Travis Ganong Climbs the Tahoe Via Ferrata
Travis Ganong ventured up Lake Tahoe’s new Via Ferrata with his family in fall 2019. After an epic day out, he sat down with us to discuss his Tahoe Via family adventure.
Travis Ganong, born and raised in Truckee, CA, is an American World Cup alpine ski racer. His girlfriend, Marie-Michele Gagnon, is also a professional skier for the Canadian alpine ski team. Travis, Marie-Michele, and Travis’ parents all came to climb the Tahoe Via Ferrata for a fun day out with the family. Here’s what Travis’ had to say:
Can you tell us about your experience climbing the Tahoe Via Ferrata with your family and friends?
It’s been really fun to go up on the Tram Face with people who normally can’t go there. I’ve been up Tram Face before, but bringing my parents up there was awesome! My mom is 65 years old and my dad is 70 years old. They’ve never been rock climbing or dealt with exposure like that.
They were terrified about it at first, but they did it. When we finished climbing, they said it was the most fulfilling thing they’ve done in the past ten years.
Would you say the Tahoe Via Ferrata is inclusive to all ages?
Totally. For younger people, we get to go out and do fun, crazy stuff all the time. For them, to get out of their element and challenge themselves was really, really exciting to watch. We got to the top, my dad was so fired up on having done it, and doing it together as a family was special. It’s generational. You can bring your kids, adults, parents and grandparents. You could do three generations on the Via Ferrata if you wanted. It sounds crazy, but it’s totally doable and fun. I have a lot of friends that come down from Canada to visit and it’s a great way to show them my home in the summer too. It’s cool to be able to see Squaw from a rock like that, it’s the best view of the whole area.
In addition to mountain biking and hiking, why is the Tahoe Via a great family adventure for Tahoe?
It’s just another way to enjoy the mountains. We’re not only mountain bikers and skiers, but we’re also just mountain people. We love being outside doing things and it’s just another way to get outside and do something fun. It’s a different challenge and it is exhilarating. Tahoe has endless activities you can do: go on the lake, ski, mountain bike, hike, etc. Now, we have this new, cool Via Ferrata in our backyard. It’s another amazing outdoor feature in Lake Tahoe.
So of all the things to do in Lake Tahoe, how does the Tahoe Via Ferrata make the experience of being in mountains fun for people who don’t have as much mountain experience or skill as you do?
Tahoe can be really intimidating, especially Squaw. When you roll into the valley, you see this huge, granite rock face and you’re surrounded by big peaks. Someone coming from a city who doesn’t have much mountain experience can definitely feel intimidated. But with the Via Ferrata, you get a super safe, easy way to experience mountains. It’s a real mountain experience, as opposed to going and riding the tram and taking a swim at high camp. With the Via Ferrata, you get out of your comfort zone and it’s exhilarating. Even for me, I grew up here and it’s still super fun to be in this spot that you’re not supposed to be and you’re totally safe. It’s a cool way to be a mountain person without having much knowledge or experience, plus you have guides and safety equipment.
Now that you’ve climbed both routes, which one is your favorite and why? You climbed the Skyline Traverse first and the Sundial this time.
Yeah, I honestly like the Skyline Traverse more. You’re on the ridge and the view is beautiful. The Skyline Traverse is sweet because you’re on this arête with exposure all around. However, I like the Sundial too. The Sundial is maybe a little steeper, closed in and you’re in these little cracks, which is awesome. The Sundial is also unique because I got to check out all these ski lines on the tram face that I have never had the time or the means to scope out. Not that I would ever ski up there… 🙂
What are some of the adventures that you have done this summer? In Tahoe and elsewhere.
I still like to ski in the summer a lot. We always try to find cool, unique little spots to go to. Two or three weeks ago we went down to Bridgeport and drove up to Dunderberg Peak. We drove up this long road along the ridge. It’s unbelievable! We made it to the top and found this three-hundred-foot snow patch into a lake and we were skiing until August 1st. Getting into the lake was a blast too. I’ve been getting into downwind paddleboarding when Lake Tahoe gets super windy – we have a lot of fun. I learned how to do that up at Hood River in Oregon and now I’m trying to bring it back to Tahoe. You can do ten miles with two sessions, catch a wave and do down winders on the lake.
What are your goals for the winter and what does training for them entail?
Last winter was my comeback winter from a knee injury, so it’s always hard to come back and start racing at the highest level of the World Cup, with the uncertainty of your knee and your body. I survived last winter and then towards the end of the season was feeling really strong again. So this winter, I’m stoked to be healthy and have a full, complete season where I am not dealing with knee pain and just get to have fun and enjoy it. There are no World Championships or Olympics this year, so it’s just the World Cup Tour. I just want to have a successful World Cup season and set myself up for the next Olympic cycle.
Thanks to Travis’ for climbing with us here at the Tahoe Via Ferrata. We are so glad Travis’ and his family had an epic family adventure climbing with us on the massive Tram Face located in Squaw Valley, CA. We are lucky Travis has climbed both routes and can give insight on his favorite features. Here at Alpenglow Expeditions, we offer an array of different routes and trip lengths to provide our clientele with a variety of adventures to choose from.
For more information about Via Ferrata at Squaw Valley or Rock Climbing at Donner Summit, or any of our other international expeditions, check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email info@alpenglowexpeditions.