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Client/Guide Ratio: 5:1

Use of avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel, all group camping gear: tents, stove, fuel cook kit and 1 mountain dinner.

Does not include:
Sugar Bowl one-way lift ride ($30)

Operating under Special Use Permit, Tahoe National Forest.

Backcountry Skiing

Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley  2 Day

This famous North Tahoe tour provides the opportunity to learn and practice our unique High and Light ski camping system. The one that enables us to start our six-day spring tours with under thirty-pound packs. It's truly a classic tour and a chance to refine a myriad of state-of-the-art skills en route. We strongly recommend this experience to anyone aspiring to join us on our spectacular spring ski adventures.

Previous touring experience with climbing skins is required, such as the skills covered in our Intro to Backcountry Skiing course.
Taking one of our Advanced Tahoe Tours would also be a good idea.
Skills covered include:
  • Ultra light, yet super comfortable ski camping system
  • Excellent packing technique
  • Use of transceivers, probes and shovels
  • Touring tips with climbing skins
  • Avalanche hazard recognition
  • Appropriate travel techniques
  • Campsite selection and construction
  • Skiing with a light overnight pack
Cost: $550

Mar 6-7, 2021 (Sat-Sun)
Mar 27-28, 2021 (Sat-Sun)

At least advanced skiing skills able to handle a variety of snow conditions. At least 4 days of prior backcountry skiing with climbing skins. Very good physical condition.

By: Bela G. Vadasz

The route was skied long before there were any developed ski areas at Squaw Valley or even Sugar Bowl and Sugar Bowl is the oldest ski area in California. A hut system began to be built by the Sierra Club beginning at North Tahoe with the intention of continuing all the way south, along the Sierra Crest to Mt. Whitney with a marked ski trail the entire way. The abandoned project was known as Sierra Ski Ways. You can see a few historic trail markers along the Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley portion of the route.

We began skiing the route as teenagers. Young Vadasz skied it with a group from the Sierra Club ski touring section in 1970. Soon after, light nordic touring gear began to become popular with a huge growth in the sport of cross country skiing. First we skied the easiest, most conservative route. The challenge for us soon became to take the light, wooden touring skis that were originally designed for rolling Norwegian terrain higher and higher onto the crest of the rugged Sierra.

We choose to ski Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley as a mini "High Route", trying to keep the line as elegantly high as possible. The equipment limited the enjoyment of good downhill skiing in anything less than perfect snow conditions. So, it became natural to challenge ourselves maintaining the highest possible line, what we called xc ski mountaineering.

As the gear slowly began to improve with metal edges and more supportive boots, we began to experience higher quality skiing. We were now doing the route regularly and enjoying our turns along the way. As the years went on, ASI Guide Peter Leh, who has guided the route more than anyone, slowly began linking sections of the route with yet greater ski descents and pleasant, gradual ascents. Peter's link-ups proved to become more and more popular as the gear continued to improve.

The gear we have available today, including both telemark and alpine touring is allowing us to ski uphill and downhill even more easily, and truly enjoy much, much more great skiing en route. This, teamed up with an extremely sophisticated light-weight, yet super comfortable ski camping system allows effortless travel with a pack weight light enough to really enjoy the ski descents.

The tour that once was simply the line of least resistence evolved to the highest crest-top line to now a masterpice link-up of great descents with excellent touring, all in a spectacular and scenic setting. Today's version of "High Route Skiing" is now better than ever! Multi-day trips with super sophisticated ski and ski camping gear make for great skiing.

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