If clients have skied all the mountain resorts of Lake Tahoe, Calif., but aren’t quite ready to wander off into the backcountry of California and Nevada by themselves, then sidecountry skiing might be the answer.
Sidecountry skiing accesses normally out-of-bounds terrain from ski resorts, giving skiers the chance to make fresh tracks and explore new territory with the help of expert guides and backcountry equipment. Multiple Lake Tahoe resorts have created guided sidecountry experiences and training classes that are well-suited for intermediate to advanced skiers.
Clients don’t have to be an Olympian or an arctic explorer to enjoy the following skiing excursions.
Homewood Snowcat Adventures
Clients’ chariots — rumbling, snow-crushing, custom-outfitted, fully-tracked snowcats — will await atop Homewood Mountain Resort. Each snowcat is equipped to ferry up to nine people above and beyond the ski resort’s boundaries, all the way to Ellis Peak overlooking Lake Tahoe.
The view is literally breathtaking — not just for the stunning vista of nearby mountains and the lake below, but because of the short yet strenuous hike required to get to the viewpoint at 8,740-foot elevation.
The fun will really begin when clients strap on their skis for the descent. Wide-open meadows of untracked snow beckon skiers to carve long swooping turns into the private, natural playground. Guides will select the best terrain in the 750 acres of available sidecountry, running four to six laps of yee-haw-inducing skiing, before returning the group to the base lift to ride up and hop in the snowcat once again.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort offers an impressive array of challenging terrain, from steeps and chutes to rocky unnamed descents, as well as super-scenic ski runs that beckon just out of bounds. The Expedition Kirkwood program provides more than a dozen different classes, clinics and guided ski experiences that can introduce, train and entertain aspiring backcountry skiers to tackle some of the most spectacular ski terrain around Lake Tahoe and beyond.
Training can begin with indoor clinics on snow safety and avalanche preparedness; hands-on classes on how to operate beacons and use rescue equipment; and on-mountain courses for backcountry skiers to practice specific skills to handle steep and deep terrain. Private tours combine the essentials, beginning with training on safety equipment followed by ongoing tips and tricks as guides take clients to terrain selected for conditions and their abilities.
Alpenglow Backcountry Tours at Squaw Valley
For the fit and adventurous, Alpenglow offers backcountry tours, which begin at area trailheads. The private tours access untouched terrain that regular mountain-goers have long coveted to experience. The guides not only carefully choose the best terrain suited for the conditions and the group, but they share their backcountry training to help build up skiing and safety skillsets.
Alpenglow’s Intro to Backcountry Skiing (and Splitboarding) Tours focus on teaching backcountry fundamentals to skiers and snowboarders new to the niche. (It’s also a less expensive option for individuals not booking a private tour.)