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First Time To Ski Lake Tahoe - Need Advice!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

My friends and I land in Reno next Wednesday night and will be staying at a house on the Incline Village Golf Course. We are a group of guys all ages, intermediate skiers with some pushing expert level.  Most of the group will be looking for big steep blue cruisers and a few enjoy the black diamond back mountain action as well. We typically ski Colorado/Utah (Aspen Highlands, Vail, Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley) and have never skied Tahoe. 


We will be skiing next Thursday, Friday and Saturday and wanted some insight on what our best bet would be if we wanted to hit three different mountains?  I’ve read great things about Mt Rose which is down the street from our house but it looks quite small with only a handful of runs. Looking on Mountain Vertical the mountains that I had in mind were Squaw, Heavenly, and Northstar. Not sure how much time to tack on in the winter conditions but all mountains look like a 45 minute drive from the house with exception of Northstar about 30 min. 


Once again it will be our first time to Tahoe so any help or advice about anything dealing with our trip would be greatly appreciated.





post #2 of 13

Hit up Mt. Rose, the Chutes are the major draw for experts. 


We had a gathering there last year and everyone was impressed with this mountain


Squaw on a weekday if you can 


Northstar on Friday or if high winds are forecast that would shut down Squaw/Alpine/Rose


See this thread for conditions




And this thread for the Squaw Experience




And don't forget about Alpine Meadows also, same ticket as Squaw

post #3 of 13

Northstar or Homewood if it's storming and most other areas upper lifts are on wind hold.  Rose has plenty of steeper blue and black cruisers you might enjoy and while not large, it's definitely not small (chutes are currently closed and will need a couple feet of fresh to open again).  Kirkwood is a haul from Incline, but if you don't mind the drive it's absolutely worth it.


No real advice for Saturday, but crowds should be minimal on Thu/Fri.  Have a good time.

post #4 of 13

I think your group would really enjoy Rose and Alpine Meadows.  For a third area, I would either send you to Northstar where you will find plenty to keep you busy on the Outlook and Backside areas, or Sugar Bowl.  All are a good time with plenty of variety and great upper intermediate and advanced terrain.


I'm pretty sure after you've been there, you will change your mind about Rose being small.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Everyone has seemed to ignore the option of Heavenly. Nothing special?


From the above posts its sounds like Northstar Thursday (warm up day), Squaw Friday and then still TBD on Saturday.


Do we ski Squaw and Alpine Meadow the same day in one day with one lift ticket? Are they connected with a lift?

If the Mt. Rose Chutes are closed and/or for the skiers that don’t do challenging black chute terrain will there be enough good blue area to ski? Or will we have wished we would have gone down to Heavenly?

post #6 of 13

Squaw and Alpine are connected by shuttle. Check out the trail maps of Squaw and Mt Rose and ask yourself do you want to spend one day at Mt Rose and oen day at both Squaw and Alpine? I think you can prioritize the resorts you want to visit and play by ear.

post #7 of 13

We used to go to Tahoe regularly when we had a place we could use in Incline Village.  That is no longer an option so this information is several years old but I can't imagine you would get board with Mt Rose in a day.  There are a number of steeper blue and groomed blacks that sound like they would fit the bill for your group and it is only 10 or 15 mintues from where you are staying. The backside of Northstar also has a number of black cruisers that would be marked blue or double blue a lot of places that you would probably enjoy.  Mapquest would be more reliable than my memory but I think the drive is less than 30 minutes from Incline.  Squaw/Alpine is definitely farther.  Squaw is kind of the must do in the area and it shares a ticket with Alpine.  There is a way to ski between the two which was the topic of a thread here several weeks ago but it takes a bit of effort to do so.  I have always avoided Squaw on weekends due to the reputation for crowding.  It is not very far from Incline as the crow flies but is slow going as you go through a number of towns along the way. Heavenly is a significantly further but probably takes about the same amount of time to reach from Incline.  Heavenly has the best lake views of those under consideration and has a lot of good skiing.  The negatives are lots of flat spots (less of a problem for skiers) and the fact that (IMO) a lot of the best skiing is on the Nevada side which is not quite as scenic.  The layout confuses some people so studying the trail map in advance would be warranted.  Not sure whether Mt Rose or Heavenly would be less crowded relatively on a weekend (obviously there will be more people at Heavenly but its size and number of lifts will offset that to some degree).

post #8 of 13

I've never been to Mt. Rose..so can't offer advice on it.  I would recommend Squaw on a weekday.  Personally, I would take a separate day for Alpine Meadows.  Sugar Bowl is great but also the farthest away (other than perhaps Kirkwood).  I would skip Heavenly all together.

Northstar is a great choice if wind has Squaw and/or Alpine shut down.  

post #9 of 13
Alpine Meafows would be my recommendation as well. Squaw is ultimately about skiing black diamond terrain offpiste. If that your cup of tea, Squaw is unbeatable. Alpine is pretty much the same experience but with a lot more choice blue terrain mixed in. Weekdays are definitely better at Squaw, weekends are crowded, but if its not stormy the crowds disperse. It's a big ski area. Do check the two links posted above, they should give you a good idea of what to expect.
post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by MichaelT View Post

Everyone has seemed to ignore the option of Heavenly. Nothing special?


People knock Heavenly because:

  • It doesn't have mega-super-gnar terrain like Squaw
  • It's kind of awkward to get around the resort (to be fair, it's large and in two states)
  • It tends to get overrun with tourists, especially on the weekends
  • It's way around on the south side of the lake, so if you stay near Reno it's a haul (especially if the weather is bad and the route around the west side of the lake is closed)


But it's pretty big, has a variety of intermediate terrain, some cool off-piste stuff (that probably isn't open right now given that it hasn't been snowing recently), and probably the most notorious mogul run in Tahoe (Gunbarrel).


It also has some of the best views in North America.  The front of the 'California' side is looking out over the lake (and it's right next to the lake, unlike the other resorts), on the 'Nevada' side you're overlooking hundreds of miles of desert, and over the backside there are panoramic views of the Sierras.  Definitely one of the prettiest places I've skied.  On a clear day you can't beat the scenery.



If the Mt. Rose Chutes are closed and/or for the skiers that don’t do challenging black chute terrain will there be enough good blue area to ski? Or will we have wished we would have gone down to Heavenly?


The rest of Mt. Rose could easily entertain an intermediate skier for a day, but a hardcore expert might be bored if the Chutes aren't open.  There are some other ungroomed single blacks, but nothing incredibly demanding.

post #11 of 13

I'll skip Mt Rose. Why go there when you have KT?  Also, Chutes takes two lifts to go up so you are actually skiing less. You can find big steep blue cruiser on Red Dog, Headwall and KT. Although I don't know what is your definition of big steep blue cruiser. Your group can also meet at the KT base bar (you can ski right up to the bar area) for lunch or break. With some planning and waiting, your group can even stay together riding the same lift going up.

Edited by hellside - 2/20/13 at 6:19pm
post #12 of 13

If there are high winds, then Northtstar is a better bet then Squaw.


Mt. Rose is a fun little mountain. Plenty to keep a group busy for a day.  Price is right too.


For a short trip, very little reason to spend the driving time to get to Heavenly.  You'll just have to go back to Tahoe in the future. smile.gif

post #13 of 13

If you planned your trip differently so you based around heavenly then it'd be a good place to go.  

If you're already based in Incline, then would agree probably you should save your time and come back on another trip.  Since you're only skiing 3 days, heavenly isn't incredibly special that you should commute over to do it.



-If you are looking for lots of groomers, heavenly does this extremely well-even better than NS I would say.  The groomers will seem somewhat 1-dimensional, but you get a lot of it.  


-It is full of high speed lifts too which will allow you to get in a lot of vertical (this has a con that when everything is at full uphill capacity, the runs can seem more crowded).


-percentage wise it doesn't have as much crazy terrain, but overall it has plenty of expert terrain to keep an expert busy for more than a day.  Granted a lot of the groomers for your expert may seem boring and 1-dimensional-especially if they are more "new-school" and don't care about working on ski technique.


-Crowds will only be at peak on Saturday, but even if it is crowded, you can still find empty lifts typically on Olympic and Stagecoach lifts.  


-if staying in town, extremely convenient in terms of having a town with choices for competitive inexpensive lodging, and expanded choices for dinner, and nightlife at casinos or bars.

-beginner snowboarders will not like it due to traverses and flats until they learn the mountain to know when they need to carry speed.




As for advice, Northstar's backside and lookout mountain will provide plenty of steep groomers you should check that out.

Edited by raytseng - 2/24/13 at 7:06pm
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