Donner Ranch in the Lake Tahoe area is one of the oldest ski resorts in California and one of the few privately owned and operated ones in the country. Since its earliest days, the scenic 80-year-old resort has provided Californians and outsiders with affordable, high-quality skiing. However, the area’s 500+ skiable acres aren’t just made up of shiny, crowded slopes—Donner Ranch’s backcountry is as outstanding as its front-country, if not better! The venue provides a phenomenal opportunity for avalanche rescue courses. The resort’s stunning terrain variety and excellent access to well-defined “avalanche paths” create the ideal environment for highly realistic avalanche simulation scenarios. And with top-of-the-line ski lift coverage, your approaches will be swift, meaning that you’ll be able to sneak in an extra descent or two. If you’re looking for a place to upgrade your avalanche safety knowledge, look no further—Donner Ski Ranch is the way to go.

  • Lift access makes approaches fast and easy

  • Enjoy picturesque views of the world-famous Lake Tahoe area

  • Excellent terrain variety provides great avalanche simulation opportunities

Itinerary

Take your avalanche rescue skills to the next level with this one-day course at the Donner Ski Ranch! Learn about proper equipment use, rescue strategies, and techniques from an experienced AIARE certified guide. You will be approaching your terrain via ski lift, allowing you to partake in multiple top-down search scenarios. This approach provides unparalleled practice opportunities and gives realistic simulations of avalanche situations.

Prerequisites: Participants should be proficient at using touring gear and have the appropriate gear, including AT skis or splitboard and modern and functional avalanche rescue tools. The course venue offers challenging terrain and snow conditions, and it is important that riders have an advanced riding ability to manage highly variable snow conditions while using their avalanche rescue gear.

Meet your guide

Blackbird Guides
5.00
Blackbird Guides
Blackbird Mountain Guides is here to help you push farther, faster, and smarter. Their ultimate goal is to help you develop awareness, efficiency, and a good decision-making philosophy in the mountains. Whether they’re guiding a "type-1-fun" adventure, helping you develop skills to meet your next mountain objective, or playing in their time off, the Blackbird Mountain Guides team strives to move in good style.
5.00 (1 reviews)
Audrey H. about Blackbird guides on Facebook

Hands down the best, most reasonably priced guide co in Tahoe for avy Courses and guided ski trips. Looking forward to taking Avy Rescue and AIARE 2 this winter!

Things to know

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Lake Tahoe, California, please refer to California’s official COVID-19 travel recommendations.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

  • What you get in this adventure:

      • An experienced, certified guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • A full day in the field
      • A Donner Ski Ranch lift ticket for the duration of the course
      • A digital AIARE certificate acknowledging completion date at course end

    What’s not included:

      • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
      • Digital beacon (newer than 5 years old or recently checked by the manufacturer)
      • High quality aluminum shovel (plastic blades often break in dense snow and/or avalanche debris)
      • High quality probe (modern, quick-draw style)
      • Transportation to Donner Ski Ranch, Lake Tahoe
      • Accommodation
      • Lunch and snacks
  • In order to get the most of this adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

    Prerequisites:
    Participants should be proficient at using touring gear and have the appropriate gear, including AT skis or splitboard and modern and functional avalanche rescue tools. The course venue offers challenging terrain and snow conditions, and it is important that riders have an advanced riding ability to manage highly variable snow conditions while using their avalanche rescue gear. Skiers must be able to hike for several hours and be comfortable traveling in snow while carrying touring gear.

  • For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

      • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis, or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
      • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
      • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
        • Digital beacon (newer than 5 years old or recently checked by the manufacturer)
        • High quality aluminum shovel (plastic blades often break in dense snow and/or avalanche debris)
        • High quality probe (modern, quick-draw style)

    For personal items, we recommend bringing:

      • Helmet
      • Sunglasses
      • ski goggles
      • Light gloves
      • Midweight gloves
      • Warm hat
      • Sun hat
      • Neck gaiters
      • Wind and waterproof hardshell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
      • Softshell ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
      • Vented hardshell ski pants
      • Puffy midweight down or synthetic jacket with hood
      • Long sleeve synthetic or wool base layers, underwear, and socks
      • Two Insulating top layers
      • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
      • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
      • Nalgene water bottle
      • Water bottle or water bladder and 1,5L of water
      • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
      • Food you can eat on-the-go
      • First-aid/blister kit — optional
      • Chemical hand warmers — optional
      • Sunscreen
      • Lip balm
      • Hand sanitizer
      • Toilet paper
      • Touring backpack with a pocket for avalanche tools
      • Camera — optional

    Your guides will provide the first aid kits, snow observation equipment, and WAG bags, but you’re free to bring your own.

  • All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

      • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel, and probe can be rented from your guide
      • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots, and poles can be rented at the Donner Ski Ranch
      • Splitboards can be rented at the Donner Ski Ranch

    Ski rental locations are at the Donner Ski Ranch and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

  • Group sizes and pricing:

      • These courses are not private. The usual guest-to-guide ratio is 5:1.
      • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

    Ski touring in Lake Tahoe can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.

    If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to the Donner Ski Ranch on Lake Tahoe, most people fly into Sacramento International Airport 2 hours southwest from Lake Tahoe. From there, you can rent a car, take a bus or take a train to Donner Ski Ranch.

    Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the Donner Ski Ranch or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.

Have more questions? Read our FAQ,

Learning outcomes

This 7-8 hour course is meant for people who have completed the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. However, this is not an absolute prerequisite, as anyone who is proficient at using touring gear, can ride advanced terrain, and has the appropriate gear can join in. During this course, you will learn about:

    • proper rescue techniques
    • small team rescue
    • rescue equipment technology
    • strategies for efficient gear use.
From $295
/ 1 day
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