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Alta or Squaw

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Planning a trip out west in early March '03. Everyone says Utah but I say Squaw Valley. Does Alta and Snowbird have the nice groomed intermediate runs?? I hear Heavenly is good for this and Squaw looks great with its wide open wilderness. Is wind often a problem at Squaw?? Generally I am looking for info on Lake Tahoe and Utah (Snowbird/Alta). I am expert, however, my girl needs groomed intermediate runs. Thanks and Happy Trails
post #2 of 12
my suggestion:
stay at heavenly go to squaw at least 1 day to satisfy yourself. theres a boat that goes from s. lake tahoe to squaw.
post #3 of 12
Squaw is the fourth best resort in the Tahoe area:

1. Alpine
2. Kirkwood
3. Sugar Bowl
4. Squaw

My $.02.
post #4 of 12
Welcome to EpicSki! Good to see someone from Maine, I lived in Waterville for 4 years.

Squaw has the best advanced terrain in Tahoe, but not very good intermediate terrain (limited and crowded intermediate runs). And there is no credible way to apply the term "wilderness" to Squaw, but it is great skiing.

You probably want to stick with either the north shore or south shore of the lake, it is an hour to get from 1 to the other. My recommendation for intermediate skiing in Tahoe is:

North Shore: Northstar
South Shore: Heavenly

But if you want a blend of advanced and intermediate (more interesting for you, but not as good for your girlfriend).

North shore: Alpine Meadows
South shore: Kirkwood

As for Utah, Snowbird and Alta are more advanced, the next canyon over is Park City and Deer Valley which are more intermediate. Also, Park city is a MUCH better and more fun town than anything near Alta and Snowbird.

[ August 27, 2002, 10:19 PM: Message edited by: AC ]
post #5 of 12
Originally posted by quadride:
Planning a trip out west in early March '03. Everyone says Utah but I say Squaw Valley. Does Alta and Snowbird have the nice groomed intermediate runs?? I hear Heavenly is good for this and Squaw looks great with its wide open wilderness. Is wind often a problem at Squaw?? Generally I am looking for info on Lake Tahoe and Utah (Snowbird/Alta). I am expert, however, my girl needs groomed intermediate runs. Thanks and Happy Trails
Tough problem! Both are fine and will fit the bill. Also, as has been mentioned, both have several other resorts nearby. Wind at Squaw is probably typical of any mountain. Not sure how wind conditions compare with Alta. I have been at Squaw at times when some lifts have been on wind hold. In that case, just go to Northstar or Sierra-at-Tahoe.
The snow quality at Alta is legendary, but there can be rare times when it is better in Tahoe, like in 1999 when we were in light dry powder most of the season, and in light powder in a two foot dump in April at Kirkwood. But usually Alta rules. There is a chance for great powder. Also a chance not to get it. Both areas get a lot of snow, and were the two places in the nation to be last season. Squaw is about twice as big as Alta or Snowbird, at 4500 acres, but if that bothers you, you can get a combined pass for Alta/Snowbird. I think that this is still less terrain than Squaw, interestingly enough. But if that still bothers you, ski out of bounds. Utah allows it and even has signs telling you what bus to pick up when you get to a road. Bring a shovel and avvie transceiver.
Squaw and Snowbird have big steeps, but plenty of any kind of terrain for anyone. Everyone grooms a lot of terrain. Alta has steeps too, but does not allow snowboarders and there is a noticable snow quality improvement because of this. But Squaw has, uh... steeps. And not just in one place, but in places all over the resort, so you can really explore.

As was mentioned, the other resorts around these resorts are just fine. I liked Solitude in Utah. Park City has good skiing; I have not made it to the Canyons, which seems to evoke some controversy, but those I know who have skied it like it. I'll get there this season. It's 3500 acres, making it the biggest SLC resort. If you like grooming, Deer Valley may well have the best grooming in the world.

Seriously, both areas are great. Both, you'll get there in the morning and hopefully you'll hear the sweet sound of the avvie guns going off. Quit your job, live in Reno or SLC, then you can ski one locally and get a cheap flight to the other.
post #6 of 12
I guess the real question is your taste in post ski activities.

Lots of night life close by. Park City or South shore. Quite time together, SLC & North Shore.

Each of the resorts mentioned have some great runs. Utah resorts stay open in the wind and blowing snow more then Calif resorts. From a snow standpoint, it depends on when the last storm was. If your girlfriend ski's blues and you want some nearby black action, both Park City and Alta can fit the bill. I think Park City is a bit better. At Alta you can get a blue skier into some deep trouble fast. In California, Try basing at Northstar or Heavenly. Those are the best for starting. For each of these you can then branch out and have a ball. You have all the PC area resorts, and the cottonwood resorts. in California, North Shore has Sqaw, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl... South Shore has Heavenly - try the Nevada side, Kirkwood (Good day trip, you can catch a bus from the South Shore area) and Seirra at Tahoe.

I've spent a week at both areas and had a blast every day skiing.


post #7 of 12
Tough call. Wish I could review the Tahoe areas, but I have yet to ski them. On my list in the very near future.

Alta and Snowbird have some good intermediate terrain, with expert stuff anywhere you look. Combined the bring 4700 acres to the table, but you really can't see all of it in one day. Pick one or the other, the go to the 2nd one the next day (saves a bit on lift tickets). The snow is legendary. At Alta, there is at least one run off every lift that an intermediate can easily handle, I believe the same is true for Snowbird.

If your a true expert, and your girlfriend is a true intermediate, in Utah take a look at Solitude and Snowbasin, as well as the Park City resorts. They have a pretty good mix as well. You will find enough at those resorts to satisfy you, as well as your girlfriend, and the best part, they can be accessed from the same lift, so you can still ski together.

Wish I knew more about Tahoe areas, as I hear that they are amazing. Welcome to the board.
post #8 of 12
The skiing part of your question has pretty much been covered but I would like to share my experience with the trip in general.

-- The best trip I have ever been on was to the Reno-Tahoe area. The skiing at Squaw and Heavenly was good, but it was the fact that we opted to stay in Reno and drive out to ski each day. Reno was wonderful! I can't imagine anyone saying they can't find something to entertain themselves there. They cover the entire gamut, and skiing is as close as 30 minutes away. If you don't want to drive, there are buses to the ski areas. I can't recommend it highly enough, but it isn't a ski town. It calls itself the biggest little city in the world and I have to agree.

.... After two trips to the Salt Lake City region, I have seen nothing that even remotely compares to the entertainment options in the Tahoe region.
post #9 of 12
Hard to go wrong with either choice but here's some additional info. Tahoe can get great Utah like snow but don't count on it. The elevation at Utah is higher 8-11k at Snowbird, 6-9k at Squaw. Squaw gets a ton of wind, and it's very common for the upper mountain to be closed and that's where a lot of the blue runs are. No big deal, just go to Northstar or Homewood, 2 great sheltered resorts for storm days! Squaw has a good lift system, some High-speed lifts, Northstar has a ton of 'em, Alta has none, and Snowbird has a couple. Many more easy access resorts around the Tahoe area. If you stay at Northstar, you can drive to 11 different ski areas in less than an hour, most less than that. Squaw, Alpine, Sugar Bowl, Homewood & Mt. Rose are all worth a visit IMO. There's other small areas also within 30min like Diamond Peak, Tahoe-Donner, Donner Ski Ranch, Soda Springs and Boreal, but don't waste your time. Avoid Heavenly, the most overrated ski area on the planet (except maybe PCMR) unless you're after a great upper body workout -- lotsa traversing!
As with any ski vacation, you're at the mercy of the weather. Could be good, could be bad, could be epic! Have fun!
Have you considered Jackson Hole? Lotsa steeps, lotsa groomers, lotsa backcountry! A day at Targhee. A half day at Snow King. Day trip to Yellowstone! That'd be my choice!
post #10 of 12
One local put it to me this way: if you like to ski down, go to Sqauw; if you like to ski across, go to Heavenly.
post #11 of 12
By the way, the best skiing in CA (and often the US) is about 3 hours south of Reno.

rob - good description of Heavenly.
post #12 of 12
Helispin, remember mid-April into May of last season......
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