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Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: rentals on 12/13/2013 09:37:17 MST Print View

Doug,

in order to better answer your questions, specifically, how much ski experience do you have:

downhill groomed?
downhill not groomed?

xc on groomed trail?
xc not groomed?

do you know owe to make a parallel turn? a telemark turn? a stem christy? snow plow? kick turn?

How much meaning how many times? or how many years? and what level have you attained? (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert)

thanks

Billy

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
experience on 12/13/2013 11:48:36 MST Print View

Hi Billy, at this point in my life the most accurate would be:
xc- groomed trails- beginner

I've never once been downhill skiing, and my cross country experiences were 20 years ago in Banff, on groomed trails and a golf course. Now keep in mind, I won't be attempting a trip like the one we're discussing until I have considerably better experience. But that is where I'm at right now.

I went roughly ten times, for half a day each time. Some were on narrower hiking trails, but none were steep. As for turns, I've read about some that you've mentioned, but never practiced them. By the way, sorry to leave you out in my post to Bob. He had mentioned doing trips in this area before, but going back and reading your prior post it sounds like you are familiar with it as well.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/13/2013 11:52:30 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
mammoth to...whoops on 12/13/2013 13:43:37 MST Print View

I feel like a moron. When I was chatting about the Mammoth to Yosemite ski tour, I was picturing the 30 mile trip to Tuolumne meadows from Agnew Meadows. I completely forgot that Tioga Pass is closed in winter, so the trip is actually to Yosemite valley floor right? As near as I can figure, that is closer to 60 miles than 30, and with a far greater elevation gain/ loss along the way.

I'm not sure I'm up for something that long, at least it's much longer than what I had in mind. Maybe an out and back/ loop to 1000 Island Lake and Waugh without going all the way is more going to be my speed. I really have no interest in going all the way to the valley floor, as I want to be spending most of my time at 9,000 feet plus. The Eastern Sierras have always held a lot more interest for me than the Western side.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: experience on 12/13/2013 13:44:56 MST Print View

Let me offer a suggestion. Lots of people have beginner skis on cross country skis, but it would be a gigantic jump to go do a Mammoth-Yosemite trip based on that. So, here is what you do. Go on a ski hut trip. For example, there is a bunch of ski huts in the Lake Tahoe area, and some of them are managed by the Sierra Club and sit on Forest Service land. Find out some club that has organized a ski hut trip to one of them and get on the trip. You will need to carry a halfway-heavy pack, but you will have a semi-warm place to sleep overnight, and often they organize a central commissary for meals. So, you would get to test your new sleeping bag and pack. This is an intermediate trip to help you transition to the serious trips. If you don't get to Tahoe, then there is one hut in Yosemite and another in Sequoia.

Ostrander Ski Hut in Yosemite is about ten miles in, and the entire last half is uphill, so it is not a stroll.

There was another trip years ago. Start from Lee Vining and ski across Yosemite, ending up in Yosemite Valley. There are huts along the way, but it is difficult to get access.

There is always a certain variation on the skis used for a trip. Some people are yo-yo skiers, and they often have "fat boy" skis best described as full telemark skis. Other people don't want to expend that much energy, so they just concentrate on getting from point to point without wrecking their knees, so they use narrower skis that are maybe 65 or 70mm wide in the middle.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: mammoth to...whoops on 12/13/2013 13:50:08 MST Print View

"I completely forgot that Tioga Pass is closed in winter"

The pass being closed makes for some interesting possibilities. That means that there are no vehicles on the road, and that makes it an easy navigational path across the park. There is a ski hut in Tuolumne Meadows, so some people ski over the pass from Lee Vining to the hut, ski a couple of days, and then return back to the start. The last time that I did that one, Tioga Pass Resort was open for business, but I don't think that it is open anymore. That made a great overnight stopping point.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
ski hut on 12/13/2013 14:01:26 MST Print View

Thanks Bob, the ski hut idea is outstanding. Tahoe is much easier for me to get to in winter than Yosemite, so I'm glad that there are more huts available there. As we mentioned earlier, Peter Grubb hut is not far off the beaten path from Boreal. Boreal also has that gear Nordic ski area behind it that would be easy access for practicing the basics.

I checked out the Sierra Club websites for a couple different regions last night. I couldn't find any of them listing ski tour dates or plans...it seemed most of the site was dedicated to environmental protection (which I understand is their focus). I'm a little concerned that might not be the right fit for me as far as joining a club. Don't get me wrong, I believe in "tread lightly" and protecting the environment, but my mindset and attitudes are a lot more conservative than many people I know in similar groups. I'll have to do some research on if there are other organized groups that do outings to the ski huts as well.

I plan on doing this a little at a time. To being with I'm just going to do a couple overnighter snow camping runs. We have a family vacation in the planning stages for Tahoe or Mammoth in January/ February, so I'll get a night or two in camping while the wife and kids are at the hotel/ cabin. ;-)

I drove Tioga Pass recently and I can't imagine doing those first 5 miles or so to the entrance of the park from Lee Vining...WOW, that looks like it would be a workout going up and scary coming down. Haha

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/13/2013 14:05:07 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: ski hut on 12/13/2013 14:22:49 MST Print View

Yes, the Sierra Club means different things to different people. There are many members who are environmental activists. Then there are the rest of us who are just outdoors people, and we don't get involved so much in the politics. Within the Sierra Club, there are local geographic chapters. For example, one chapter covers San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Benito counties. Within each chapter, there are some of the activists, and then also there are activity groups. For examples, there is a Ski Touring Section, a Backpacking Section, etc. You just need to get hooked up with the correct bunch of people, both by geography and by ideology.

"I drove Tioga Pass recently and I can't imagine doing those first 5 miles or so to the entrance of the park...WOW, that looks like it would be a workout going up and scary coming down."

Well, I'm not sure where you are going or coming. On the last trip, we drove from Lee Vining west to the gate and parked. We went from there up to Tioga Pass Resort for an overnight, then on up to the pass and down to Tuolumne Meadows for a couple of nights. Absolutely none of that route had any problem except for some hideous exposure if you got too close to the cliff edge. The TPR staff hauled our overnight packs up by snowmobile. Alas, TPR closed for winter operations, I believe, although that might change.

The entrance office to the Tuolumne Meadows car campground becomes the winter ski hut. At the last time that I checked, it was free, first come first served. There is a large steel shipping container behind there, and it is for food storage. So, skiers will drive several days worth of winter food up there in September or October and lock it up. When they come skiing along in March, the food is waiting for them. That will lighten your pack a lot, which is what we are about here.

Besides, it is great to wander around Tuolumne Meadows on skis as you follow animal tracks in the snow. In fact, two NPS rangers spend the winter there, and they report on tracks and animal sightings.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
Tuolumne on 12/13/2013 14:34:22 MST Print View

Thanks for the added info on the Sierra Club. And I did finally find a website of theirs that gives great info on the ski huts.

I think I am a bit confused about Tioga Pass from the Lee Vining side, since I've never been there in winter. I assumed the pass was closed to vehicles right at Hwy 395. Can you actually drive up to near the Park entrance even in winter? I was talking about the 4,000' elevation gain slog from the intersection of Hwy 395. Now I think I'm following you that the road is open, even in winter, to the resort?

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/13/2013 14:36:14 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: rentals on 12/13/2013 14:37:07 MST Print View

"a stem christy?"

Billy asked about ski turns, although these apply more for downhill skiers than cross country skiers. Some people can do a stem christy. Others do a royal christie.

All I ever managed to do was a pine christie.

That is when you reach up and grab a pine branch and swing your turn around it.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Tuolumne on 12/13/2013 14:53:29 MST Print View

"I think I am a bit confused about Tioga Pass from the Lee Vining side, since I've never been there in winter."

Starting from the intersection of US 395 and CA 120 near Lee Vining, you can drive west about three or four miles until you get to the locked gate. There, you park. Often the pavement is snow-free on the other side, but it can just as easily be covered in snow. From the gate, it is all uphill to TPR, which sits about one mile from the park entrance. At the actual Tioga Pass entrance station, there is another more massive gate.

Several years ago, TPR was the only commerical entity between those two gates, and it had permission to keep one or two snowmobiles and one 4WD vehicle. So, depending on where the snow line was, they had something to haul heavy packs.

Skiing down that steep area of unplowed road was quite exciting. Uphill, not so much.

--B.G.--

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: What ski type? on 12/13/2013 21:59:47 MST Print View

Doug,
There are lots of choices in skis. All skis are a compromise as none will be 'just right' for all conditions you will encounter.

The skinniest, least powerful ski/boot combo I would use if I were doing the trip would be the Madshus Eon with a boot like the Fisher BCX6. I believe you can rent the Eons at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City. Problem is they only rent whimpy NNN BC boots. Though they might rent a plastic telemark boot with them. Brendan is the owner... nice guy.
http://alpenglowsports.com/

Tahoe Mountain Sports in King's Beach (north tahoe) might also rent some telemark or backcountry gear... these are nice guys too:

http://www.tahoemountainsports.com/prod_detail_list/snowsports?gclid=CMePr83srrsCFShk7AodjDMAjA

And The Backcountry in Truckee rents both tele or BC gear:
http://www.thebackcountry.net/

Courses: Alpine Skills Institute in Truckee (I believe they are upstairs inside The Backcountry store):
http://www.alpineskills.com/
I see they have a Introduction to Backcountry Skiing Course on Dec 21 and 28 (may at other dates after the holidays too?)
Bela G. Vadasz is the owner. I took a couple of private lessons from he and his wife many years ago that really improved my skiing at the time. They also offer avalanche classes, though I am still partial to Randall Osterhuber's class at http://donnersummitavalancheseminars.com/ (Randall is a good friend of mine... he is a snow scientist who has been running the Donner Summit Snow Lab for the State of CA for about the past 30 years... and tremendous backcountry skier)

I would not rule out a plastic telemark boot for your proposed trip. I think the range of gear you want to be in is from the light end being Madshus Eon w. Fisher BCX6 boot or similar to the more stable Madshus Epoch or Annum with say the Garmont Excursion plastic tele boot or similar. You could also use a plastic tele boot with the Madshus Eon.

I would not recommend doing that trip without learning the turns in my previous post. Even though that trip to 1000 Island Lake is not super hard, there will be some significant ups and downs.

Being able to turn in most or all conditions is super important. Turning is control. Without it you will fall your way down every significant slope. If it's icy... you could fall 500 or even 1,000 feet :(

When I was 17 and got my first car I was really jazzed to hop it up to make it go fast. My step-dad said to me, "Son, (he was trying to convince me to put my paycheck into brakes) there is one thing more important than going fast."
I was stunned. At 17 I couldn't imagine what was more important than looking cool and going fast. So I said, "What's That?" With a smirk and an attitude. He said, "Stopping. What are you going to do if you're going fast and can't stop?." Oh... so I decided to buy brakes.

Well, skiing is a bit the same. Except that stopping is not about your foot on a brake. In skiing your ability to make turns = your ability to stop. If you can't make turns, then the only way you're going to stop on a significant slop is to fall. And once you fall, lots of bad things can happen. (also turning under control allows you to avoid objects :)

So I recommend that you rent some tele or BC skis and take a class. At first take group classes, then go out and practice after the class, the same day and the next day. After you get up to, say, lower intermediate, then I recommend taking a private lesson or two. A private lesson with Bela (or other) at a, are you ready for this? At a downhill resort. Why? Well, when the lift is what's getting you up the slope you can make a TON more turns in a day. And that means a TON more practice. Which means a TON more progress. Unfortunately, it also means a TON more falls... It takes a lot of falling to learn to turn... or, at least it did for me.

Once you master turning on the groomed slopes. The take the lift to the top and ski down parallel to the groomed, but off the groomed. Do it over and over and do it under lots of different conditions: icy, powder, corn snow, breakable crust... That is the ultimate goal, to be able to ski most, if not all conditions...

Anyway, this is a big topic and there is more than one way to skin a cat. But the above is my advice to you Doug. Accomplish the above and you open up the entire Sierra to your winter adventures.

Billy

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: What ski type? on 12/13/2013 22:02:47 MST Print View

Oh, Doug... one more thing.

If you don't want to learn to turn skis on ungroomed snow. Then I recommend that you use snowshoes.

Billy

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
training on 12/13/2013 23:04:21 MST Print View

Thanks for the very informative reply, Billy. I appreciate the links to the vendors/ rentals and the classes. I am motivated to learn, as snowshoeing is not something I'm eager to try again.

For the past 20 years I've wanted to get back into cross country skiing again. My wife and kids are showing interest as well, so this seems like a good time to learn.

Two of the links you posted I just heard about a couple hours ago. I called Any Mountain in San Jose, and the very helpful guy in the ski department told me they don't carry back country/ AT/ telemark gear (I wanted to see the difference in person). But he did used to work at a ski shop in Tahoe, and recommended both the Backcountry Store and Alpenglow. So I was pleased to see that you recommended them as well. I saw that on the backcountry store's website, they have rental packages for the whole season. If we can make it up to the mountains a few times this winter that might be a cost effective way to go.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: training on 12/13/2013 23:13:02 MST Print View

You might also be able to rent telemark gear at Tahoe Donner Down Hill Ski resort. And maybe they have lessons too?

Tahoe Donner has an XC resort at which you can rent regular XC skis and get groomed track lessons.

Tahoe Donner also has a very small Down Hill Resort nearby the XC resort. I rented Telemark gear there two or three years ago. Not sure if they sill rent it or not... but since it's a very small resort the lift passes are cheaper.

I was looking though the ASI (Alpine Skills Institute) web site and it looks like their courses are mostly for people that already know how to ski. You might call them and explain your goal and your beginner status and see if they can recommend someone to give you beginner telemark lessons. Alternatively, you could take downhill lessons at downhill resort, learn the basics of downhill/parallel turns. And then take the telemark course from ASI. I'm excited for you. Good Luck!

Billy

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: training on 12/14/2013 00:46:59 MST Print View

"ASI (Alpine Skills Institute)"

Back around 1985, a friend of mine took beginner lessons from ASI, then skied at Donner Ski Ranch, then took more lessons, etc. She kept that up all season for every weekend. By May, she skied Mount Shasta with a group of us. I was impressed that she was able to pull it together in one season that way. I'm surprised that Bela still runs ASI after all these years.

--B.G.--

dave e
(hipass) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
sierra club on 12/14/2013 11:19:21 MST Print View

"the Sierra Club means different things to different people. There are many members who are environmental activists. "

the sierra clubs raison d etre is political/enviro activism...and its purpose is to get more people involved in the cause otherwise might as well hook up on Meetup.

" Then there are the rest of us who are just outdoors people, and we don't get involved so much in the politics."

As outdoors people doesnt it behoove you to support the outdoors?Or is it enjoying the fruits of others labor while being indifferent to that contribution at the same time?


I ve never understood folks who lament the sc yet enjoy hiking in areas that the sc or similar advocates helped preserve.Bizarre.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
Sierra Club on 12/14/2013 12:44:54 MST Print View

Hi Dave, I'd like to keep this thread focused on what I started it as, which is a way to prepare to do a ski trip to 1000 Island Lake in the winter/ spring. Folks offered advice on ways to help me prepare, which I appreciate. Bob, who you quoted, was responding to one of my concerns, and understood what I was asking and gave a helpful reply. Both of us kept our comments diplomatic in an effort to not have this thread spiral out of control like so many have since the dawn of internet forums.

I would be happy to address your remarks with my own personal opinion, but I'm not going to, because this thread is meant for a different purpose. No offence meant, I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/14/2013 12:47:24 MST.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Recommend Bela and Mimi at Alpine Skills on 12/14/2013 17:04:48 MST Print View

I've had lessons from both of them, and they are extremely professional. I'm not sure that they give lessons themselves anymore, they must be almost as old as I am, but they run a tight ship, even to the point of certifying mountain guides. After Mimi climbed Mt. Everest a few years ago, I think she may have semi-retired. But their employees are the best!

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Recommend Bela and Mimi at Alpine Skills on 12/14/2013 17:37:42 MST Print View

FYI... Mimi and Bela got divorced years ago. I don't believe she is any longer associated with ASI.

It is my understanding that Bela still guides and instructs himself..

Billy

Charley White
(charleywhite) - F

Locale: Petaluma, CA
Hiking on skis is what' s required on 12/15/2013 11:28:39 MST Print View

I have a different view on skiing skill. I love skiing downhill and hope you come to, also. But you don't need to. What you need is to be comfortable moving all around on skis. (upcoming punchline: the on-snow truth of all but a select few athletes under a loaded multiday backpack is there are no fancy turns. Only survival turns.) When I started on wood skis with lignostone (wood) edges and leather slippers, all I could do was looong traverses, stop, kick-turn, repeat. First advanced skill was sideslip. Being able to sideslip and lose 300 vertical on a long traverse was huge. Got from Echo Pass to Sugar Pine Point that way. Nowadays my Excursions and (Madshus Annums) took me from Lake Huntington to Bishop over 7days. Yeah, I can and do turn, but very carefully. Sketchy icy? don't...wait. Sketchy punchable crust? Boot it. If you like to backpack and are comfortable on skis (once called "snowshoes" and ridden straight down with a lurk) go for it.

The key is, don't fall and get hurt. If you can turn descending, safely on every turn without risk of a loaded faceplant, do it. Otherwise, don't.

Unless north Tahoe accomodations are driving you, head first from Monterey to Mountain Adventure Seminars in Bear Valley. Super people, and adjacent nordic center has rentals. Think about outing clubs in various colleges, they seem usually wide open. MPCC, maybe. Lake Tahoe Community College in South Shore had wonderful skiing instruction and winter survival courses in their wilderness studies department. Cheap. Join the yahoo group Snownet and put out an inquiry. It is an outgowth of a UCSF outing club; dormant tripwise, but still an active message center.

You're going to have so much fun.

Edited by charleywhite on 12/15/2013 11:30:03 MST.