Nor Cal Explorer: California Ski Guides


A couple months ago I was stoked to get California Ski Guides @Ski_California as a follower on Twitter, and have been planning to do an exploration on them ever since. They represent some people in a field I want to work with, and you may notice I feature a lot of outdoor, mountain, and snow sports related social media on my site. So if I can partner with anyone from their industry, I expect it will be mutually beneficial in a huge way. That’s kind of the point for Nor Cal as Northern California’s premier online social media environment, because it is designed to support local businesses like this, and what they have to offer in terms of lifestyle and media totally fits with the experience I want to offer my online community. Some people might mistake what I do simply as a blog, but really what I am building is an interactive member portal to all that is great to explore about Nor Cal. It looks like California Ski Guides is right there with me, so let’s see how this goes!


Note: Click images to open links, sites, and resources related to this exploration.


The first thing I noticed about California Ski Guides is they are based out of Mount Shasta up in Redding. That’s pretty exciting for me because, while I call Chico my home town, I actually spent a large part of my youth growing up in Shasta before my family moved down the valley. It’s one of the reasons I see using social media to promote Northern California as a region, because a lot of people might overlook places like Shasta and miss out - a lot of worthy businesses might miss out too. That was the case for my old man’s business when we had a horse ranch up in McCloud, which is right behind Mount Shasta. The Double Bar A ranch, which he named after his wife Barbara, was a trail guide service. My father was a master horseman and would take people up trails throughout Nor Cal, teaching them how to camp, hunt, use pack mules and so on. It was his dream business, but unfortunately the economy of the area could not really support the model at the time, so we ended up closing shop and moving down to Chico.



California Ski Guides is more than just a business that tells people where to go skiing! They are really more of an adventure tour service, offering much along the same lines of mountaineering education, and specialize in taking people to places off the beaten path and safety of ski resorts. Based on my experiences growing up, that is precisely where the best experiences are to be found. In fact, I think it was shortly after we left Redding that Shasta Ski Park opened, and I’ve always thought if the timing had been better, our small local business would have really taken off at that point. With the tourism and recreation attraction in place, we could have taken all kinds of snowboarders and skiers up into the back country powder. Always in the back of my mind, this is something I imagined getting involved in again.


Now the funny thing is I never really had a lot of interest in “skiing”. What we did in Shasta when I was growing up was something called “sledding” lol! It was kind of a big deal for us, and could be done on anything from designed sleds, to inner tubes, to cardboard. In fact, our horse ranch was gated by this huge lava tube, a channel for lava from the volcano, and we would just go crazy in those – natural precursors to half pipes. So when snowboarding became popular, naturally that’s what I drifted to, and I’ve always said once you snowboard, there’s no way you would want to ski. The only exception to that might be sliding down your back on a black diamond with frozen slush going up your pants, lol! However, I was watching some travel/ explorer documentary about a cross country ski excursion through the alps, and I realized this was something I would want to take my daughter on some day. It’s a dangerous trek that absolutely requires an experienced guide, so therein sparked my interest in using skis for mountaineering.



California Ski Guides describes themselves as “Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Guides”. I hadn’t heard of splitboards before, and it turns out they are literally “split boards”, snowboards that can convert to skis, which are ideal for snowboarders who want to leverage cross-country capabilities to get to the best spots. Some people will say you can just get to where you want to go with a snowmobile, but that’s not practical for a lot of people and locations. Now if you are willing to do some hiking and climbing, splitboards may be the way to go. I’m just totally fascinated with putting skins on skis to create traction, because that allows you to trek uphill, and that’s something you can use splitboards for. Very interesting.



I found out California Ski Guides is a division of Sierra Wilderness Seminars, and from there I think you can start to see their organization from a bigger picture – Northern California from Shasta to the Southern Sierras, but also international adventures, and expansive in services to include training on snow camping, ice climbing, winter mountaineering, and so on.



They have special use permits that allow them to take people up into Federal lands like Inyo National Forest, Shasta Trinity National Forest, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and others. This is not to be understated! These are the kinds of places my old man used to take me and, for whatever reasons, most people never get to go. Part of this has to do with preserving the wilderness areas - so not everyone is welcome everywhere all the time. It can also be more dangerous for people who do not know what they are doing.



I also noticed from their website they pay attention to certain compliance requirements, and this makes sense to me considering their partnership with Federal Wilderness programs. I might mention, there is terrific partnership between wilderness agencies and related businesses in the private sector, and this is something I have been paying close attention to this year with the 50 year celebration of the National Wilderness Act.


There’s a lot to be said about this community I hope to tap into. If all goes well, I hope to impress the right people that I’ve set up an ideal online home for them to do their thing. Now that we’re entering the snow season, I imagine that many of them will not have the time to engage me right now, but this is a long term project I am working on. Perhaps by this time next year, I will be working with a number of them on social media campaigns.



For discussion purposes, I want to point out that following California Ski Guides on Twitter turned me onto something called Aspen Snowmass, and this is a digital strategy campaign I’ve taken it upon myself to feature as a study on Nor Cal. It provides some idea into what I have in mind, and also showcases the point of promoting socio-geographic niches like Nor Cal or Aspen – perhaps even drawing some connections between the communities.


Maybe that’s kind of telling about what I do as an online explorer. You might say it is more than a coincidence that I would be drawn to doing this kind of thing and people that are into these kinds of lifestyles. You will notice I am up for the light entertainment of ski and snowboarding videos etc, on my site, and at some point I plan on reaching out to people in Shasta and Tahoe to talk about working together. At the same time, I know there is a much deeper experience to be enjoyed, so connecting with people from Sierra Wilderness Seminars and California Ski Guides is super appealing for me too. I’m all about immersion, so I dive into deep explorations that I personally find worthwhile, and I think it becomes sort of a choose your own adventure type thing that others might come in on and enjoy immersing themselves into as well.


Since California Ski Guides features Avalanche Courses, I thought it might be fitting to conclude this exploration with a long-form New York Times segment called Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. Click image below to check it out!



In fact, there is a lot of push to innovate digital strategy oriented on the outdoor adventure industry. It’s just the perfect subject matter for new ideas in digital and social media, so that might explain somewhat my focus on connecting with these people as an opportunity “at the frontier of innovation”. At the least I bet it will be cool to turn people on to them who are interested in exploring Northern California with me.


If any of you from California Ski Guides happen to read this, I would absolutely love to connect with you! Please consider yourself invited to sign on to Nor Cal, to join the conversation, or otherwise to just drop me a line.


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