Keep Tahoe Swell / Surf The Big Blue

Surf Lake Tahoe 1Powerful Pacific storms and our location high in the mountains can generate pretty serious winds. They can happen on bright blue days when folks are out on the beaches. All of a sudden there’s a rustle in the trees, a subtle wind line appears a couple miles out on the Lake and next thing you know it’s whitecapping just about everywhere. The prime place for surfing on Tahoe is the North Shore. Most of the winds we get are southerly (because of the way storms spin when they approach) so when you let them run rampant over 20+ miles of light water you get an incredible fetch.

Waves here are sloppy in most places although there are some gem spots where it doesn’t even feel windy nor choppy when conditions are right. Generally, though, it’s like a mini-Ocean Beach (SF) with multiple lines of whitewash to contend with while paddling out. There are so many surreal things about the surfing experience on Tahoe and here are a few:

  • No sharks!
  • The water is so incredibly clear and fresh that it’s unlike anywhere you’ve ever surfed. You can mistakenly get some in your mouth and doggedly decide to swallow…because you can and it tastes great!
  • On the coast when winds pick up, it’s over. Here you keep hoping that the wind sustains all day
  • Even if you surf back east in the snow, it’s even weirder when you look west and catch glimpses of Squaw as it braces for another pounding today which you know means a good pow day tomorrow
  • When surfing at Sand Harbor on the East Shore you’re directly under the Bear Claw which rises 3000’ out of the Lake. Some of us ski this backcountry-style in the season and seeing it from the water is quite the unique perspective

Surf Tahoe 2

One of my favorite things about a good surf day at Tahoe is also one of the elements of a surf break anywhere in the world: people stopping and looking, taking about the swell and how it is there compared to other nearby spots. Some folks living in Tahoe sacrifice things like high quality shopping, culture (!), and social diversity to be here. For me, not having these regular surf ‘meetings’ is one of the little ‘misses.’ So even if you’re not into surfing but you’re up here when the wind is whistling feel free to pull up your hoodie and get into the chatting circle because having people from out of town ask about conditions is also a part of the worldwide surf meeting….

Litttttle Surfer Gurrrrrllll......

Mrs. The Big Blue Lake heading out

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