Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Outside with Charlie: Cross country skiing

From page B2 | March 28, 2012 |


The ski resorts are absolutely thrilled with the new snow that’s fallen. In conversations with Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Steven Hemphill, PR Director, the news is simple: continued good conditions, and a season that has gained some additional time.

Back-country skiers are finally finding enough snow to make it worth their time. For those of us who stick primarily to the more forgiving flat to rolling terrain, it means that the area’s we frequent don’t have so many bushes and rocks showing.

There are three main groups of cross country skiers. The first group go to the groomed resorts.

Their skiing is done in well maintained tracks, or on groomed skating lanes. There is a lodge, professional instruction, and a warming hut or two out on the trails. Kirkwood Cross Country, Tahoe Cross Country, Northstar, Royal Gorge all offer this type of experience.

The second group, of which I and my wife are solid members of, head to the back-country, minus the groomed trails, lodges and warming huts. We ski in places like Loon Lake and the Chipmunk and Orion Trails, other spots in the Crystal Basin, Hope Valley, Martin Meadow, Woods Lake, Forestdale Creek, Grassy Lake, Baldwin Beach and the shore of Lake Tahoe.

We like gently rolling, wide open, long glides, and flat touring areas. Ski touring is our forte, on gentle terrain, with emphasis on “gentle.”

The third group are the telemark skiers. Any kind of terrain is okay with them and it takes some degree of skill and experience to do what they do.

What is common for the last two types of back-country travelers is this: they are simply out in the forest, meadows, and mountains, on their own.

Depending on who is doing the skiing, the day can be skied away, not too far from the car. Hope Valley is one place like this. It’s a big valley, but it is wide open and a perfect place for beginners and those of us of a certain age to explore.

Going deeper into the woods, perhaps up to Elephant Back, out to the Van Vleck bunkhouse, or in to Woods Lake, takes longer, covers a lot more terrain, and definitely puts the car and the highway out of sight once the kicking and gliding begins.

Anyone heading out to the back-country, regardless of the terrain, has to understand that they are completely responsible for their own safety. While you may on occasion see someone from the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol or the Tahoe Nordic Ski Patrol while skiing out there, it’s not common. It’s more likely that it will be just you and your partner. Heading out un-prepared or under-prepared is, to put it as kindly as possible, is just plain stupid.

The most important thing to be aware of is what the avalanche conditions are. The Sierra Avalanche Center has a website ( that gives avalanche conditions and advisories every day of snow season. Avalanches are relatively common and are completely uncontrollable. All of them are dangerous.

Back-country skiers should always let someone know where they are headed and when they expect to return. Along with carrying the food, water and other gear needed, a good knowledge of what the avalanche and snow conditions are amounts to good common sense.

No matter where you ski, ski safely. Get outside!



Charlie Ferris



District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4



GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate