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Chris Gallardo learned to snowboard after moving to Squaw Valley from the surfing community of Pismo Beach, where he grew up.  Using his surfing and skateboarding skills, Chris quickly took up the new sport of snowboarding.  He lived five straight winters in Squaw Valley (even living out of his van at times) in pursuit of his goal of becoming a pro snowboarder.  In the mid ‘90s, Chris's dream came true as he journeyed to the high peaks in places like New Zealand, Alaska and Canada to promote his snowboarding sponsors.  By the end of his professional career, Chris had over 35 pictures published in magazines, parts in 2 snowboard films, and a lifetime of great memories.  Yet what Chris's snowboarding experience mainly left him with was a deep love of the mountains.  Now living in the Sierra foothills with his family, Chris spends his free time exploring the vast and open terrain of the Tahoe backcountry.


[Note:  Click on any photograph to enlarge the image]



In the late ‘90s, Chris worked at an outdoor retail store in Sacramento called Sierra Outfitters.  It was there that he was introduced to the outdoor industry.  "It was a refreshing change from the snowboard industry and I was pleased to find that everyone I met shared the same love for the mountains."  While working at the store, Chris enjoyed learning the technical aspects of the products they sold and their intended uses. He also liked the interaction and friendships made with the customers.  He started backpacking and rock climbing and soon fell in love with the sports. 




Chris's experience at Sierra Outfitters led him to seek out the adventure and solitude that only the backcountry can provide.  "I found that backcountry snowboarding, backpacking, and rock climbing all had similarities and easily tied into each other. They all required endurance and commitment as well as climbing skills, the ability to haul heavy loads, and a good mountain sense. I decided to combine my newfound joy for backpacking with my love for backcountry snowboarding. I started doing overnight and multi-day trips so I could get deep into the backcountry and away from the dayhikers."



There was a lot of trial and error along the way, including on Chris's very first backcountry trip.  "I couldn’t find anyone to go with so I went solo to a safe spot on Donner Summit.  All was well until I realized I had forgotten my sleeping pad. It was miserable."  Chris spent the night curled up in the fetal position with only a sleeping bag and the tent floor separating him from the cold snow.  He made a fire and tried to stay busy in effort to stay warm.  "It was a long night and I’ve never made that mistake again."



Despite that first cold night, Chris now relishes the opportunity to get out into the backcountry in the solace of winter.  Unlike many snowboarders who experience only short and steep climbs from a roadway, Chris uses snowshoes or a splitboard to access more remote peaks on longer overnight trips.  This firsthand experience in the backcountry has also fueled Chris's interest in designing outdoor equipment.  He has built special snowboard-compatible backpacks from scratch and formulated designs for compression sacks and crampon compatible snowshoes.


Chris would like to thank Mountain Hardwear and Osprey Packs for their support over the last few years. Both companies make some of the best outdoor products in the industry and Chris values the friendships he's made with Chris Strasser, Dave Lane, and Jennifer Slaboda of Mountain Hardwear, as well as Mark McCarroll, Nathan Kuder, and Gareth Martins from Osprey.

Last but not least Chris would also like to thank his beautiful wife Petria and two kids Skyler & Haley for allowing him to pursue his backcountry dreams.  His six-year-old son Skyler has been hiking since he was three and Chris is pleased that he clearly has a passion for the outdoors in his blood.  "I'm stoked that I've been able to introduce Skyler to the mountain environment and look forward to our future adventures.  I can't forget my #1 hiking partner either, our dog Sierra.  She's always ready to hit the trail and has never canceled on me at the last minute."


Chris Gallardo lives in the Sierra foothills, within easy striking distance of the wilderness areas around Lake Tahoe.  If you’re ever in the Tahoe area and want to go backcountry snowboarding or backpacking, send Chris an email at bcrider2000@yahoo.com.


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