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North Tahoe season pass for day trips from Bay area, qualify for college rate, where to go? [2015-16]

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

It's time to start thinking about buying a season pass for the next season, and we are choosing between the resorts in Lake Tahoe area (Heavenly, Northstar, Sierra, Squaw, ...). We've been skiing at Heavenly and Northstar for the last two seasons, so we are more or less familiar with these resorts, but we don't know much about Sierra, Squaw, and other resorts.

 

I am an advanced skier who loves to ski carved turns at high speeds at groomed trails, my wife is an intermediate skied who also prefers groomed trails. Overall we liked Northstar more than Heavenly this year, but one thing that I don't like at Northstar at all is the slow skiing zone at the top of the mountain. Lodging might also be a problem at Northstar.

 

So we are looking for a resort with nice groomed trails, without large crowds, and ideally without slow skiing zones, and we need some advice on choosing such a resort.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Mod note: thread title changed with OP's permission

post #2 of 21

As a sleeper pick, you might consider skiing more at Mt. Rose (pass or not).  Plenty of groomers and fewer Bay Area skiers than some other Tahoe resorts.  Slightly more of a Reno local area.  Can also find inexpensive lodging in Reno, which is ~20 mins away.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have the same question again :) Last season I mostly went to Northstar, but this time I've decided to try something different for sure. I'm currently choosing between Sugar Bowl and Squaw/Alpine (Mt. Rose is more expensive since it doesn't offer a college pass and is a significantly longer drive from the Bay Area). Could anyone give any recommendations about these resorts? As I said in the OP, I'm mostly looking for groomed trails for advanced skiers.

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 

I have the same question again :) Last season I mostly went to Northstar, but this time I've decided to try something different for sure. I'm currently choosing between Sugar Bowl and Squaw/Alpine (Mt. Rose is more expensive since it doesn't offer a college pass and is a significantly longer drive from the Bay Area). Could anyone give any recommendations about these resorts? As I said in the OP, I'm mostly looking for groomed trails for advanced skiers.


Do you usually stay overnight or do day trips?  Helps to know that you are driving from the Bay area.

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 


In the past we used to stay overnight, but this season I will mostly do day trips from the Bay Area.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 


In the past we used to stay overnight, but this season I will mostly do day trips from the Bay Area.


I had a good time the one day I've skied at Sugar Bowl.  It's closer, right?  Isn't the season pass cheaper than Squaw/Alpine?

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


I had a good time the one day I've skied at Sugar Bowl.  It's closer, right?  Isn't the season pass cheaper than Squaw/Alpine?

Yes, Sugar Bowl is ~20 miles closer. The adult season pass is significantly cheaper at Sugar Bowl, but the college passes cost virtually the same. By the way, with the Sugar Bowl pass I'll be able to ski 4 days at Squaw/Alpine for free, so it would give me more options.

 

As far as I understand from reading the reviews on different websites, the arguments in favor of Sugar Bowl are: 1) being less crowded; 2) being closer; 3) having the option to ski at Squaw/Alpine. At the same time Squaw/Alpine is significantly larger, so there is much more to explore there. But these reviews tend to be a bit dated, that's why I'm looking for more information here. 

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


I had a good time the one day I've skied at Sugar Bowl.  It's closer, right?  Isn't the season pass cheaper than Squaw/Alpine?

Yes, Sugar Bowl is ~20 miles closer. The adult season pass is significantly cheaper at Sugar Bowl, but the college passes cost virtually the same. By the way, with the Sugar Bowl pass I'll be able to ski 4 days at Squaw/Alpine for free, so it would give me more options.

 

As far as I understand from reading the reviews on different websites, the arguments in favor of Sugar Bowl are: 1) being less crowded; 2) being closer; 3) having the option to ski at Squaw/Alpine. At the same time Squaw/Alpine is significantly larger, so there is much more to explore there. But these reviews tend to be a bit dated, that's why I'm looking for more information here. 


Do you mind if I change the thread title?  The current one is too generic.  I think adding a bit more info might help.  The fact that you are looking at a college passes for day trips makes a difference.

 

How many times do you think you'll make the drive?

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


Do you mind if I change the thread title?  The current one is too generic.  I think adding a bit more info might help.  The fact that you are looking at a college passes for day trips makes a difference.

 

How many times do you think you'll make the drive?


Sure! If you think it might help, go for it! And thanks for your help! I'm still new to this forum, so I probably haven't figured out the optimal way to ask questions here yet.

 

Just to clarify: I'm looking for a college season pass, but I'm mostly going to do day trips. I hope to make it at least 7 or 8 times, maybe more (tough to predict now because my wife and I had a baby recently), including a couple of "racing day trips". I started racing in a local league last season, so I hope to race at least a couple of times this season as well (there will be one racing weekend at Sugar Bowl and two at Alpine Meadows).

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 

I have the same question again :) Last season I mostly went to Northstar, but this time I've decided to try something different for sure. I'm currently choosing between Sugar Bowl and Squaw/Alpine (Mt. Rose is more expensive since it doesn't offer a college pass and is a significantly longer drive from the Bay Area). Could anyone give any recommendations about these resorts? As I said in the OP, I'm mostly looking for groomed trails for advanced skiers.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 
Quote:
Just to clarify: I'm looking for a college season pass, but I'm mostly going to do day trips. I hope to make it at least 7 or 8 times, maybe more (tough to predict now because my wife and I had a baby recently), including a couple of "racing day trips". I started racing in a local league last season, so I hope to race at least a couple of times this season as well (there will be one racing weekend at Sugar Bowl and two at Alpine Meadows).

Okay, thread title changed so we'll see what happens.

 

In general, the more info you provide, the better.  Now it makes more sense that you are looking for groomers beyond the fact that your wife is an intermediate.

 

Congrats on becoming a parent!  Definitely may impact this season.  But will be great fun in a few years for family trips.  I started by daughter at age 4 in spite of not living in ski country and having a non-skier husband.  She loved it and that gave me an excuse to start skiing more.

post #11 of 21
Both Squaw & Alpine are known for their ungroomed terrain and what they the groom is not as good as north star

Now that said Alpine and Squaw both have top to bottom groomers that may still work for you but it depends on snowfall

I don't ski sugar bowl enough to comment even though it is has 4 days included On my pass

Now, if your goal is running down wide open groomers North Star is still your best bet

If you get there early, (they spin at 8:30) you will have plenty of time to rip the frontside groomers before moving to the backside
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

Okay, thread title changed so we'll see what happens.

 

In general, the more info you provide, the better.  Now it makes more sense that you are looking for groomers beyond the fact that your wife is an intermediate.

 

Congrats on becoming a parent!  Definitely may impact this season.  But will be great fun in a few years for family trips.  I started by daughter at age 4 in spite of not living in ski country and having a non-skier husband.  She loved it and that gave me an excuse to start skiing more.


Thanks! Yeah, I'm sure it will be fun to go skiing with our son in a few years :)

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by near nyquist View Post

Both Squaw & Alpine are known for their ungroomed terrain and what they the groom is not as good as north star

Now that said Alpine and Squaw both have top to bottom groomers that may still work for you but it depends on snowfall

I don't ski sugar bowl enough to comment even though it is has 4 days included On my pass

Now, if your goal is running down wide open groomers North Star is still your best bet

If you get there early, (they spin at 8:30) you will have plenty of time to rip the frontside groomers before moving to the backside


Thanks for the information! I do like Northstar, but there is a simple reason why I want to try something different this time. I've been skiing almost exclusively at Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood since I came to the Bay Area in 2012, and now I have only two or three years left in my PhD program. Once I finish it, most probably I'll leave the Bay Area, so that Lake Tahoe will no longer be my home ski area. And because I'd love to explore new resorts around Tahoe before I'm gone, I want to try Sugar Bowl or Squaw/Alpine this season.

post #14 of 21

If you are interested in groomed runs, stay at Northstar and Heavenly.  People go to Squaw and Alpine mostly for the ungroomed terrain. and to a large extent the grooming and groomed runs remain an afterthought at those resorts (which does not mean that those runs are not crowded, they still are).  I don't see the focus changing anytime soon (and that's a good thing in my eyes).   Northstar is the undisputed champion of groomer cruising in Tahoe,  and for a good reason.  If you want to try SquAlpine, just buy a day ticket and see what the hype is about.  There is nothing worse than being locked for a season into a wrong resort.  

post #15 of 21

I would highly recommend Sugar Bowl, especially if you are planning on doing day trips. You get off the highway much sooner than you would for Squaw/Alpine.

 

My mom used to take me for day trips when I was a kid. We would leave the South Bay at around 5:30am and get there around 8:30-9am....

 

Since it's been awhile since I've gone there regularly, I can't recommend specific runs, but from my general memory Sugar Bowl has a ton of intermediate groomers and nice terrain variation for a smaller resort. And it's not so small that you feel bored like you would at a place like Boreal. There seem to be plenty of areas for exploration, plus I think they even have side country access if you get really bored. Also the area is beautiful. I've heard that crowds are less crazy than those at Squaw/Alpine.....For me, Sugar Bowl has always been a favorite - it maintains a down to earth vibe and has a lot of terrain variation, plus lower prices. I think it is more similar to Alpine than it is to Squaw....If your wife is intermediate and you have a baby, it might be more relaxing for her at Sugar Bowl. I've only been to Squaw maybe twice and found it a bit daunting in scale and skier traffic. Lot's of very advanced skiers might be whizzing down the intermediate groomed runs to get somewhere else, which I know can be stressful if there are big crowds. The terrain is also big and wide open, which is something I was not used to. I personally like more trees....Sugar Bowl definitely feels more "cozy" than the big resorts.

 

Good Luck!

 

K

post #16 of 21

I was also thinking that if you want to take the baby and take turns on the slopes, then Sugar Bowl would be better.  As I remember, the base lodge is pretty nice.  Not having to deal with the extra drive time between Sugar Bowl and Squaw/Alpine sounds like a much better idea.

 

Does Sugar Bowl still have free lessons?  Something to consider if that's of any interest to your wife.

post #17 of 21

I would also add that the drive to North Tahoe up 80 is soooo much easier and straight-forward than the drive up 50 to the South side....Again, this is my recollection from when I was a kid...I do remember much narrower roads and more winding nauseating turns on 50, which equalled slower speeds/longer driving time. That was over 20 years ago, so they may have improved roads by now!

 

Anyway, I am a big North Tahoe advocate, as I visit Truckee regularly. Hope you go with Sugar Bowl! .... But if you decide that the 50 route is better for you, we also loved Sierra-at-Tahoe. That's where I learned to snowboard. I would say it's the South Tahoe equivalent to Sugar Bowl. Similar vibe.

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by near nyquist View Post

Both Squaw & Alpine are known for their ungroomed terrain and what they the groom is not as good as north star

Now that said Alpine and Squaw both have top to bottom groomers that may still work for you but it depends on snowfall

I don't ski sugar bowl enough to comment even though it is has 4 days included On my pass

Now, if your goal is running down wide open groomers North Star is still your best bet

If you get there early, (they spin at 8:30) you will have plenty of time to rip the frontside groomers before moving to the backside


Thanks for the information! I do like Northstar, but there is a simple reason why I want to try something different this time. I've been skiing almost exclusively at Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood since I came to the Bay Area in 2012, and now I have only two or three years left in my PhD program. Once I finish it, most probably I'll leave the Bay Area, so that Lake Tahoe will no longer be my home ski area. And because I'd love to explore new resorts around Tahoe before I'm gone, I want to try Sugar Bowl or Squaw/Alpine this season.

You could always get the Squaw Alpine Silver pass which includes a few days as Sierra at Tahoe and Sugarbowl.  

 

Here's another option for someone who wants to explore a bit. 

Get the Mountain Collective pass.   The MC pass covers 2 days at several resorts (see in link I shared) That would give you 2 days at Mammoth and 2 days at Squaw/Alpine, plus you'd have options if you want to change things up a bit.  

 

Between these two pass' I think the Squaw/Alpine Silver makes the most sense. 


Edited by Trekchick - 10/10/15 at 8:24am
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 

You could always get the Squaw Alpine Silver pass which includes a few days as Sierra at Tahoe and Sugarbowl.  

 

Here's another option for someone who wants to explore a bit. 

Get the Mountain Collective pass.   The MC pass covers 2 days at several resorts (see in link I shared) That would give you 2 days at Mammoth and 2 days at Squaw/Alpine, plus you'd have options if you want to change things up a bit.  

 

Between these two pass' I think the Squaw/Alpine Silver makes the most sense. 


The Silver Pass is significantly more expensive than the college season passes both at Squaw/Alpine and at Sugar Bowl, so I'd prefer to buy a college pass. As for the Mountain Collective, it's nice but it gives only 2 days of skiing at Tahoe and 2 more at Mammoth, and I'm definitely not going to ski anywhere else this season, so it wouldn't make much sense to buy it. 

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks kasuncion and marznc! Sugar Bowl looks like a very reasonable option for me, and the only reason why I'm still undecided is that I found out that Alpine seems to have a very nice race clinic: http://squawalpine.com/skiing-riding/performance-race-clinics. It would definitely be fun to attend it a coupe of times, so I'm still thinking...

post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikorolev View Post
 

Thanks kasuncion and marznc! Sugar Bowl looks like a very reasonable option for me, and the only reason why I'm still undecided is that I found out that Alpine seems to have a very nice race clinic: http://squawalpine.com/skiing-riding/performance-race-clinics. It would definitely be fun to attend it a coupe of times, so I'm still thinking...


it is $70 per day, so you could go as you wish, as long as you are paying daily fee (don't have to be a pass holder).

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › North Tahoe season pass for day trips from Bay area, qualify for college rate, where to go? [2015-16]