Mid-winter chills for mountain hiking

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Weather's nice, great for hiking, yeah? Sunny, pleasing temperatures.

Pleasing, that is, until you reach about 8,000 feet, like at Lake Winemucca. That's when you really need that windbreaker or sweater or something heavier. All too many hikers start out in shorts and T-shirt these fall days, forgetting what it's like up in the mountains. Last weekend saw pleasant weather down in the valleys -- but mid-winter chills up in the Sierra Nevada.

And whatever you do, don't take kids up the hills in scanty summer wear. They'll hate it and may not even like you after cold arms and legs. Now's the time of year when you might want to start thinking of backcountry life where your life might depend on some of those emergency supplies and gear you've got tucked away for when "the weather gets bad."

Last weekend on the trail from Echo Pass to Lake Aloha we saw the oft-repeated scene of dogs hobbling along that rocky terain, paws bleeding or wrapped in owners' sock. Most Sierra trails aren't as bad, but check maps or guide books before taking the family pooch on some of the trails.

Job fairs

Spend the season skiing and snowboarding Squaw Valley USA's world-famous mountain by attending the annual Winter Job Fair Sunday, Nov. 3 from 9.a.m.-3 p.m.

The 2002 Winter Job Fair takes place in Squaw Valley's Olympic House in Squaw Valley's base village. Managers from every department will be on hand all day to interview perspective employees and jobs are frequently offered on the spot. Available positions include guest services, lift operators, ticket sellers, retail sales associates, parking attendants, ski patrol, ski and snowboard school instructors, children's center instructors and staff, cable car and Funitel operators, reservation agents, ski and snowboard rental shop staff and many more.

Come at 8 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m. with a new job.

Applicants are encouraged to bring their resume and/or a completed application form. To request an employment application, check the Squaw Valley personnel department at

(530) 581-7112, or download forms from the Web at www.squaw.com.

And in an annual resort survey, which ranks the top 25 resorts, Squaw Valley USA was ranked No. 4 behind Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Alta/Snowbird, Utah, and Jackson Hole, Wyo. The survey also ranks Squaw Valley No. 4 with regards to snow ("the most important category in the ranking," according the editors), No. 5 for steeps and No.14 for nightlife.

Three Squaw Valley ski instructors, Susan Bennett, Yvonne Costello and Mo Mailhot, have recently been named to SKI Magazine's annual list of the top 100 best instructors in the country. Mo Mailhot earned extra kudos as one of only three "Instructors of the Year."

Skis get costly

In the October issue of SKI is a section on new "ripping race" skis. This is not the usual fantasy tests usually offered by ski magazines, but simply a brief listing of the ski along with comments from the regular test crew. Needless to say, there was never a ski that a tester couldn't love.

But the sticker shock is considerable. Prices range from a low of $725 for the Salomon Equipe 10 3V to $1,200 for the Nordica K12 SL and GS, which come with bindings. Vslkl comes in at $1,175 for its P50 GS Racing Piston Motion, with bindings.

No surprise that ski makers are coming out with bindings attached; why share the wealth with those pesky bindings makers? And to an extent, it's a good deal for the buyers. What better way to assure a match between ski and bindings than to make them a package?

As usual, there's a ranking of the "top 30" reader survey of U.S. resorts. From the listings, readers put Mammoth Mountain as No. 13, Heavenly No. 17, Northstar-at-Tahoe No. 21, Squaw Valley (this is the reader poll, remember) No. 24, Alpine Meadows No. 30.

Major omission would seem to be Kirkwood, which should rank in the top 20 at least. But that's one man's opinion, and basically the whole reader ranking concept is inane. No beginner is going to love Squaw and no export is going to dote on Diamond Peak. In reality, what the survey reports is how readers got along at resorts considering their skill level.

Anyhow, as one who wrote for SKI magazine once in a while, I think most national magazines are too far from the action to know what they are talking about. And as far as their advice goes for skis -- see your local ski shop techie.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


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