If you are good with the pen and like to share your experience and wisdom about the A to Z of snow-sports and/or have deep insights about Lake Tahoe in all its seasons, how we can add you as a guest blog contributor.
If you have a snow sports business or a business that compliments well with skiing, snowboarding, and/or our year-round pursuit of an active opt outside lifestyle, about cross-marketing opportunities that is mutually beneficial.
* Looking for a good value rental property listing alternative to Airbnb and VRBO for Lake Tahoe area niche rental market that will get you QUALITY RESULTS? Here’s the scoop:
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 24th 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 like Epic, Ikon, Powder Alliance and the Mountain Collective Pass.
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: Who are your behind the scene crew/the people who helps manage and run SnowPals?
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 connection 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, wakeboarding 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 trigger 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 a season pass to Sierra at Tahoe & hoping to have a good snowboarding season! I’ll be mostly going on the weekends, and taking a few days off here and there on weekdays. I’m 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 am currently 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 skiing more often than I used to. Willing to team up with others to share rides to Tahoe. I have a flexible schedule and can go most days during the week. I am professional in the tech field. Prefer to go to 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 am 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 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 on Friday nights. I have an AWD SUV with chains, can comfortably take 3 plus gear. I don’t have a ski lease so I am 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 I 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 to Tahoe and one of my fav most beautiful places to snowboard. I’m mainly interested in the Tahoe rideshare because I don’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and don’t trust driving in storms. I am flexible on resorts 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 NorthStar) 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 within 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 my 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. I’m also a 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 skiing primarily midweek, storm chaser looking to connect with the 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.
How do I join? Is there a membership fee?
Unlike traditional ski and snowboard clubs with yearly recurring membership fees, join us with a one-time fee of $20. Alternatively, if you’d rather commit to volunteering two hours of your time to help us grow or manage the group, your membership fee will be waived; just inquire for details.
This one-time fee helps us pay for web hosting, backend technical website services, time invested in growing the club, club management and various time consuming backend work such as facilitating Bay Area-Tahoe ride shares and organizing social events.
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).
✔ 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.
* 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 open 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 footprint impact, hence helping to preserve our environment for us and for future generations.”
How for Increase Bookings for your Airbnb, VRBO, Zillow, FlipKey and HomeAway Listing! A Property Owner’s Guide of Proven Tips on How to Successfully Rent/Lease Out Your Rental Property
We won’t waste your time so let’s get to it:
(1) Professional photography highly recommended – this is the most important factor if you’d like to attract renters over other listings in the same geographical area. Invest the money to hire a pro photographer to take photos of your rental property especially to feature the amenities that make your rental stands out from the rest, be it hot tub, lake views, prime location, etc.
Even if you have a tight budget, consider hiring an ‘up and coming’ photographer from Craigslist to take professional looking photos of your vacation home/ski lease rental property. And yes, it’s true: “a picture is worth a thousand words” and photos are priceless when it comes to instant appeal which will get you more clicks on your rental listing which equates to more booking inquiries.
(2) Take time to write a clear and concise description of your rental/ski lease listing and be sure to include things such as:
* amenities? what makes your rental property unique? prime location at the base of Squaw? hot tub and sauna?
* how many people can your property sleep/accommodate? How many beds and baths total?
* location and proximity of your property in relation to points of interests in the area: resorts, restaurants, grocery markets, etc.
* is this a family type rental or a group type rental?
* duration of rental/lease: daily, monthly or winter seasonal lease?
* rental/lease rates: discount if booked for longer term? Security deposit? Cleaning fee? Snow plow service included? Utilities included?
* how many covered parking spaces? flat driveway?
* pet friendly? other restrictions?
* for group ski lease, guest fees? full time residence ok?
* for ski lease group, it’s good idea to describe age range of people in the group and preferences for social activities, apres ski happy hour, family type shared meals, etc
* best way to contact you: by email, phone, text or?
* what basic information would you like from potential renters or ski lease members to provide as part of initial email contact so you can get an idea of who they are? Ask renters to share something about themselves such as profession, LinkedIn profile, FB, Instagram, etc.
(3) Make use of well written rental agreements:
Your rental agreement is essential for setting expectations between you and your guests/renters/lease members! It provides a sense of security for all parties involved, and defines the rules and policies for the property prior to their stay. Some key items to include in rental/lease agreements:
* Maximum Occupancy
* Cancellation Policies
* House Rules (very important to be specific)
* Check In/Out procedures (be clear & specific)
* Damage Policy
Consider having your renters/lease members read and sign House Rules and rental policies to show that they clearly understood your rental terms prior to their stay. For example, include in your policy things like where guests can smoke, where they can’t smoke (a fine is levied if they are caught smoking where they aren’t allowed to). Consider including rules and policies on pets, occupancy and type of use (no wild parties, etc).
Visit the following sites to view some examples/templates of Lake Tahoe area lease/rental agreements/terms/contracts/policies:
(4) Complete a rental market research ‘due diligence’: ask yourself.. ‘have I priced my rental or ski lease competitively for the current rental market for my geographical area my rental is located in?’
Do some market research and make sure to price ‘apples to apples’ comparison based on rental location, number of bedrooms, baths, amenities, square footage, etc. If you don’t nail your rental pricing competitively, you won’t get as many rental inquiries no matter how pretty your rental photos look.
Next, perform keyword searches on Airbnb, VRBO and Craigslist among other rental sites to get an idea of what is the current market rate for rentals/ski leases.
(5) Lastly, leverage your social connections (before you submit your listing) by asking family and friends to give you feedback on ways to improve your rental/ski lease listing for clarity, conciseness and appeal.
Part 8 – Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series
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.
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 skiing/boarding/snow-sports?
There’s been a definite uptick in people’s interest in the backcountry ever since COVID shut down lifts back in March, and I expect that this season will be the busiest yet for ski touring in Tahoe. Although the season has barely started, I’ve already seen an increase in demand for maps this year, which I suspect is a decent proxy for the increase in backcountry usage we’re about to see!
How did you get into creating Tahoe/Sierra topographical maps?
I’ve always been a map nerd – you don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve spent looking at CalTopo and Google Earth. After several years of backcountry skiing in Tahoe, I went up to Whistler and was pleasantly surprised to find that John Baldwin had made some incredible maps for touring in the area. That made me realize that nothing like that existed for Tahoe. There isn’t even a Tahoe-specific guidebook (though there are a few guidebooks which include some descents by the lake), much less anything that you can take out into the field. How were new ski tourers supposed to know where to go?
How many years have you been doing this and what do you find rewarding about it?
I’m in my third year of making maps now, and it’s been a rewarding process from start to finish. The whole undertaking has been a huge learning experience, which I always enjoy, but the biggest reward is when customers reach out to me and tell me how my maps have helped them have their best days in the backcountry. Ski touring has brought me so much joy, and it’s great to be able to help others get that same experience.
In terms of backcountry experience, what types of BC experience do you have? Do you go to the backcountry with a few friends or by yourself?
I don’t know how many hundreds of backcountry days I have under my belt now, but I’ve done everything from traverses to steep couloir skiing, pow days to ski mountaineering descents, and springtime corn runs to early winter bike-to-hike-to-ski days. That’s one of the joys of backcountry skiing – there are so many different ways to do it that it always keeps you interested.
I’ve done a handful of solo days, but I prefer to go out in a group of 2-4 people. I find that makes for the best combination of safety in numbers without causing too much groupthink when considering avalanche conditions.
What do you like about the backcountry?
Skiing pow without the anxiety of beating the lines at the resort certainly comes to mind first! But there’s also something enjoyable about the physical challenge of big days out. And of course getting into proper nature, away from the craziness of the resorts is a huge plus too. When I got into backcountry skiing, it was so that I could ski pow days after the resorts had been skied out, but it turns out that even the uphill is fun!
What was the most challenging part for you in creating these topo maps? How long did it take you to complete one coverage area section?
When I started the project I already had years of GPS data from my watch stored on my computer, so I thought it would be easy to just stick it on a map and go. That turned out not to be the case – there’s a ton of additional work that goes into getting things looking good, and even once the maps are printed and ready to go it takes a lot to maintain the website, find retailers, keep up with customer service, and try to give back to the community by doing things like running fundraisers with the Sierra Avalanche Center (and this winter also the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center). It took me about 8 months of full-time work to get the first map done, but after working on my processes I can now do that in about half the time. That of course doesn’t include the years of backcountry skiing to know where all the lines are – but thankfully that’s the fun part!
Name three favorite backcountry spots you like that’s not crowded?
I’m a huge fan of Herlan Peak (on the Tahoe: Best of the Rest map), for both tree skiing during storms and steep skiing when things are stable. It doesn’t hurt that you stare straight at the lake most of the time that you’re skiing there. The area around Echo and Angora Peaks has always been a favorite of mine too – it’s stacked with little chutes and couloirs, but doesn’t see nearly as much traffic as nearby Tallac or the West Shore peaks. For my last pick I’ll go with Carson Pass – it can get busy early and late season, but there’s so much terrain down there that it’s always easy to get away from the crowds if you know where to go. There are some huge bowls back there, some fun traverses to do, and of course the Crescent Moon Couloir is one of the best around Tahoe.
Final question: what is it about your backcountry ski topo maps that stands out from other maps available on the net?
First off, I don’t think that anything as comprehensive for ski touring exists on paper or on the net. Between the three paper maps (Tahoe: North, Tahoe: Southwest and West Shore, and Tahoe: Carson Pass) and the one digital-only map (Tahoe: The Best of the Rest) there’s something like 300 ski descents, each of which includes an approach (or several different approaches) and distance and elevation gain statistics. Then there’s the self-contained guide photos and text on the back. With about 16-20 of the top descents detailed with descriptions and color photos, the maps make it easy to get into the backcountry without needing to look up additional info elsewhere.
Would you like to add anything else?
If this is your first year in the backcountry, do yourself a favor and get educated before going out. Take an avalanche course, go out with more experienced friends, and always err on the side of caution. And if you’re the kind of heathen that bootpacks or pisses in the skintrack, may Ullr smite you with breakable crusts, sastrugi, and death cookies on all of your backcountry adventures from this day until the end of time!
Get the Inside Scoop on the best spots for skiing, splitboarding Tahoe Sierra backcountry:
Five backcountry topographical maps to choose from:
✔ 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.
Fall 2020 Best Ski, Ride/Snowboarding Movies, Film Screenings
Mark your calendar for Ski and Snowboard Movie Screenings Coming to the San Francisco Bay Area either virtually on-demand/live streaming or at a local drive-in.
Gather friends and family to watch ski and snowboard film screenings and get stoked for the coming snow season; bonus: score a free lift ticket at selected showings.
*Most ski film/movie screenings will give out a free mid-week non-holiday lift ticket or a 2 for 1 aka BOGO (buy one, get one) coupon/voucher. With adult lift tickets pricing of $125 and up, a free lift ticket is a nice bonus for watching a ski and ride film. Swag giveaway and end of tour ski/ride trip to a powder destination is given away to a lucky movie-goer.
There is a first for everything so this year amidst the pandemic, Teton Gravity Research is showing their ski movie at open air drive-in theaters across the USA.
–>> 1st up, Ski Movie Title: “MAKE BELIEVE”
Film Production Company: Teton Gravity Research September 2020 Release Date
About the movie:
“Inspiration is evoked spontaneously and without intention…”
Sometimes it comes in the form of a photograph, a chance encounter on a chairlift, or a glimpse at a mountain never seen before. When combined with motivation, the spark of inspiration becomes a dream, and when pursued gives our lives a new purpose.
For 25 years TGR has focused on turning Make Believe into reality, from exploring powder stashes in our backyard playground to first descents on unnamed peaks, the ethos of “live the dream” has defined our adventures.
“MAKE BELIEVE” celebrates today’s athletes who have committed to this ethos, the ones who have fallen deeply in love with the mountain life, the people who have chosen to live their lives in a particular way, from inception to reality, the ones who choose to make and believe in their dreams.”
2020 NorCal drive-in movie screenings:
9/30 SACRAMENTO, CA
West Wind Sacramento Drive-in
10/10 CONCORD, CA,
West Wind Solano Drive-in
Oct 9 & 10 ORINDA, CA,
Bruns Amphitheatre (WhiSKI Series)
–>> 2nd, Warren Miller’s 71st ski film, “Future Retro,” comes to the Bay Area via Live Streaming
Film Production Company: Warren Miller Entertainment
Release Date & Film Tour Info: this year’s ski/ride movie will be live streamed November 2020 TBA; keep tabs on announcement of movie streaming date, details at https://warrenmiller.com/events.
“Vermont embodies a quaint quintessential New England charm that one might expect from the Green Mountain State, but it is more than just winding backwoods roads and historic covered bridges: it’s also the heart of ski culture in the American Northeast. And no mountain embodies this Vermont ski scene more than Killington, host of the 2019 Audi Fis Women’s World Cup Race, where the fastest racers in the world gathered last November to lay their edges into Killington’s finest East Coast powder. Joining the 30,000 live spectators are former American alpine racer Kaylin Richardson and Killington native-turned-big-mountain skier Jim Ryan, who are ready to revel in the thrills and frills of World Cup action, while also laying down some corduroy carves themselves.”
with family & friends 😉
Watch the sneak peek YouTube trailer:
–>> 3rd, Purple Mountains
Film Production Company: Teton Gravity Research
Release Date & Film Info:
World Premiere September 16, 2020 – stream it free at your leisure.
Our outdoor playgrounds are in peril and our votes this November will decide their future. Professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones has watched winters change drastically during his 45 years spent in the mountains. More extreme weather, fewer snow days, and economic strain on mountain towns.
And yet, climate change remains a divisive issue. In the new film Purple Mountains, Jeremy seeks common ground in the heart of America’s purple states, having honest discussions with individuals who don’t see eye to eye with him.
Our Common Ground Unites Us to preserve our natural world for future generations to come.
Together, we have the ability to protect our outdoor lifestyles from the effects of climate change. Make a plan to vote with Protect Our Winters and you’ll get all the info you need to make sure your voice is heard this November 2020: make a plan to vote early/drop off ballots instead of USPS mail to make sure your vote gets counted.
“On December 3rd, 2020, the NSCD Future Leader Board will present back-to-back screenings of two epic ski movies.
This virtual celebration will kick off the winter season by opening with Fresh Tracks, a documentary that highlights the adaptive sports movement that will make you rethink ability. Stay for a Level 1 film to get us stoked for this year’s powder turns!” – National Sports Center
About Fresh Tracks
Fresh Tracks follows the journey of a war hero, innovator and adaptive skiing pioneer. This true-life documentary tells the story of Paul Leimkuehler, who lost his leg during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and turned his amputation into an opportunity by building his own artificial leg and opening a prosthetic business. He returns to the world of sports triumphantly after designing the first pair of ski outriggers in the U.S., helping launch the adaptive skiing movement. The film follows the influence of Paul’s legacy on today’s Paralympic skiers and snowboarders including NSCD athletes, Kyle Taulman and Kyle Moxley, and the evolving of technology in adaptive sports.
About Romance, A Level 1 Production
Romance, the final chapter by Level 1 captures a modern-day Golden Age in skiing. Featuring a generation of talent that came of age in the best time to ever do it. Tweaking the formula, tweaking the grab, and in it for nothing but the love.
‘where culture, travel exploration and skiing meet’
“Twenty-two year old Swede, Lovisa Rosengren, chooses Gulmarg, Kashmir as her dream trip spot with Cody Townsend and Kalen Thorien. What was supposed to be a cultural trip, turns into so much more when a 3 meter snow storm rolls through the resort.” – Salomon TV
What's it like to ski/ride
.. the Japanese Alps famous dry champagne powder?
JaPOW is a word coined for a very good reason: heavenly bucket list worthy powder; see what’s it like to ski/ride Japan’s famous dry champagne powder which is consistently rated as top three in the world and where the Freeride World Tour regularly chooses as one of the tour competition location?
“The Freeride World Tour is an annually toured series of events in which the best freeskiers and snowboard freeriders compete for individual event wins, as well as the overall title of World Champion in their respective genders and disciplines.” – Wiki
Playtime: Dream Ski Trip
from Salomon Freeski TV
“After 8 seasons of Salomon Freeski TV, and thousands of comments from our fans begging for a chance to star in an episode, we’ve listened! For 3 weeks in December, Salomon Freeski TV viewers were given the chance to win their ultimate Free Ski Dream Trip. The contest was simple – tell us where would you go and who would you would want to go with?
On December 29th, 2014 10 winners were selected from a list of thousands, then one lucky fan received a phone call giving him/her the opportunity to live out his ultimate skiing fantasy in Japan with Mike Douglas, Cody Townsend, & Kaj Zackrisson.”- Salomon TV
Charge – Salomon TV
“Four top freeskiers and a World Champion drone pilot are dropped at Chatter Creek Cat Skiing in BC for one week. Their instructions: charge as hard as you can every day.
– Featuring: Stan Rey, Cody Townsend, Chris Rubens, Alexi Godbout and Jordan Temkin.
– Production: Switchback Productions
– Music: Holler by Band Of Rascals – Courtesy of Blue Heron Music” – Salomon TV
Charge 2 – Salomon TV
We took five top freeskiers and a World Champion drone pilot to Mustang Powder Cat Skiing in BC for one week. Their instructions: charge as hard as you can.
A frequently asked question we get from beginner to intermediate snowboarders is..
What are the essential and most effective protective/safety gear available for snowboarding?
When you’re learning to snowboard/ride, you will likely fall in the process of learning the skills required to become competent enough to ride and progress to steeper mountain slopes and terrain.
In addition, for those who would like ride and play in snowboard parks, protective gear will help protect you while doing park features.
For snowboarding, some common snowboarding injuries include knee, chest, elbow, wrist, hips and tail bone.
To protect yourself from snowboarding injuries, the following are ‘must-have’ protective gear since the cost of injury (surgery, medical costs, rehab, pain/suffering, etc) outweigh the cost of buying protective gear; here’s a list of gear you should consider using while learning to snowboard:
A helmet is essential to protect your head against injury and concussions. Helmets keep you safe especially when you are learning a new skill or fall/crash when you pick up speed going down the mountain. Always wear a helmet to prevent serious head injuries. Browse sale and clearance deals at REI.
Above photo: Smith Snowboarding Helmet on Sale at REI
(2) Wrist Guards
For beginners, during a fall, they tend to brace themselves/soften the fall with their hands. Wrist injuries are often problematic since even minor wrist injuries can take at minimum of eight weeks to heal since we use our wrists and hands daily so it’s difficult to heal. A good pair of wrist guards is essential when you’re learning to snowboard. Browse sale and clearance deals at REI.
Above photo: Burton Wrist Guards on Sale at REI
Knee pads, elbow pads, hip pads, and butt pads are all designed to help prevent you from injuring yourself especially when you have a hard impact with pact snow and icy surfaces. When learning new tricks in the parks, wearing pads not only protects you but also give you a boost in confidence. Browse sale and clearance deals at REI.
Above photo: Burton Impact Shorts helps protect your hips and butt
Back injuries are not as common for snowboarders, however certain high risk movements in the parks can cause serious injury. However, wearing a back protector will likely restrict your upper-body movement. Browse sale and clearance deals at REI.
(4) Knee Pads
Knee pads can protect you from knee injuries. Try knee pads out to see how they fit, feel and explore the range of movements allowed by the knee pads. Make sure you get the right fit so that the knee pads won’t slide down your leg when you’re snowboarding. Knee pads restrict how much you can flex your knees on jumps, or bend down to get a low turn without feeling a pinch. Browse sale and clearance deals at REI.
Above photo: Burton Snowboarding Knee Pads
When you are learning to ride and/or do park features, it’s wise to use the snowboarding protective gear to help prevent injuries. The protective snowboarding gear not only prevent injuries but also prevents both tangible (costly surgery, meds, etc) and intangible (personal rehab time, pain/suffering) setback. As you progressed and become more skilled, you can opt out of wearing most of the recommended protective gear, however, it’s best to always wear a helmet to protect your head from injuries.
Like to ski and snowboard in the backcountry where there’s abundant natural beauty, no lift lines, untracked powder slopes and wide open bowls?
Perhaps the most important consideration for all who goes to the backcountry to enjoy snow-sports is avalanche safety and acquiring the training and education to know what to do to avoid avalanche prone areas and what to do if you happened to be caught in an avalanche.
SnowPals‘ November snow-sports nonprofit HERO AWARD goes to the Sierra Avalanche (Avy) Center’s commitment to post daily avalanche forecast advisories to provide important backcountry safety information to keep everyone safe in the greater Lake Tahoe area.
♥ Sierra Avalanche (Avy) Center functions as a private-public partnership between the US Forest Service and a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC).
The 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center is focused on educational and safety programs to support winter recreation and fundraising to support the financial needs of the program. It consists of a volunteer Board of Directors, a volunteer Advisory Panel to the Board of Directors, and a paid Executive Director to run programs and operations. Through its fundraising efforts this group provides two thirds of the funding necessary to cover budget expenses and operations. Other expenses paid for by the not for profit include the costs of continuing education and some of the cost of the equipment necessary for the forecasters to operate safely in the field. The not for profit also funds sub contracted field observers to collect additional information for avalanche, snowpack, and weather data. Fundraising for these expenses is accomplished through the organization of the SAC Ski Day fundraisers, by securing sponsorships and grants, as well as by gathering private donations and conducting a membership drive for user support. Additionally, the Board of Directors works jointly with the Tahoe National Forest to make decisions regarding the future direction of the avalanche center that are acceptable to both parties.
Sierra Avalanche Center’s mission is to inform and educate the public about backcountry avalanche conditions in the greater Lake Tahoe area.
=== Join SnowPals’ Annual Backcountry Mixer (due to Covid, 2020 we will not have group events until the pandemic is over) ===
Meetup with local backcountry skiers + boarders near you to connect for backcountry trips, share expenses, rides & perhaps lodging, expand your circle of backcountry ski, ride buddies/your wingman/woman for safety in the backcountry ..
The California Avalanche Workshop (CAW) offers a mix of video chats and Instagram IG/Facebook live talks with forecasters, researchers, and past CAW presenters.
The California Avalanche Workshop (CAW) will look a bit different this year. Over the month of October we will share a mix of video chats and IG/FB live talks with forecasters, researchers, and past CAW presenters. pic.twitter.com/vn0K0g4MwU
The Truckee Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest houses and runs the avalanche forecasting operations of the avalanche center. It houses three full-time, seasonal avalanche forecasters and provides infrastructure including office space, computers, internet access, phones, vehicles, fuel, safety equipment, and supervision. The forecasters gather avalanche, snowpack, and weather observations then use this data to create and issue avalanche advisories and avalanche warnings.
Other not for profit organizations we commend for their passion and service to the snow-sports community..
♥ Our featured snow-sports nonprofit for October is SkiDuck, a nonprofit organization, whose mission is full of heart; since 2010, when ski season is in full force, they offer a free program to bring disadvantaged and financially underprivileged youth to the snow and to teach them the joys of skiing and snowboarding.
“SkiDUCK (Skiing and snowboarding for Disabled and Underprivileged Children and older Kids) is a volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled and underprivileged children by bringing them to the snow to share the joys of skiing and snowboarding! Read more about SkiDUCK.
♥ Spotlight pick for September for Non-profit Community Service is awarded to the High Fives Foundation..
In the last decade, the High Fives Foundation has gained widespread acclaim among snow sports athletes for the foundation’s dedication to raise injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffered life-changing injuries. Even more impressive, they’ve managed to become a common thread of connection and hope between a variety of athletes, outdoor sports communities, and charitable initiatives. Read more about the High Fives Foundation
♥ Share SAC backcountry safety advisories with family and friends and plan a Tahoe getaway; share this page via , twitter, facebook.
*New to SnowPals? Join SnowPals to..
+ expand your circle of ski and ride buddies for resort skiing/riding or if you opt for the backcountry, connect with a buddy to ski/ride with as your wingman/woman for safety.
+ expand your Tahoe rideshare contacts for trips to Tahoe and beyond especially those with multi-resort pass that gives you access to resorts worldwide (share trip expenses and perhaps make a few friends who are members of a ski lease and get invited to stay at the ski lodge as a guest)
Snowpals’ Top Pick for Bay Area Ski Shop goes to California Ski Company
California Ski Company is a premier San Francisco Bay Area’s ski equipment shop specializing in:
alpine skiing(aka downhill skiing)
backcountry – the only SF Bay Area ski shop specializing in backountry
expert custom boot fitting
professional ski tuning
high-performance ski rentals
What is most important to you when you’re looking to buy or get your gear serviced? California Ski Company provides stellar customer service and has an experienced, knowledgeable and capable staff with insightful answers to your product and gear questions. Most importantly, they care about your snow riding experience and have the track record to prove it — thousands of loyal customers.
“For more than 16 years, California Ski Company has been the Bay Area leader in specialty alpine ski sales, offering knowledge, expertise and experience that few volume retailers can. Our staff is what makes our store unique. We are a group of ski enthusiasts drawn together by the desire to work in a SKI ONLY environment where skiers come to learn about the latest and best products from people who spend every available moment using those products.”
Exclusive promotional offer
Receive a free beanie or cap with any purchase of $50 or more; just mention that you saw this video on the Snowpals website to get in on this promo.
“Please click on the thumbs up ‘like’ button if you find our Youtube video informative. Thanks!”
California Ski Company | 843-A Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710 | 510-527-6411