Top three reasons to backcountry ski in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is known for sunshine, forest and powder stashes
The area is home to a host of world-class backcountry terrain
Deep backcountry skiing for a range of skill levels
Sitting between the California and Nevada border in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Lake Tahoe is home to a host of world-class backcountry terrain. The Sierra Nevadas see plenty of snow each year, making Tahoe backcountry skiing a huge draw for skiers looking to shred some powder from nearby Reno or San Francisco’s Bay Area. Resorts like Squaw Meadow-Alpine Valley and Sugar Bowl have opened their terrain to backcountry enthusiasts offering slackcountry skiing at its finest. Whether looking for out-of-bounds skiing just off the resort or deep backcountry skiing, the Tahoe area features it all. There’s a reason why we think it’s one of the best places for backcountry skiing in California!
Mid-December through May
Book as many days as you want
San Francisco, CA, is 3.5 hours away by car
Beginner to advanced
Most Popular Itineraries
Private Intro to Backcountry Skiing
Develop the basics of backcountry skiing, getting techniques from the experts while in the gorgeous Sierra Nevadas. You won’t have to worry about being left behind regardless of skill level. Plus, you’ll gain support on technique, routes and gear to ensure you’ll only have to focus on having fun.
Not sure if you should hire a guide? Listen to our ambassador Greg Hill debate the ultimate question: To be guided or not to be guided?
Powder Skiing for Intermediate and Advanced Skiers
Interested in backcountry education? Maybe you’re ready to carve fresh lines on steeps all day? You get to tailor this Tahoe backcountry ski trip to your goals and skill level. Put yourself into your guide’s hands and customize your day in Lake Tahoe’s backcountry.
Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your day will look like this:
- 8:00 am: Meet your guide at the guide’s recommended location for introductions and going over the day’s plan
- 8:30 am: Head to the location of your backcountry ski tour
- 9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Gear up, go over safety considerations, and spend the day backcountry skiing on routes selected to best suit your group, stopping for lunch and breaks as needed
- 4:30 pm: Back to the cars for debriefing and high fives
Advanced Ski Tours & Mountaineering Objectives
Bag the high peak of your dreams in the Tahoe backcountry. Whether you want to head to a specific destination or shred some hero pow, your guide will create a day of skiing perfect for advanced skiers and riders.
Meet your guide
We recently participated in back to back weekends in the Intro to Backcountry and AIARE level 1 courses. As total beginners to backcountry skiing, we both feel much more prepared to plan and execute a basic backcountry ski trip! There were participants in the AIARE course who weren’t new to backcountry, and they all seemed to also get a lot of the course too. Both instructors we had were well informed, managed time well, read the group dynamic very well, and were enthusiastic instructors who clearly love the mountains and want to share that love. It was also FUN – learning is always better when there is fun involved. One thing I had heard about the AIARE course is the last day is a full day backcountry tour – due to a variety of factors, most especially a crusty snow pack and my own ability, this wasn’t the case for our class. This was a disappointment, but also a good reality check about thinking what is actually possible given the conditions and group skill level. The office in Squaw is welcoming, with some cool folks who clearly are pretty stoked about what they do. They hooked us up with some high quality rental gear too, and were patient with me when I went through about 3 different boot sizes and ski exchanges. Overhearing some of the level 2 AIARE course work only inspired me to want to sign up for that course next year too, after getting some more experience. We enthusiastically recommend Alpenglow and would definitely return for another course in the future.
The conditions were not ideal and our guide did an amazing job making our day enjoyable, adventuresome, and beautiful. Zen had some interesting jobs for our tour. He rescued a ski, built a snow bridge over a creek, and broke a great skin trail. I would highly recommend a trip with Alpenglow.
Of the 3 great expeditions I’ve done with Alpenglow and my trusted guide, Tim Dobbins, my Feb 2018 tour of Poulson’s Peak was the best. We skied in a storm, which I enjoy, when Squaw Valley Resort was closed. The powder was light, deep and amazing – a true winter wonderland. We milked as many turns as we could, touring about 5-6 miles in as many hours. The Blizzard Rustler 11s were a dream in the soft stuff. It’s no mystery why I’m a repeat customer!
I had a great backcountry ski tour with Alpenglow Expeditions at Squaw Valley this spring. Our guide, Logan, was awesome. I appreciated the focus on having a safe outing. He adapted to our ability levels right away, communication was clear, and we had a ton of fun. Also, we were able to access some cool terrain we would not have otherwise seen. Highly recommended.
Things to know
COVID-19 measures in Lake Tahoe
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 travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Lake Tahoe, please refer to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority website.
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 ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A full day of backcountry ski touring
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment (can be rented)
- Trip insurance
- Avalanche safety gear (available to rent)
- Lift tickets (if needed)
How fit do I need to be?
In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels in Lake Tahoe, you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
For the enjoyment and safety of everyone involved, participants must be approved to participate in advanced backcountry skiing tours either through a previous trip with the guiding service or through recommendations.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride, it’s also beginner friendly, meaning anyone with blue level resort experience can have fun in the backcountry. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning, introduce you to the basics, like skinning uphill, and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.
What about required equipment and rentals?
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 Tahoe Mountain Sports in Truckee
- Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from the guiding service and Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City
- Splitboards can be rented from Tahoe Mountain Sports in Truckee
Ski rental locations are in Lake Tahoe 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.
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, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
- Harness for glacier travel
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
- Ski pants (Gore-tex recommended)
- Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
- Down jacket or vest
- Gloves and hat
- One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
- Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Sunglasses or ski goggles
- First-aid kit
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-45L bag)
- Camera — optional
Group sizes and age requirements
Groups and pricing:
- For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1.
- The cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to backcountry ski with friends and family.
- Ski touring in Lake Tahoe can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.
- If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Lake Tahoe, most people fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service, such as the South Tahoe Airporter, the one-hour drive to the Lake Tahoe area.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet in Tahoe.