Tahoe's recent poor winter seasons had left me scarred, hoping and waiting for snow. Then January hit, the phenomenon being described as an "atmospheric river" opened up new zones to explore, but new snow creates variable avalanche conditions and problems that need to be observed and mitigated. I set out with my splitboard in hand to see what the new snow had brought.
With above 9 feet of snow and 100mph ridge gusts over 3 days, we knew that storm and wind slabs would be our greatest problems. We had an idea to go explore a South Tahoe classic and ride the “11’s” - two north facing, 2000 vertical feet avalanche scars running down Trimmer Peak that are easily visible from anywhere on the lake. Our proposed route would keep us below treeline, where the forecast gave more favorable levels of risk, and we were hoping that our Sierra snowpack would allow the new layers of snow to settle nicely. Being that the 11's are active avalanche slide-paths, we wanted to take every precaution. When we reached the zone, we dug a pit on a similar slope aspect and angle to confirm the forecast. Our hopes were answered, risk was within our comfort zone to ride!
The 11's have safe options on the side's of the scar in the trees and also a steeper option straight down the gut of the scar. We felt this would be a fun option with safe alternatives and with a good leap of vertical to ride and skin back up to get in touring shape. Skinning up you must go up the west face of Bonus peak before making the final push to the summit of Trimmer. Riding 2000 vertical feet of untouched pow and a wide open zone you can really let’r rip! After you must head West and skin up 1000 feet to Bonus Peak before riding another 1000 feet down on the West face of Bonus down to the car.
Splitboard used in this mission - The Big Chief:
Our rider Z Griff wrote, " The Big Chief is an all-out powder machine. There's no tomahawking the 2016/17 Big Chief, a reimagined model from Weston Snowboards that possesses the strength of an entire backcountry tribe born in Minturn, where the lion of Lionshead Rock meets the might Eagle River. This board has been my salvation. Steeped in the history of the area and true to local tradition, the Weston Big Chief is a traditional-camber snowboard that comes in solid and splitboard forms. Both models are wider underfoot than average boards and have a long effective edge. When coupled with a directional stance, this makes for effortless float on deep days.
In the backcountry and high alpine, it eats up steeps and lands big drops without batting an eyelash or bucking the rider. It's incredibly stable at speed, moves edge to edge nicely with more torsional flex than expected, and has no problem going left, right and sometimes upside down. This board is a big gun for big powder days. It's stiff, durable and strong to provide float when pointing it down fall lines, but it's also maneuverable enough to ride trees. The big, round nose is made for bashing through the deep stuff or ollieing over everything without sinking.
The Big Chief eats first — all others are second.
For his full write up checkout Summit Daily here.
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