Stargazing, rock climbing and hiking |

Stargazing, rock climbing and hiking

By Sam Bauman

Squaw Valley USA’s summer stargazing sessions at High Camp, elevation 8,200 feet, is one of Squaw’s most popular summer activities. Stargazing Sessions will be every Friday and Saturday evening in July and August.

Short seminars on astronomy are offered and astronomers will be available to provide information on telescope use and sky watching. Stargazing is free with the purchase of a Cable Car ticket (cable car is discounted after 5 p.m.). This summer’s dates include July 4-5, July 11-12, July 25-26, August 1-2, August 8-9, August 22-23, and August 29-30.

Professional astronomers Paul and Gigi Giles bring a variety of high-powered telescopes to High Camp, offering guests the chance to explore the majesty and wonders of the night sky.

The telescopes are available beginning at dusk. Guests take turns looking through the telescopes. All ages are welcome. No reservations are needed. After 5 p.m. Cable Car tickets are $12 for adults, youth & seniors and $5 for children.

Stargazing can be canceled due to wind or other weather so if the weather might be questionable call (530)-583-6985.


Donner Summit, and UClimb, an organization designed to bring people closer to the outdoors by teaching rock climbing in small-group settings, will host a two-day rock climbing event in Donner Summit Saturday and Sunday July 19-20.

Sponsored by Mountain Gear and Marmot, the UClimb event will include professional climbing instruction from Alpine Skills International guides. Instructors will take small groups of amateur climbers to get hands-on experience while learning climbing techniques, how to use climbing gear, voice commands, knot tying, belaying and etiquette.

Registration for the weekend event begins at $159 for youth ages 10 to 17 and $199 for adults. Registration includes professional climbing instruction, camping for Friday and Saturday nights, a barbecue on Saturday and a pancake breakfast on Sunday. Register at

UClimb will also offer packages with basic climbing gear needed for the weekend, including shoes, harness, belay device, helmet, locking carabineer and a chalk bag. Gear packages are $289 for youth ages 10 to 17 and $329 for adults. Individuals can also register for event festivities without the climbing instruction for $49. Children under 10 are not eligible for the professional climbing instruction but can attend the festivities at no cost. Call (800) 829.2009 or visit


The $4 million dollar Diamond Peak Base Lodge Renovation is underway. Everything is on-schedule and set for a completion on Nov. 1.

The Diamond Peak Base Lodge Renovation includes a major facilities upgrade to its main lodge with the goal of improving service to Diamond Peak customers. This renovation includes:

New restrooms in the Loft Bar area; a 300 square foot banquet room for special events on the upper level; a new food service counter; an outside deck with a stairway that leads to the bottom of the lodge; an expanded rental shop with a repair shop located inside it. The Rental Shop will be expanded a total of 800 sqaure feet; the old repair shop will be replaced with more season rental locker; raised loft ceilings with skylights; upper deck will have heated paving stones.

The Diamond Peak renovation is a two-year project totaling $7.5 million. Call 832-1177 or visit


The Drew Emmitt Band, Hickster and Montana Slim will join more than 20 regional breweries at Northstar Resort July 12 for the annual summertime ritual of Beerfest. Guests can relax to the easy, danceable sounds of three bluegrass bands while sampling ale from some of the Western United States’ most popular brew houses.

Beer tasting begins at noon around the Village plaza. Montana Slim, a newgrass string band from San Francisco, will kick off the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. Hickster will take the stage at 3 p.m. and The Drew Emmitt Band, featuring the lead singer and mandolin player of jamband Leftover Salmon, will highlight the summer evening beginning at 5:30 p.m. The music will wrap up at 8 p.m.

For $30, guests can receive a commemorative Beerfest glass, beer tastings and enjoy the live music. The $80 LUX package also offers the Beerfest glass and tastings, along with a Beerfest T-shirt, hors d’oeuvres, and a premier location to watch the live music. Tickets are in the Season Pass office at The Village, by calling (800) GO-NORTH or at 

SNOWBOMB CARPOOL IDEA WINS GRANT, a Lake Tahoe-based online lift ticket retailer, has been awarded a grant from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District (PCAPCD) to further develop and implement its ski/snowboard specific online ride sharing program created last winter season.

In the winter of 2008, SnowBomb partnered with Kirkwood to launch the first version of the online ride sharing program on Within 24 hours of the program’s launch more than 500 participants were registered and began sharing rides to the mountain. By season’s end Kirkwood had nearly 2,000 members interacting online and it is estimated that approximately 1,000 cars were kept off the region’s highways last season.

The $25,000 grant, awarded by the PCAPCD, will be used to further develop and market the user-friendly, online ride sharing software for use at several ski resorts in Placer County including Alpine, Meadows, Homewood, Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley.

The online program allows users to register and then search for (or provide) rides by date, time, departing destination and other details, in order to contact drivers or riders with similar agendas.

As an added bonus, ski resorts are offering special discounts to those who choose to carpool to the mountain. In the spring of 2008 Kirkwood featured a special “K-POOL” day, where members of the ride sharing community received discounts on lift tickets, rentals, food and more. Visit or and look for the carpooling links.


Squaw Valley offers guided Sunset Hikes on Friday and Saturday evenings and Full Moon Hikes on the evening before and the evening of the full moon in July and August.

Sunset Hikes: July 11-12, July 19, July 25-26, August 1-2, August 8-9, August 29-30. Full Moon Hikes are July 17-18 and August 15-16

The hikes are $5 for adults, youth and seniors and free for children 12 and under. An evening Cable Car and Hike Package is $15 for adults, youth and seniors and children ride the Cable Car for just $5 after 5 p.m..

Sunset Hikes last approximately one to two hours and Full Moon Hikes last roughly two to three hours, depending on the timing of the moonrise. Both are casually paced hikes with the hike destination and route customized to the group’s size and interest.

Hikers of all ages and abilities are welcome and no reservations are needed. All hikes depart at 6 p.m. from High Camp. Guests are encouraged to arrive between 5 and 5:30 p.m. so they can ride the Cable Car to High Camp. Hike registration takes place between 5:30 and 6 p.m. at the top of the Cable Car (High Camp).

– Contact Sam Bauman at or 881-1236.