Chapter 01: Areas Patrolled

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We cover these non-commercial backcountry ski areas on a patroller availability basis. Each of these areas is patrolled pursuant to a volunteer agreement with the United States Forest Service. Patrollers are required carry a map of the area being patrolled. TBSP recommends 1:24000 scale maps on waterproof paper with UTM and Lat/Long Grids pre-designated.

Patrol Areas

  • California (Tahoe National Forest)
    • Castle Peak (west of Hwy. 80 at Boreal ridge)
    • Martis Peak (east of Hwy. 267, south of Northstar)
    • Pole Creek (west of Hwy. 89 south, across from Big Chief)
    • Mt. Lincoln/Mt. Judah area (east of Sugar Bowl ski area)
    • Ridge Route (Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley ridge traverse via Anderson Peak and Tinker Knob)
  • Nevada (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest)
    • Tahoe Meadows (off Nevada Hwy. 431, south of Mt. Rose)
    • Galena Creek (off Nevada Hwy. 431 near Mt. Rose ski area)

Weather Considerations

Weather conditions can dictate whether and how we patrol various areas. For example, parking is prohibited on Route 431, the "Mt. Rose Highway," during snow removal operations. As a result, there will not be any recreational activity at Tahoe Meadows, and we will not patrol Tahoe Meadows during serious storms when chain controls are in effect. Another example is the avalanche conditions, which may prevail at Castle Peak, Mt. Lincoln/Mt. Judah, Tahoe Meadows and Galena Creek during or just after heavy winter storms. Decisions regarding the cancellation or limitation of patrol activities are left to the Mountain Manager on the day in question, and the protocol for such decisions can be found in Section 04. Patroller Roles.

Avalanche Safety Considerations

The areas we patrol are not known for heavy avalanche activity under normal conditions. However, there can be extreme avalanche danger in some areas after heavy storms. This is especially true of Castle Peak, Mt. Lincoln/Mt. Judah, Galena Creek and Tahoe Meadows. In addition to avoiding such dangerous areas ourselves, we should advise other skiers and snowmobilers of dangerous conditions whenever possible. In order to accomplish these ends, candidates and patrollers will receive training in how to recognize and avoid avalanche conditions. Team leaders should consult the avalanche phone each morning before commencing patrol operations, and avalanche conditions must be reported on the Daily Operations Log. Candidates and patrollers must become proficient in the use of avalanche transceivers. Each patroller must carry a transceiver and a shovel whenever patrolling. We have obtained grant funds to purchase a sufficient number of transceivers to cover patrol-training operations. Each member must have a personal avalanche transceiver by the beginning of the second year of membership.


Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol members are not required to participate in search or rescue operations conducted by other organizations (such as the county sheriff) in areas we patrol, or in other areas. Patrollers do not supervise or conduct search and rescue operations, and do not participate in such operations without USFS approval. When someone reports a person missing, the Search and Rescue Initiation Form is filled out as completely as possible with information supplied by the individual(s) reporting the missing person. This form can be found in the Forms Module. The Reporting Parties should be asked to stay until the Sheriff arrives, but in the event the reporting individual leaves, we will have the necessary information for the Sheriff. We may conduct hasty searches for lost skiers or snow-mobilers if time and conditions permit and we are requested to do so by the sheriff. Hasty search procedures will vary with the terrain of each area. Our primary responsibilities with regard to lost persons are to (1) report the incident to the sheriff, (2) obtain thorough information from the reporting party, (3) accurately record such information on the patrol SAR form, and (4) to turn the SAR form and the reporting party over to the sheriff.

The Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol registers a subunit of the patrol with [California's Office of Emergency Services] as a winter Search and Rescue team. Arrangements may be made to register interested patrollers or candidates as search and rescue volunteers with one or more sheriff's offices (Placer, Nevada and Washoe (NV) counties). or the Tahoe Backcountry Search and Rescue Team. Once registered, you are eligible for certain insurance benefits provided by the State of California Office of Emergency Services (OES) if you are injured during an authorized search or rescue operation. More information about TBSP-SAR can be found here. Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol Manual

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