I said, “Come on, you’ll love it!”
She said, “No, I’ll pass”
I said, “Why, you never know unless you try, at least once”.
She said, “I just don’t feel comfortable about this plus I don’t have the experience, not to mention the proper protective gear”.
I said, “Are you going to make me do this alone?”
She said, “You can handle it!”
So, I packed up my car, picked up my date (Rylan Cordova) and drove to Truckee. It was a friend’s birthday party and we were heading to the Bensen Hut and this week’s, “Line of the Week” – Sugar Bowl to Squaw, the Traverse.
A group of people had planned to meet somewhere on the Pacific Crest just off the boundary of Sugar Bowl. Rylan and I had bought a one-way up the Lincoln Chair and agreed to haul the heavy packs of some of our friends. We caught a 3:45pm chair. Upon our arrival at the top we decided to ski down to a logical meeting spot. The wind was howling, the sun was starting to sink and there was no sign of our crew. About 20 minutes later we got the call that they were forced to turn back due to underestimated timing and the idea of hiking in the dark in icy conditions. We decided to leave their gear on a rock on the ridge and hustled to the Benson Hut.
As the sun began to set and the winds howled, I quickly realized I forgot my headlamp, time to skin faster. We arrived at the hut as darkness fell. We opened the door and there was John Selden sparking a fire in the wood stove, perfect timing. “Where’s the party?”, he said. We told him the news. At that point Rylan said, “At least I have half the party favors, I lugged them all the way here!”. He opened his bag and took out 12 sushi long rolls, a package of edamame, Asian noodles, 2 bottles of unfiltered sake, a bottle of Maker’s and a nalgene of Jim Beam! We threw dice, ate hearty, drank heavily, listened to the wind blow and passed out.
The next morning we began the traverse to Squaw. We booted up a steep icy Anderson Peak and continued onwards constantly switching from skis to boots to skins, whatever made the most sense. The wind on the ridge was howling at least 60mph. As we reached Tinker’s Knob we descended down a west facing slope and for the first time were skiing free of the winds. We skied a pitch looking directly into the Granite Chief Wilderness. The views were awesome. We hit all types of conditions and finished the tour with a perfect corn run down Silver Peak right into the Chamois for a beer.
The entire route is about 10 miles and is considered “the” classic North Tahoe Ski Tour. The Bensen Hut sleeps 12 comfortably and reservations can be made through the Sierra Club.
The Line of the Week will be a weekly photo piece by Ryan Salm featuring some of Tahoe’s finest skiers skiing whatever we deem rad. We will be using the term “Line” loosely to describe anything resembling chutes, big airs, pointers or any general madness. For more of Ryan’s work check outwww.ryansalmphotography.com or http://ryansalmphotography.photoshelter.com/