Friday, March 10, 2017

HIGH COUNTRY SNOWS


"When the lakes all are frozen.  And the wild wind blows.  I'll return to my darlin. ' And the high country snows". --Dan Fogelberg

While snowdrifts have risen as high as buildings in the Sierra this winter,  California skiers have trekked into its wintry back country to explore the beauty and the most snow the 400-mile-long mountain range has seen in decades. Outside Adventure to the Max's guest blogger Scott Blankenfeld, takes us along with skis. snowboard and his camera for this high flying skiing adventure, including a stop at last weekend's Free-ride World Tour (Huck Cup) held at Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort.

Free-ride World Tour

                   By Outside Adventure Guest Blogger Scott Blankenfeld 

At elevation 8824 ft,  Talking Mountain,  near Lake Tahoe, California at  Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort, provides stunning views of some of the Sierra's steepest terrain. From the ridge, one can see Huckleberry Canyon, and North Bowl popular sites for extreme-skiing.


My thrill seeking friends John, Justin, and Ryan and I had all met while working and rafting on The South Fork American River during the past summers and a back-country ski trip was another way for us all to get together. After discussing snow conditions, including the growing cornices and small slides over the convex rollers, we continued to the top where we were rewarded with unobstructed mountain views of Mt. Ralston, and Pyramid Peak to the west. To our east was Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac to our North.

There's just no good way to go back-country touring with a full sized (camera) DSLR. The camera is bulky, heavy and fragile. Falling on the camera will break it, but when it's packed too deep, it's difficult and cumbersome to shoot quickly. I've have used small packs, large packs and even a chest harness before, but on this trip, I chose to carry my camera in the back panel of my backpack closest to my back.


This way I can un-clip my chest strap and slide my pack around my waist and make the camera accessible in front. It’s was a bit of work to get the camera in and out, but I felt it was all worth it and came away with great images.

We took our time changing over from ski mode to snowboard mode to make our descent down east to Echo Lake. Our line had two sections. The upper was a classic South Lake Tahoe tree run with large old growth trees perfectly spaced for carving big turns and hitting jumps. The lower section was a wide open bowl that runs right to Echo Lake, with a couple of of cliff bands covered in our deep snow-pack.

Free-Ride World Tour

 http://www.scottblankenfeld.com/2016/02/11/backcountry-tour-talking-mtn-to-flagpole/
Comparing some of the images to a similar trip last year, I could really see the difference in snow-pack. Last year was not bad. The snow-pack was about 100% of normal then, But,  this year is  huge, and trending break records for the most snowfall ever. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with March and April storms. Until then, get out there and enjoy the snow.


Scott Blankenfled photographs California whitewater rafting during the season following the action on the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River. He also helps companies produce and manage their digital/print content and web presence. You can follow Blankenfled and check out more of his images at www.scottblankenfeld.com. 

Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at Nickayak@gmail.com if you are interested.