An event at Sugar Bowl Resort next Friday will bring the backcountry to the ball.
This year’s Backcountry Ball will feature a presentation by legendary backcountry snowboarder Jeremy Jones. The event is a fundraiser for the Sierra Avalanche Center, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting safe backcountry travel.
“Over the years it’s been everything from gala-style evening to simple apres party, but this year seems to be the perfect balance of a fun party, a festive atmosphere, and an educational session on staying safe out in the backcountry,” said Sugar Bowl spokesman John Monson in an email. “With Jeremy Jones speaking, and proceeds benefiting the Sierra Avalanche Center, we’re hoping for a big turnout.”
The Backcountry Ball will also include music by the Americana act the Sierra Drifters, drink specials, vendors, artists and local manufacturers. Attendees will also be able to talk with Alpine Skills International guides about the season-long schedule of guided tours, avalanche education workshops and other services at Sugar Bowl’s Backcountry Adventure Center, which opened in 2009, according to a press release for the event.
“We’re going to do a multimedia presentation, silent auction, dinner, drinks. It should be really fun,” said SAC Program Manager Jenny Hatch.
Jones will give a 30-minute presentation on backcountry terrain selection and big mountain riding following a buffet-style pasta dinner, according to the release. The Sierra Avalanche Center expects the event to sell out.
“Jones is a legendary big mountain snowboarder who has been featured in dozens of snowboard films and was selected as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2013,” according to the release. “His last two Teton Gravity Research films, ‘Deeper’ and ‘Further,’ featured himself and team of backcountry riders accessing some of the world’s most intense big mountain snowboard terrain all on foot and by splitboard. Jones is currently filming for ‘Higher,’ the last film of the backcountry snowboard trilogy that will feature terrain from the Sierra Nevada to the Himalaya.”
On Nov. 21 Teton Gravity Research released “Higher Unplugged: Episode 1” on its website. In the clip Jones talks about the evolution of backcountry riding, as well as how his own approach has changed over the years.
“The focus early on in snowboard mountaineering was, hey, let’s go to the biggest peaks and ride down ‘em, and the new ground to be gained these days is with these more obscure lines tucked below the highest peaks in the range and they take a little bit more searching, a little bit more time, but that’s where the blank spots on the map are and that’s what I’m looking for,” he says in the clip.
Vendors will showcase the latest backcountry gear the event and the silent auction will feature prizes including an unrestricted season pass to Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge. Anyone that becomes a member of Sierra Avalanche Center by Dec. 20 will also be entered to win a 2013-2014 Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Unrestricted Gold Pass.
Members allow the avalanche center to provide free daily avalanche advisories and promote avalanche awareness. Individual donations, corporate sponsors and grant funding have allowed the center to expand its programs.
“We’ve really done a lot in the past year,” Hatch said.
The center recently rolled out a new website in conjunction with avalanche centers in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. The center has also received a California State OHV grant to provide avalanche education specific to snowmobile users in avalanche terrain this year, according to a press release from the center. Three free avalanche awareness classes, including field instruction, will be offered by the center this winter. Each class will consist of a two-hour evening classroom session followed by a full-day field session. Classes will take place throughout the region and begin Dec. 20.
“Topics covered will include: how to read and understand the avalanche advisory, avalanche terrain recognition, the effect of weather on avalanche hazard, recognition of signs of snowpack instability, decision making skills for riding around or in avalanche terrain, and basic avalanche companion rescue procedures,” according to the release.
More information on the avalanche center’s programs is available at www.sierraavalanchecenter.org
“The new ground to be gained these days is with these more obscure lines tucked below the highest peaks in the range and they take a little bit more searching, a little bit more time, but that’s where the blank spots on the map are and that’s what I’m looking for.”
— Jeremy Jones