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at this point it’s no secret tahoe had a great january. im fact, in terms many locations saw record january snowfall, while many others saw record precipitation amounts. we saw incredible avalanches and started some scary ones too. there were five days rated high on the avalanche scale and for the first time ever sierra avalanche center offerred up a completely black danger rose. We had some great days, but we also had quite a few down days. i think most would agree that the resorts were closed for weather more than any month in the past and i know the kids had more snow days than any month i’ve been here. enough of all that though let’s get to some pictures.
1/3 – waterhouse – last day skiing with ashley before her big trip. this was the beginning of the condition known as #januburied.

we spent a lot of time here and at powderhouse during the month since it’s always got a pullout plowed and it’s the ‘safe’ alternative on high avy danger days. more on that later.

ashley (follow her adventure with coalition snow at
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wandering in the desert

tahoe has been stuck in a long dry spell for pretty much all of february with the exception of one large event. a week ago hutchski and i headed to the rubies to ski terminal cancer. it was awesome, especially for her since it was her first couloir. another highlight was driving back the next day via highway 50. i had never seen the toiyabes or sand mountain during the day and they both had me excited for a return.
don’t have any decent pictures from then but this was as i was driving away from the toiyabes on tuesday. they look good right?

it’s all an illusion. this is big creek campground, which was an excellent place to sleep. free camping by a creek with excellent bathrooms. what’s not to like? the lack of snow on the lower and west facing slopes that i never saw before. at the second creek crossing there was too much snow on the opposite bank to make it up, and i was still miles from consistent snow. add to that the fact that i left my clothes bag at home which meant no socks and i’d be skiing in jeans, without ibuprofen.

so i decided i would bite the bullet and drive to the opposite side of the range. that would also take me through austin so i could get some supplies. the chevron mart had everything on my list, and i got their one and only pair of socks

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powder with a view

pretty much every time you go backcountry skiing here in the sierra you’re treated to great views. often the views are alpine lakes or even tahoe itself. but every now and then, you get to slice through the powder with a lake filling you’re goggles so much it’s hard to concentrate on your line. since most of these zones at least start and stop at lower elevations, it’s been a while since they’ve had the level of attention they’re getting this year. all you need to find these mountains is a map, but a map won’t get you to the top. for that you need a friend or local knowledge. despite overlooking lake tahoe, or fallen leaf lake these peaks are typically not easy to get to. jake’s peak would be the main exception to this rule and as a result, can get crowded. the reward for the extra effort can be awesome though

as you can see the lakeside peaks are clustered together in two main zones. one on the southwest shore and one on the north and east
Tahoe Map

angora peak – there are three ways to get to the base of the peak, have the gate code or key, snowmobile, just under a mile skin. if you choose the latter chances are someone with access is gonna get there first. the views of fallen leaf lake with tahoe beyond are magnificent
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remember that one time when it snowed in tahoe

it’s no secret that tahoe has been hurting for snow this year. as the year started we had promises of storms of the century that yielded nothing more than ‘much needed wind’. our best storms became the inside slider, which in most years simply ushers in colder air. when of these moves west enough to grab a little moisture off the pacific they can bring some decent cold snows, and with little wind. one of these storms came in at the end of february and as the day got closer the forecast got more and more promising. there was a forecast of up to 6-12″ (tiny by normal tahoe standards) with a possibility of twice that wherever the deformation axis set up.
so on friday morning we were a bit disappointed to find that kirkwood had only received around 7″ and apparently the north shore received up to 17″. we skinned up dangberg to get a few quick laps in with the pups while kirkwood’s finest did their patrol work.
febuly 28th. the pups couldn’t care less about no defamation ackses. they just like the snow.
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

hutchski, nacho, and stoke nearing the top. no more pics from today cause it started dumping again
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summer in the city

back in 1950 (actually it was early july this year) ashley and i hopped in the bumble beast and headed east, and a bit north as well to city of rocks idaho. this was our first long test of the beast and she performed beautifully. we left after work around midnight and traded shifts driving and sleeping throughout the night. the sun rose as we passed through wells, nevada. there we both grabbed a catnap parked outside mcdonalds while we used their wifi to download a movie. does mickeyd’s wifi make you fat?
city of rocks
sunrise over i-80

we continued on to the city and arrived early in the afternoon in time for another nap. the pups (you remember sir fartsalot and chief poopsinside) were ready for action though.
city of rocks
bumble beast and crew in the upper breadloaves picnic area

we headed around the corner to decadent wall where we could climb and the pups could run
city of rocks
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is tahoe dying? hell no

about a week ago i came across an article via facebook stating that tahoe (particularly south lake tahoe) is dying. the piece went on to blame the situation on the lack of snow and the trpa. interestingly, the article used several images to prove tahoe is dying which in fact prove the opposite. for instance this picture of the old bonanza hotel was used to show dilapidated south lake tahoe has become
old hotel

the problem is that the hotel in the picture has been torn down and is now (as of 2012) a neighborhood park. edgewood companies bought the old hotel in order to gain tourist accommodation units (basically toilets) to use in their planned lodge. they built the park and donated it to the city. the tau program is a brainchild of the trpa.
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marginal – it’s the new epic in tahoe

my plan for the morning was to head up to heavenly’s stagecoach lift for first chair and some fantastic corduroy (which they really do have, btw). but plans for nacho to hang with another pup fell through at the last minute so i audibled. i had been looking at thimble peak on kirkwood’s backside for awhile and knew i could find something worthwhile there. i also knew it would involve somewhat questionable decision making as well, so solo was my best bet. this looked like the perfect opportunity.
every time i’ve done this tour or any variation i’ve skinned from the car. today the skins were just extra weight for training. nacho says good morning from what would be our finishing line on the way out

we were last here on december 12th. our skin track had reversed itself and is now the snow bridge to hike on
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carson pass to kirkwood – 1/12/13

chad was up for a rare full day off and the conditions were primo and stable. our original plan was to meet up with another friend, rick, and hop on chair 10 at opening bell, make our way to the backside, and then lap melissa coray peak several times. it was a good plan, and with our crew we could have nailed some good lines and made several laps. but the lure of the tour was too much so we opted to head up to carson pass and hit kirkwood from there.
we started out at 9:45, and despite the fact that it was saturday and conditions were fantastic and stable, we had to break trail the entire way from one of the busiest passes in the sierra. we knew it was gonna be a good day.
chad and rick with another day’s destination in the background

winnemucca lake and elephant back in the background

rick dives into life on the edge

chad takes the next line over

it’s a long line for these parts
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the new kirkwood (sucks)

back on feb 22, 2012, vail resorts bought kirkwood mountain resort. since then things have been downhill. twice the resort has had to close or seriously curtail operations for inbounds avalanches. their airbag came out of it’s restraints and blew across the base area until derailing chair 6, an express quad, thus requiring an emergency evacuation. whilst these are extremely rare events, they are nowhere near as rare as the managerial screwups that closed out the season.

  • vail resorts announced that kirkwood would be open “until the snow is gone”. they are closed with a huge base by any other resorts standards. alpine (whose base is 1,000′ lower) is still open from the base.
  • for the first time ever midweek and 6-wood holders were denied access when their passes weren’t good on closing weekend despite the fact that kirkwood was closed all week when their passes would have been good.
  • vail resorts brought in security that went through backpacks and pulled passes on closing day. a typical vail move; atypical for kirkwood (and any other resort that cares).

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california coast.

san diego at 1/1000 seconds, f/6.2, 4.6 mm, ISO 100
beautiful san diego in november.

santa cruz at 1/2000 seconds, f/7.1, 7.2mm, ISO 100
beautiful santa cruz. november.

san diego at 1/400 seconds, f/7.4, 20.8 mm, ISO 100
foggy mornings in san diego. february.

alyssa at 1/400 seconds, f/5.4, 26.9 mm, ISO 100
this is alyssa. in santa barbara. in april.

peace at 1/250 seconds, f/3.1, 14.6 mm, ISO 100
wouldn’t it be nice?
santa barbara, april.

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