TAHOE, Calif. — So it’s now January 2012, mid-week, barely freezing at night and still not snowing! My optimistic patience is starting to wane. However, there are still pictures floating around of all that snow we had last year. And, if you think that you can stomach looking at them, Dave Nettle is doing a free slide show at the Olympic Plaza Bar at Squaw Valley on classic Sierra ski tours as well as his recent ski touring adventures in Europe, Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
For those of you not involved in the California climbing community, the name Dave Nettle might not jump right out at you. After all, he isn’t doing any silly publicity stuns on national television or breaking himself off for a Red Bull sponsorship. However, do not be fooled by Nettle’s modest, unassuming character or his low profile. He is in fact a world-class climber who moves easily across the diverse mountain mediums pulling off ambitious and inspiring expeditions on the international playing field.
From high-end alpine ascents in Alaska, Canada and the Himalayas, to long alpine rock routes up and down the Sierra, in Pakistan, the Alps, Patagonia and, most recently, in Kyrgyzstan, Dave has always set the bar high for himself. Although he may not be sending the hardest new sport climbs in Europe or flashing some ridiculously hard boulder problem put up by the young guns, Dave has been in the alpine game for more than three decades. During that time he has pushed the standards of light and fast climbing with beautiful, committing ascents.
That last sentence about “light and fast” may be a little confusing to the non-climber, so allow me to explain. On long routes speed is important. Why? Because the faster one climbs the less exposure (to weather, rock fall and avalanches) one has on the wall. In order for a climbing team to really pick up the pace, they must shed the burdens of gear that fear and tradition would have us carry on multi-day climbs. Accordingly, climbing in the light and fast style brings with it its own exposure and risk because in the event the team gets pinned down in a storm, there is little gear to mitigate the situation.
Accordingly, the light and fast alpine style is seen by many to be the highest form of mountain climbing. Many argue this style was honed and perfected by the granite junkies of the Sierra Nevada and then put to the test in the great ranges of the world. After his recent slide show on climbing in Kyrgyzstan (which, by the way, was awesome!) I talked to Dave about Sierra climbing techniques and their application in the big mountains. He pointed out “the weather, the quality of the rock and the ease of access makes it the perfect testing ground.” As the slide show illustrated, he and the members of the Kyrgyzstan team showed speed in the mountains is its own kind of safety net.
However, Dave isn’t always hand jamming his way up some amazing and remote peak. Having been a long-time basin local, Dave loves making turns as much as the rest of us. This Wednesday night, Dave will share images and stories of touring in the Sierra as a lead-in to his recent tour in the Ortler/ Italian Alps.
The hut-to-hut touring in Europe is as romantic as ski touring gets! Italy’s rich mountain culture, luxurious huts, gourmet food and wine, as well as some of the best mountain terrain in the world, makes this a must-see slide show. At the very least the show will temporarily fill that hole in your heart where the promise of deep snow use to reside. So come join the mountain tribe for a free night of entertainment. I’ll see you there.
— Nick Miley is a freelance writer and columnist living in South Lake Tahoe. He spends his free time exploring the Sierra, learning its history and writing about his experiences. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at his blog: tahoepulp.wordpress.com