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1000 Island Lake in winter
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Charley White
(charleywhite) - M

Locale: Petaluma
Some CA bc skiing links on 12/15/2013 12:02:53 MST Print View

A few hot links.

Mike Schwartz of aforementioned The Backcountry has good Tahoe info & maps.

Here's snownet

Here's Bob Akka's site for when you get into going across and along the Sierra. Wonderful.

Marcus Libkind wrote the "second" book(s) on sierra touring. Here's his site.

Dave Beck wrote the "first" sierra xc book & used to run snowcamping seminars north of Carson Pass in Meiss Meadow. Could reach him here. Suspect he does all his instruction out of LTahoeCCollege now, though.

New one that looks good.

RE 1000 Island Lakes, I would think that up the tramway from June Lake is the easy/short way in. Return via long traverse on the summer trail.


Edited by charleywhite on 12/15/2013 12:07:31 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Some CA bc skiing links on 12/15/2013 12:26:20 MST Print View

Charley, thanks for the links, I'll check them out. I found Mike's site already and have read some pretty cool stuff on it.

Regarding Bear Valley vs Tahoe, according to google maps, it only takes me seven minutes longer to get to Truckee from my place than to Bear valley. It is longer as far as miles are concerned, but I like that it is larger, more open roads moving at higher speeds. I often bring one of my dogs when I go to the mountains as company, and the smoother and straighter I can make the road, the more enjoyable the ride is for her. And as you said, the Tahoe area has a lot more lodging/ eating/ buying options.

I'll give a lot of thought to what you said about turns. I've been reading "Backcountry Skiing" by Martin Volken (first book I came across on the Nook), where he mentions the two different mindsets of backcountry skiing. The first is where the ski is a tool to get to the areas you want to explore. The second is where the ski is a toy, and your goal in the backcountry is to get to good skiing. I'm firmly in the former mindset. My thought is that I'm looking for a faster/ more capable way of traveling in the backcountry than snowshoes. Of course I'm open minded, and I know that if I really start to enjoy the skiing sports, that could change.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Some CA bc skiing links on 12/15/2013 12:57:41 MST Print View

"The first is where the ski is a tool to get to the areas you want to explore."

Many of us are basically hikers. In the winter, we go hiking on snow, and we have these long skinny things on our feet to keep us up.


Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
skiing and skiing on 12/15/2013 13:07:46 MST Print View

The way I look at it is you can go into the mountains to ski, or you can ski to get into the mountains. And of course all variations in between. I'm pretty close to the latter end of the spectrum, and it sounds like you expect to be there as well. I've skied across the Sierra and yet I don't think of myself as a skier - I just happen to use skis to get around in the mountains when they are covered by snow.

Charley hits it on the head with the survival skiing. I'll emphasize that it's about safety. When you are three days of skiing from a road, you REALLY don't want to fall and get hurt. So I stay well within my comfort zone. I'm not a very good skier, but I'm not too proud to walk down, so I can get around pretty well. Those who have more skills than I and really enjoy the down often do trips where they ski in to a base camp and then ski the peaks around them unencumbered by the pack - more fun and safer than trying to ski the steeps while laden.

Yes, the better your ski skills are the more places you can go. But there are lots of places you can go that don't require advanced skiing ability.

To me the real key skill for backcountry travel over the snow is navigation - that applies regardless of your mode of travel. Do as much off-trail travel as you can in the summer before you venture out too far on the snow; the habits you need to build are very similar.

All the snow-living skills can be learned close to the road for safety's sake. Load up, get a mile from the road, and make camp. You'll make mistakes, and you'll learn from them, and if you make a really big mistake it's only a mile to the car.

I'll also add to the voices that say spring is the time to go, not winter. I always aim for the end of April/early May. Nice long days, usually quite warm, and great corn snow for skiing. March I would avoid like the plague. March in the Sierra is historically a big month for snowfall. Everything's very pretty with all that fresh snow but you can't get far ploughing a knee-deep trench through it on skis. Most years mid-April is when the serious storms are done. However, if your schedule is very flexible there always seems to be a weather window in February that stays clear and warm for a week or two and you can do some nice trips then - but it's unpredictable and unless you can go at the drop of a hat you can't do it.

But really, it's not that much fun. I mean, who wants to go out into a spectacular mountain range in perfect weather and have it all to themselves for a week or more, gliding along over a silky smooth blanket of sparkling white, knowing that you are enjoying a truly rare privilege to see what you are seeing?

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: skiing and skiing on 12/15/2013 13:45:05 MST Print View

"But really, it's not that much fun. I mean, who wants to go out into a spectacular mountain range in perfect weather and have it all to themselves for a week or more, gliding along over a silky smooth blanket of sparkling white, knowing that you are enjoying a truly rare privilege to see what you are seeing?"

You know, now that you put it like that, I think I might just stick to summer backpacking. ;-)

It sounds like we're all likeminded on this board as far as the reason for skiing in the backcountry. As for winter camping, I already started following your advice last year Paul. :) I went camping in Mammoth just a couple hundred yards off the side of the road. It taught me a lot of valuable lessons as far as gear and techniques were concerned. it opened my eyes to fresh snow as opposed to old snow, and I learned a lot about fire starting, cooking, and keeping water from freezing. It was a very cold and somewhat miserable experience, and I also learned a bit about proper sleeping gear (who would have thought that the pad plays such a key role...haha).

Luckily, what I lack in the ski experience department, I make up for a bit in navigation. I've completed the Army's advanced land nav course at Ft. Hunter Liggett, part of which was at night (no GPS's allowed). At night and in the redwoods, as many of you local guys know, is "navigating by brail" as my buddy used to say, in regards to terrain feature recognition. After 15 years (and counting) on SAR, I've had to become pretty decent on this. Plus, as a K9 handler tracking people in the woods I use nav skills almost weekly. But still, winter and snow will bring a new element to it that I'm excited to learn about. I'm definitely not one of those guys that knows everything about a subject, and I can't wait to learn more.

Avalanche skills are something I know absolutely nothing about (I did just read the recent article here on it). I'm looking forward to getting some training and skills on the subject.

Thanks for all the great tips, links, and advice you guys. Please keep it coming. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates the information and is looking to get into this exciting new hobby.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"1000 Island Lake in winter" on 12/15/2013 14:03:51 MST Print View

I'm just starting doing some EASY bc skiing--hardly bc at all. I've been nordic skiing for years and used to downhill a lot. Anyway, the difference between back country skiing and groomed nordic skiing is immense. I got a pair of Madshus Glitterinds on sale last summer and paired them with Rossignol BC 9 boots and a beefier Nordic style binding whose name I'm forgetting right now. This set up is designed for kicking and gliding on easy terrain; works very well! The Glitterinds are very narrow and don't float well but they really glide, almost like a Nordic ski. I'm very pleased with the three trips I've done this winter. However, turning--especially in the trees--can be an adventure. It doesn't take much to start accelerating fast; in trees there isn't room to turn or snowplow. Ice is brutal. Maneuvering around obstacles or even just up simple but narrow tree lined slopes in, say 8 inches of fresh powder can be difficult. Still, I much prefer skis to snowshoes on easy terrain. But for my skill level, snowshoes will rule where steeper tree covered slopes are concerned.

I did manage to negotiate a few tricky tree slopes on my skis. It didn't look pretty, but hey. One can always walk through really tough patches. For day trips I've thought about carrying snow shoes in a pack and then skiing to where the terrain gets steep--leaving the skis and returning to ski out.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: "1000 Island Lake in winter" on 12/15/2013 14:12:59 MST Print View

Jeffrey, thanks for the comparison. My first and only attempt at snowshoeing was a complete disaster, probably due to the several feet of new snow that fell overnight. Unfortunately it really soured my taste on snowshoes. I felt like if the snow was deep enough that I needed them, they wouldn't support me...And if it was hard or shallow enough to use them, regular boots would do just as well. I know I must be very wrong on those conclusions, or they wouldn't have been in use so long, all over the world.

But even under the best circumstances, I simply can't imagine doing say, a 10 mile hike in one day on snowshoes. That is a long enough distance for me in summer, in boots. Skis on the other hand, if the terrain allows it, I could see getting me the same (or possibly better) mileage as I can make on boots in summer. Ideally I'd like to get to 1000 Island Lake on the first day, make it a base camp, and explore the area day 2, and return on day 3. The lake alone is roughly 11 miles from the starting point, depending on which route you take.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Mimi is still in the ASI business on 12/16/2013 17:42:56 MST Print View

This was on their web-site as of 12-16-2013:
ASI Directors:
Mimi Maki-Vadasz
ASI Co-Founder
ASI Adminisrative Director
ASI Rock Guide
ASI Alpine Guide
ASI Ski Mountaineering Guide
AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide Certified
PSIA Level II Nordic & Alpine Certified
AIARE Avalanche Level 3 Certified
OEC & CPR Certified
Mt. Everest Summiteer 2003
Bela G. Vadasz
ASI Co-Founder
ASI Technical Director
IFMGA Internationally Licensed Mountain Guide
AMGA Ski Discipline Coordinator
AMGA Ski & Alpine Instructor/Examiner
AMGA Technical Committee Member
AMGA Lifetime Acheivement Award 2008
PSIA Level III Nordic & Alpine Certified
AIARE Avalanche Level 3 Course Instructor
AIARE Education Committee member
WFR & CPR Certified