Developments in backcountry safety, Meyers and South Lake Tahoe climbing routes expected in 2017 |

Developments in backcountry safety, Meyers and South Lake Tahoe climbing routes expected in 2017

Autumn Whitney
Abe Greenspan climbs three pitches above Meyers.
Courtesy / Todd Offenbacher |

Get ready to take on adventure in 2017 — with last summer’s new Epic Discovery at Heavenly Mountain Resort, coupled with new climbs off Kingsbury Grade and the anticipated opening of Blue Granite Climbing Gym, the year is sure to bring a lot to the table for outdoors enthusiasts.

Heavenly launched its Epic Discovery program in June of 2016, featuring zip lines, ropes courses, an alpine coaster and more, setting the bar high for summer entertainment at mountain resorts. The program is set to continue bringing family fun in 2017.

But perhaps the most notable additions for the new year come in the form of backcountry prep and new climbs aimed at beginners.

Preparing for the backcountry

On Dec. 10, 2016, the annual Tahoe Adventure Film Festival brought more than movies to the basin — through the event’s raffle, money was raised for the Sierra Avalanche Center, who then collaborated with the Meyers Community Foundation. The result? A Beacon Basin will be donated to the Lake Valley Fire Protection District in the coming months.

“Between the Meyers Community Foundation and Sierra Avalanche Center, we’ll donate [the Beacon Basin] to the fire department, and they’ll maintain it.

“Basically, it’s a spot you can practice doing searches for avalanche transceivers,” South Shore local Todd Offenbacher said.

A free air canister refill will also be installed on-site at the fire department.

“The basics are it’s an airbag that keeps you on the surface — they’re required by almost every ski resort in the country. Patrol must wear them now,” Offenbacher said.

As the service is free, it will allow people to practice pulling the air bag prior to heading out on the mountain.

“Another part is they have a separate building, right where the Beacon Basin is — they have a classroom they’ll use for community outreach and potentially the college wilderness program.

“It’s really a perfect location, and it will also be mobile to allow for practicing in areas of high danger. It’s good education, outreach and a continued learning project,” Offenbacher explained.

Climbing Progress

Offenbacher and a group of his friends finished approximately 20 new climbs in the Castle Rock area off Kingsbury Grade at the start of 2016’s climbing season, and more are on their way to Meyers.

“We plan to do more climbing development in Meyers — dozens of new, bolted, easy to moderate sport climbs,” Offenbacher said.

The process of constructing climbs in Meyers began during the season in 2016, and is approximately 85 percent complete, according to Offenbacher.

The ultimate goal of the new climbs is to establish a more family-friendly outdoor recreation scene. Prior to last year, many of the routes available were geared for climbers at the advanced level.

“Of all the climbing I’ve done, putting those [easier climbs] up is the most rewarding. We’re doing it because you hear people excited about it, who take the kids climbing, and that’s good — that’s what we want more of in this community,” Offenbacher said.

He looks at Brad and Gianna Leavers’ upcoming Blue Granite Climbing Gym, slated for a late 2017 or early 2018 opening, as another means to expand the climbing community.

“It’s a great training tool for people’s climbing level. You can train in winter, on off days, and use it as training like you would do for anything else — it’s like a ski-training center, but for climbers. People will be more fit and climbing harder, and that’s huge,” he noted.

Blue Granite Climbing Gym will house climbing routes for all ages and levels of experience, as well as a yoga studio.

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