Mountain festival highlights winter exploration

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Alpenglow Sports (Josh Heli) ·

Exploring the Tahoe back country doesn’t have to stop when the snow starts to fly. The winter months open the doors to all kinds of opportunities to visit favorite destinations via ski touring, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. However, the cold weather and blanket of snow also offer a new set of challenges from gear selection to reading the snowpack, which can be intimidating to first-time winter sports enthusiasts. Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports, hopes to lower the barrier to winter back-country expeditions during the Alpenglow Mountain Festival.

Following the success of the summer version of the Alpenglow Mountain Festival, Alpenglow Sports teamed with Nature’s Bakery in Carson City to create a two-week celebration of human-powered, winter exploration in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. The festival is a combination of clinics, classes, guided tours and community events geared toward educating and inspiring winter sports enthusiasts, as well as those who are new to the back country.

“I feel tremendous support from the community,” said Madigan. “There’s a moral obligation to give back, to highlight recreation in the area and to share the sports we know and love.”

The event is designed for everyone but many events are catered to beginning and intermediate back-country skiers and riders to improve his or her skills and learn to make safe decisions. Instructors from the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education will be presenting multiple avalanche safety skills presentations, as well as an Avalanche Level I certification course for novices looking to get into the back country for the first time or seasoned adventurers looking to sharpen their skills. Additionally, guided ski tours and Nordic skills classes will introduce participants to new areas, build confidence and teach efficient ways to travel while building connections within the local back-country community.

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Fisher

People with day jobs don’t need to feel left out of the on-hill fun, a community full moon ski tour will take place on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. Additionally, Dynafit is hosting the Nachtspektakel at Squaw Valley. Enjoy uphill skiing, food and refreshments with friends old and new beginning at the Squaw Valley Tram at 4 p.m. Bring a headlamp for the Community Skate Ski night on Feb. 26 at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

The Great Ski Race celebrates its 38th anniversary on March 2. This point-to-point cross country race runs from Tahoe City to Truckee and is the main fundraising event for the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue team. First-timers can discover what it takes to finish the Great Ski Race during a presentation at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Alpenglow Sports.

Discover skiing in The Brooks Range, Spitsbergen and Antarctica, enjoy the history of 40 years of skiing in the High Sierra, learn how to read an avalanche forecast, wax skis and more during the many presentations offered throughout the festival.

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“The Global Search for Powder Turns” | Adrian Ballinger

Get inspired by human-powered travel during the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival. This festival features some of the best films of the year celebrating back-country adventure, culture and environment. Proceeds from the film festival benefit the Sierra Watershed Education Program.

Whether looking to try something new, improve existing skills or find new partners for exploring the back country be sure to take a look at the line-up of events at the Alpenglow Mountain Festival. Some event locations may be changed to find the best snow conditions available. While most of the events are free, online registration is required, so sign up early.

For more information, the latest information on the festival’s events or to register, visit alpenglowsports.com.

By Jenn Sheridan

 

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Tahoe Cross Country

Friday, Feb. 14

IFMGA guides Adrian Ballinger and Ben Mitchell host a Full Moon Community Ski Tour from 7 to 10 p.m.; meet at Alpenglow Sports.

Saturday, Feb. 15

Join a back-country ski tour with Todd Offenbacher and Jeff Dostie from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; meet at Alpenglow Sports. In the evening, Offenbacher will discuss Skiing and Climbing in North America’s Polar Zones: The Brooks Range, Spitsbergen and Antarctica from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Sunday, Feb. 16

Explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe with Will Richardson of Tahoe Institute for Natural Science on a natural history snowshoe hike from 8 to 11 a.m. Then, join a back-country ski tour with Brennan Lagasse and Jeff Dostie from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cap the day with a women’s only wax talk with wine, cheese and fun from 7 to 10 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Monday, Feb. 17

The day focuses on avalanche safety with a safety skills class with Ricky Newberry from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a talk with Squaw Valley Ski Patroller Lel Ton on an Introduction to Avalanche Safety from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Learn about avalanche safety skills with Adrian Ballinger and Rich Meyer from 9 a.m. to noon covering an introduction to skinning, then, in the evening, John Dittli presents Forty Years of High Sierra Skiing from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Ballinger and Meyer host another session on avalanche safety skills covering companion rescue from 9 a.m. to noon. Andy Anderson of Sierra Avalanche Center presents How To Read an Avalanche Forecast from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Join a back-country ski tour with Ballinger and Brendan Madigan from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a talk on avalanche safety skills with Jeff Dostie with practice with beacons and current technology from 2 to 5 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Alpenglow sports presents the next in its Winter Film Series with Ballinger at Olympic Village Lodge at 7 p.m. with a big truck sew on site. Ballinger will share his story “The Global Search for Powder Turns.” The year 2013 marked one of Tahoe’s driest winters. While great days and adventures still abounded in the Sierra, Ballinger chose the path of so many before him – to leave home in search of snow.
The journey took him from the world’s most militarized border between India and Pakistan, to the flanks of the world’s fourth tallest peak, Lhotse, in Nepal, to the high peaks of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. He also traveled into the Himalayan kingdom of Tibet, to attempt to climb and ski the Turquoise Goddess, Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth tallest peak.

The event is free with raffle tickets available for purchase. For more information, call (530) 583-6917.

Friday, Feb. 21

Join a back-country ski tour with Ballinger and Madigan from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the afternoon, learn about avalanche safety skills with Ballinger and Madigan covering how to mitigate risk in the back country from 2 to 5 p.m. Wrap up the day with Martin Volken talking about Skiing Washington’s Backcountry from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow.

Saturday, Feb. 22

Join a back-country ski tour with Volken from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a fun, uphill Nachtspektakel at 4 p.m. at Squaw Valley. Tickets are available at Alpenglow Sports.

Sunday, Feb. 23

Explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe with Richardson of Tahoe Institute for Natural Science on a natural history snowshoe hike from 8 to 11 a.m. or join a cross-country ski tour with Katerina Nash from 9 a.m. to noon at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

Monday, Feb. 24

Join a cross-country ski tour with Meghan Robins from 9 to 10 a.m. at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, with a Nordic skills clinic with Ben Grasseschi from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the sports park.

Get your skis ready for the Great Ski Race with a wax clinic with Roger Chaney and Ben Grasseschi from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow Sports.

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Start the day with a cross-country ski tour with Robins from 9 to 10 a.m. at Tahoe Cross Country, followed by a Nordic skills clinic with Grasseschi from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Tahoe Cross Country.

Finish the day with a panel discussion from masters to nutritionist on the ins and outs of finishing the Great Ski Race with Andy Pasternak, Colleen Connors-Pace, Jill Whisler and Julie Young from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow Sports.

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Enjoy a Nordic demo day from 9 a.m. to noon with Fischer, Salomon, Madshus and Alpina at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

Tahoe Cross Country and the Tahoe City Downtown Association have teamed up to bring the Cobblestone Relays back at 5:30 p.m. The Cobblestone Relays are a fast-paced, cross-country race in the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park. It is one of Tahoe City’s best spectator events, in addition to being an incredibly fun competition for participants. Proceeds benefit the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Education Association. Register at alpenglowsports.com.

Then, enjoy a nighttime skate ski tour with Grasseschi from 8 to 9 p.m. at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Enjoy a cross-country ski tour with Grasseschi from 9 to 10 a.m. at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, followed by a Nordic skills clinic with Grasseschi from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Alpenglow Sports presents the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. at Alpenglow to benefit SWEP. The cost is $15.

This year’s festival features “Valhalla” from Sweetgrass Productions and winner of the 2013 Best of Festival. The film is the tale of one man’s search to rediscover the freedom of his youth. “Trail Break” by Powderwhore is a beautiful black and white portrait of deep powder skiing, while “Morning Rituals” is a day in the life of an undercover ski bum.

“Youth,” from filmmaker Corey Rich, inspires one to pack up the kids and proves that back-country skiing is a family affair. “Bolton Valley” is the story of how a small community fought to save its beloved ski area. “Nokhoi Zeekh: In Search of the Wolverine” tells the tale of five Americans who set off on a month-long ski expedition through northern Mongolia to document one of the world’s most iconic, but least-known, winter species.

In “Bigger Braver,” filmmaker Luc Mehl turns the camera on a young female athlete who shares her insight into the courage and strength involved in seeking big mountain adventure. From filmmaker and storyteller Fitz Cahall at Duct Tape then Beer comes “Strong,” capturing Roger Strong’s reflections about moving forward after a tragic avalanche.

In “Poor Man’s Heli” skier Antoine Boisselier thinks outside the skin track and comes up with a new and unique way to the top of the mountain. From filmmaker Jason Thompson comes “Take the Ride,” asking the question: “when you have a dream will you buy the ticket? Will you Take the Ride?”

Friday, Feb. 28

Kara Lapoint leads a cross-country ski tour from 9 to 10 a.m. at Tahoe Cross Country, followed by a Nordic skills clinic with Lapoint from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Grasseschi presents a beginner’s guide to cross-country skiing from 7 to 9 p.m. at Alpenglow Sports.

Saturday, March 1

Enjoy a Nordic demo day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tahoe Cross Country.

Sunday, March 2

Running from Tahoe City to Truckee, the Great Ski Race is considered one of the largest Nordic ski races west of the Mississippi. Race proceeds benefit the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization. The entry fee is $60 until Feb. 15, $70 from Feb. 16 to March 1, and $110 on the day of the race. T-shirts, lunch, refreshments and a chance to win prizes are included. For more information or to register, visit thegreatskirace.com.