You’re in Tahoe, the stoke is high, the conditions are perfect…
…and you’re stuck waiting in a lift line to ski groomers and bumps because you couldn’t find a local with the beta/inside scoop you need to get into the backcountry.
No longer! Backcountry Ski Maps wants to make this scenario a thing of the past.
Backcountry Ski Maps was specifically designed as a topographic map and guidebook rolled into one to make it easier to find all the information you need to get out touring in the Tahoe area.
All maps include detailed ascent and descent routes, photos, and a text guide to the best lines, which means that just one source of beta can easily get you to secret stashes you had only heard ‘whispers of’. We highlight the most classic lines, help you find the easiest approaches, and reveal the biggest potential dangers and challenges so you can spend less time searching for information and more time skiing!
Let’s take an inside look at the Tahoe Southwest Map which features more than 70 descents, ranging from mellow glades to ultra-steep couloirs.
Included are ski routes on:
and many, many more!
Backcountry Ski Maps partnered with SnowPals to offer a 10% off all backcountry ski maps by using discount promo code: snowpals21
To get 10% off your backcountry map purchase, enter the discount coupon code ‘ snowpals21 ‘ at check-out; purchase maps at
+ Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (Coming Soon)
+ Vail Pass, Colorado (Coming Soon)
More About Backcountry Ski Maps
“Make the Most of the Backcountry
Maybe you’re new to an area or even new to touring in general. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior with only a limited amount of time to play in the mountains. Or maybe you’re a jaded local who thinks they’ve skied every worthy line in the area.
At Backcountry Ski Maps we feel you. If you’re anything like us, all you want is to spend more time outdoors, taking in beautiful views and riding the steepest, deepest lines.
We were frustrated to have to spend hours on the internet researching potential lines on sites of varying reliability. We were even more frustrated when summer came along and we saw all the in-depth hiking, climbing, and backpacking topographical maps on the market.
Something needed to change.
And so Backcountry Ski Maps, LLC was born.
Now we’re striving to make the easiest to use, all-in-one backcountry ski touring maps on the market. A place where you can find all the route information you need on one piece of paper: just take a look at the map, find a zone that fits your needs (and the current avalanche conditions), read a little about the zone on the back of the map, and get out into the white room.
Now you’ve got a one-stop-shop to find everything from low-angle pow-day trees to rarely skied and ultra-steep couloirs.
Our hope is that by helping people find the right lines, our maps can inspire more people to get out into the backcountry hooting and hollering and collecting face-shots.
➦ Got a small business you’d like to partner with SnowPals for new sales referrals? Contact for partnership inquires. We’ll dispatch our digital media kit upon receiving your inquiry so you can see our visitor stats and demographics.
Interested in backcountry skiing and snowboarding (using a splitboard)?
Benefits of backcountry skiing/boarding:
* Enjoy solitude serenity
* Earn your untracked powder runs = burn tons of calories/great workout 🙂
* Enjoy the beauty of our natural environment – views of glades, valleys, glorious lake views, pine trees, snow covered winter wonderland sear into memories that will stay with you a lifetime or more (reincarnation)
* Nature photography
* Many more intangibles you can’t get at ski resorts, so join in..
Connect with a wingman/woman for backcountry safety, share rides to the mountain, perhaps share lodging expenses too, and it’s just more fun when you have some POWder friends to 🏂⛷❄️🏔 with 😉
* * Learn how to stay safe in the backcountry, register for an Intro to AIARE AVALANCHE RESCUE TRAINING; Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) got hands on backcountry safety courses/classes, details at
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.
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:
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:
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
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.
✔ 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.
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)
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
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.
♥ 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.”
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.
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 ..
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?
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?
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?
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:
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
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
*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!
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.
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!”
✔ 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. 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.
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.
At SnowPals, we invite snow-sports businesses (world-wide) to become an affiliate. Spotlight your business to San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe Area snow-sports consumers about what you do best:
Services you offer, and/or
Products you sell
At SnowPals, we work diligently to earn a Five Star Rating. We strive to build stellar long term business relationships with our fans and with consumers. We strive to deliver great value and service to customers in order to build a genuinely loyal customer base. If this resonates with what your business strives to do, please reach out to become an affiliate by submitting the form at the end of this page.
Don’t have a partners’ or an affiliates page on your business website? Consider adding one.
Here are some reasons why an affiliates page is the most effective way to help you grow your business:
1) serves to increase cross promotional marketing which is the ideal way to attract new visitors to your website instead of paid advertising via Google, etc.
2) cross marketing provides organic targeted advertising that attracts snow sports niche audience to your website
3) cross promotion is about expanding the marketing reach of your product and/or services so by helping to promote others, you also in turn receives organic visitors traffic to your business website whenever people search for businesses that are snow sports related
4) Lastly, success comes from collaborating, rarely from isolation – that’s our takeaway from 20+ years at SnowPals and we have the success track record to show; in 1999 we started SnowPals.org with a few friends, fast forward until 2020, we have gained over 8,000+ members and we continue to grow with the help and support of our fans.
Our 2020/21 Affiliates & Partners List
== SF Bay Area ==
Tahoe Ski Trips, since 1996, over 23 years of stellar service: “operating with integrity and a commitment to quality, Tahoe Ski Trips (also know as the Bay Area Ski Bus) contracts with the finest transportation companies and recreation outfitters/ski resorts with fantastic reputations and safety records; we focus on the details, while you focus on having Fun! Our quality and service is unmatched.” – Kevin, TST CEO. Get a private ski bus group quote or a corporate price quote for your company as a team building ski, snowboarding outing in Tahoe. Partner’s Promotional Offer Page: new Tahoe ski trips users receive up to $50 off day and overnight ski bus trips/gift cards available.
SnowBomb: SnowBomb produces NorCal’s yearly Ski & Snowboard Festival in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento featuring wine/beer tastings, ski resorts from all over North America, snow-sports exhibitors & leading manufacturers in the ski and snowboard industry, hoteliers and destination getaways and auto industry showcase. Partner’s Promotional Offer Page: Get 1/2 off POWDER PASS AND VIP WINE/BEER tasting tickets.
Apres’ Ski Club Lodge at Kings Beach, CA (North Lake Tahoe): join Apres ski and snowboard club based out of the Santa Clara, CA (South Bay), a year-round singles club for active adults residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Partner’s Promotional Offer Page: view Apres ski, ride club benefits.
Casa Tours: Chile Argentina Snow Adventures (CASA), is a grassroots organization whose mission is to increase exposure to South American landscapes, mountains, and cultures. CASA is about traveling safely in the mountains; introducing our guests to new places, people, cuisines, language and customs; achieving personal ski and snowboard goals; and developing lifelong friendships and memories. By building cultural bridges and embracing sustainable travel principles, we hope to promote global peace and prosperity while introducing people to some of the best skiing and snowboarding on the planet. Partner’s Promotional Page: ski, ride year round; sign up for our endless winter powder trip tours.
== Lake Tahoe ==
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. Partner’s Promotional Offer Page: get 10% off backcountry topo ski maps.
Since 1999, we have been passionate about connecting San Francisco Bay Area residents and visitors to Lake Tahoe to enjoy snow-sports and to engage in outdoor recreational activities in Tahoe and in other powder destinations. Our partners have chosen to advertise on SnowPals, year after year, because we quantify referrals that contribute to their success!
What are the benefits of partnering with SnowPals?
New customer referrals and increase your brand’s visibility are two of the key benefits of partnering with SnowPals.
Partner with us to reach Bay Area Professionals, their family and their circle of friends. Let us spotlight your business to reach and exceed your business goals.
For partnership inquiries, please reach out to for a digital media kit for key metrics and benefits of partnership.
What does becoming an affiliate entails? There is no cost to become an affiliate.
We are looking for snow-sports related affiliates who would like to establish a cross marketing relationship.
How to become an affiliate?
On your partner/affiliates page, please add 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).
For Lake Tahoe ski trips, join SnowPals.org – San Francisco Bay Area snow-sports club for busy professionals, since 1999.
Use the form below to send us a one sentence description detailing what your business offers, a URL link to your biz’s website and your business logo. after you have added our logo, link and description to your affiliates page and we’ll do likewise.
Next Step After Submitting the Form:
After adding our logo and the above sentence on your Affiliates page, please contact (Monday to Friday, non-holidays, 9 AM to 5 PM). We will proceed with listing your business on this page. Please allow a 24 hours turn-around since we need to review your submission and work on listing your business if it meets our snow-sports category listing. Advance thanks!
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
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
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
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
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.
For Lake Tahoe ski trips, join SnowPals.org – San Francisco Bay Area based snow-sports club for busy professionals, since 1999.