Half Day Squaw Valley Backcountry Tour

in Squaw Valley / (Skill level: Any)

Price per person

$425 for 1 skier +$50 for each add'l skier

About this trip

New half day option accessing the Tram Ridge zone. Ski and ride outside the ski area boundaries of Lake Tahoe’s premier resort with Alpenglow’s certified guides. Half day option allows you to use your regular resort skis and boots. Call for more information.

Overview

  • skill level

    Any

  • Duration

Tram Ridge Zone

Expanding on our success in year one in partnership with Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, we are now offering a HALF DAY backcountry ski experience. Our half-day groups will access the Tram Ridge Zone as it allows us to avoid using backcountry skis and boots. You can get a taste for backcountry skiing using your everyday resort skis and boots.

Skiers and riders are still expected to wear avalanche beacon and carry a beacon probe and shovel. Alpenglow provides these items at no cost to all reserved clients.

What to Expect:

We start our day with a ride on either the Funitel or Tram. We proceed to the Broken Arrow zone within Squaw Valley, and we exit into the Tram Ridge zone through a gate that only Alpenglow Expeditions groups can use. These boundaries are still closed to the public. We’re able to ski in the Tram Ridge zone down into Shirley Canyon floating down slopes of various steepness through playful terrain. Near the bottom, we make a hard right and use the last bit of vertical to get back to the trailhead. From here we pop the skis off and in 10 minutes or less, we’re back in the Village ready for another lap.

Even on the most crowded days at the resort, we’ll have this backcountry zone mostly to ourselves. Similar to ski school participants, Alpenglow ski clients will have lift line privileges with their guide to efficiently move toward the ski area boundary. Once in the Tram Ridge zone, we are immediately in an uncontrolled avalanche area – our guides will be critical in selecting the best lines for us to ski.

Most half-day groups will get a maximum of two laps in depending on fitness levels and ski ability.

Who Can Participate: 

Intermediate and Advanced skiers or riders. Skiers and riders must be competent in a variety of terrain and snow conditions. Skiers and riders must be able to link turns on ungroomed runs while maintaining control. This is comparable to skiing ungroomed black diamond terrain confidently.

Skiers or riders 12-16 years old can join us with a parent. 16 years and over are able to join without accompaniment.

Alpenglow Expeditions operates under a special use permit from the Tahoe, Inyo and Eldorado National Forests. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 

Preparation

  • Ski Ability

    Intermediate and Advanced skiers or riders. Skiers and riders must be competent in a variety of terrain and snow conditions. Skiers and riders must be able to link turns on ungroomed runs while maintaining control. This is comparable to skiing ungroomed black diamond terrain confidently.

    • 9:00am — Ride the Lifts to the Boundary

      After our morning meeting at the Alpenglow office, we leave the base area and begin the day.

    • 9:30am — Depart Ski Area Boundary

      After a final safety briefing, we depart from the ski area boundary.

    • 12:30pm — Finish Day

      After a lap or two, we're ready to have some lunch before finishing a day inside the boundaries, or perhaps we just hit the jacuzzi and soak in the glory of our morning.

      • Ski/Splitboard Equipment

      • Skis w/ Touring Bindings

        A lightweight touring ski with touring bindings. Our guides suggest something between 95mm and 110mm underfoot. Keep in mind that extremely lightweight boards are great on the uphill, but can prove challenging in variable conditions. Recommended Skis: Blizzard Zero G 105 Skis Recommended Bindings: Dynafit Speed Radical

      • Ski Touring Boots

        These need to be a touring specific boot with walk mode, and a rubber sole. Typically sized a bit larger than your regular alpine boot, and light weight is a huge plus. Be sure to try many pairs on to find the right fit; it can make or break a day in the mountains! Recommended: Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro or Zero G Tour Scout

      • Ski/Splitboard Poles

        Adjustable ski poles with powder baskets. Recommended: Black Diamond Expedition 2 or Expedition 3 Poles

      • Splitboard

        A splitboard that you are comfortable riding in a variety of conditions. Recommended: Jones Solution Splitboard

      • Splitboard Bindings

        Splitboard bindings are required for uphill travel. Be sure to adjust the straps to your boots before using. Recommended: Spark R&D Arc Bindings

      • Snowboard Boots

        The same boots you wear at the resort are great for your splitboard. Be sure they're comfortable, backcountry touring means long days in your boots! Recommended: Burton Tourist Snowboard Boots

      • Skins

        Many options are available, and are often comparable. Most important is to ensure your skins are trimmed properly for the ski you will be touring with. Skins with a secure tail clip are preferred. Recommended for Skis: Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Recommended for Splitboards: Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS

      • Backcountry Touring Pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 30 and 40 liters and is designed to carry skis or a splitboard. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Recommended: Black Diamond Cirque 35 or 45 Pack

      • Apparel

      • Hard Shell Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

      • Synthetic Top

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

      • Lightweight Top

        Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

      • Long Sleeve Base Layer

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution IR 1/4 Zip

      • Warm Layer

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

      • Hard Shell Pants

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets. Recommended: Black Diamond Sharp End Pants

      • Base Layer Bottoms

        Fitted and quick drying. This piece will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Midweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants

      • Heavyweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitude and are need to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired. Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Glove

      • Lightweight Gloves

        All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

      • Ski Socks

        Your everyday ski sock, good for ski tours and day hikes. NO COTTON. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Merino Wool Ski Socks

      • Accessories

      • Sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies). Recommended: Revoi Guide II

      • Hat

        Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim - the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding. Recommended: Alpenglow 5-Panel

        $25.00
      • Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Beanie

      • 1L Nalgene (2)

        Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

      • Goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired. Recommended: Smith I/O

      • Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Petzl Meteor Helmet

    • What is your cancellation policy?

    • Can I customize a day for my group?

      Yes!

      A large portion of our business is designed around custom adventures. Booking a private day gives you the freedom to tailor the day around your goals, pace, and group size. Whether you want to go for max vert gain avalanche awareness, work on backcountry travel techniques, or just explore new terrain, it’s up to you!

    • What sort of experience is required for this trip?

      Skiers must be confident on a variety of terrain, including black diamond-caliber descents. Prior ski touring experience is not required, although excellent physical fitness is important. If you can get down the mountain- we can get you up!

    • How much hiking will we do?

      The amount of hiking during the day varies somewhat on the zone and motivation of the group. The shortest day you can expect contains about 1 hour of skinning, and the longer days may have upwards of 3 hours of skinning.

    • Where & when do we meet?

      We usually start our days with fresh ground coffee in our office at 1985 Squaw Valley Road #23 at 8:00AM. Once logistics are all set for the day, we meet at the Tram or Funitel at 9:00AM.

    • What gear do we need to bring?

      In general, your gear for the day will be very similar to a day of skiing in the resort, but here are a few key pieces that are unique to the backcountry and crucial for the day –

      • A hat and pair of sunglasses (These come in handy on the hike up)
      • Sunscreen
      • Water and snacks (Our guides recommend between 1-2L of water depending on your intake)
      • Lighter, more breathable layer options than a typical resort layering system. An additional light pair of gloves is preferred for uphill travel
      • Ski poles with powder baskets, or a pair of collapsable poles for splitboarding. (We have these available at no extra charge if you need them)
      • A backpack, and any avalanche rescue gear you may own. (Our guides recommend packs around 20-30L)

      **Please give us a call if you have any questions about what to bring, or if your gear will be appropriate for the day.

    • I need to rent gear, what information should I provide in advance?

      We have an excellent selection of backcountry ski gear available to rent. We offer top of the line equipment from Blizzard Skis, Technica Boots, Jones Snowboards, and Black Diamond. Many of our guides use the same gear available in our demo fleet. If you have any gear or sizing questions, we would be more than happy to get you situated to ensure you get the most out of your day in the mountains.

      A/T Skis

      We can offer touring specific skis from Blizzard, a personal favorite for our mountain guides. We have skis available for both females and males. We have sizes available in 164cm,  171cm, 178cm, and 185cm.

      Splitboards

      We have Jones Splitboards available to rent in sizes 145cm, 152cm, 160cm, 161cm, 162cm, and 164cm) Please let us know your stance/binding angle preferences if you are planning to rent a splitboard setup.

      A/T Ski Boots

      Alpine touring ski boots from Technica Boots are available to rent. Sizes range from 23.5 to 29.5 in both genders.

      Avalanche Equiptment

      Avalanche gear is mandatory for all peoples traveling in alpine terrain. If you do not already own gear, we offer a beacon, shovel, probe setup available to rent for $25/day.

    • I don’t have any avalanche gear- can I still sign up?

      Yes! Alpenglow rents beacons, probes and shovels for a small daily fee.

    • Is lunch included on this trip?

      Lunch is not included on this trip. While you can certainly bring a sack lunch, it is not mandatory. Plenty of snacks and water is recommended!

    • Is it safe?

      While no outdoor adventure can be completely free of risk without losing the essence of the activity, hiring a professional guide is a fantastic way to manage and mitigate this risk. Activities like skiing and climbing have what we call “inherent risk”, which can be defined as a risk that cannot be completely mitigated by a professional. That is part of playing in the mountains, we encourage you to reach out to the office if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is an IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

co-owner / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan spends time in the office helping the team with the day-to-day operations of the business. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Tim Dobbins

With notable first descents in the Alps, Tim Dobbins represents Alpenglow’s cutting edge guiding philosophy providing only the best guides for every trip and expedition.

Growing up in Oregon, Tim started out skiing at the young age of 4 years old. Tim grew up ski racing for 9 years before he moved on to backcountry skiing in Aspen, Colorado. He spent 4 years working as ski patrol at Snowmass Ski Resort.

Tim moved to Chamonix in the mid-’90s where he spent 6 seasons skiing and climbing while studying French. Tim says that Chamonix is where he really started learning how to ski tour, rock climb, ice climb and eventually began skiing the steepest lines he could find.

Examples of those steep lines were the North-East face of Les Courtes, Couloir Barbey from Aiguille D’Argentiere, Couloir Couturier from L’Aiguille Verte, Couloir du Diable on Mont Blanc du Tacul, East face of the Matterhorn and many, many others.

Tim has spent the last 10 years guiding and instructing in rock, ice, alpine, and skiing. He is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, and lives on Donner Lake in Truckee with his wife Gisele, sweet daughter Manue and son Matisse.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Glen Poulsen

A member of Squaw Valley’s pioneering founding family, Glen first ventured into the side and backcountry terrain surrounding Squaw Valley at the age of ten and has never looked back.  His forays into more remote parts of the Sierra Nevada led to numerous first descents and pioneering ski traverses throughout the range. After exploring mountains from Antarctica to the North Pole, Greenland and Spitsbergen,  Africa,  to the Andes, The Alps to Scandinavia,  Russia and China, The Himalaya, Central Asia, and Oceania, Glen always returns with a greater appreciation for his home in the “Range of Light”.  Whether its descents on skis or climbing alpine rock Glen has an intimate knowledge of the entire range. Whether It’s a local side country jaunt, a Sierra East side adventure, a hut tour in the alps or exploring new first descents in Greenland or Antarctica, Africa or the Andes, he can take you there. He has an AIARE Level 3 Avalanche and Wilderness First Responder certifications and has been an active Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team member.

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    Half Day Squaw Valley Backcountry Tour

Half Day Squaw Valley Backcountry Tour

New half day option accessing the Tram Ridge zone. Ski and ride outside the ski area boundaries of Lake Tahoe’s premier resort with Alpenglow’s certified guides. Half day option allows you to use your regular resort skis and boots. Call for more information.