Living in a ski town, it’s easy to forget how unique it is that all of your ski-bum friends are competent backcountry skiing, winter hiking by moonlight, or simply to shredding steep slopes inbounds. After two winters in school back in Vermont, it was great to go exploring again with my Janky brethren.
Timmy K – Donner Lake Run:
“The Lake Run” is a classic backcountry run above Donner Lake. Timmy still finds some fresh after it hadn’t snowed in several weeks.
Ian N., lower Lake Run:
Nimmo, lower Lake Run.
The snowmobiles added a whole new dimension to serious winter exploring.
First, the snowmobiles were much more difficult to ride in deep snow than imagined. After watching a few Slednecks videos, we figured we’d be blasting to the top of steep pillow zones in no time. No such luck. Instead, the sleds were getting stuck all over the place, rolled down steep chutes, and bucking us off without mercy when we tried to double up hills. On two occasions, I was doubling on a sled that cross-rutted and rolled on a steep hill, bucking the driver and I off, and leaving us scrambling to prevent the snowmobile from rolling like a log to the bottom of the hill.
Hazen and his Ski-Doo 800, JP’s RMK 800 in the background:
Hazen and his 800 Ski-doo, with JP’s 800 Polaris in the background
Second, the sleds were machines, and required maintenance. Between Hazen, JP, Tyler and I, we had a limited basket of tools from which to work. Literally, a woven Easter-type basket served as our toolbox. And we had no garage. Hazen used a large multi-colored umbrella as his garage. Tyler and I used an old shed at my house, and left the ass-end of the sled hanging out into the elements. Unfortunately, the sled that Tyler and I had, a 2001 Polaris RMK 700, blew up the top end – the parts of the pistons on the exhaust side broke off. Over several nights in the shed, accompanied by freezing fingers and lots of cursing, we executed a rebuild.
The shed setup:
You can see the broken edge on the left-hand, close edge of the piston
When I did get out on the snowmobiles with Hazen and JP, I took some of the best runs of my life. Tahoe is much steeper than Alta and the terrain is much more technical, which makes for the type of skiing that can give you serious jollies. Next winter, with the sled situation more dialed in, I think Janky will be able to consistently access world-class skiing. Jollies forcast? An all time high.
Hazen dropped me off at the top of this chute in Blackwood, so tasty:
Hazen dropped me off at the top of this untracked line in Blackwood Canyon – so tasty.
Aside from the backcountry, I had some great inbounds days at Squaw and Alpine. There is lots to explore between the two ski areas and the accompanying side country.
Tyler S., atop a cornice on Squaw closing day 2013:
Tyler S., atop a cornice at Squaw, closing day 2013.
It’s June, and I couldn’t be more excited for my next Tahoe winter with Janky.