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Tahoe - what priority order to ski? - Page 2

post #31 of 49

Note that to drive from north lake to south, because 89 is closed at Emerald Bay in winter, it takes at least one hour. Add another 45min if going to Kirkwood. If it's snowing, add 50-100% to that.

If you're not sure and want to choose last minute, staying near Incline Village or even Carson City may not be a bad idea.

 

On a normal day (not a deep powder day), I'd pick Squaw first, and Kirkwood next. Then if Mott is open, as a third choice, Heavenly.

On a deep (>1ft) fresh powder day, Kirkwood - even if easy lines are tracked quickly, there's usually plenty of fresh tracks to be made. On such a day, Squaw has a line forming before I wake up :/ 

For lots and lots of trees (dense, sparse, steep, gentle, any variety), Heavenly.

 

Alpine is great by itself, but it just doesn't add anything unique (for me) compared to skiing at Squaw - other than possible crowd avoidance (which is somewhat doubtful), I'd rather ski at Squaw than Alpine any day.

 

Northstar, if you like groomed straight cruisers. They have decent tree skiing as well, though their slopes have less variety - the mountain is shaped such a way that the pitch of the slopes is very uniform and consistent. Compared to that, at Kirkwood and Squaw, all lines are unique in some way. BTW, on a powder day, Northstar would be my second pick - it seems that all the powder hounds like Squaw/Kirkwood/Alpine (rightfully so), and they don't come to Northstar (especially among trees in the backside). 

 

 

As someone said in the thread, the best scenic slope is at Homewood - you feel like skiing into the lake. Heavenly has plenty of good view, but it's more distant. OTOH, the view from Nevada side where you can see both the lake and the Nevada plain certainly is very unique and awesome.

 

A friend of mine who used to race likes Mt. Rose for their steep and quality snow, but I've personally never been there. 

 

BTW, you don't need hiking at Heavenly, if you know how to keep your speed. I can ski back and forth between Nevada and California without stopping or using poles to push. Doesn't mean I want to make that trip more than once a day, but it's not much of an overhead. That said, it's true that the connections between different areas are very confusing in Heavenly.

post #32 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

Bill-  I'd prioritize your schedule around the weather.  Snow conditions make all the difference.  If you like steepness and challenge, Squaw terrain and scene just cannot be beat.  If it is stormy an midweek, you can still go to Squaw, the lower mountain has spectacular storm day skiing.  If it is snowing and it is weekend, go to N* and find a local to show you around.  If it's a big weekend, Homewood may be less crowded.  

So. Tahoe is nice, tree skiing at Heavenly is indeed good, but the only terrain that is comparable to Squaw is Motts and Killerbrew and they are tiny compared to the choices at Squalpine (you also have to be tolerant to the vibe there- lots of hung-over casino skiers).  Kirkwood is really nice if you know where to go. On a marginal day the snow quality is often better there. 

 

Good luck.  Check out the unofficial guides to the resorts in the Resorts area of Epic.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

Weather...it all depends on the weather. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDad View Post

What Phil said. E.g., if it's windy, Northstar and Homewood become attractive options; if not, Squaw and Alpine are often better.

But it would be good to know what you actually like skiing.

All of what these three said. 

Give us a shout.  If we're available, we can make some turns together. 

post #33 of 49

This is great info for me, as the wife and I will be there Feb 9-11th.  Been to Squaw before, but none of the other areas.  My wife wants to go to Heavenly (not quite sure what the attraction is...) but Homewood sounds like it may be good for crowd avoidance on the weekend.  Doing Northstar for sure since she's a blue groomer type of skier anyway. 

And of course the weather will have the final say in any of our plans!  LOL

post #34 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by skispark View Post

Note that to drive from north lake to south, because 89 is closed at Emerald Bay in winter, it takes at least one hour. Add another 45min if going to Kirkwood. If it's snowing, add 50-100% to that.

If you're not sure and want to choose last minute, staying near Incline Village or even Carson City may not be a bad idea.

 

 

This is a good thing to note.  CA is crazy with road closures and chains sometimes.  Emerald Bay  is open right now--but when it snows they will often close it off.  There is a nice parking lot at Vikingsholm where you can take some pretty pics of the bay and the Lake.  Check Caltrans if you are driving around to see what the road status is:  http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/hwytables.htm

post #35 of 49
Quote:

Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

 

LAKE VIEWS!  To me, this is one if the unique things about Tahoe.  At Homewood, you feel like you are going to ski into the lake when you are coming down the front side as the Lake is just across the street from the ski resort.  Heavenly is farther back from the Lake and offers some amazing Lake views from the CA side (and also offers the chance to ski in two states in the same day).

 

I have had amazing powder days at Kirkwood & Mnt Rose, and Squaw is a legend, but none of those places offer the quality Lake views of Homewood and Heavenly.

 

Both Mt Rose and Squaw has pretty expansive lake views too. Alpine has a more distant one. 

 

"Quality" lake view is more subjective.

 

I admit I might be jaded, having lived in CA for several years. I've seen the lake from so many different angles summer and winter. Now I only slow and glance for a second or 2 before re-focusing on the snow. 

post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by skispark View Post

Alpine is great by itself, but it just doesn't add anything unique (for me) compared to skiing at Squaw - other than possible crowd avoidance (which is somewhat doubtful), I'd rather ski at Squaw than Alpine any day.

 

Then you're doing it wrong.  It's not just crowd avoidance, it's snow preservation (both due to lack of traffic and higher base elevation).

 

Both places are great and unique.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

Both Mt Rose and Squaw has pretty expansive lake views too. Alpine has a more distant one. 

 

Actually, Alpine is closer to the lake than Squaw.

post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

 

Both Mt Rose and Squaw has pretty expansive lake views too. Alpine has a more distant one. 

 

"Quality" lake view is more subjective.

 

I admit I might be jaded, having lived in CA for several years. I've seen the lake from so many different angles summer and winter. Now I only slow and glance for a second or 2 before re-focusing on the snow. 

Lake views are pretty breathtaking no matter where you are.

 

As for jaded and taking it for granted, I know I've only lived here for a few years, but I still stop to embrace its beauty on a regular basis and count my blessings for living in such a gorgeous place. 

 

I hope I never take this beautiful place for granted.  

post #38 of 49

I've gone to LT a month for 20 years, usually after March 1st, so I'll come at this from a different angle: elevation.

 

The top three hills in terms of elevation are:

 

1) Heavenly 10,010

2) Kirkwood 9800

3) Mt Rose 9700

 

When it warms up, elevation matters in terms of snow quality. 1000-2000' makes a big difference.  It can be warm early and cold late in Tahoe, so bear that in mind.  Last year's acknowledged best day was none other than April 1, when a freakishly-cold blow dumped 20" of Utah champagne powder.  But it can also be wet, hence the dreaded terms "Pineapple Express" & "Sierra Cement."

 

Frankly, if you had three days you couldn't go wrong skiing the above hills.  But they have drawbacks too, which I'll discuss along some of the others I know about.

 

Heavenly:  My home hill for the last 15 yrs.  People poo-poo it because all the catwalks and few trails don't seem like much for 4800 acres, but the gold can be found in the trees and off the trails.  I'm still discovering new stuff.  Not enough long, sustained pitches, and they need a high-sped lift in North Bowl.  But the people are kind, the parking and entry points good, great views, and the rarely-groomed Gunbarrel will beat you up at the end of the day.

 

Kirkwood: Great, but only one high-speed lift, and you have to be fairly good to appreciate this place.  Find the challenging stuff off The Wall and Cornice and you'll be glad for all the long, slow lifts.  Otherwise you might be stuck on the short trails mid-mountain, which get kind of boring. Gets more snow than anyone, but the top can be windy, especially on the traverse towards Sentinel Bowl (which you'll wind up doing a lot).

 

Mt Rose: I love Rose.  You'll only ski two lifts, but off of those, an incredible amount of good terrain.  The front side has consistently the best snow in Tahoe; the windy, sun-facing Slide side (the original "Reno Ski Bowl") is expansive; and The Chutes, the  area we all dreamed about until they finally worked out a deal with the Forest Service, gave my hot-skiing CO friend a "woody."

 

Sierra: The place to go when it's windy, and you can have a surprisingly good day there, if you're with a bunch of intermediates.  Some solid, tougher runs on the left side, Preacher's Passion etc.  One of the easier places to deal with in terms of parking, entry, etc.  Not nearly as good as Rose, but similar in that it's one-day mountain.  You wouldn't vacation a week there.

 

Alpine: My first 5 years were up on the North Shore, and I had a mid-week pass at Alpine one year.  It was expensive, I never really appreciated it, never hiked the High Traverse, and kind of soured on it. Well, last year I rediscovered Alpine.  It is a great hill with lots of variety and steep, including the double-black trail named "Our Father," which you gotta love.

 

Northstar:  My Heavenly pass is good at Northstar, and a lot of my friends (especially those withe kids) like it, so I am forced to go there a lot.  People think the backside and Lookout Mtn groomed runs are great ("Wow, there's nothing like this at Heavenly") but to me it's "Flatstar," and if you go when it's crowded, the atrocious parking and lift lines could make for a bad experience.

 

Squaw:  Home to the super experts with lots of attitude.  When conditions are right it is, of course, unsurpassed.  But there are days (quite a few) when the top is on wind-hold, and the bottom turns into "Slush Valley" because of the low elevation.  But the biggest sin of all: they built a village in the parking lot.  Disgraceful!

 

Just my humble opinions, yours may differ and I could be wrong.

post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Lake views are pretty breathtaking no matter where you are.

 

As for jaded and taking it for granted, I know I've only lived here for a few years, but I still stop to embrace its beauty on a regular basis and count my blessings for living in such a gorgeous place. 

 

I hope I never take this beautiful place for granted.  

Good that you appreciate it. 

 

I've seen some pretty lovely waters. Lake Michigan being one of the first, which I'm sure you're familiar with. Quite fantastic scenery, even if the skiing isn't quite the same class as Tahoe.

 

Also, I lived a lot closer to the coast so get to see the ocean practically all the time when I was not traveling to Lake Tahoe.

 

It's not that I don't like it. I do. But I no longer feel strongly about it after the first time times. Depending on where the OP is from, it maybe a religious experience, or just another pretty view.  

post #40 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgie View Post

Heavenly:  My home hill for the last 15 yrs.  People poo-poo it because all the catwalks and few trails don't seem like much for 4800 acres, but the gold can be found in the trees and off the trails.  I'm still discovering new stuff.  Not enough long, sustained pitches, and they need a high-sped lift in North Bowl.  But the people are kind, the parking and entry points good, great views, and the rarely-groomed Gunbarrel will beat you up at the end of the day.

I haven't seen groomed Gunbarrel ever. When did that happen ?

post #41 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by skispark View Post

I haven't seen groomed Gunbarrel ever. When did that happen ?

 

It was on it groomed early last season, may have been two seasons ago.  They had the snow guns going that day, I had never seen so many people on it at the same time.

post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgie View Post

I've gone to LT a month for 20 years, usually after March 1st, so I'll come at this from a different angle: elevation.

 

The top three hills in terms of elevation are:

 

1) Heavenly 10,010

2) Kirkwood 9800

3) Mt Rose 9700

 

When it warms up, elevation matters in terms of snow quality. 1000-2000' makes a big difference.  It can be warm early and cold late in Tahoe, so bear that in mind.  Last year's acknowledged best day was none other than April 1, when a freakishly-cold blow dumped 20" of Utah champagne powder.  But it can also be wet, hence the dreaded terms "Pineapple Express" & "Sierra Cement."

 

Frankly, if you had three days you couldn't go wrong skiing the above hills.  But they have drawbacks too, which I'll discuss along some of the others I know about.

 

Heavenly:  My home hill for the last 15 yrs.  People poo-poo it because all the catwalks and few trails don't seem like much for 4800 acres, but the gold can be found in the trees and off the trails.  I'm still discovering new stuff.  Not enough long, sustained pitches, and they need a high-sped lift in North Bowl.  But the people are kind, the parking and entry points good, great views, and the rarely-groomed Gunbarrel will beat you up at the end of the day.

 

Kirkwood: Great, but only one high-speed lift, and you have to be fairly good to appreciate this place.  Find the challenging stuff off The Wall and Cornice and you'll be glad for all the long, slow lifts.  Otherwise you might be stuck on the short trails mid-mountain, which get kind of boring. Gets more snow than anyone, but the top can be windy, especially on the traverse towards Sentinel Bowl (which you'll wind up doing a lot).

 

Mt Rose: I love Rose.  You'll only ski two lifts, but off of those, an incredible amount of good terrain.  The front side has consistently the best snow in Tahoe; the windy, sun-facing Slide side (the original "Reno Ski Bowl") is expansive; and The Chutes, the  area we all dreamed about until they finally worked out a deal with the Forest Service, gave my hot-skiing CO friend a "woody."

 

Sierra: The place to go when it's windy, and you can have a surprisingly good day there, if you're with a bunch of intermediates.  Some solid, tougher runs on the left side, Preacher's Passion etc.  One of the easier places to deal with in terms of parking, entry, etc.  Not nearly as good as Rose, but similar in that it's one-day mountain.  You wouldn't vacation a week there.

 

Alpine: My first 5 years were up on the North Shore, and I had a mid-week pass at Alpine one year.  It was expensive, I never really appreciated it, never hiked the High Traverse, and kind of soured on it. Well, last year I rediscovered Alpine.  It is a great hill with lots of variety and steep, including the double-black trail named "Our Father," which you gotta love.

 

Northstar:  My Heavenly pass is good at Northstar, and a lot of my friends (especially those withe kids) like it, so I am forced to go there a lot.  People think the backside and Lookout Mtn groomed runs are great ("Wow, there's nothing like this at Heavenly") but to me it's "Flatstar," and if you go when it's crowded, the atrocious parking and lift lines could make for a bad experience.

 

Squaw:  Home to the super experts with lots of attitude.  When conditions are right it is, of course, unsurpassed.  But there are days (quite a few) when the top is on wind-hold, and the bottom turns into "Slush Valley" because of the low elevation.  But the biggest sin of all: they built a village in the parking lot.  Disgraceful!

 

Just my humble opinions, yours may differ and I could be wrong.

I think some of your observations are a bit cynical, but then all of us will paint our home mountain with the best brush. 

The reality is that Tahoe has some amazing mountains that offer different experiences and visitors are sure to find something amazing no matter where they go. 

 

From my personal experience, I really like Kirkwood, but its hard to drive 2 hours and pass amazing terrain like Squaw, Mt Rose and Alpine Meadows when these places offer some really great experience. 

 

IF I were flying in to Tahoe, I'd skip the 2 hour drive, stay in Reno or near Reno,(30-40min drive to most NLT Resorts) Save the $$.  Lodging, fuel and food are tons cheaper in the Reno area.

post #43 of 49
Thread Starter 

You guys are great.

 

I am one to scope out the best conditions and go there. My criteria for mountain selection comes down to this:

 

Maximize

powder

time on the slope

 

 

Minimize

time waiting for anything.

skiers per square inch (on trail).  Near zero is best ;)

 

Final arbiter is the weather.

 

I would rather go on middling terrain with great snow than challenging trails with crappy snow.  I would rather go to a hide-out and compromise on the terrain than share it with 20,000 of my best friends.  I'm usually decide at the last minute anyways.

 

Since you've given me the pros and cons, I'm not adverse to skiing any of them.  The right tool for the right job.

post #44 of 49

Georgie, interesting you point out Kirkwood's short traverse as a negative, considering Heavenly is your home mountain.  Ever traversed from California to Nevada on a windy day :)?  I'm not saying that one is better than the other, just something caught my eye....

 

Aside from from the fact that there is more to sample in North Shore there is always NS in case weather gets out of hand.  There was a day early this season when all resorts in the Tahoe area were closed except for NS.  South Lake tahoe does have cheaper (in some cases super cheap) lodging that is walking distance to both skiing and nightlife.

post #45 of 49

You're right, Heavenly is full of catwalks, and the top of Sky chair and the first few feet of the Nevada traverse can be windy, but then it ducks behind a ridge and goes "downhill" - you can carry enough speed all the way to Milky Way Bowl.  The shorter traverse at top of Cornice at Kirkwood is completely exposed and all horizontal.  But I mainly mentioned it because there's a lot of great terrain over there, in addition to Sentinel Bowl; and with Cornice being the only high-speed lift, I wind up over there a lot.  The traverse is nothing, really, and it's a great area...just could use some updated lifts which I'm sure Vail Resorts will get around to.

 

A lot of my post was tongue & cheek but I am definitely down on Northstar, another reason being having to walk through the damn Village and riding the Gondola, then another lift, before getting to any skiing.  Combined with a potentially horrid parking place (if you don't pay big dollars to be close), it can be a LONG time before you're skiing. If you're with a crew that enjoys shopping and the social aspect of the village, that's another thing, but doesn't seem our original poster is too interested...Overall, Tahoe is exceptional and you'll have a great time.  IMHO, the lake and its beauty, in addition to proximity to the Bay Area, is what separates it from other US areas, and why I go there.  I don't even keep my ski stuff here on the east coast, it's all at my buddy's in San Rafael and I can't wait to get out there! 

post #46 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgie View Post

You're right, Heavenly is full of catwalks, and the top of Sky chair and the first few feet of the Nevada traverse can be windy, but then it ducks behind a ridge and goes "downhill" - you can carry enough speed all the way to Milky Way Bowl.  The shorter traverse at top of Cornice at Kirkwood is completely exposed and all horizontal.  But I mainly mentioned it because there's a lot of great terrain over there, in addition to Sentinel Bowl; and with Cornice being the only high-speed lift, I wind up over there a lot.  The traverse is nothing, really, and it's a great area...just could use some updated lifts which I'm sure Vail Resorts will get around to.

 

A lot of my post was tongue & cheek but I am definitely down on Northstar, another reason being having to walk through the damn Village and riding the Gondola, then another lift, before getting to any skiing.  Combined with a potentially horrid parking place (if you don't pay big dollars to be close), it can be a LONG time before you're skiing. If you're with a crew that enjoys shopping and the social aspect of the village, that's another thing, but doesn't seem our original poster is too interested...Overall, Tahoe is exceptional and you'll have a great time.  IMHO, the lake and its beauty, in addition to proximity to the Bay Area, is what separates it from other US areas, and why I go there.  I don't even keep my ski stuff here on the east coast, it's all at my buddy's in San Rafael and I can't wait to get out there! 

 

Kirkwood has two high speed lifts, 6 and 7. I am wondering how will they update to new lifts without adequate space in the download area.

post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellside View Post

 

Kirkwood has two high speed lifts, 6 and 7. I am wondering how will they update to new lifts without adequate space in the download area.

 

Unloading area at the top of 4 and 1 lifts isn't much different than that unloading area at the top of Marti's at NS for example.  There is all kinds of room at the top of 1, which is painfully slow right now (I wanted to cruise the groomers for a few runs yesterday, so that's kind of fresh on my mind). 

post #48 of 49

squaw for sure, alpine if you want to hike and kirkwood for a mom and pop style feel

post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by skispark View Post

I haven't seen groomed Gunbarrel ever. When did that happen ?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliSki View Post

 

It was on it groomed early last season, may have been two seasons ago.  They had the snow guns going that day, I had never seen so many people on it at the same time.

They use to groom it every saturday in the early '90s

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