Beginners’ luck

Alpenglow Mountain Festival

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Alpenglow Sports

415 N. Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA 96145

(530) 583-6917

The third annual Alpenglow Mountain Festival, Winter Edition is happening Feb. 20-28, 2016, in Tahoe City, and organizer Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, is banking on the early snows this season to lead to perfect winter conditions for the event.

The Mountain Festival is a “nine-day celebration of human-powered mountain sports designed for people who have never tried these sports before,” Madigan said. “It’s really a welcoming forum for people to cut their teeth on classic cross-country, skate skiing, backcountry skiing, fish scale touring, and snowshoeing.”

While Lake Tahoe is a place where athletes train and battle for victory, the goal of the Mountain Festival is not to compete, but just to participate. Madigan tries to appeal to the large portion of the population who just want to exercise outdoors in the winter.

Most of the festival events are free. For those who want to try cross-country skiing, there will be free lessons in both classic and skate skiing. Free snowshoe hikes will include bird watching, nature interpretation, and a walk under the full moon. There will also be group cross-country ski tours, a Nordic equipment demo day, free yoga classes offered every day, and winter skills training with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Another big part of the festival is introducing people to backcountry skiing. For people interested in backcountry skiing, but who don’t know where to begin, there will be the chance to be guided by a group of experts. An extensive avalanche program with world-renowned trainers will be available for a reduced fee, and there will be several free guided tours designed to teach participants about backcountry terrain and where to ski. Other essential rules and tips will be shared to help skiers arrive back at the trailhead in one piece.

When the sun goes down, the festival will keep going, with a full calendar of winter sports-oriented film and speaking presentations. The 5Point Film Festival has a mission of “inspiring adventure of all kinds, to connect generations through shared experience and respect, to engage passion with a conscience, and to educate through film.” Organizers say they avoid films that are just about hucking off cliffs, and focus on story and the human element.

The Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival is a fundraiser for the Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships. Since 2005, the Backcountry Film Festival has showcased the year’s best films about human-powered winter adventure.

A highlight of the event will be Drawn, a film and presentation by Jeremy Collins. It’s a compelling work of drawing and animation based on Collins’ experiences in the wilderness. While the audience is watching the movie, Collins will create a live drawing based on what he has seen in Tahoe. He will present the results at the end of the show. His book Drawn: The Art of Ascent will be available for purchase.

While some events will take place in the backcountry of North Tahoe, the festival’s focus will be in downtown Tahoe City at Alpenglow Sports, the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, and the Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema. Local restaurants and motels are also participating by offering special deals for festival participants. The schedule, which may include a street party in the middle of town, is still being finalized. Go to for the latest details and a schedule of events, which should be available soon.