Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding (spilt-boarding) Q&A Series, part 7

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

Part 7: interview with Mathias Bjoern, Founder of 48 FreeRiders, a backcountry skiing, riding community based out of Denmark

’48 FreeRiders is a community of backcountry enthusiast and freeride skiers/boarders ⛷🏂❄️
Our goal is to spread avalanche awareness and connect like-minded people. A place where you can share your adventures, knowledge, experience and find other freeriders in your area or areas you are traveling to’

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Photo Credit: Mathias Bjoern

Background timeline context

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

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

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

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

Part 7 Q&A interview with Mathias Bjoern, an expert backcountry skier and Founder of 48 FreeRiders

Could you tell us a little about your background in BC, snow-sports and how you came to create 48 FreeRiders?

The idea of creating 48 FreeRiders has been brewing with me for a few years. My name is Mathias Bjoern, and I’m the founder of 48 FreeRiders, a community for backcountry enthusiasts, freeride skiers, and snowboarders.

I’m a certified ski instructor and have had six years of experience. I have been skiing and teaching all over the world and I often come across skiers and snowboarders in the backcountry without any avalanche gear or knowledge about what they are doing.

I look at them and think back at my self and how much I have learned through these four years as I used to be one of the guys in the backcountry without any gear, but as I learned more about the dangers in the backcountry and educate myself through avalanche courses and hands on training, I’ve learned how ignorant and naive I had been! I had not only placed my own life in danger, but also the people around me on backcountry outings!

From everything I have learned in the past four years of being in the backcountry, I decided that there must be a way to spread this information to other people and prevent others from making the mistakes that I have made.

We live in a world that is heavily influenced by what we see on TV and social media and there’s not many who addresses issues like avalanches and other dangers in the mountains on social platforms that comes across in an easy to understand format. People are too busy with showing their glamorous lifestyle, the deepest powder turns of their life without taking time to share the lifesaving importance of the backcountry education, preparation and planning that goes into getting to these spots, skiing gnarly lines, etc.

I decided that I would build a community where backcountry enthusiast and freeride skiers and snowboarders can share the preparation, avalanche knowledge, helping each other with staying safe, and meet like-minded people, as well as a place where I can invite mountain guides to share conversations about avalanche awareness, letting the professional share their knowledge and experience with the community, and hoping for this to catch people’s attention so they become more interested in avalanche awareness and backcountry safety. By getting people interested, I hope that they will look for more knowledge themselves and do avalanche courses. That way we can create backcountry with people who are not only amazing skiers and snowboarders, but also fully knowledgeable of avalanche dangers and ready to help in case of accidents.

Now with the COVID pandemic, more people are stocking up on ski touring gear and split boards, and mountain guides are going to be busier than ever teaching avalanche awareness, to the people that understand that there are dangers in the backcountry and want to proceed with it with caution, but not everyone understands this, and we will see people wandering into the backcountry with no avalanche gear and no idea about what they are doing which will put undue risks upon themselves and on people who are with them. As I mention earlier, they are not only going to be placing themselves into danger, but also the people around them in the backcountry, as they can set off an avalanche, that can hit the people below them, and then there is no one to save the people getting buried as the people setting off the avalanche have no gear to find them or dig them out with. This is a topic that I speak with Jees Hotter (Freeride World Tour athlete about in episode 6 of our series “Backcountry Talk”, that you can find on our new website (48FreeRiders.com), YouTube, and also as a podcast on SoundCloud.

Even before the COVID pandemic, I was seeing an increase in skiers and snowboarders getting into backcountry and ski touring/split boarding. The COVID pandemic was the catalyst that brought on the spike of interest and influx of newbies to the backcountry.

48 FreeRiders is a social media-based platform with members all over the world. Our goal: if you join 48 FreeRiders both on Instagram and Facebook, you can use these platforms to find people in your area or areas that you may be traveling to. Our Facebook group is made for the members to post their tours, experience, knowledge but also a place where you can post and ask if there are members in your area there want to go ski touring with.

What gear do you need to get into backcountry skiing/snowboarding?

The most important gear when you wander into the backcountry is your avalanche gear which is made of a transceiver, shovel, and probe. This is the 3 most essential things you will need. Without these 3 things, it will be pretty much impossible for you to find a buried person in an avalanche. I use a BCA Tracker 3, a metal shovel, and a 3-meter long probe. (You can buy this as a set). There are many different brands out there that make great transceivers, the most important is that you practice so you become an expert at using yours, especially how to find multiple people and flagging people with the probe. I personally find the BCA Tracker 3 the easiest to use, which is why I chose it.

To decide which skis and split boards to buy, ask what you want to get out of your skis?

Do you want lightweight for uphill treks?
Do you want something that you can charge with on the way down?
Do you want pin- or frame-binding?
Do you want a wide or narrow ski?
Do you want stiff or soft skis (I prefer stiff ski to charge down the mountain)?
Do you want to snowshoe or split board?
Stiff or soft board?
etc

How can a newbie get into backcountry skiing and snowboarding?

We recommend doing an avalanche course; there are plenty of them around the world, or you can hire your own mountain guide and get them to teach you the basics, which will give you a rough understanding of how avalanches work and what to look out for.

Find a crew of people to go into the backcountry with, where everyone has the possibility to get to lead the tour, so everyone knows what is going on and is learning from the experience as well as making sure everyone gets a saying in the decision making. Make sure there is a culture of never be afraid of saying what you think, and that it is okay to turn around if the danger/risk is too high. It’s best to be conservative in the backcountry, a life-saving rule to adhere to is: if one person in the group has a reason to turn around, the whole group will as a team, will turn around. It needs to be a reason based on factual backcountry observations and evaluation.

Starting with small and easy tours! You can maybe ski all the runs in the resort with your eyes closed but the backcountry is a completely different beast, so start small and build your skill up to the more gnarly stuff. Remember that avalanche terrain often starts around 30 degrees.

I think some people are terrified without any reason or knowledge, and some are overconfident. Finding a balance between these two by using knowledge and experience to judge the condition with the focus on getting safely back to shred another day is the healthiest approach to backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Reflecting on the decision that you and your group made in the backcountry is key to improving; ask:

What decision did we make that was good?
What decision did we make that was not so good?
What can we learn from this?
How can we make sure we don’t make these mistakes in the future?

We hope you find this interview useful and perhaps our paths cross and we’ll have an opportunity to share some powder shredding with you in the backcountry. We also hope that you will be interested in joining our community to share your wisdom and to help spread avalanche awareness so that backcountry skiing is not only fun but safe place for recreational snow sports.

Best Regards,

Mathias Bjoern
Founder of 48 FreeRiders. Currently, I live in Denmark where I’m from. I have been fortunate to be able to travel for four years on the road skiing all over the world.

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Part 1 

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

Part 2 

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

Part 3 

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

Part 4 

Interview with Richard Bothwell, Backcountry Touring Guide and Director of the Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC)

Part 5 

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

Part 6 

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

Backcountry Skiing, Snow-Sports Resources

✔ San Francisco Backcountry Skiers Facebook Group: ‘San Francisco Backcountry Skiers (and Riders) is a resource and inspiration for people in the San Francisco area (and beyond) who are interested in backcountry skiing and riding. SFBS welcomes both experienced and aspiring backcountry skiers and riders.’ Membership type: free, public group. 3.3k members. Visit their FB group page.

✔ SnowPals.org is a non-traditional snow-sports club for busy Bay Area professionals. Join SF Bay Area professionals to expand your circle of ski and ride buddies (resort based and backcountry), btw, that’s how we came up with our name: Snow (Snow-Sports) + Pals. Membership type: one-time paid membership fee of $20; join SnowPals. Read members’ intros to get an idea who joins. Founded in 1999 by a small group of friends; we are now 8,249 members and growing. Celebrating our 21st year of connecting folks to expand their circle of snow sports activity partners.

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

Lake Tahoe Backcountry Ski Topographic Maps and Guidebook

California Ski Company in Berkeley is one of the top ski shop retailer for ski gear for sale and rentals, plus boot fitting and equipment service. Cal Ski Co is a ‘specialty ski shop focused on ski equipment sale and rental since 1989. They sell and rent equipment for both Resort and Backcountry Ski Touring. Their team of expert ski boot fitters are the best in the business. They repair and tune about anything that slides on snow. Looking for a job? Cal Ski Co is currently hiring as of October 29, 2020. Full-time and part-time employment available: job openings, ski tech and boot-fitter. Experience is desirable but not necessary. The only criteria is that you are a skier. Interested or know of someone who is? Email resumes to .’

✔ Backcountry and Outback Adventures for Telemark and Randonee Ski Rentals, Fremont, CA and Larkspur, CA – Outback Adventures is a comprehensive outdoor adventure guide service, rental shop, and paddlesports and nordic ski specialty retailer located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sequoia National Park Lodging WUKSACHI LODGE

Located in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park, Wuksachi Lodge is a modern lodge with 102 guestrooms. It offers a cocktail lounge, a full service restaurant and both a retail and ski shop. At an elevation of 7,050 ft. (1,980 m), Wuksachi Lodge is only 4 miles away from the Giant Forest Museum.
Delaware North Parks & Resorts offers multiple services like overnight accommodations, retail, food and beverage, etc. at Kings Canyon National Park in the area of Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. Limited Internet is available in some areas of the main lodge. Wuksachi Lodge is open throughout all the seasons.

GRANT GROVE CABINS

At an elevation of 6,500 ft (1,980 m), the Grant Grove Cabins is located in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. It offers 6 types of cabins; some are even opened all year. Main attractions like a sequoia grove, gifts shop, markets and restaurants are half a mile (800m) away from the Grant Grove Cabins. Open: All Year (limited in the winter)

✔ PEAR LAKE WINTER HUT

Managed by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Pear Lake Winter Hut is a rustic hut of 10 bunk beds that opens during winter and requires reservations but only for wilderness skiers who travel to Pear Lake during the cold season. At an elevation of 9,200 ft. the hut sits high above Lodgepole. This hut includes a wood-pellet stove. To get to it, you need to go through six miles on skis or snowshoes. Reservations can be made online or by phone: 559-565-3759.

Got a key backcountry resource not listed here that you’d like to share? Contact . Advance thanks for sharing.

* Browse Tahoe area rentals and private seasonal ski leases:
🏂
http://www.snowpals.org/rentals/

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

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

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How to join SnowPals

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

Founded in 1999 by a small group of friends; we are now 8,249 members and growing. Celebrating our 21st year of connecting folks to expand their circle of snow sports activity partners. Also, a great way to network professionally since most of our members are busy Bay Area and Silicon Valley professionals who share a keen interest to make the most of their recreational time for trips to Tahoe and other powder destinations (road trips & air travel after the pandemic is behind us) for snow-sports. In addition, socially connect with skiers and snowboarders in regards to all things Tahoe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

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

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

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

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

Over the years, we’ve noticed that ..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi Skiers and Snowboarders!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read additional feedback from folks who’ve joined SnowPals.


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

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

Membership perks:

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

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

How do I join?

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

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

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

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

New Member Sign-Up

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

Have a question? .

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

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

1) Mammoth Mountain Trips (in Central Sierra Nevada)

2) Utah

3) Colorado

4) British Columbia Trips / Whistler Blackcomb

5) Hakuba, Niseko also known as the Japanese Alps

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

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

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

SnowPals-ski-ride-snowsports-activity-partners

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

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