The 1-day BAMM! clinics:
Full Course Description:
- After registering for the course, your name will be put on a course roster and all students will start receiving group emails preparing you for the full day on the snow. This will, also, be the way to talk to each other to arrange carpooling, share advice, and request rentals.
- As soon as you’ve registered, start watching the weather forecasts for the course destination. Here is an example of NOAA’s for that area, http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-120.00470658035272&lat=38.70517505461112#.WmQAPKinFaS
- Next, start watching the regional avalanche center’s daily observations and warnings for the clinic’s location (or nearby) regarding snowpack stability. Here is an example of a Sierra Avalanche Center report for Meiss Meadow Saddle (where we are going to play just north of Carson Pass): https://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/observation/snowpack/2018/jan/18/snowpack-observation-above-meiss-meadow
- If a minor storm is on its way, as long as the highway is dry, the class is “on!”
- If the weather conditions do not look favorable, your course instructor will postpone the class to a later date by the Thursday night prior to class. Email notice will be sent out.
- If a storm comes in while we are out playing, (this is a fun thing when you’re prepared!), we will learn how to keep ourselves warm and dry while evaluating the storm and heading back to the cars (you may have to put chains on to get home. Know and have practiced how before class!)
Pre-Trip: (In the western parking lot; not the one right on the pass)
- There will be an informal day-pack inspection to make sure you brought the needed items for the day.
- You must place the CA Sno-Park permit (one day’s worth) on your dashboards before leaving your car.
- Put glasses, lip balm, sunscreen, boots, and appropriate clothing on (there is a bathroom on the Pass, 0.2 miles east).
- Place chains, window scrapers, and shovels in an easy to get to location in your car.
- Have a snack, drink some water, and go to the bathroom before departure.
The Basic Itinerary:
The Morning Program:
Once everyone is ready to leave the parking lot, your instructor will lead the way around a forested ridge roughly following the Pacific Crest Trail to the west, then north into a little creek drainage and bowl.
Everything that can be taught to you about snowshoeing with a daypack and the environment you’re walking through will come from your instructor spontaneously as you enjoy the morning. You will stop often to notice and talk about all sorts of things! We move slowly, talk constantly, pay attention to each other, and laugh often!
The first few topics are always,
- How to walk on snowshoes without tripping, falling down, or over-extending your stride
- How to use your poles as extensions of your arms to maintain your balance
- Navigation by topographic awareness (where are we on the map?)
- Where is the trail and does it matter?
- Safe route selection
- Avalanche Awareness & Avoidance
After a snack, maybe some water, and a restroom break, you will have your first exercise in personal navigation over snow, to select your own route up the 250 feet to the next landmark, ahead, a small saddle or pass. At the top of the Meiss Meadow saddle, you will discover a surprise there, a completely flat and oval “meadow,” which is a frozen little tarn or pond. Besides the fact that you are in the saddle, this is your next landmark, about 1.4 miles in, confirming where you are. Staying aware of the environment around us, shows us identifiable landmarks to use as navigational aids! We regroup here and then go on.
In a couple of places nearby there are clusters of trees where we will get out of any breeze and stop to enjoy lunch (bring a stove for a hot lunch, if you want!). Lunchtime is typically busy with conversation about living on snow, “Have you ever been lost hiking on snow,” and “Where do you get water?”
The After Lunch Program:
- Ascent, Descent, Traverse, and Glissading skills
- Self-Arrest training clinic
These skills are first demonstrated one step at a time on a steep snow slope nearby so you can see how they’re done and why. Next, we individually practice each step with your instructor watching, personally guiding, and demonstrating as needed until you “get the feel” of what needs to be done.
Snow safety skills are not difficult to master as we break them down into short movements so they’re easier to understand and accomplish!
The BAMM! class is fairly non-stop, so after we have mastered the above, we take a short break to re-fuel, then head into the next clinic, sub-treeline landmark navigation, the harder of the navigational awareness skills to understand.
In order to make sure we get back to the cars before it gets too late, the “clock” we pay attention to is not the one on our wrists, but the one in the sky! When the sun is two palms from the horizon, we will pack up and leave the incredible views north to Lake Tahoe and head south, enjoying the other expansive view over Carson Pass into the Round Top and Elephants Back basin, and head down to out to our cars.
On the final mile through the trees, you will be directed to find your way to the parking lot by your understanding of the topography, where you and the trail are in it, and how to go from where we stop at the creek crossing to the parking lot. This is a fun and practical exercise that will make you pay attention to where you are!
With tired legs and much learning enjoyed, we say “Goodbye” at our cars, confidence built, and fears overcome!
Now, go tell all your friends!