addition to Tahoe trips, join us to plan POWDER Destination Trips to:

1) Mammoth Mountain Trips (in Central Sierra Nevada)

2) Utah

3) Colorado

4) British Columbia Trips / Whistler Blackcomb

5) Hakuba, Niseko also known as the Japanese Alps

6) Other international ski and ride trips to Europe, South America, Australia (endless winter skiing and riding) covered by your multi-resort pass

If you are a holder of a multi-resort season pass like EPIC PASS, IKON PASS AND MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE PASS, POWDER ALLIANCE PASS, ETC, join us to make the most of your ski pass to chase POWder at resorts worldwide.

Trip dates and lodging are opened to discussion and planning by all club/group members; you can propose a trip and if folks are interested, can join in.

SnowPals-ski-ride-snowsports-activity-partners

♥ Got family and friends who like to ski or snowboard? Please tell them about SnowPals.org – “Join SnowPals to expand your circle of ski and ride buddies, connect for Tahoe ride-sharing (share trip expenses) and help reduce your carbon foot print impact, hence helping to preserve our our environment for us and for future generations.”

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Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series, part 4

Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series

Part 4: interview with Richard Bothwell, Backcountry Touring Guide and Director of the Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC)

richard bothwell inbounds hiking

Photo Credit: Richard Bothwell

Part 4 – Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series

Background timeline context

The boom in backcountry skiing, snowboarding and other snow-sports was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic as ski resorts started closing down like falling dominoes starting in March of 2020 as state and local counties mandated ‘stay at home’ (SIP) orders as coronavirus outbreaks spiked.

Winter season 2020/21 will likely see similar trends especially pronounced if resorts are unable to implement effective protocols of limiting on-site visitors’ capacity, and social distancing especially indoors in common areas which will result in COVID infection outbreaks resulting in resorts’ closures.

Of particular concern is that finally CDC acknowledges that the coronavirus infection transmission is airborne by aerosols which means it is highly contagious. This fact does not bode well so we’ll see how this flu season and winter months play out.

Back to our topic, our backcountry Q&A feature looks at backcountry from a range of diverse perspectives, from an amateur to expert backcountry skier, from a ski shop small business retailer to backcountry touring guide, these Q&A series provide some key insights and also we’ll list resources to consider for avalanche safety training that is critical to stay safe in the backcountry. Most importantly, we list key resources to connect you with folks who share a passion and love for the backcountry.

Part 4 Q&A interview with interview with Richard Bothwell, Director of the Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) which has been around since 1996; OAC professional guides have been organizing and leading great adventures all over Tahoe Sierra Nevada and up and down the length of California ..

Richard bothwell violet

Could you tell us a little about your background in BC, snow-sports and how you came to create your backcountry skiing/Avy training and touring company; how it grew to become one of the best backcountry training camps around?

Sure! I started snowboarding in the early 90’s while living in NYC. In 1996 I moved to SF to help start the Outdoor Adventure Club and started riding at Squaw and in the Lassen backcountry. I also started learning about avalanches and wilderness first aid. I went through the AMGA Backcountry Ski Guide class soon after, as well as going through the AIARE instructor training program. I’ve been teaching/guiding for years, gaining experience in a variety of operations, including LTCC, Feather River College, ASI, and TMS, in addition to my own company. The Outdoor Adventure Club became an AIARE course provider, and permitted to guide backcountry trips in Lassen, where we love guiding and teaching. We’re working with the Forest Service to obtain a permit in Tahoe to teach avy classes in the Truckee area this winter, which will be nice as I live and ski in Truckee.

There are a few things that set the Outdoor Adventure Club backcountry program apart from other companies. We have smaller class sizes. We’re limiting our avalanche classes to 8 students with two instructors this year. Most avy classes have 12 or more students. It’s tough to get to everyone’s questions with that many students. We do a lot of private classes, too. If you have a group, we can set up a custom class just for you and your friends. Mentorship is an important part of backcountry education, so we offer an open door to students who want to follow up and ask more questions after the classes. And we have a FB group just for people who have taken our classes, where you can continue to learn, meet other backcountry skiers/riders, plan trips, etc. In “normal’ years we have everyone in our avalanche classes stay in our house in Lassen during the class. This provides an immersive learning environment, where you can ask questions to your instructor over breakfast or dinner.

How many backcountry training levels do you offer?

Richard Bothwell couloir

We teach backcountry skills as well as avalanche classes. We also teach online classes on using CalTopo to plan trips.
For people who are new to the backcountry we have a great intro to backcountry program where you learn the mechanics of backcountry skiing/riding, while getting out skiing/riding. We have a one day class in Tahoe and a weekend-long program in Lassen, where (Covid-depending) everyone stays in our cabin there.

We also have AIARE avalanche classes, AIARE 1, AIARE 2 and Avalanche Rescue. And we have a really cool AIARE refresher class, where you go out with a small group and run through your processes, under the watchful eye of a guide/instructor. It’s a unique opportunity for recreational skiers to see if they are applying what they learned in their avy class.

When Covid hit, we pivoted quickly to develop a series of online “mini-classes” focusing on avalanches that people can take as either new material, a refresher, or prep for an avy class. Some people just aren’t able to commit the time to a full class, or they are just interested in one topic, like “what is surface hoar?”..we created a class just for those people.

We have a series of online classes just for using CalTopo to plan trips. There’s so many features to CalTopo, with little documentation, so a lot of people don’t realize the power it has. We get people up to speed using everything from basics to advanced features.

With the impact of resort closures due to the Covid pandemic from mid-March of this year, can you describe from your observations if there’s an increase in demand for backcountry snow-sports?

Oh yeah. There is a huge uptick in interest among people who want to get into the backcountry. I’m hearing from people who want to get into the backcountry for the first time, and I’m hearing from “50-50” folks people who historically split their time between resorts and the backcountry. It seems like everyone wants to get into the backcountry this winter. It’s going to be an interesting, exciting season I’m sure!

What is the most important aspect of backcountry that you would like to get across to new-comers?

Be patient.

There’s a lot to learn and it’s a long, fun process to gain that knowledge. You should take an avalanche class, but taking an avalanche class doesn’t teach you everything you need to know.

Oh, it’s also dangerous…people can/do die going into the backcountry. Fortunately, people don’t die often, but it does happen. And in Tahoe accidents often happen only a short distance from the road.

So what’s important? Be patient. Start with a cup of coffee. Literally and figuratively. Start small, especially with new partners, or going to a new area. If your spider sense is tingling, listen to it. If you realize the group you’re with isn’t behaving how you’d like…bail. The best time to bail is before you leave the trailhead, so get to know your team before you get to the trailhead.

How does a newbie get started?

Richard in Alaska

Give me a call at 415.377.1195 and let’s set up a private day of guided skiing or splitboarding! Seriously, going with a guide is a great way to get started. Get out and do it with someone who is well prepared to manage the risks, while also able to choose appropriate terrain for you, and who is a good teacher. That’s a tough mix to find in a recreational setting, especially in groups. Get a couple of friends together to split the cost, and let’s go have some fun!

Take a couple of classes; Take an intro to backcountry class and an AIARE 1 avalanche class. Then go skiing with friends, once you can contribute to the team planning, discussions and decision making.

None of the technical skills of backcountry riding are difficult. Skinning, transitioning, making uphill turns, when to use crampons, etc. I’ve never met anyone who can’t do it. But I’ve met a lot of people who have terrible form, are inefficient and fall over their skis. Spending a day with a guide gets you up the learning curve a lot faster, confirms you’re doing it right, and should put you on a good path for more training.

You can skip classes and get started by going with friends, but we’ve all heard horror stories about being taught to ski by friends in resorts. Think about that dynamic in the backcountry and you can imagine how things can be sub-optimal.

When you do start going out recreationally, start with short, less committing trips. Go out on days when the avalanche advisory suggests the danger level is low. Go out on days with clear weather. Go on trips with easy route-finding. Ski on terrain that is well within your ability level. Go out with people you know. If you feel like your friend is pushing you into something more committing than you’d like, don’t go. No one is forcing you to go backcountry skiing.

We’re lucky these days- there are so many great brands creating great gear. The challenge we have is tuning our gear choices to our objectives. What works well for someone else, doing something else may not be the ideal gear for us. My splitboard boots for day trips are different than my boots for overnight trips, for instance. I chose my ski bindings with an eye toward reliable release. Someone else may priortize light weight.

The essential gear list:

Ski straps
Avy gear- every day, every partner; transceiver, shovel, probe
First aid gear- including splints, pressure bandages, steri strips
First aid training
Rescue gear*- sled, tarp
Repair kit/tool
Headlight
Navigation gear- map, compass, app with your route in it (I’m a big fan of CalTopo)
Communication gear- varies with the location, but includes a whistle for everyone, phone, FRS radios to talk in the team, InReach to get a message out to the outside world
PB&J

*For years I’ve heard people say that rescue sleds are “guide gear”, not recreational gear. Rescue sleds are gear for people who want to be prepared to deal with injuries in the backcountry. People break legs and tear ACLs in the backcountry. If your partner breaks a leg a mile from the car, how are you going to get him/her back? Hitting SOS on your Inreach may get a response, but it could be hours or overnight before help arrives. Are you ready for that?

What mountain guide trips are you planning for 20/21 winter?

What is the takeaway message for newbies, intermediate & advance level BC skiers in regards to what you’d like folks to learn from your experience and outfit?

Go skiing. It’s fun. Do it often. It’s more fun the more you do it. Keep learning.

If you’re new, ease into it.

If you’re intermediate, find a more experienced friend to mentor you and help you sharpen your skills.

If you’re more experienced, help out the newbies. We were all new to the backcountry once. There will probably be a lot of people who could benefit from your insights this season. Don’t take people out on trips over their head, and seek out opportunities to take less experienced people on easier trips.

My trip plans for this year: With the expected influx of so many more people in the backcountry this year, I know the roadside standards/classics are going to be crowded. I’m using that as motivation to explore new areas, go to less well known trailheads, check out some of the lines that I’ve always wanted to ride, but never motivated myself to get after. I’m looking forward to some adventures!

For everyone:
Have a plan for every trip. Sometimes plans are really simple, sometimes not. Reflect on each day, the good ones and the bad ones, so your next trip will be awesome. What did we do that we’d want to do again? When did we first get a sense that things were going sideways? Have frank conversations with partners before, during and after trips…Tell your partners what you expect from them before the trip…hold them to it during the trip, and let them know how they did after the trip.
Pick your partners wisely, and don’t ski with people who rub you the wrong way.

Richard Bothwell

Program Director, Guide,
AMGA SPI Climbing Guide
AIARE Level 1 and 2 Avalanche Educator
PSIA Ski Instructor &
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Outdoor Adventure Club
“Make every weekend count!”
415.377.1195

For more information, browse events and outings at OutdoorAdventureClub.com

Outdoor Adventure Club backcountry ski and snowboard program
Outdoor Adventure Club online classes

outdoor-adventure-club-sf-bay-area

Part 1 

Part 1 Backcountry skiing Q&A interview with Alyssa Olenberg-Meltzer who got into backcountry skiing and loves it from the start; she has four winters of experience.

Part 2 

Read our Q&A with Greg of California Ski Company, a retail store specializing in ski, backcountry, and touring gear and service based in Berkeley, CA.

Part 3 

Interview with Robert Shattuck, founder of San Francisco Backcountry Skiers (SFBS) Community on Facebook Groups.

Part 5 

Interview with Carl Hlavenka, ski patroller with Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol and California Winter Search and Rescue Team North

Part 6 

Interview with Shane Robinson Owner & Lead Guide at Graybird Guiding based out of Mt. Baker, WA

Part 7 

Interview with Mathias Bjoern, Founder of 48 FreeRiders, a backcountry ski, board community based out of Denmark

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.

Sierra Avalanche Center’s education resources where you can get the backcountry safety education and hands on training

Lake Tahoe Backcountry Ski Topographic Maps and Guidebook

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. Looking for a job? Cal Ski Co is currently hiring as of October 29, 2020. Full-time and part-time employment available: job openings, ski tech and boot-fitter. Experience is desirable but not necessary. The only criteria is that you are a skier. Interested or know of someone who is? Email resumes to .’

✔ 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.

Sequoia National Park Lodging WUKSACHI LODGE

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.

GRANT GROVE CABINS

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:
🏂
http://www.snowpals.org/rentals/

* Browse shared ski leases: :
🏂
http://www.snowpals.org/leases/

* How to increase bookings for your rental, ski lease listing on Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey, Craigslist:
🏂
http://www.snowpals.org/2020/property-owners-guide-tips-create-appealing-listing-vacation-rental-ski-lease/

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Featured Tahoe Ski Lease and Vacation Rental Listings

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Squaw Valley Ski Lease

squaw valley ski lease share ✔ Olympic Valley 2019-20 Ski Lease 3BR, 2 1/2 bath 1960’s vintage cabin with large communal open space, a king bedroom, double, and bunk room. E-Z access, only 10-minute drive to Squaw and Alpine Meadows – details & contact.

Heavenly Ski Run Townhouse Sleeps 6

south tahoe heavenly ski lease ✔ Heavenly Ski Run 2019-20 ski lease; everything is NEW and modern decor! gourmet kitchen, new appliances, new bathrooms, new washer/dryer, new carpet, new beds and linens. 950 sq feet townhouse with 2 bedrooms 1 1/2 bath: 1 queen bed, 1 full and 2 twin – details & contact.

–> Browse 2019-20 ski leases.

Lake Tahoe Area Vacation Rentals + Rentals Available for Seasonal Ski Lease

North Tahoe vacation rental ✔ Condo at Village at Squaw Valley. Skip the daily traffic this winter at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. Ski lease available for lovely condo at base of Squaw in The Village at Squaw Valley complex, a two-minute walk to ski lifts. Sleeps six, 1.5 bathrooms. Steps away from fitness center and two outdoor hot tubs. Includes underground parking for one vehicle and two ski lockers. Coin-operated laundry on same floor. One minute walk to free shuttle to Alpine Meadows. Lease term is December 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020. $5,000 per month plus departure cleaning fee – details & contact.

Truckee area vacation rental ✔ Blue Majestic – Tranquil Tahoe Keys Home$9000
Available to lease is this tranquil, 5 bedroom, 4200 sq. ft., waterfront home, with majestic views of the mountains and the channels, is the perfect location for families and friends to get together for a relaxing visit to South Lake Tahoe. Located just 3 miles from Heavenly, 4.8 miles from the casinos, and 16 miles to Sierra Ski Resort – details & contact.

–> Browse Tahoe area vacation rentals.

Have a ski lease or vacation rental you'd like to list?

*List your vacation rental or ski lease.

Read feedback and reviews from folks who have advertised with us.

* Browse ski leases.

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TGR’s San Francisco Ski & Snowboard Film Premiere of Winterland + Before Show Happy Hour

TGR-WINTERLAND-2019

What: San Francisco premiere of Winterland (Ski Snowboard Film Screening)

ABOUT WINTERLAND starring Jeremy Jones + Angel Collinson + Cody Townsend + Sage Cattabriga-Alosa + more..

“Winterland is a celebration of ski and snowboard culture. Today’s mountain athletes can only stand as tall as those who came before, the pirates of the past who followed their own path and passion. This story of adventure is far from over, as a new crop of modern-day pioneers are eager to etch their names in the annals of history. The technology and style might evolve, but the rush, excitement, and pure fun remain eternal, bonding past, present, and future riders. The film will follow these individuals as they leave their own mark on these fabled locations.”

How Much: Show Tickets are $20 each, only $10 for ages 16 & under at the early show.
Details: Lift ticket offer to Mt Bachelor for all attendees! 2-of-3 days for only $109

When: Tuesday, October 29, 2019Buy Early Show Tickets: Doors at 6:00 pm. Film at 6:30 pm. Buy Late Show Tickets: Doors at 8:30 pm, Film at 9:15 pm.

Where: Palace of Fine Arts

==> BEFORE THE FILM HAPPY HOUR

Join to meet SF Bay Area skiers/boarders, especially those with a ski season pass, either resort specific or multi-resort season pass like IKON, EPIC, POWDER ALLIANCE, or MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE PASS, to connect for ride-sharing to/from Tahoe resorts for the 2019-20 winter; share expenses, expand your circle of ski/ride buddies and reduce impacts to our environment; details + RSVP at http://www.snowpals.org/events

During the winter season, do find yourself driving to / from Tahoe resorts with mostly empty seats? Join SnowPals to ride-share and expand your circle of snow-sports friends in the process.

New to SnowPals? Read some of our members’ self-intros & join SnowPals’ 8k+ members to ride-share to/from Tahoe:

http://www.snowpals.org/how-to-join-snowpals/

TGR’s WINTERLAND YOUTUBE FILM PREVIEW


FILM/EVENT DESCRIPTION

San Francisco, get ready! On Tuesday, October 29th, TGR is returning to the Palace of Fine Arts for the winter kick-off party of the year. Join us to get hyped for the coming winter with our new feature length ski and snowboard film, Winterland.

Whether you choose to come to the family-friendly early show or to experience the party of the late show, it’s sure to be a great night. There will be a ton of prizes from our partners at Atomic, Volkl, The North Face and more. Plus, everyone in attendance will have a shot at the tour grand prizes – including trips to Sierra Nevada’s beer camp in California, TGR’s hometown Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and more. Don’t miss your chance to see Winterland on the big screen!

New this year – bring the groms for early entry, where families will have early access to seats, receive an exclusive TGR Grom Squad helmet sticker, and an athlete meet and greet. Doors will open at 5:45 pm for families with kids under age 16 only.

For those of you looking for a more exclusive experience, we are also bringing Winterland for an early look at the film at our WhiSKI Series at the Delancey Street Theatre, on Friday, October 11th. This intimate event includes a high-end whiskey tasting (featuring High West Distillery whiskeys), athlete and production team Q&A, and VIP screening of the film.

–> VIP SCREENING Friday, October 11, 2019 WINTERLAND WhiSKI Series BY High West Distillery EVENT DETAILS

What: WhiSKI Series – San Francisco premiere of Winterland
When: Friday, October 11. Doors at 6:45 pm, Whiskey tasting and Q&A at 7:00 pm, Film at 8:00 pm.
Where: Delancey Street Screening Room

EVENT DESCRIPTION

TGR is bringing our small batch experience back to San Francisco! Join us in a more exclusive setting on Friday, October 11th as the TGR WhiSKI Series heads to Delancey Street Theatre. This intimate event pairs a VIP screening of our new ski and snowboard film, Winterland, with a high end Whiskey tasting (featuring selections from High West Distillery) and Q&A from athletes and production team. In addition to the whiskey, all attendees will receive gift bags at this limited capacity event.

How Much: Tickets are $75 and include: High West whiskey tasting, Q&A, gift bags and a VIP screening of Winterland.
ADULTS ONLY: 21+ only. BUY TICKETS AT TGR.

* Looking to join a Tahoe area ski lease to max out your ski season pass, expand your circle of ski buddies, get a place to store your ski gear and people to rideshare to your fave resorts? Browse 2019-20 ski leases @

http://www.snowpals.org/leases/

🏂⛷🏔️❄️

Got a ski lease you’d like us to feature? Reach your snow sports SF Bay Area professionals audience: get it listed.

In the works, pre-ski/board season happy hour and ski and snowboard film screenings; get on the list @

http://www.snowpals.org/events/

Read recently joined members’ intros & join SnowPals’ 8k+ members to rideshare to Tahoe and for buddies to ski/ride with at

http://www.snowpals.org/how-to-join-snowpals/

Browse Tahoe Rentals:

http://www.snowpals.org/rentals/

♥ Share this page with friends and family via twitterfacebook. List your vacation rental or ski lease. Browse more vacation rentals or ski leases.

 

 

You’re invited: Ski & Ride Winter Season Kick-off Party

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*** Annual Ski & Ride Winter Kick-off Party ***

What: Join to increase your ‘fun factor” by expanding your circle of ski, ride buddies for Tahoe ski trips & powder trips to other snow destinations especially covered by a multi-resort pass such as the
EPIC PASS, IKON PASS, MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE PASS + POWDER ALLIANCE PASS.

Our Host is Emily ..

“I was born & raised Vermonter, and a current Epic Pass holder. Most weekends you can find me at Kirkwood, or Heavenly shredding the pow. Interested in carpooling on weekends, or weekdays to any Epic Resorts. Looking forward to meeting everyone!”

– Swag giveaway: $25 Sports Basement gift card Sports Basement + other swag in the works

– Watch ski/ride video from last season to get stoked for winter season powder ski/ride trips to Tahoe, Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, South America Europe and Japan.

– Share POWDER Stories from last season and enjoy complimentary drinks and light snacks 😉

– Expand your circle of friends/buddies for snow sports & backcountry ski/ride partners as well

Find yourself driving to/from Lake Tahoe with mostly empty seats?

Carpool/RideShare with skiers, boarders who love snow sports as much as you, share expenses and help preserve our environment by ride-sharing to/from Tahoe.

Got your skis/snowboard tuned & waxed?

Get 20% off at this event to shop at Sports Basement for ski/ride gear & winter attire and get your skis, snowboard waxed, tuned/serviced while waiting for resorts to open.

When: Tuesday November 5, 2019 from 7 pm to 9 pm.

At 8 pm, we will have a swag drawing giveaway so get there early to partake – print your event ticket and it will be used as your drawing entry to win event swag.

7:30 PM – New ski & board gear demo
8:00 PM – Event Swag Giveaway Drawing
8:10 PM – Learn how to wax your skis / snowboard based on the type of snow slopeside

Where: Sports Basement Bryant, SF

1590 Bryant St

San Francisco, California 94103

event-rsvp-eventbrite

RSVP for this event on Eventbrite.

Important: PLEASE be courteous and let us know if you can’t make it after you have RSVPed; sign into EventBrite to change your RSVP so that we can get an accurate count of how many folks to expect. Behind the scene, we work tremendously hard to put together events so in return please be mindful to give us a heads up if your plans have changed and you can no longer attend. Much appreciated!

View events in other parts of the Bay Area.

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Fun Poll Questions

Which Tahoe resort do you ski / ride at most often?

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What's your Skiing / Snowboarding Experience?

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* New to SnowPals? Join us to expand your circle of ski and ride buddies and Tahoe ride-share contacts for powder trips to Tahoe and beyond.

Affiliates and Partners

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Photo Credit: Sierra-at-Tahoe

Page created on December 10, 2019.

Best in the Business: Our Affiliates and Partners

At SnowPals, we invite snow-sports businesses (world-wide) to join us as an affiliate to cross promote/share with San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe Area snow-sports consumers about what you do best: (1) services you offer, and/or (2) products you sell.

We strive to build stellar long-term business relationships with consumers; we strive to deliver great value and service to customers in order to build a genuinely loyal customer base; if this sounds like your business’ endeavor, please reach out to become an affiliate by submitting the form at the end of this page.

Our 2019/20 Affiliates List

South Bay

apres-ski-club-active-singles-logo

Apres’ Ski Club Lodge at Kings Beach (North Lake Tahoe): Join Apres ski and snowboard club based out of the Santa Clara, CA (South Bay) is a singles club for active adults residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Website: http://apres.org

Lake Tahoe

backcountry-ski-maps-logo

Backcountry Ski Maps is the best all-in-one backcountry ski touring maps on the marketplace where you can find all the route information you need on one piece of paper or via digital format on your smartphone or laptop. Website: https://backcountryskimaps.com

Canada

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SkiBuds: Find friends to ride with based on skill level making the skiing experience in Whistler, British Columbia more enjoyable. Website: http://www.skibudsapp.com

Our 2019/20 Partners List

snowpals-partners

If you’d like to partner with SnowPals, please reach out to for metrics and benefits of partnership.

What does becoming an affiliate entails? Send us a one sentence description detailing what you offer as a business, a URL link to your biz’s website and your business logo.

Please use the following sentence and logo to add SnowPals to your affiliates’ page (your business must have an affiliate page that you can easily include us on your page as well). We will in turn do likewise on this page, please contact (Monday to Friday, non-holidays, 9 AM to 5 PM) once you have added SnowPals to your business’ website. View a sample of what an affiliates’ page look like on SkiBuds’ website.

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For Lake Tahoe ski trips, join SnowPals.org – San Francisco Bay Area based snow-sports club for busy professionals, since 1999.

Become an Affiliate

Submit this form to become a SnowPals affiliate,
  • Send us a one sentence description detailing what you offer as a business.

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Saving the Planet One Rider At A Time

     snowpals_logo

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

SnowPals is making a difference; saving our planet and particularly the Lake Tahoe Basin, one ride-share at a time.

“Did you know there are 1 billion cars in the world?  Unfortunately, we’re set to double this in the next 10 years.  Each shared car takes 13 cars off the road (on average).  You can make a difference by sharing a car.”  — getaround.com

Since 1999, SnowPals members have ride-shared from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and back at least 5,100* times (this is a conservative estimate*).  For an average 400-mile round-trip to/from Tahoe in a vehicle that gets 28 miles per gallon average highway miles will burn 14.3 gallons of gas.  A gallon of gasoline burned releases 20 pounds of CO2 into the air.  By carpooling, each rider, in addition to the driver, represents 14.3 gallons of gasoline saved from being burned — or 286 pounds of carbon dioxide per round trip!

“Let’s break down how CO2 is produced: a gallon of gasoline weighs about 6 pounds. Roughly 90% of that mass is carbon or about 5.5 pounds.  When that carbon is burned one atom of carbon, C, combines with two molecules of oxygen, O2, to form carbon dioxide, CO2.  One molecule of CO2 weighs about 3.5 times as much as an atom of carbon, so that 5.5 pounds of carbon burned results in about 20 pounds of CO2.”

— U.S. Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/tools/

High Five yourself, SnowPals’ rideshare participants.  Together we have saved the planet from 1,458,600 pounds of carbon dioxide pollutants!

To calculate how much carbon pollution you contribute to the planet, annually, use the energy calculators at Infinite Power (gee, those Texans are really serious about oil): http://www.infinitepower.org/calc_carbon.htm

Plus, think about how much you have saved in gasoline expenses by offering to share your vehicle with a snow rider or two.  At 5,100 SnowPal ride-shares, times 14.3 gallons, times the price of a gallon of gas … that’s no small change.  In fact, that would be $218,790 in total per snow season that did not go to Big Oil if you had paid $3/gallon at the pump.

And, how many of us have made friends along the way?  Or shared a meal and a drink, or two, after the slopes … That’s the non-tangible perks of ridesharing so we at SnowPals encourage you to rideshare / carpool to and from Lake Tahoe resorts as much as possible and to forward this piece to folks you know who goes to Tahoe often but mostly drive solo – advance thanks in helping us preserve our natural environment for ourselves and for generations to come.

* Median of 15 ride-shares/wk; with New Snow this shoots up to 30-35 ride-shares/week.  We’re saying that at least 4x/season when there’s a surge of snow riders looking for new snow.

Help keep our planet green, save money and expand your circle of friends by joining SnowPals to ride share to Tahoe area ski resorts and snow destinations beyond (SnowPals members’ in past years joined forces and resources to organize ski and snowboard trips via carpooling/ride sharing to Colorado, Utah and even British Columbia ski resorts).

Are you a local business? Please consider partnering with us to help increase awareness of SnowPals’ rideshare / carpool to help people pool resources to drive together to and from Lake Tahoe.

SnowPals’ mission is to enable SF Bay Area residents to pool resources to ride share/carpool to Tahoe resorts to reduce impact to our environment. We kick off the ski season with annual Kickoff Parties around the SF Bay Area.

We invite businesses to partner with us to help bring awareness to our ride-sharing offerings, and to encourage people who might otherwise drive solo to use our services to make new friends and to reduce their carbon footprint.

Individually we each can make slight carbon footprint reductions, and together we can make significant reductions that will help preserve our natural environment. Please consider partnering with SnowPals and we can also help local businesses with its marketing exposure.

For more about our ride-share program, please see: http://www.snowpals.org/info/tahoe-rideshare/

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Survival Guide & Tips: Skiing with Kids

skiing-with-kids-tahoe

By Joe Woo, Snowpals’ Resident Ski Gear Tester & Columnist. 

Skiing with kids. It seems like a simple thing. But let me tell you. If you haven’t done it before and aren’t prepared for it, it can ruin a great time on the slopes. However, with the right preparation, it can be more fun skiing with them than skiing without them. For those of you toying with the idea of finally bringing the kids up or maybe you’re considering bringing up a nephew or niece…read this. What I’ll do first is share some of my kid skiing experience and what we do to make it lots of fun.

For me, skiing pre-kids was easy. I never thought about anyone else. I never considered having to ski with anyone. If anyone I was skiing with slowed me down or was having a bad time, I could separate from them and meet up with them later. That was no big deal. When you add kids to the mix, things really change. The main thing is that you can’t just dump the kids and continue skiing when they’re cramping your style. When you’re on the mountain with your kids, you’re stuck with them for better or for worse. What is a parent to do?

Over the last two seasons I’ve come up with a pretty good system for skiing with kids. My wife and I came up with it using trial and error to finally dial in something that works for our family. It was a lot of effort using trial and error and lots of frustration but it was worth it. Why go through all the effort? Why not just dump the kids in ski school for the day so that I could ski without them?

Cost is an obvious issue, but more importantly skiing with my kids is fun. It is more fun than skiing without them because when they’re having fun, there is nothing better than skiing together, laughing together and watching them learn, grow and overcome all the little challenges of skiing. The look on their face when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could is priceless and worth more than anything in the world. When it is good, skiing with them is better than any skiing I could do on my own.

So, what’s the issue? Those fun times were rare and didn’t happen often. When they did happen, they were priceless, however it seemed like the bad times outweighed the good times. Finding a way to make those fun times happen more was something I had to do.

So, how do you do that? What I discovered through two years of trial and error is CCSF. What does this mean? Confidence, Comfort, and Sated (not hungry) equals Fun. If you can get the Confidence, Comfort and Sate (not hungry) issues right that will equal Fun for your family. Lets look closer at each element.

Confidence

Confidence is a very important thing for anyone. It is especially important for kids to have when skiing. I’ll go so far as to say that confidence is so important that I believe it is the foundation to successful family skiing. Without confidence, the kids will never want to ski, will dread skiing and will make your time on the mountain miserable. You should do everything in your power to build your kids confidence in skiing.

How do you do that? For us we decided to always try and put our kids in skiing situations that we knew they could be successful. We never made them do anything we knew they would fail at. They quickly built confidence the second day they ever skied. The thing that built confidence the most was succeeding in tasks when they were scared of doing something even though I knew they could do it. These were the cases where I pushed them hard because I knew they could do it, but they needed to realize they could do it and when they did it you could see the confidence grow.

For example, my 5 year old son refused to ski without being between my legs and me holding him down the bunny slope. I knew he would crash at first if he tried skiing by himself as this was his first time on skis. After about 5 runs between my legs I started to stop actively holding him and he would ski holding me. Then after a few runs of doing that we would stop halfway down the hill, put his skis in pizza and let him go so that he was standing still on the hill in pizza. Then I would go about 10 feet in front of him and tell him to slide to me. At first it was a struggle because he didn’t want me to let go of him. He would cry when I would let go. I just wanted him to slide to me in pizza. He didn’t have to stop. I would catch him. But he was scared to do it, but I knew he could do it and he finally did through the cries and tears. Once he realized he had actually done it, he did it again.

At first it was 10 feet, then 20 feet and I would stop him. If he veered off course I would slide over to catch him. Then I told him to stop by himself and he just did it. He was amazed that he could stop by himself and the rest is history. He skied the rest of the day by himself without ever turning. Just pizza strait down the hill with his arms held in front of him like he was ready to do some serious karate chops. His way to balance I guess. The next day he was turning back and fourth and excited about skiing.

My daughter was the same progression at the same time. Soon they got bored of the slope and asked to do another lift. We moved onto another beginner lift with slightly steeper terrain and a longer run. That was last year at Diamond Peak. They gained so much confidence at Diamond Peak, Mt. Rose and Squaw Valley. I continued to teach them parallel skiing and my daughter is no longer in pizza. My son is in an advanced pizza today, but is almost ready for parallel skiing.

Today my younger son is six and my daughter is eight and both are happily skiing black diamonds off Red Dog, KT-22, Headwall and other lifts at Squaw Valley. My older son is actually skiing (as opposed to just surviving down) West Face, Tower 16 and the various terrains off Silverado chair! It is amazing what a little confidence can do. My kids are testament to that without ever having professional ski lessons. Whatever you do, make sure the kids gain lots of confidence. I truly believe it is the foundation to successful family skiing.

Comfort

Now your kids are confident skiers. Is that it? Not really. No matter how confident they are, if they are not comfortable, they will complain and ruin your day. Kids are not mature enough to overcome the little issues so they don’t ruin the big things like a fun day of skiing. Our kids are pretty tough and the last thing we do is baby them, but every kid has a limit to what comfort they’re willing to give up on to have fun on the slopes.

It is important that you take the time to learn what your kids comfort limits are and make sure those needs are satisfied. My kids don’t complain that much about their comfort. I think it is because I’ve invested in making sure they stay warm and dry no matter the conditions. They have top of the line ski pants, jackets, gloves, base and mid layers. They have great helmets and goggles. Goggles were an issue and I finally got them decent stuff that doesn’t fog and they can clean easily. Another important piece of equipment was the neck gator. It seals out the cold air getting in from the neck. The kids rarely complain about being cold or wet and it is one less issue we have to worry about.

Sate

Kids don’t do well when they’re hungry. Instead you sould make it a priority to make sure they’re sated and not hungry. This one is really simple. Kids start getting moody and melting down when they get hungry. It is amazing. They are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Feed your kids periodically and your chances are better at having a great day. We discovered that if we have a big breakfast, lunch around 12:30 or 1, 2:30 heavy snack and small snacks on the lifts in between, we avoid the hunger meltdown altogether. Now I always have a large Hershey bar in my pocket and on every other lift ride, I’ll give each kid one piece to eat. This system has worked great this season.

Skiing with your kids can be fun and very rewarding. Just remember that kids have unique needs that you have to consider. The best way I know is to remember CCSF. Confidence, Comfort and Sated equals Fun. Try is next time you’re out with the kids. Good luck!

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More skiing with kids tips for parents..

From Jeremy Feinberg, a Ski Instructor at Kirkwood for 6 years plus, a certified PSIA Level 2 instructor, training for Level 3; he teaches skill levels that range from first timers to expert; he coaches a Progression team that skis 99% of the legal terrain at Kirkwood.

As someone who makes their living teaching children how to ski I can say that there are some good things in this survival guide; a comfortable and well fed child is one who is set up for success, and depending on the child, confidence can be a limiting factor, however in the 1+ page of text there was very little emphasis on skill development and no mention at all of the physical and cognitive limitations that change as a child grows.

That being said, a few things to keep in mind include: 

It’s hard to learn new skills when people are on terrain that is at the edge of their comfort level, dial it back, gain ownership over the movements and then take it to the steeper snow.

Confidence can be a good thing, but you can have too much of a good thing… your child needs to ski in control and not be a menace or hazard.

Leash and harness systems enable parents to get younger kids on the snow but can reinforce bad habits, however the harnesses themselves can be useful for picking up kids from the snow and helping them on to the lift.

The Edgy Wedgie can be a useful teaching tool, try it for a run or two, take if off and see if the child can stop without it… use it for a few runs, not a few days or seasons.  

If its your child’s first time skiing, start on a small hill below the lift, 30-50 feet long and almost flat with a flat runout at the bottom, or a gradual uphill if you can find it, learn to stop there, then head to the chair.

Some children perform at a higher level with their parents around, some excel within their peer group under the tutelage of an experienced coach, it helps to know which group your child falls into

The pace of skill development as detailed in the Survival Guide sounds about right, just keep in mind that today I had a 6 year old girl first time skier (along with a five year old girl with separation anxiety issues whose mother checked her out after lunch) who was able to stop within the first hour, we were on the chairlift before lunch and making turns.  By the time her parents picked her up (1/2 hour early) she had taken several runs through the trees. Tomorrow after a brief warm up she will be ready for the lower intermediate lift.  Her older brother who was on a snowboard was unwilling to follow us through the woods.    Her parents were impressed by her success and gave me a generous tip.

If you want to get your child out of the wedge and making turns that have a least some parallel at the end of each turn, and you want that to happen quickly, ski school is the place for your child, especially on the weekdays when group sizes are small and only experienced and highly certified instructors are getting any work.  

Please don’t be that person who has their child skiing advanced terrain in a power wedge, if you are going to ski with your child and teach them how to ski, make the day about them, you need to be there to support them and help them along the way.  

Recognize the limitations of your own teaching abilities and don’t let your child (or yourself) get stuck in the skill rut; if you have any questions about how this can manifest one can use the intermediate rut as an example: go to most ski resorts and watch the way people on the intermediate runs ski, particularly how they initiate their turns.  What you will see in most cases are varying degrees of stem (wedge or pizza) to start the turn.  People make this movement because they are not comfortable performing a movement that ski instructors call crossover.

Crossover is the movement that separates advanced skiers from people that ski advanced terrain, it is defined my crossing your center of mass over your skis, down the hill into the new turn (basically throwing one’s body down the hill, swooping your skis underneath the body to catch the center of mass)  

Crossover one example of a movement that can define a skill rut, it’s difficult to teach and limits a person’s ability to explore and enjoy the mountain.

**On a related note** Teaching the spouse or significant other how to ski is tough, I call it the relationship tester, put that person in a group or private lesson, meet up for lunch and ski together in the afternoon, at their pace, where the instructor said would be a good place to ski.  Your romantic relationship is one of equals, the student/teacher relationship is not, things can get ugly quick.

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