Ear to the Ground

Outdoor News and Notes for the California Region

Californians optimistic for a white winter


Photo “Look ma! First snow!” A backcountry skier takes advantage of early snow dumps, with plenty more forecast to come. (Photo courtesy Bear Valley Ski Resort).

With a good start to snow level and more storms in the forecast, Californians are hopeful for a wet winter ahead.

The latest forecasts call for well above average precipitation throughout California this winter. Dynamical models suggest a large-scale atmospheric pressure pattern that is remarkably like that from California’s wettest historical winters (including the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 El Niño events).

Due to an unusually super-warm North Pacific, there’s potential to add even more moisture to the atmosphere this winter. That, along with an increase in storm frequency due to El Niño, makes a case for a very active winter ahead overall. That all said, even a very wet winter is unlikely to put an end to California’s multi-year drought.

Superpro Racing announces 2016 schedule; hosts UCI Masters CX Worlds

(Ted Ketai)

(Ted Ketai)

Hot on the heels of Superpro Racing’s confirmation that they will now be pulling the levers behind the scenes in managing the Bay Area Super Prestige (BASP) series effective 2016, they’ve also announced, in conjunction with USA Cycling, that they will be hosting the UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships at Lake Cunningham Park in San Jose for 2016 and 2017. The 2016 event, taking place January 21-24, will be the fourth time in just over two years that cyclo-cross racers will take to this venue.

SuperPro Racing also recently released its 2016 schedule pending permits. Its popular gravel grinder series, the California Gravel Gauntlet, brings back all four of last season’s popular events, and adds two new ones. Also on the 2016 line up  for California are the Spring Classic, Mendo 100 and Mendocino MTB Madness, Reno to Mendo and finishing up the year with CX.

Superpro founder and event director Murphy Mack is looking forward to a busy and exciting 2016 event schedule. “We’ve got a jam-packed calendar this year and it’s overflowing with awesome,” he says. “We’ve kept all of our favorite events and even added a couple more because they are just too good to not bring to folks. Our gravel series offers a vibe that’s second to none in the U.S. and our Spring Classic is one of the best rolling parties in northern California. The Mendocino 100 mile / 100k MTB race is amazing and now that the Mendo MTB Madness event sells out, we’re looking to make it bigger and better than ever.”

Learn more at superproracing.com.

Super Sessions launches Kickstarter for female big wave surf comp

(Super Sessions II)

(Super Sessions II)

Super Sessions is a multi-media project that gives the world’s most talented female big wave surfers the resources to record their most epic moments. In 2016, they will chase huge swells across the globe and share their experiences through first person video recounts on a weekly basis throughout the session. Last year’s historic event was a huge success, culminating on December 20th, the biggest day at Maverick’s in five years.

The group is aiming to raise $150,000 to make another year of Super Sessions possible. Donations will go directly to the incredibly talented women chasing the biggest waves, bringing their experiences back through videos shared directly with their fans. The more money raised, the more surf missions these world class athletes can be sent out on.

Super Sessions II launches on January 1, 2016. The surfers will ride and shoot big waves, producing short videos for fans to follow online. The challenges will unfold with a number of secret twists, creating a unique and exciting dynamic for the project.

With the 2016 season already being dubbed the “Godzilla El Nino,” a weather pattern that often brings huge and frequent swells, there are high hopes for a truly spectacular Super Sessions II.

Learn how you can help here.

Mavericks 2016 gears up

Titans of Mavericks is the most coveted event in big wave surfing. Each winter season, the nation turns its focus on the quiet, historic coastal town of Half Moon Bay, as sports fans and thrill seekers watch the world’s best big wave surfers as they vie to win this prestigious competition. Being touted as the one of the most hazardous events in the world, Titans of Mavericks gives its 24 competitors (plus five alternates and two wild cards) the chance to showcase their fearless character and endless passion. Each athlete that has been part of the history of Mavericks has shaped this event in one way or another and has given us a unique perspective in how we look at this phenomenon.

Learn more at titansofmavericks.com.

Eco-friendly Alder Creek Adventure Center makes debut

The Alder Creek Adventure Center – home to Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area – opened its new facility featuring an eco-friendly design and expanded services. Ski enthusiasts will be treated to luxury with new rental racking systems, expanded wax rooms, ski tuning services and upgraded locker rooms. Visitors will also enjoy spacious seating, large windows overlooking Hawks Peak, a grand fireplace and the Alder Creek Cafe, complete with a bar and televisions. The new retail shop even has one of the largest selections of Nordic attire and accessories available in the Truckee/Lake Tahoe region.

Michael Reitzell appointed President of CSIA

The California Ski Industry Association (CSIA) Board of Directors announced this summer that Michael Reitzell, an attorney representing the ski and outdoor recreation industries, has been selected as the new President of CSIA. In his role, Reitzell will be responsible for leading the well established organization into a new era, providing leadership and oversight of the organization’s strategy, operations and finances.

“I am honored to have been selected as the new President of the California Ski Industry Association, and to be able to represent its member resorts,” said Reitzell. “As an avid skier who is passionate about the ski industry, this truly is a dream job.”

CSIA is a non-profit trade association representing 29 snow sports areas in California and Nevada. The association’s role is to support California and Nevada resorts by coordinating state and national legislative activities, risk management and technical training on behalf of the ski industry.

New campground to open in Nevada City

(Inn Town Campground)

(Inn Town Campground)

The Outside Inn, a popular Nevada City motel, is preparing for the summer 2016 opening of the Inn Town Campground, the region’s first year-round campground within walking distance to the historic Nevada City downtown area.

Featuring a variety of camping options that include traditional tent sites, RV sites and rustic canvas tents boasting plush amenities such as beds with luxury linens, the campground will offer experiences designed to suit different camping styles and preferences.

“We bring a personalized approach to guest service, and hope to raise the bar with regard to what outdoor enthusiasts expect from a traditional camping experience,” says owner Erin Thiem.

Cathy Whittlesey of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce adds, “The Chamber is thrilled to welcome the Inn Town Campground to Nevada City. Visitors inquire often about camping opportunities in the region, and it will be wonderful to direct them to a campground that is adjacent to the downtown area where they will be close to our museums, restaurants and specialty shops.”

TRIBUTE … to Johnny Strange

By Beth Ruffman


John Robert “Johnny” Strange (December 26, 1991- October 1, 2015) was a three-time world record holding adventurer and a professional wingsuit BASE jumper; a supremely beloved son, brother and friend. Johnny died this past fall in a BASE jumping accident, devastating family, friends and admirers.

Over 700 people turned out in Malibu to honor this amazing young man and the paddle out for Johnny was caught in a photograph forming a giant heart, reflecting how much love Johnny embodied and shared with others.

johnny2“I know some people think what I do is irresponsible because of the risk,” Johnny has said. “But the day I let my fear deter my ability to follow my dreams, I have already died.”

Johnny truly embraced the moment and his way of connecting with life was unique, pristine and precious … truly his own Shambala or Valhalla. He was gifted with the ability to be in the present where presence resides, and would say, “I will die someday, but on this day, I was more alive than I had ever been before.”

Johnny knew from a young age that he wanted to fly. And fly he did. He was born into the right family to make that dream come true. Brian and Dianette are avid athletes, from mountaineering to marathons, covering the globe in their quest for adventure. Johnny is the second of their three children, born between his older sister, Brianna, and the younger, Mackenna.


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