Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Backcountry Tours

1 day in California, Lake Tahoe / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

$645 - Single | Group of 2-4 $895

About this trip

Ski and ride outside the ski area boundaries of Lake Tahoe’s premier resort with Alpenglow’s certified guides. Riding the lifts means less time hiking and more time skiing and riding this incredible backcountry terrain. Now includes the coveted terrain of National Geographic bowl outside of Granite Chief.

Overview

  • skill level

    Introductory

  • Duration

    1 day

By utilizing the extensive lift system of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows we can quickly access incredible terrain and get more skiing and riding in. In this program we ski in three distinct zones: Tram Ridge, Nat Geo Bowl and Munchkins. For the first time, this terrain can now be ridden with a guide, opening up lift-accessed riding for skiers and snowboarders regardless of backcountry experience.

Each group is private with their own qualified guide. This means you know your group’s pace and skier or rider ability, and you create your day.

  • Want to rip as many laps as you can? We can utilize the lifts and minimize hiking.
  • Want to find the rarely skied nooks and crannies with the best cold pow? Our guides know the area better than anyone, and Alpenglow’s exclusive access to certain zones give us the best conditions out there.
  • Want to build your backcountry skills? Our guides love to teach, and can focus your day on uphill skills, avalanche safety skills and more, all while skiing and riding in the backcountry.

Locations:
At Squaw Valley we ski and ride in two prominent zones.  National Geographic Bowl (Nat Geo) and the Tram Ridge zone.

Nat Geo – Located outside the boundary lines of Granite Chief at Squaw, the Nat Geo bowl and adjacent peaks have been long admired for their beauty, remoteness, and quality of terrain. Crossing the boundary at Squaw with your guide, you step into a true backcountry experience with quiet solitude and playful terrain. There are many options for ski descents and once you reach the bottom you’ll transition to uphill mode and gain the ridge that connects Squaw Valley to the Tahoe National Forest boundary. Some groups do multiple laps in Nat Geo, and some continue on to Tram Ridge.

Tram Ridge – This is the awesome north facing terrain that can be seen from the parking lot of Squaw Valley. Accessed from Broken Arrow this zone is made up of glades, gullies and ridge lines. We can ski multiple laps in this zone, returning to the ski area to bump up the lifts, or utilizing our AT skis or split boards to “skin” uphill. Skiing out of the boundary line on Tram Ridge has long been a dream of many a long-time Squaw skier, and now it is a reality, exclusively with Alpenglow Expeditions!

At Alpine Meadows we access the popular backcountry zone known as “Munchkins” off Scott Peak. Munchkins is a huge zone, with everything from mellow open bowls to perfectly spaced trees to steep technical lines. The zone’s diversity makes Munchkins the perfect place for the new backcountry skier or rider looking to build skills, and ideal for many laps for the experienced off-piste rider.

We don’t decide which zone we will ski until the morning of the tour, to allow our guides to pick the best ski tour based on current conditions. Regardless of where the day takes you, you can be sure it will be a memorable backcountry outing!

Pricing:
Pricing includes: private ski/snowboard guide, lift line privileges, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows lift tickets, avalanche safety gear (beacon, probe and shovel) and of course access to some of the best backcountry skiing Tahoe has to offer.

  • 1 Person – $645
  • 2-4 People – $895

What to Expect:
Depending on fitness level, technical ability and daily conditions skiers and riders can expect to get multiple laps of fresh tracks outside of the ski area boundary. Terrain varies from wide open bowls and widely spaced trees to steep, technical lines that will challenge even the most seasoned skier.

Each morning starts off with a safety meeting with your guide and a gear check to make sure everyone has what they need for the day. Depending on the zone, we’ll ride the lifts at Squaw or Alpine before heading out of bounds. Lift access to these zones cuts out a significant portion of approach time, and can be used throughout the day to reduce the ratio of hiking to riding traditionally associated with backcountry skiing.

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.

Rentals:
Alpenglow Expeditions offers all-new 2017 Blizzard Skis, Tecnica Boots and Jones Splitboards for rent.

Complete Package – $55/day

Alpenglow also provides avalanche kits free of charge for those who don’t own their own gear. Beacon, probe and shovel are required

 

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

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Good physical fitness is recommended. At a minimum, skiers/riders should be able to ski multiple laps in ungroomed terrain, and hike for up to an hour while carrying a light pack.

  • Technical Experience

    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.

    • 8:00 AM — Meet and Greet

      To fit in a full day of skiing we start our day early!

    • 9:00 AM — Board the lifts

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

    • 9:30 AM — Depart Ski Area Boundary

      Departure from ski area boundary.

    • 12:00 PM — Lunch

      Although we snack and take breaks throughout the day, we take a longer lunch break midday when the group is ready.

    • 3:30 PM — Catch Chairlift Home or ski to base area

      Begin return to ski area base.

    • 4:00 PM — Return to Trailhead

      After a day of skiing, we find ourselves back at the base of ski area around 4 PM.

      • Equipment

      • Backcountry skis, bindings and skins

        These skis should be relatively lightweight, 90-110mm underfoot, and have a shape that works well in  a variety of snow conditions. "Tech" style bindings strongly recommended. Make sure your skins are trimmed to your ski.

        Read more
      • Black Diamond Transfer 3 shovel

        Simple, metal bladed avalanche shovel. Extendable handle recommended.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Backcountry Access Stealth Probe 240

        Simple, lightweight probe, 240-300cm. Must have an auto-locking feature.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Pieps Avalanche Beacon

        A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 ski pack

        A ski-specific backpack is preferred to a regular pack, due to the external pocket for avalanche rescue gear. 20-35 liters.

        Buy on Blackdiamondequipment.com
      • Salomon ski/ climbing helmet

        This helmet is very light, comfortable, and is certified for both skiing and climbing.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
    • 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!

    • Do you rent equipment?

      Yes, we rent backcountry ski gear as well as avalanche safety gear. This is on a first come, first serve basis so please reserve your gear early! All equipment is new for 2017 and available at $55/day.

    • What level skier/rider do I need to be to sign up?

      Skiers and riders should be experienced and comfortable skiing advanced terrain. Skiers/riders must be competent in a variety of terrain and snow conditions. If you would like to discuss your suitability for this program further, please contact the office.

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

      Avalanche gear is required for all of our skiing programs. If you don’t already own a beacon, probe and shovel, we can provide these for no additional charge on a first come, first serve basis.

    • 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.

    • When & where do we meet?

      We usually start our days with fresh ground coffee in our office at 1590 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, CA at 8:00AM. Once logistics are all set for the day, we meet at the Tram or Funitel at 9:00AM.

    • I just booked a tour, what do I do now?

      You will receive a welcome email shortly with more information about your day. Please be sure to fill out our waivers, and let us know if you have any rental needs. Verify you have all your personal gear that you’ll need, and give us a call if you have questions about any aspect of your Alpenglow adventure.

    • What gear do I 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?

      If you’ll be skiing –

      • The length of ski you’d like to reserve (We can offer 164cm,  171cm, 178cm, and 185cm)
      • What size boot you will need

      If you’ll be splitboarding –

      • What size board you’d like to reserve (We have 145cm, 152cm, 160cm, 161cm, 162cm, and 164cm)
      • What size boot you will be riding in
      • Your stance and binding angles

      For both skiers and riders –

      • If you need to reserve any avalanche rescue gear, and if you’ll be needing a pack or poles.

    • 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!

Adrian Ballinger

Adrian Ballinger is one of the USA’s premier high-altitude mountain guides, and the only American guide to have both AMGA/IFMGA guide’s certification (one of roughly 100 in the USA) and more than 10 summits of 8,000 meter peaks (12 total, including 6 summits of Mt. Everest). As founder and head guide of Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian has been guiding full-time for fifteen years and has led over 100 international climbing expeditions on 5 continents.

In 2011 he, along with 2 Sherpa partners, became the first people to summit three 8,000 meter peaks in only 3 weeks (Everest twice and Lhotse once). He is also the first person to ski Manaslu, the 8th tallest mountain in the world, from its summit, and the first American to successfully ski two 8,000-meter peaks. These personal successes are combined with Adrian’s passion for guiding and teaching others. Adrian has led expeditions where more than 100 clients have successfully summited Everest, Lhotse (the 4th tallest mountain in world), Cho Oyu (6th tallest) and Manaslu (8th tallest).

Whether on skis, in rock shoes, or mountain boots, Adrian thrives on sharing the big mountains with friends and clients, and helping them to build their skills and experience to be successful on the world’s most beautiful mountains. In the coming seasons Adrian plans on continuing to enjoy big-mountain skiing, climbing, and guiding in the Himalaya, South America, Alaska, and of course closer to “home” in Squaw Valley, CA. Adrian is a sponsored athlete for Eddie Bauer, La Sportiva, Petzl, Kaenon, Goal Zero, Hypoxico, Alpenglow Sports and High Altitude Fitness.

Learn more about Adrian at adrianballinger.com

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

Logan Talbott

Director of Operations / mountain guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over 10 years in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. 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 a fully certified 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 spotted dog Arlo.

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

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

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 a fully certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

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 90’s where he spent 6 seasons skiing and climbing while studying French. Tim says that Chamonix is where he really started leaning 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 recently spent the last 8 years guiding and instructing in rock, ice, alpine and skiing as well as becoming an IFMGA aspirant mountain guide, an AMGA certified ski guide and AIARE level 1 course leader. He lives on Donner Lake in Truckee with his wife Gisele and sweet daughter Manu. 

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

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    Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Backcountry Tours