Words by Michelle Parker. Photos by Robin O’Neill and Michelle Parker.
In the first ten days of January, Lake Tahoe gained 33.6 billion gallons of water. That precipitation started in the form of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere where they joined together in something like a micro storm inside of a cloud. The temperatures were just right and there were enough tiny little ice crystals to create a storm. The storm hovered over California for a steady month with small breaks, a little rain, and then more storming into February.
Around mid-March, the weather changed. The sun welcomed Spring in the Sierra and t-shirt weather was upon us. California is unique like that. We average 307 sunny days per year in Lake Tahoe. When the sun is out, it’s time to play, which can mean it’s difficult to get inside things done. Adulting is not my strong point at the best of times. This time of year is no exception.
So what do you do when it’s 60º out and there is a LOT of snow? You multi sport! Truth be told, I’ve never actually mixed skiing and climbing until this season, but it seemed very appropriate. Ski in ski out climbing…it’s a new thing and I have a feeling it’s going to catch on.
There are some essential things to be considered and necessary gear when heading out for a day of ski-in-ski-out climbing. I’ve put together some guidelines to help you get the most out of your day:
1. This first one is location dependent, but it’s great to chose a crag that overlooks a ski run so that you really get to reap the benefits of both sports. As Spring days are warm, always be aware during your approach and descent of rapid warming, roller balls, and other signs of instability.
2. Proper shoes for snow to comfortably belay in (think mid high hiking boots). While flip flops might sounds like a great idea, your feet will get wet and you will likely be post holing around while finding a good belay. Shoes are nice so that you limit your transitions in and our of your ski boots.
3. Sunscreen! This is a must, especially in the winter with the reflective sun beaming up at your off the snow. I’ll add that a thin merino wool face mask and a brimmed cap will help keep your exposure to a minimum.
4. A rope bag. Keep your rope and your climbing shoes dry.
5. When packing for a multipart adventure, there is a lot of gear. The basics would include; beacon, shovel, probe, skins, food, water, rope, proper climbing equipment depending on what type of climbing you are getting into, your harness, belay device, chalk bag, climbing shoes, etc….With all of this gear you’ll definitely need a solid pack with proper capacity to fit all of the gear in. My go to pack for the ski in ski out climbing is the Khamski 31. So far it has fit everything that I need for such a day (inside the pack, no danglers).
6. A cold one to cheers and celebrate an epic day. This will likely induce laughter, celebration, and good times will continue to roll.
So there you have it. A recipe for fun. Now get out there and get after it. There are only so many sunny days in a year after all.
The crew here at Arc’teryx is really excited to welcome Michelle to our roster of athletes. Follow Michelle on Instagram and Facebook and stay tuned for more from Michelle in the future!