Snow Sports

Downhill Skiing/Boarding
Most groups rent a cabin and make it a weekend outing, but day trips are also easy from most Northern California cities. The big question is always whether to rent equipment at home (cheaper but a hassle) or at the resort (expensive and long lines). For beginners, it’s usually better to rent equipment onsite as part of an instructional package, but do your homework. There are always special prices available. Most resorts offer group rates at substantial discounts if you can prepay (and guarantee) attendance.

Truckee and Tahoe North Shore
Easiest access from the Bay Area and lots of resort options, from the small Soda Springs Resort for beginners to the huge Sugar Bowl and North Star areas for all kinds of skiers. The problem is getting everyone to agree on just one place.

Tahoe South Shore
A little harder to get to on Hwy 50, and a little more expensive, but the South Shore has lots of skiing options.

Bear Valley
Drive up Highway 4 past Arnold to find Bear Valley Resort, a popular place for people who like things a little less crowded and a little more intimate. They also have a Snow Sports Merit Badge Program and a special package for Scouts. But you have to ask.

Dodge Ridge
Small ski area but popular for some groups because it’s so close to beautiful Pinecrest Lake (which is empty in the winter). Drive through Sonora then continue on Highway 108.

Cross Country Skiing
More physical than downhill skiing, but easier to master, cross country ski trips are becoming more popular for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. If you don’t like skis, you can also wear snow shoes instead, but it will be harder to keep up. Just remember to drink lots of water, because the physical workout is intense.

Royal Gorge near Truckee
Many say that Royal Gorge is the best cross country ski resort in North America. And it’s very close to cabins in Soda Springs and downhill ski areas like Sugar Bowl.

Spooner Lake near Tahoe South Shore
Drive across the Nevada border to get to Spooner Lake with some of the most beautiful ski trails in the Sierras..

Bear Valley
There are many cross country trails in the area, and many places to rent your gear.

Snow Camping

For most Scouts and adults, snow camping is the ultimate wilderness experience. There is nothing in the world like hiking on snow shoes with a pack on your back, making a shelter and establishing a campsite, sleeping in a snow cave, and maybe waking up and digging your way out of a cave that has been covered by an overnight snowfall. While this kind of adventure can be intimidating for some, Scouts who are lucky enough to have this experience will remember it forever.

Scout in a snow cave

Scout in a snow cave

This is not to say that every boy with a pair of snowshoes and a good attitude should venture off into the snow. It takes training, equipment, and conscientious leadership for a successful outing.

Many Troops have three training sessions for Scouts (and adults) prior to the outing. Attendance is manditory. Then there is the pack check. Everything on the list should be there. (Everything not on the list should be left behind.)

These three documents can be the basis for the three training sessions. For each, a Scout takes responsibility for presentation.

1. Snow Camping Equipment Requirements

2. Winter First Aid and Nutrition

3. Snow Camping Campsites and Shelters

You might also enjoy this video on digging a snow cave – and using a saw to make it easier.

Many Troop snow camp at Bear Valley.  Drive to the end of Hwy 4 and park at the entrance to Lake Alpine.  Thats as far as you can drive becasue the road is not plowed after that.  You need Snow Park Passes for each vehicle each night.  They can be purchased in Arnold on your way up at SNAC Arnold, which is right when you enter Arnold.  (If you pass the shopping center with the Round Table Pizza, you have gone just a little too far.)  Groups do not need camping permits in Winter but they always require Fire Permits.  For more information, call the Calaveras Ranger Station at 209-532-3671.

Do you know what to do if a Scout (or yourself) falls through the ice into freezing water?  Watch these educational videos and increase your chance of survival.   They are powerful and extremely informative.    Even though these videos demonstrate survival after falling through the ice in winter, many of the same principals apply during the summer months if you end up in a cold-water lake.

Snow Camping can be dangerous, especially if the weather turns bad or Scouts come unprepared. By far the most common problems come from the adults, who think they can “wing it” because they know how to take care of themselves. The best thing a trek leader can do with an adult who shows up at the pack check without the required equipment or with a bad attitude is to leave them at home!

One Response

  1. YEAAAAAA I will post another comment on here after snowcamping. This will be interesting.

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