Written by Robert Kyte
On October 7th, in celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Tahoe Via Ferrata, Alpenglow hosted a Locals’ Day on the Via, offering free climbing excursions all the way to Tower 1 atop Tram Face here in Palisades Tahoe. With over 100 climbers ascending the route, we were thrilled at this opportunity to give back to our local community and allow everyone to experience the joy of the Tahoe Via.
Seven years ago, we had a question: how can we provide accessible climbing experiences to the local community, as well as a steady training ground for aspiring climbing guides? For our founder, Adrian Ballinger, a new, state-of-the-art via ferrata was the natural first choice. With a wealth of mellow but exciting terrain available in Palisades Tahoe on which to forerun this idea, it wasn’t long before we brought this vision to life. Today, the combination of mitigated risk and unmitigated opportunity for stoke and adventure with no prior experience required makes the Tahoe Via an unmissable and unforgettable experience in the greater Lake Tahoe area.
We began Locals’ Day operations by sending groups of up to 18 climbers to start the route at 8am, and every hour on the hour thereafter. While our normal Via ops involve personally-guided groups of up to 6 climbers per guide, for Locals’ Day we opted to adapt our strategy by stationing guides along various waypoints throughout the route, so that groups would always be moving smoothly between two guides with easy access to assistance along the way. This strategy allowed us to maximize the number of climbers on the route and create a low-risk environment where participants could nonetheless experience the feeling of their own adventure.
While the Tahoe Via boasts four unique routes across Tram Face, all climbers on Locals’ Day ascended the famed Skyline Traverse, a route that usually takes about four hours to climb from base to summit and back down. The Skyline Traverse begins along the Tahoe Traverse and includes the infamous tunnel known as Alpenglow Alley, a narrow slot that requires climbers to twist and squeeze their way through a small gap in the rock. One of our cable bridges, lovingly referred to as the Middle Monkey, comes just after the halfway point on the route, offering climbers incredible views of KT-22 and airy exposure above the south face of the mountain. Finally, climbers top out at Tram Tower 1 to stunning vistas above Olympic Valley, with views of Lake Tahoe itself on the hike down.
For many, Locals’ Day was a first opportunity to see what the buzz is all about on the Tahoe Via. As always, Alpenglow Expeditions is dedicated to providing inspiring mountain experiences regardless of technical skill or experience level. As has been the case for many of our staff and guides, we recognize and appreciate the fact that it often just takes one profound experience in the mountains to change an individual’s entire outlook, not only on the joys of climbing, but on their own capabilities and potential. This is why we often describe the Tahoe Via as a natural and accessible first step on someone’s climbing journey, where climbers can learn how to move and feel secure in the mountains under the supervision of a certified guide in a low-risk environment.
From our family to yours, we extend our most sincere thanks to everyone who joined us for Locals’ Day. For our founder Adrian Ballinger, this has been a vision and a dream since we first began local operations in the Lake Tahoe area, and we could not be more pleased with the enthusiasm shown by our local community.
We think Fall is the best time to climb the Via, and our operations are still rolling full steam ahead! Do cooler temperatures, greater schedule flexibility, and personalized, unique climbing experiences sound like something you’d be interested in? There are lots of ways to book your adventure on the Tahoe Via Ferrata! Head to tahoevia.com to book online, give our office a call at 877 873 5376, or come see us in the Palisades Tahoe village. Gather your crew and come climb with us!