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Last minute ski opportunity somewhere out of San Jose CA following work trip. Advice needed please. - Page 2

post #31 of 51
Thread Starter 

So, how does that work?  You get to a certain point on the interstate and theres a sign or something that says to stop and chain up here?   Sounds a tad treacherous.  You can only drive like 20 MPH on those chains right? and I need some ind of rubber tighteners? 

post #32 of 51

Yeah, that is basically the way it works. The roads all have a few chain control areas where there is a wide shoulder and often there are patrol there telling people to put on the chains. The big highways will also have people offering to put on your chains for a fee. You have to drive slowly, but the road conditions are crappy, so that is a good idea anyway. It may take a while to get there, but you get there. If you buy cable chains,  everything that you need will come with them.

 

The other option is to wait until the roads are clear to make the drive. That could be a few hours, or a few days (for reference, chains still required this morning)

post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhizzlebop View Post
 

So, how does that work?  You get to a certain point on the interstate and theres a sign or something that says to stop and chain up here?   Sounds a tad treacherous.  You can only drive like 20 MPH on those chains right? and I need some ind of rubber tighteners? 


It's quite helpful as well to check the CalTrans website.  I had this page available to me on my phone during Christmas Break because the chain requirements changed somewhat during the time I was in the Sierras.  There are other apps for this as well.  

 

http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov

 

There are signs when you head up the mountain that tell you that there is chain control ahead, and then a guy at a checkpoint waving people through.  It's a little confusing and worrying the first time, but not that bad.

post #34 of 51

I wouldn't try to drive through a storm. 1. you've never put chains on, in the dark under constant snow isn't the best time for practice 2. It'll take forever at 25mph. 

 

So watch the weather 2 days early. If it's raining in San Jose, it'll be dumping snow up the pass! You might want to consider alternate travel plans. 

 

Southwest (used to, at least) fly from San Jose to Reno. It might be even less than the one way car rental! (although if you're getting your rental car paid for already, that's a different equation)

 

Tahoe skiing is VERY weather dependent. If it's stormy, you can't get from south lake tahoe to Homewood, nor Reno to Northstar or even Mt Rose without chains...

 

I would book hotels that has a liberal cancellation policy to account for those weather extremes. .  

post #35 of 51
Rent A/4WD if you can (you still need chains in car but aren't required to put them on) and order your EpicPass online in advance to save money (Heavenly/Northstar/Kirkwood). It can be mailed to you or there is a faster line for pickup of it at the mountains.
post #36 of 51

Yikes!  Too much overly complicated advice.   Make your logistics simple.  Heavenly Valley is your best choice as a blue skier avoiding blacks. Great scenic view over Lake Tahoe and eastward into Nevada. More blues trails than you will be able to explore in just two days.  Huge resort right in South Lake Tahoe with lots of accomodations, shopping, and nightlife right where the gondola base is.  Heck spend the money you'd be forking over for a car rental by staying at one of the world class casinos hotels at the base.  Tons of smaller motels there too. 

 

http://www.skiheavenly.com/

 

To get there from San Jose take the below Saturday NACSKI bus and then the Sunday bus to return to San Jose.  So would be buying one way tickets each day and not round trips.  Sleep on the way and is mostly filled with hi tech young adults.   When arriving you could go directly to your hotel room near the gondola base and be squared away for 2 days quickly.  Way more time to relax and enjoy versus being jerked around all over the Tahoe region.

 

There are NAC ski bus trips from Milpitas (San Jose suburb) to Heavenly on both Sat Feb 6 and Feb 7.  The options allow one to buy just the bus transport or plus discount lift tickets and or plus skiing rental.  The noted hotels also have many package deals including demo quality gear options.

 

https://www.nacski.com/mr/booking.aspx?r=ca-sfb

post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave_SSS View Post
 

Yikes!  Too much overly complicated advice.  

Actually, I agree on the overly complicated advice at this point (but earlier, it wasn't clear what the priority were, both skiing, travel and cost preferences)

 

Mountains: For blue skiers, Heavenly is good. But so is Homewood, Alpine Meadow and Northstar. 

 

There're basically 3 options regarding travel:

 

1) drive

2) fly

3) bus. 

 

Driving has the drawback of stress, particularly if the weather is bad. Bus takes the stress out but not the delay if there's weather. Flying has its own set of weather issue that's different from driving. Still, Reno airport is only at 4500'. It's rare it gets snowed in. SJC obviously never.

 

Lodging: Reno and South Lake Tahoe are probably the cheaper of the region, without needing a car. From SLT, Heavenly is the obvious skiing. With Reno, it could be Northstar, Diamond Peak or Mt Rose.  

 

If the OP can fly out of Reno after skiing, it strongly favors flying from SJ to Reno. Time saved and no stress. If the OP still favors skiing Heavenly, he can also rent a subcompact econo-box from Reno to get to SLT. No mountain passes, no chain to worry about.

post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

 

If the OP can fly out of Reno after skiing, it strongly favors flying from SJ to Reno. Time saved and no stress. If the OP still favors skiing Heavenly, he can also rent a subcompact econo-box from Reno to get to SLT. No mountain passes, no chain to worry about.

Some incorrect advice here. The usual route from Reno to South Lake Tahoe is through Carson City (elevation about 4,800') then US-50 over Spooner Summit elevation 7,146'. An alternate to Heavenly's Stagecoach Base is to go almost to Minden, then Kingsbury Grade/NV207 to Daggett Pass elevation 7,334. While US-50 is 4 lanes and the East side of Tahoe gets less snow than the West side, you do climb a mountain pass where chains can be required during storms. Note that Nevada goes to chains or snow tires more often than CA and as far as I know does not lower highway speed limit to 25 or 30 mph while under chain control.

 

Also note that Southwest no longer has non-stops from SJC to RNO. Flights go through Las Vegas or Los Angeles and when you allow time for checking in and retrieving bags it takes as long as driving (without storm or traffic delays).

post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by tseeb View Post
 

Some incorrect advice here. The usual route from Reno to South Lake Tahoe is through Carson City (elevation about 4,800') then US-50 over Spooner Summit elevation 7,146'. An alternate to Heavenly's Stagecoach Base is to go almost to Minden, then Kingsbury Grade/NV207 to Daggett Pass elevation 7,334. While US-50 is 4 lanes and the East side of Tahoe gets less snow than the West side, you do climb a mountain pass where chains can be required during storms. Note that Nevada goes to chains or snow tires more often than CA and as far as I know does not lower highway speed limit to 25 or 30 mph while under chain control.

 

Also note that Southwest no longer has non-stops from SJC to RNO. Flights go through Las Vegas or Los Angeles and when you allow time for checking in and retrieving bags it takes as long as driving (without storm or traffic delays).

Driving from Reno to SLT is much less affected by snow. At 7000', chain requirement isn't all that frequent on Rt 50, and only for very brief period if ever. I used to do that quite a bit. I only use rt 50. Don't remember ever needing to put on chain. 

 

That said, I stand corrected w/r Southwest flight. And with that option out, the advantage of Reno is much reduced. 

post #40 of 51

While we are getting a little off topic, the last two times (including yesterday) I've driven Highway 50 along the E shore of Tahoe, it was chains or snow tires as it is this morning when chains or snow tires are also required on US-395 S of Reno. See http://www.nvroads.com/  Light pink is chains or snow tires, dark pink is chains or 4WD with snow tires and red is closed. You have to zoom in a lot to get detail around Tahoe and while they show Emerald Bay closed, they do not show Monitor Pass (CA-89 E, S of Tahoe where CA-4 symbol is located) closed even though it is (usually most of the winter) so I would not trust them as much for CA highways.

 

Also note that Donner Pass on I-80 and Echo Summit on US-50 are not much over 7,000', but get more snow as you are crossing the 'Crest' of Sierra

post #41 of 51
Thread Starter 

So, my trip is coming up next week with my ski days set for Feb 20th and 21st.

 

Looking at the weather ahead at this point they are prediction no moisture falling and a high those days of 40 degrees.

So, I think driving will be a breeze.

 

I've booked a one way SUV out of San Jose on Friday.

I'm planning to leave San Jose around 7-7:30 PM, and drive towards Placerville and stay the night there, then drive in early Sat morning.

 

I have a room booked for Sat Sun nights at the Big Pine mountain lodge.

Stilll need to book something fro Placerville.

 

Whats a good option to pick up my rentals early sat morning?  I don't wanna waste too much time in the rental shop so if booking ahead helps I will if I know where to book.


Edited by Rhizzlebop - 2/8/16 at 11:10am
post #42 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naylia View Post

Rent A/4WD if you can (you still need chains in car but aren't required to put them on) and order your EpicPass online in advance to save money (Heavenly/Northstar/Kirkwood). It can be mailed to you or there is a faster line for pickup of it at the mountains.

I missed this post somehow.

I thought epic pass was only if I was skiing several days and it would really save money.   I need to check on this.

post #43 of 51
They cannot tell the weather that far out. You should keep an eye on the weather as it gets closer.
I still don't get the stay in Placerville.  I would've just pushed through all the way and stayed at Big Pines all the nights, as you said you don't want to waste time in the mornings and you don't have to pack and unpack twice.   
Placerville may makes sense if you want to ski Sierra At Tahoe on your day coming in instead of spending all your days at Heavenly/Kirkwood..
 
If you are basing  out of Big Pines Mtn house, just walk the one or two blocks up towards the gondola and you'll see Powderhouse main shop, right across from gondola.   If you want demos, they have a separate demo shop across the street and yet a 3rd rental store right at the gondola.  Gondola store minimizes your walk. Reserve online for a discount..  
They'll also do a locker for $5 for you to store your shoes.
 
 
No public deals on Heavenly Lift tickets other than buying directly from them online: at least 1week in advance for best price.
There are deals for Sierra at Tahoe, you will have to shop around.

 

Tip: at Big Pines Mtn house, get your waffle started first thing, while you get all your other breakfast together.  Don't rush the waffle, otherwise it'll be undercooked.
post #44 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

 

Thanks for the tips of advice.

I'll check out the powderhouse website.

 

I have not booked anything in Placerville, so I could still push through.

My hesitation is, depending how the weather looks, I don't want to be driving up a dark mountain pass in bad weather where i've never driven before, by myself, in the middle of the night.


aka, if I don't leave San jose till at least 7 (to let traffic ease) it'll be probably midnight when I reached the mountain house.

 

Now, if early next week, its still looking good, I may call the mountain house and see if they have capacity to let me add that night and maybe I will just push through.

 

am I missing something?

post #45 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhizzlebop View Post
 

Thanks for the tips of advice.

I'll check out the powderhouse website.

 

I have not booked anything in Placerville, so I could still push through.

My hesitation is, depending how the weather looks, I don't want to be driving up a dark mountain pass in bad weather where i've never driven before, by myself, in the middle of the night.


aka, if I don't leave San jose till at least 7 (to let traffic ease) it'll be probably midnight when I reached the mountain house.

 

Now, if early next week, its still looking good, I may call the mountain house and see if they have capacity to let me add that night and maybe I will just push through.

 

am I missing something?

 

Every Friday night, there will be a convoy going up from Bay Area to tahoe all the way until like 1 or 2 AM.  So , it will be dark and potentially snowy, but you won't be alone

 

But yes, your call, and you know yourself better than me.   7pm is a good time to start your journey as long a you're are a night owl and can stay up till midnight fine.

 

On a stormy day, I'd actually want to push through so you maximize your morning and get the early tracks.  The traffic holdup and line will be there with more people so everyone will be going slow (except for the idiots) so you won't be alone.   If the pass is completely blocked and backed up though, you're right you're probably smarter just calling it an early night and getting to bed instead of waiting in snowy traffic for an extra hour.   So there's logic in either method..

post #46 of 51
Thread Starter 

I rebooked my room at Pine mtn lodge Fri sat and sun night.

 

I have up until Wed at 3PM to decide to cancel if it looks like a bad storm will be rolling inthat friday night and make for a scary drive.  Otherwise, i'll just push through.

post #47 of 51
Thread Starter 
Hi all. I just retread this thread now that I am in Cali just to refresh the info in my mind.

I have big pines booked for Friday through sun night and I see how they are calling for snow Thursday and Friday. Sat and Sunday look a little warm so I hope the conditions aren't slushy and crappy.

I'm a tad nervous about the snow Friday but I'm gonna keep watching. Right now the forecast for heavenly Friday says 1-3 inches expected Friday night. I'm not sure the forecast for the actual mountain pass area. I guess I need a town along there to use in the weather app.

1-3 for an area that expects snow a lot sounds like they will manage that well and keep the rd clear but I South Carolina 1-3 shuts the state down. So. I have no idea.

I can decide up until wed at 3 if I want to cancel Friday night but if it's drivable and reasonably safe I'd rather push through. I am a slower careful driver and I will find chains somewhere in San Jose area before I head out. I rented some kind of suv but it's probably a front wheel drive.

That's all for now. I'll check back here and one eye on the weather. Really excited about clipping I at heavenly.
post #48 of 51
Thread Starter 
So. Today is the day. I'm seeing on the weather app that it says zero precipitation today but here's a winter weather advisory saying 2-5 inches of snow Friday until 8 pm. Don't quite understand how those two things can exist in the same forecast.

I'm trying to. Figure out how to read the rd report and see if I should buy a set of chain cables when I pick up the car today.

My plan right now is in just gonna head out at 2 and see how far I can get.
post #49 of 51

So, how did it go? Sorry if I missed trip report. I've heard Saturdays at bigger Tahoe areas have been crowded.

post #50 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hey sorry all for not updating sooner.

It was an emotional week for me and the wife because while on my trip I negotiated and "bought a house" and the next day was told "nope, seller didn't sign and theres another offer", so we ended up losing a house.

 

Man, so, unfortunately this ski trip will always have a small tainted taste.

 

Anyway,  So the drive up was as expected.  Took almost 7 hours, and I went ahead and left out at 3:30.   GPS routed me over through stockton where after calling 4 stores, I finally found and bought a set of cable chains.  (ended up not needing them so returned them to the Autozone in Lake Tahoe just down the street.

 

Sat was a mad house.  Took 45 minutes to get my skis even though I had rented online.  Powder house obviously does big business but there seems to be no link between there online booing and the store because the store didn't even know what I ahd booked online and showing them the booking email meant nothing.  Nonetheless, got them finally.

 

Then  I had to grab my prebought epic pass which was another 45 minutes in line.


Then the gondola line was 2 hours.  Luckily the ticket lady told me to catch the blue bus a block away and go to stagecoach which I did.  25 minutes later I was skiing finally!

 

The mountain is huge, and the view of the lake is spectacular.

The snow wasn't as plush as I expected for them having gotten a couple feet a couple days earlier, many people commented to that, but it was a bit warm so I think it had hardened.

It was busy on the lift lines though.  It was faster to NOT go in the singles lines and just group in with people.

 

Anyway, a good day, until I got the call at 4 that my offer wasn't accepted and I would likely lose the house.  Heartbreaking because we've been looking 2 years.

 

Anyway, Sunday, after arguing with realtors in the morning, I pushed that aside and got out there about 10 AM.   Much less crowded.  Nice day, a little warmer still. 

Slopes are wide, and had a good time.  I was whipped by the end of day two.

 

The drive to Reno for my flight was calm and uneventful and I made my way hope safely.

 

Next I wanna either go into Utah, or Jackson Hole area!

 

Thanks all for the advice, and tips.  Some I took, some I didn't, but all was included in my decisions and appreciated.

 

Oh, and the bay area traffic on Fridays is all it is hyped to be and then some.  Leaving the San Jose airport with my car, the GPS routed me on some back mountain road for 15 miles of edge of a cliff driving with no guard rails, and no cell service, but there were a bunch of other cars going the same way I was, so I went with it.  That essentially started routing me towards stockton area, and my maps showed all interestates north of there solid red!

 

haha, overall good time, and thanks all!

post #51 of 51

Thanks for the report and you sound like you made the best of it. You probably took Calaveras Rd which I never have used to get around I-680 N backup from San Jose past Fremont to Sunol. But I would not leave San Jose on a Friday between 2 and 7 PM. Even leaving at noon requires knowing which roads not to take. I have mostly skied Tahoe during the week this year and on the one Sunday I skied Kirkwood this year, I planned to get there 30 minutes before slopes opened, but due to chain control and backup entering Kirkwood was on slopes a couple of minutes after opening.

 

Heavenly gondola from 'downtown' can be a bottleneck going up and down. It's much better to park at CA base, then ski down in sun at end of day. You are lucky you did experience what my son did on Sat 1/30 when gondola and Sky chair did not run due to wind and all of NV side was closed due to power issue. CA base was overrun and people staying near gondola were stuck in shuttles for more than an hour to get to running lifts. My son and his friends, who were planning to go to Kirkwood, re-routed when CA-88 W of there was closed for avalanche control, parked a mile away and hiked up. 

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