Issue 82

Editor’s Note: Post Traumatic Snow Disorder

Editor’s Note: Post Traumatic Snow Disorder

Regardless of conditions, fun in the snow is the best cure Matt Niswonger, Cathy Claesson and Jeryl Gardner enjoying better times at Heavenly Ski Resort. For three years now the winters in California have gotten progressively leaner. The fun factor for skiers and boarders has dwindled down to the lower end of the scale, and many people are singing the blues about the possibility of yet another light snowpack. The exceptional drought currently crippling California is by some metrics the worst in state history. Sierra snowpack serves as a kind of natural battery system, recharging the state’s lakes, rivers, and aquifers every spring. For outdoorsy types, the Sierra also serves as a kind of spiritual battery, recharging our sense of joy and childlike wonder with every powder run through the trees. As a result of the drought, adventurous Californians have been walking around with a kind of post traumatic snow...
Fresh Hope on the Summit

Fresh Hope on the Summit

With Royal Gorge XC revitalized and Sugar Bowl celebrating its 75th season and a new lift, good times are piling up on Donner Summit By Pete Gauvin Learn to snowkite at the Sierra Snowkite Center in Van Norden Meadow this winter (Tyler Brown). A few years ago, the Donner Summit area was suffering a terrible hangover. The recession and real estate melt down had sunk the future of the nation’s largest cross country ski area into doubt, property values were skidding toward septic tanks and controversial plans for a massive housing development had gone belly up. Uncertainty and shoestring management ruled. Neglect and dismay were creeping in. Today, despite three lean snow years in a row, hope is riding high on the summit. The historic winter playground is undergoing a bit of a renaissance, with new amenities, new draws such as snow biking and snow kiting, and most importantly new...
Fat Tires and Wind Power

Fat Tires and Wind Power

Snowbiking & Snowkiting at Royal Gorge By Pete Gauvin Roll through the snow. Royal Gorge rents fat-tire snow bikes. You don’t have to wait until the snow melts to ride a bike at Royal Gorge. Saddle up on a fat-tire snow bike. Royal Gorge will offer a fleet of burly Surly snow bikes for rent at the Van Norden Station, where the flat to rolling terrain is ideal for an introduction to pedaling over snow. “It’s something extra to do and another attraction to bring people up to the Summit,” said Royal Gorge General Manager JoJo Toeppner. The same can be said for snowkiting, which will also be offered at the Van Norden Station for the third season through the Sierra Snowkite Center. “It’s an addendum to your skiing, another backcountry skill to have,” said Tyler Brown, director of the center. A winner of the North American Snowkite Tour...
Other Summit Attractions

Other Summit Attractions

Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge aren’t the only attractions on Donner Summit By Pete Gauvin Donner Ski Ranch, is the epitome of mom-and-pop ski area, a place where plaid shirts, blue jeans and 200cm skis are still not uncommon on the double chairs. It offers six lifts, 750 vertical feet and lots of nostalgia. Boreal Mountain Resort offers night skiing and great park-and-pipe features, and is home to the new Woodward Tahoe facility, a training center for X Games-inspired action stars. Also at the far west end of Boreal, the Auburn Ski Club Training Center offers 20km of XC track. Ski Soda Springs offers the perfect family snowplay area and learn-to-ski hill, and is home to Tube Town, featuring eight groomed lanes of tubing fun. For those who’d rather earn their turns, there’s easy access to the backcountry of Castle Peak across from Boreal, and to Donner Peak and...
Tahoe on Skinny Skis

Tahoe on Skinny Skis

A bit of Nordic heaven surrounds Lake Tahoe By Tim Hauserman Photo: Cathy Howard/Royal Gorge For many adventure seekers, winter at Lake Tahoe means grabbing “first chair” rights and making tracks at Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Alpine, Northstar or one of the other ski resorts surrounding America’s largest (and most beautiful) alpine lake. For others, the perfect adventure is skinning up to the top of a backcountry peak like Mt. Tallac, with solitude and incredible views rewarding hours of thigh burning effort. Lesser known is the fact that Tahoe is also home to the largest concentration of cross-country ski trails in the United States. Five major Nordic resorts—Royal Gorge, Tahoe Donner, Tahoe Cross-Country, Kirkwood and Northstar—provide nearly 500 kilometers of groomed trails within an hour’s drive of Lake Tahoe. There’s a time and a place for riding the lifts, but cross country ski buffs know there is nothing quite...
Tower of Lies

Tower of Lies

Alpinist Kelly Cordes examines the dramatic history of Cerro Torre By Matt Niswonger Cerro Torre from the southeast. (Kelly Cordes) Most California climbers are familiar with Cerro Torre, an iconic spire of rock in southern Patagonia. The spire is part of the massif depicted on the logo for one of the most well respected brands in America – you guessed it, California-based Patagonia clothing. Besides being one of the most spectacular looking and dangerous mountains on earth, Cerro Torre has been shrouded in controversy for over fifty years, and is the subject of the most infamous lie in climbing history.  In his new book The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre (published by Patagonia), Colorado based alpinist Kelly Cordes puts together a fantastically researched presentation of the entire sordid history – starting with the fraudulent first ascent by Cesare Maestri. In 1959 Maestri claimed that...
Murphy Mack

Murphy Mack

Life is a bike race for this race promoter, and whoever has the most fun wins Words by Karen Kefauver • Photos by Ted Ketai Murphy points the way from Brovet summit. Photo: Ted Ketai Snapshot of SuperPro Racing’s Murphy Mack Born: Lansing, Michigan Raised: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I spent weekends on farms on big farm equipment at my dad’s John Deere dealership, hunting birds and having fun.” Military Service: “I joined when I was 17.” Three years in the Army, three years in the Air Force. Studied: University of Iowa; Russian and East European studies, then switched to business. Bike History: Four years organizing alley cat races in San Francisco, Team Director at Sheila Moon/Big Swingin’ Cycles, Founder/Owner of Gestalt Haus Beer, Brats and Bikes. Current Residence: San Francisco Website and team name: “The name SuperPro Racing is tongue in cheek,” said Murphy. “We’re so pro it’s one...
Fully Committed

Fully Committed

Chris Bertish is all about big wave surfing and ultra distance SUP By Neil Pearlberg Bertish riding a monster wave at Todos Santos (Chris Bertish collection). Chris Bertish will be the last person to brag about how he won the 2010 Mavericks Invitational in some of the biggest and heaviest surf ever. Or that his victory came right after an exhausting 48 hour journey from South Africa to San Francisco and just hours after he realized that all his surfing equipment had been lost in transit. Bertish portrait (Craig Koleski). Borrowing a wetsuit and surfboard from contest organizer Jeff Clark, Berish paddled out to his heat, and was greeted by monster waves with 40 foot faces. Acting on impulse, the 28-year-old waterman wasted no time and paddled into the first wave he could. Fully committed and dropping in late, the four-story mountain of water collapsed around him and drove him...
EPiC: Inspired Leadership

EPiC: Inspired Leadership

Through the decades, Ecology Action has shown that meaningful change is possible By Charong Chow Ecology Action employees at a Fun Friday parking lot BBQ. A typical weekday morning at the Ecology Action office in downtown Santa Cruz, California begins with the arrival of a swarm of incoming bicycle commuters, a few carpooling motorists plugging in their electric vehicles, and a few others arriving from a morning surf session a short walk away from one of the city’s best surf breaks. Once inside the organization’s LEED Gold-certified office building, workers plug in their laptops, settle down their dogs and turn their conversation to issues ranging from climate change politics to the best local mountain biking trails. The scene is a far cry from that of the organization’s first office, located along a residential street in Berkeley in the turbulent late 1960s, and the strategies the organization uses to promote environmental...
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