In the Tahoe area, I’ve been skiing the backcountry around Sugar Bowl ski area for years. During my adventures I couldn’t help but get to know Alpine Skills International (ASI) owners Bela and Mimi Vadasz, because the same area has always been their home base. So it really wasn’t any surprise when Alpine Skills International and Sugar Bowl ski resort recently announced a strategic partnership. The result of this teaming of talents will be ASI’s Backcountry Adventure Center, a dedicated physical presence in Sugar Bowl’s ski village, and something all WildSnowers should know about. So here is the info.
To celebrate this development, and to kick off the upcoming season, ASI and Sugar Bowl will be hosting a Backcountry Ball at The Lodge at Sugar Bowl on Saturday November 21st, 2009 from 5pm – 10pm. The Crawlers band will be playing live at the ball, with a Hütte style buffet, a cash bar, and prizes. Tickets are $15 with $5 going to support the Sierra Avalanche Center and are available at AlpineSkills.com or Sugarbowl.com, or pick ‘em up at The Back Country shop in Truckee.
This is all part of the progression envisioned by Bela and Mimi Vadasz when they founded Alpine Skills International 30 years ago. What set ASI apart from other guide services at the time was their emphasis on ski mountaineering.
By the mid-90s, Sugar Bowl resort was feeling the presence of backcountry skiers, thanks in part to the proximity of ASI. Next door to Sugar Bowl, Bela and Mimi regularly taught backpackers and climbers the thrills of making fresh tracks on the east face of Mt. Judah, which also happened to be the eastern border of Sugar Bowl’s lift accessed playground.
The relationship between backcountry skiers and Sugar Bowl has a history of disputes, but on the whole Sugar Bowl has maintained a backcountry friendly attitude. Access from the resort has remained open except during rare days with high avalanche danger, but they never restricted pure backcountry access ever.
From Bela and Mimi’s perspective, the new relationship is a perfect opportunity to re-create the homey atmosphere that they had with the ASI Donner Spitz Hütte (a lodge they had on Donner Pass), only this time, instead of being located outside the resort boundaries they’ll be inside Sugar Bowl’s village, near the Disney chair and Gondola building. If you’re at Sugar Bowl, Bela and Mimi encourage you to drop in, grab a hot drink and relax, or take advantage of their free (provided by Ortovox) beacon practice range nearby. Rental equipment will be available for those who want to give earning their turns a whirl, courtesy of The Back Country.
(Guest blogger Craig Dostie coined the “earn your turns” mantra and founded Couloir and Telemark Skier magazines to promote ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing. He currently spends time tinkering on the Dostinator, a do-everything backcountry binding that weighs 10 pounds per pair (training weight), and developing a lightweight, pinpoint electromagnetic pulse gun to selectively nuke the electronics controlling ATV’s, snowmobiles, or any other motorized vehicles that cross his path.)
Craig Dostie is well known in the backcountry skiing world as founder and publisher of Couloir Magazine (1990-2007), the publication that led the way in making it legal for mainstream ski magazines to cover subjects other than resort lodging and how-to-snowplow tips. Along the way he coined and promoted the phrase “earn your turns.”