Located at the northern extent of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Lake Tahoe is one of the country’s most stunning and popular winter destinations. With mountains rising from every side of Tahoe’s cobalt waters, and an annual snowfall average of 400-500”, it is no wonder that winter enthusiasts have been playing here since the 1920’s. From the backcountry standpoint, there are few places that can match Tahoe in ease of access, terrain variety, snow quality and quantity, and favorable weather. With Reno 45 minutes away, Sacramento 1.5 hours away, and a highway surrounding the lake, Tahoe is also highly accessible. And although this allows easy access for hoards of winter tourists, 99% of these visitors stay within the confines of the resorts.
This guidebook is designed as an introduction to the near endless potential for human powered ski travel in Tahoe. When I first moved here, I was frustrated by the limited and scattered information on skiing in the area. Of course you can always look at a map and find out for yourself, but I yearned for a comprehensive resource that offered more than topo lines. In this guide, I aim to provide information about each location in the hopes of facilitating an amazing backcountry day. This information includes the aspects, elevations, terrain descriptions, maps, basic navigation, parking options and driving directions. What I am trying to avoid is ruining the adventure of learning the terrain on your own by systematically revealing all of Tahoe’s nooks and crannies. That style of guidebook leaves little adventure left to the reader, and might anger locals who have spent years learning the area. There are many stashes that you will be rewarded with finding on your own. It is for this reason that I do not provide highly specific directions on how to access every single line for a given area. This guide is meant to be a comprehensive introduction to each location, providing you enough information to plan your adventure, but not so much as to ruin the fun of discovering it yourself.
This guidebook is organized geographically, grouping the destinations into seven main regions: North Tahoe, Mount Rose Area, West Shore, South Lake, Desolation, Carson Pass and East Shore. Each of these regions have their own page, with a description of the terrain and locations within the zone, as well as a map showing the boundaries I have assigned for the zone. Each of the destination pages will then have a stats chart, an overview map of the destination within the greater Tahoe area, a write-up of the area, and driving and parking information.