Welcome to the New Backcountry
How to Get Started
Backcountry skiing and riding can feel like an overwhelming sport. There are hazards to manage and lots of gear to understand. In this video we’ll talk about the most important things to get you started as a backcountry skier.
Introduction to the Backcountry
Backcountry Tips with Claire Hewitt-Demeyer
Tahoe Backcountry Alliance produced this short video with local professional snowboarder, Claire Hewitt-Demeyer to provide a quick starting point for those who are thinking about getting in to the backcountry.
Follow Claire’s adventures on Instagram: @wheres_claire_now
Claire Hewitt-Demeyer – Riding Local Terrain
First Tracks Productions produced this interview and action edit with local professional snowboarder, Claire Hewitt-Demeyer. Watch Claire as she descends from some well-known and lesser known lines in the Tahoe region from this past winter.
Follow Claire’s adventures on Instagram: @wheres_claire_now
Preparing for the Backcountry
Day 2 covers the most important part of staying safe in the backcountry – proper education and preparation.
The massive storm is reminded us of just how important it is to properly prepare and check the avalanche forecast before going out into the backcountry. New snow is exciting, but it can also create dangerous conditions. An avalanche warning was currently issued for the Tahoe area.
Reminder: Before you go out, ALWAYS get the full forecast from the Sierra Avalanche Center.
AIARE Avalanche Courses
Getting the proper education is key to staying safe in the backcountry. It is critical to take an AIARE Avalanche Course before going out. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or experienced backcountry rider, these courses allow you to gain a better understanding of how to operate in the backcountry with a solid avalanche education.
Win a Free Spot in an AAIRE Course!
Alpenglow Expeditions and Golden State Guiding have generously donated free spots to their AIARE courses to help our community access this critical safety education.
Learn more and see their full course offerings:
Education and Practice
Getting the proper education and committing to practice are two of the most important things you can do to stay safe in the backcountry.
- Get the education through a formal avalanche education course.
- Follow the progression through AIARE level 2.
- The first step is to go to your local avalanche center or find your local professional guides service.
- Encourage your friends to get educated and talk about everyone’s knowledge and skill level.
- Finally, practice practice practice. The journey is continuous.
Safety starts before you ever hit the snow. Be sure to properly prepare for your trip and to pack the necessary equipment.
- Check the avalanche forecast and know how to read it. Make this a part of your routine.
- Let others know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
- Make sure you’re self-reliant with the necessary tools and equipment.
- Park at the trailhead respectfully.
What to Pack with Claire Hewitt-Demeyer
Tahoe Backcountry Alliance produced this video with local professional snowboarder, Claire Hewitt-Demeyer to show the items she thinks are essential to pack for a day touring in the backcountry. Follow Claire’s adventures on Instagram: @wheres_claire_now
Head injuries are a big deal and the best way to protect your most vital organ (your brain) is to wear a helmet. We’ll cover helmet technology and what to look for when buying a helmet in this brief video.
What to Wear
The right gear offers protection from the elements and from hypothermia.
- Always wear a helmet
- Utilize layers
- Base Layers: Wear synthetic or wool baselayers, do not use cotton.
- Mid Layer: Lightweight fleece or a thicker baselayer
- Top Layer: Shell jacket and/or pants for days with weather. Softshells are nice and breathable when touring.
- Seasonality and daytime weather will affect your layering choices
Electrical Interference and Beacons
Testing how cell phone, bluetooth headphones, GPS, and electric glove interfere with a variety of beacons.
Be a Friend in the Backcountry
Day 3 was about taking care of the outdoor spaces where we love to play and practicing proper backcountry etiquette.
Backcountry Tips and Etiquette
Members of the human-powered and motorized winter sports community get together to chat about safety and issues affecting their user groups.
Jill Sanford – Sierra Business Council
Greg Garrison – Tahoe Backcountry Alliance
Devin Middlebrook – Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and City of South Lake Tahoe
Todd Wold – Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers
and be entered to win a Boundary Ridge™ Kit from Mountain Hard Wear!
Skin Track Etiquette
On your way up the mountain, be sure to practice proper skin track etiquette.
- Bathroom breaks minimum 25′ away from skin track
- Do not bootpack in the skin track
- Minimize the amount of skin tracks on the mountain
Parking Lot Etiquette
Where to park and parking lot etiquette are an important part of being a Friend in the Backcountry.
- Respect private property
- Respect parking closures
- Maximize parking at congested trailheads
- Carpool when you can
- Be friendly and courteous
Motorized & Non-Motorized Resources and Maps
Be informed about forest boundaries and OSV (Over the Snow Vehicles) riding areas.
LakeTahoeSnowmobilers.com > Resources > Resources and Maps.
Over Snow Vehicle Boundary Maps
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit OSV Map
Motors in the Backcountry
Day 4 was all about motorized use! Our friends at Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers share tips and advice on how to safety access and experience the backcountry on a snowmobile.
See all the content for motorized user below.
Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers Backcountry Safety Video
Motorized Daily Flow
Sierra Avalanche Center shares risk management strategies when entering the backcountry on a snowmobile.
Helmets and Clothing for Snowmobiling
Talking with Olympic snowboarding champion Tori (Koski) Billings from TOBE about why DOT approved snowmobiling helmets and high-quality 45k clothing are important for backcountry safety.
Short clip on why helmet lights are essential for backcountry riders
Maintenance for Safety
Talking with Missing Digit Motors about what maintenance is needed for your snowmobile before each ride to help make sure you safely return home.
Partners and Resources
The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is the voice for the human-powered winter backcountry community in the Lake Tahoe area, advocating for and informing our community about critical issues affecting winter backcountry recreation in and around Tahoe.
Alpenglow Expeditions is the only guide service in Tahoe accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association. Join our professional mountain guides for an inspiring adventure in the Tahoe backcountry, whether it be our industry-leading AIARE 1 courses with both traditional and hybrid options, or a day of powder skiing bliss in the Palisades Backcountry. Give our team a call to discover your options – we’re open 7 days a week in the Village at Palisades Tahoe.
877-873-5376 | AlpenglowExpeditions.com
Founded by IFMGA/American Mountain Guide Zeb Blais, Blackbird Mountain Guides offers a full range of mountain adventures and skills courses to up your game in the backcountry. From AIARE avalanche education and heli-accessed BC lodge ski touring to rock and alpine climbing across the globe, their AIARE and AMGA trained guides can make your mountain dreams a reality. Set up a trip or book a course with them today!
Golden State Guiding is a full service Guide Service in California offering privately guided backcountry splitboarding and skiing programs, AIARE Avalanche Courses, and rock, ice, and alpine climbing programs. GSG is also a 1% for the Planet member and our main beneficiaries are the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, Protect Our Winters, Yosemite Conservancy and Friends of Joshua Tree.
The Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers is a 501(c)3 run by a group of volunteers committed to winter avalanche safety education and practice, promoting positive backcountry experiences and snowmobile for all backcountry users, and advocating for motorized backcountry experiences and access for all, regardless of health-status, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, or culture. Reach out to [email protected] with any questions or find us at LakeTahoeSnowmobilers.com or @laketahoesnowmobilers on Facebook and Instagram.