Entrepreneurs and mountain towns are not as oxymoronic as you might think. Maybe it's the scenery or something in the water, but there are a number of burgeoning businesses in the basin. We were intrigued by one such new company, Tahoelab, created by local riders Abe Greenspan and Lee Collins. We were curious what brought them here, and what prompted them to start a snowboard and splitboard company.
Why do you call Tahoe home?
Abe Greenspan: Tahoe has the best of all worlds. It offers four unique seasons and often times enjoying tw seasons in the same day isn’t out of the question. Lake Tahoe is the easiest place on the planet to experience all things outdoors. Both of us call this place home because we thrive in a place where getting outside and biking, climbing, skiing, hiking, swimming, and just enjoying the Sierra sunshine is as easy as stepping out of the office or our home. Tahoe is our secret ingredient to keeping sanity and being happy people. Without happiness what is there?! We wanted our workspace as close to our playground as possible.
Lee Collins: I came to Tahoe after college because I wanted to challenge myself in some big mountains. I grew up on the East Coast in a resort area similar area to Lake Tahoe but was always looking to bigger mountains out west. I've skied and snowboarded since before I can remember and wanted to live in the midst of world-class terrain.
AG: We started Tahoelab because we are both passionate about the outdoors, in particular snowboarding and splitboarding. The last few seasons the two of us, as backcountry partners, have put in countless hours climbing up and descending peaks all over the Sierra. There is something beyond description about being in the mountains with your close friends. For us we experienced a euphoria we felt was often because of our remoteness in the wilderness. That euphoria was often crushed when we experienced gear issues. When your gear breaks, your feelings are flipped in an instant. The two of us were sick of breaking boards and overall unsatisfied with what we were riding. On an Eastern Sierra tour last winter we both decided gear failure would be no more and if things broke it would be our fault. We decided to go all in and create Tahoelab. The company would focus to create lasting snowboards and splitboards that were made in our own community. The two of us come from race backgrounds and have both spent many years tuning skis. We knew we had the knowledge; all we had to do was pull the trigger and do it! The rest has been hard work, lonely girlfriends, and measuring twice and cutting once.
LC: Tahoelab was born out of a frustration with the current options available on the snowboard (and specifically splitboard) market. I'm a bigger guy than your average snowboarder and wanted a big board in a shape that would accommodate my style of riding. I also like the idea of having the equipment, materials and knowledge to build exactly the board I want to ride.
Describe an ideal winter’s day.
AG: There is a perfect day for every season, so giving just a winter example wouldn’t be fair for the other seasons. Of course, the iconic Tahoe winter day starts with the alignment of a slider from the north and the pineapple express delivering 18- 34 inches. It comes overnight and the next day pops. Blue skies and lots of face shots would be the expectation. Perfect days occur time and time again when you have the perfect location. Summer and fall offer perfect mountain biking and climbing conditions. The long days and mild temps provide perfect opportunities to make your wildest adventure dream come true. There is no better place to be than Lake Tahoe.
LC: I love how powerful the weather can be in Tahoe. An ideal winter's day for me would involve being woken by the avalanche bombs going off on Echo Summit, always a sign that it has snowed a lot overnight. It's still snowing as I head to the mountain but it's not so windy that the lifts are closed. It's snowing so hard all day that you can barely see two turns ahead and my tracks are filled back in every run. By four pm I'm soaking wet, my legs feel like jelly, and I'm smiling all the way home because tomorrow it's going to clear up and I can go out in the backcountry.
What’s one place a visitor can’t miss while here?
AG: Everyone will tell a visitor that has never been to Lake Tahoe that Emerald Bay is the holy grail of Tahoe and you will have to go there. It is a great place with spectacular views, but to get real perspective on how big the Lake is, Cave Rock is the place to go. It’s not about standing on the water’s edge, to experience the Lake in its biggest form, it’s about standing above it. Climb to the top of the iconic Cave Rock buttress via the foot trail from the south. Get to the top, spread your arms like wings, and feel free as a bird. This is also a spectacular place to watch a real Sierra storm roll into the basin. It’s not to be missed!
LC: Of course the scenery is amazing but one of the things I most appreciate about Tahoe is the variety of small businesses in the basin. I love that there is no Walmart or Target nearby and there are tons of great independent stores that give Tahoe its local flavor. From coffee shops like Tahoe House or Hot Gossip to restaurants like Sprouts or Jalisco's to sporting goods shops like Sports LTD, Tahoe Dave's or Wattabike there are plenty of opportunities for a visitor to meet some of the people that make Tahoe unique.
Got a question for Abe or Lee? Let them know in the comments.
Photos:TahoeLab, Dave Clock, Kirkwood Mountain Resort