Lake Tahoe is an adventure-seeker’s paradise, but if you’re not careful, you could pay the ultimate price
Things to Bring:
A topographic map
Pocketknife or a Leatherman’s tool
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the 2014-15 winter edition of Tahoe Magazine, a product of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine is available now throughout the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region.
People don’t conquer mountains, they climb them to get a glimpse of the landscape from the peaks, absorb the terrain and vegetation and challenge themselves mentally and physically.
But, people do not conquer mountains.
They get lost in the vast wilderness, lose track of time, fall down, get sick, overexert and get turned around.
The Tahoe area offers amazing opportunities for outdoor adventure-seekers, but nobody wants to kick the bucket trying to fulfill a bucket list.
According to El Dorado County Search and Rescue, novice outdoor enthusiasts are the people who typically get in over their heads and need help getting out of dangerous situations.
Search and Rescue Units comprised of all volunteers in the Tahoe area have snowmobiles, rope rescues and swift-water teams in addition to basic search-and-rescue crews. Search and rescue teams advise adventure seekers to take the following precautions before heading out.
Check conditions before embarking on a hike. Winter backcountry exploration presents dangers that exceed those of hiking in the summer. Heavy snowfall followed by slow warming trends and rain can progressively load and stress buried weak layers creating avalanche conditions.
Be aware that navigating an area can become difficult when it is blanketed with snow. The landscape may begin to look uniform and landmarks or signs may be covered.
Let someone know before you go:
Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If your plans change provide that person with updates.
Winter hikers should wear layers of clothing made of materials that keep moisture away from the body. They should keep sensible mileage goals and turn around when conditions are beyond their skill or energy level.
Live life to the fullest. Challenge boundaries. See the region, but respect the power of nature. Learn, research, train and follow that old Boy Scout motto – be prepared.