About Three years ago several friends & myself embarked on a summer mountain biking mission. Not only did we find excellent mountain biking, but also of more importance, we found a diamond of a ski zone that I knew would be easily accessed by snowmobiles. The thought of putting a crew of buddies together & shredding this zone to smithereens was pretty much always on my mind the rest of that summer.
I tried to speak with several reputable people in the North Tahoe community to get beta on the zone, but nobody I spoke with seamed to have ever been there. You see this zone is on the West Slope of the Sierras. Why would anybody ski on the West Slope?
Shredders: Ralph Backstrom, Greg Lindsey, George Hjelte, Mat Jackson, Niel Kasper, & Jason Abraham aka: “Abro”
Cameramen: Ralph Bacsktrom & Jason Abraham
Edit: Greg Lindsey
Words: Jason Abraham & George Hjelte
91 Octane: Episode 1 – Burning Petrol in the Central Sierras
Keep reading for Photos by Jason Abraham
Filling the Snow Machines up with 91 Octane at 6:00am
The mountains on the West Slope of the Sierras are lower in elevation & generally you have to access these zones from elevation points between 4000 – 5000ft. With most of the peaks topping out at around 7600ft on the West Slope, you’re looking at a nice little elevation gain to get to good skiable terrain. So, accessing these zones is very difficult by human power alone. The other real tricky thing about these zones’ is timing & low elevation snow. Cold storms just don’t always happen in the Sierras and often if they do, it warms up too quickly. So there are plenty of valid reasons that these zones are pretty much off the radar, but I think after watching this webisode you will see why it’s been on my radar for the last 3 years.
The crew having one last look before the Session begins
Fast-forward several exploratory missions, a few failed attempts to get to the zones, one dust on crust descent, and a BABY BOY, to Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011. After having one of the best early season snowfalls on record in the Sierras, the Sierra switch turned off for a 1.5 month long dry spell. Last week the Sierra switch turned on again and in the span of 6 days we quickly received 100+ inches. I had a pretty good feeling that the session I had been envisioning for the last 3 years was about to go down.
Greg Lindsey sets a track with his mobile chairlift.
George Hjelte starting the day off Strong!
Ralph Backstrom the lone Snowboarder in our crew represents his sport real well
The 91 Octane crew for this session would be Ralph Backstrom, Greg Lindsey, George Hjelte, Mat Jackson, Niles, & myself. Heading out early in the morning we arrived to our own private ski arena basking in all her glory. The snow was stable and most of the lines were in. The main face we shredded maintains a 50 – 60 degree pitch for the entire 1200ft descent. From the top, there is a full on rollover effect with cliffs scattered through out the face. For this reason you need to know your lines well. We couldn’t have had a better crew out there. The entire team was experienced, confident, & fun. Everybody charged hard with some proud first descents & some humbling tomahawk crashes. We snow machined out of there with some solid footage and shit eating grins. I think all of us are looking forward to the next session.
Greg Lindsey farming turns late in the afternoon.
Mat Jackson pays the price for taking his air too big!