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
Click on any photograph to enlarge the image]
In the late ‘90s,
Chris worked at an outdoor retail store in Sacramento
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.
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
Chris would like to
Mountain Hardwear and
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
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."
lives in the Sierra foothills, within easy striking
distance of the wilderness areas around Lake Tahoe.
you’re ever in the Tahoe area and want to go backcountry
snowboarding or backpacking, send Chris an email at