Week of in-person and virtual events will focus on dangers of the backcountry and how to stay safe
From athlete panel sessions about backcountry safety to expert talks about snowpack science and the impacts of wildfires on snow conditions, the third annual Tahoe Backcountry Safety Awareness Week is chock full of in-person and virtual events curated by Take Care Tahoe that focus on the dangers of the backcountry. From December 12-17, 2022, just as avalanche danger will be increasing in the area due to the weekend storm, both novice and experienced backcountry users will have opportunities to learn how to safely recreate in the backcountry this winter.
According to Snowsports Industries America (SIA), the pandemic boosted participation in backcountry/Alpine Touring by 57% during the 2020-21 season. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center also reported that a total of 37 avalanche related fatalities occurred in the U.S. that season. The rise in deaths was attributed to both inexperience and challenging snowpack conditions.
“As more and more people get out into the backcountry to recreate in uncontrolled, unpatrolled areas, it’s increasingly important to give them the tools they need to be safe and have fun,” said David Reichel, executive director of Sierra Avalanche Center. “This week is a great opportunity to share critical information that could save lives this season.”
Started in 2020 to help educate the growing number of people who venture into the Tahoe backcountry about the importance of safety, preparedness, and etiquette, Tahoe Backcountry Safety Awareness Week convenes experts and partners in the Tahoe Basin and beyond to offer educational sessions, panel discussions, film screenings, opportunities to test safety equipment and more.
“The growth of and participation in Tahoe Backcountry Safety Awareness Week has been tremendous,” said Anthony Cupaiuolo, executive director of the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance. “We’re excited for the opportunity to bring people together to discuss access issues and help educate backcountry users about proper etiquette at trailheads and on the skin track.”
“We’re proud to be part of Tahoe Backcountry Safety Awareness Week and to give people an opportunity to learn more about how to make good decisions both before they go and when they’re in the backcountry,” said Sean Kristl, Alpenglow Expeditions general manager. “Nothing can substitute for knowledge and experience, and our hope is that people will continue to learn and stay updated as it relates to what they can do to keep themselves and others safe.”
The 2022 Tahoe Backcountry Safety Awareness Week schedule includes:
Virtual Introduction to the Backcountry for Women – Monday, December 12
Hosted by SheJumps, Weston Backcountry and Women Who Splitboard, this two-hour online session is an intro class for women interested in getting into the backcountry on skis or a splitboard. Registration includes automatic entry to win a Weston Seeker Splitboard, with virtual attendance required to win. Register via Eventbrite with a $5-20 donation.
Winter Predictions with the National Weather Service – Wednesday, December 14
Hosted by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, join Chris Smallcomb from the National Weather Service for a virtual presentation on their Winter Weather Predictions. This free online webinar is open to everyone and will be live from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Smallcomb will also talk about the predictability of weather hazards including post-fire flooding, and how the changing climate is impacting day-to-day weather forecasting. Register here.
Changing Snowpack, Hazards, and Backcountry Safety – Wednesday, December 14
Hosted in person at the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center in Incline Village, join Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab for a discussion on snowpack trends occurring in the Sierra Nevada, how they are redefining our fire seasons and natural disasters, and their impacts on the recreation and safety of outdoor enthusiasts. Schwartz will also cover actions that can be taken to ensure safety in the backcountry and measures to curb the loss of snow. Admission is $10 and free for students with a student ID. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., lecture begins at 6:00 p.m. Register here.
Backcountry User Panel and Live Music at RMU – Thursday, December 15
Hosted in person at RMU in Truckee, listen to a panel discussion about sharing access and best etiquette in the backcountry, featuring professional skier Daron Rahlves, backcountry guide Jen Callahan, Anthony Cupaiuolo from Tahoe Backcountry Alliance, Todd Wold with Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers, and a representative from the U.S. Forest Service. The panel will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., followed by live music. No registration required.
Backcountry Safety Summit – Friday, December 16
Hosted by Alpenglow Expeditions, the Backcountry Safety Summit will feature a discussion with guides, patrollers, and avalanche forecasters at Palisades Tahoe at 6:00 p.m. Alpenglow Expeditions will also host social media giveaways throughout the week with a chance to win two free AIARE courses.
Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers December Meet-up – Saturday, December 17
An event open to all backcountry snowsports users (not just snowmobilers), this event will be held at the Hope Valley Sno-Park starting at 9:00 a.m. A great opportunity to test safety equipment, Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers will have a beacon park set-up. No registration is required and warm beverages will be available.
Learn more at www.takecaretahoe.org.