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Tahoe in Late January?!?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just found out that I'll be going to Heavenly for a week in Later Januady, 2003.

How are the conditions then?

Any chance I can get some Tahoe Bears to show my wife and me the goods at Heavenly? We're also open to some of the other Tahoe area resorts...

(Please bear in mind that she's an intermediate skier who prefers groomed conditions after her knee wrecking experience with powder, and I'll be on a pair of 62mm waisted GS skis).
post #2 of 15
Generally you should have good to excellent skiing. Late January is a good time to come Snow should be mid winter quality with 100% of terrain open. Heavenly is perfect for an intermediate. Since you're at South Shore you must hit Kirkwood, 45 minutes south and I would give Sierra Ski Ranch a try too, about 25 minutes west. After the groomers at Heavnely you may want to rent some real skis for some true off-piste terrain, say a nice 70 -78 mm waisted mid fat. Damn easterners
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks desertdawg,

I probably will rent some mid-fats or fats and try some powder and tree skiing.

Since my wife and the wife on the other couple I'm going out there with are intermediates, we'll most likely spend a majority of our time at Heavenly, but I would like to go to another resort for at least 1 day. I was thinking Squaw, but maybe I'll give Kirkwood a go.

How far are Squaw and Kirkwood from the CA side of Heavenly?

How atr Mott and Killebrew canyons? I've heard they're steep. Will they be enough to keep me interested for around four days?
post #4 of 15
Squaw took me about an hour from Heavenly.

If you are looking for challenge Heavenly is going to bore you after a half hour. Neither canyon was difficult, nor large enough to keep my interest.

I heavily recommend you drive to Squaw - not only a beautiful drive, but the terrain at Squaw will blow you away. There are issues in the winter with the road being open I am told though.
post #5 of 15

Put it this way, I've skied 50 days a season in the Sierra for the past 21 winters, I've skied Heavenly less than 5 times and I've never skied Motts of Killibrew. I've heard they are steep and fun when the snow is right, a good possibility in late January. I've also heard they are at least a two chair lift ride to get back to the top. 4 days? if you want to fly around on GS groomers, sure, I don't think that's what you come to Tahoe to do though.

Kirkwood or Squaw Valley are both excellent for the advanced skier. Ironicaly, I feel the Squaw Valley does not offer much variety for the intermediate, Kirkwood has more to offer a group like yours but if the snow is good at Squaw Valley and you'vre never been and you don't know when and if you'll return then it's tough to pass up. Squaw Valley is at least an hour on two lane and longer if the west shore road is closed at Emerald Bay, a 50/50 likelihood in late January. There is a boat/ shuttle combo from south shore to SV that may be worth looking into.

Kirkwood is 45-55 minutes SW on two lane crossing over Carson Pass, incredibly beautiful, and an incredibly fun mountain and if you want snow, real Sierra quantity without typical Sierra quality(drier than most areas), then check it out. There may be shuttles, I don't know.

As I said before, take a look at Sierra at Tahoe, about 25 minutes to the west. Small resort with good trees and some steeps, smaller than the aforementioned 3 but close. You'll have fun no matter what you choose to do. The views from Heavenly will last a lifetime.
post #6 of 15
I've been to Heavenly a few times over the past few years. While it is great for intermediates, if you like steep stuff, as everyone else has said, you'll get bored quickly. Also, Heavenly has had some of the longest lift lines I've every been in, especially on the weekends. Also, the lifts are not laid out very intelligently.

If you are going to ski Heavenly I definitely recommend starting on the Nevada side. Wind can close the upper lifts which will make it very difficult to get from one side to the other. Since most people start out on the CA side, if there is a wind closure the NV side is much less crowded. And there will be more terrain open since the NV side is a bit less prone to wind closures. You'd probably have more fun at Sqauw or Kirkwood.
post #7 of 15
Another easterner chimes in, (but I've visited TAHOE basin twice a year for the last 10 years!)......Tahoe area has much to offer. The description of your narrow waisted skis and mentioning your wife who most enjoys the groomers presently. It's a tough call. All of the following options are fantastic if the snow gods are willing...In a typical Tahoe region dump, Heavenly will see 18" powder, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows 24" and KIRKWOOD 30-36". My favorite is KIRKWOOD, highest base elevation, (7800 feet VS 6200-6500 for the others), for drier snow...marvoulous Blue groomers, few crowds particularly during the week. In addition, I recommend that during your stay you try Heavenly, for it's heavenly view of the Lake and lots of blue groomers & Alpine Meadows. Then after trying those out figure out which you like more and visit them some more. Squaw has some really steeps but this doesn't sound like it fits your bill. I hope you have great weather..you'll never forget the trip!! :
post #8 of 15
Don't give a thought to whether an intermediate skier will find suitable runs at any ski area in the Tahoe area. They all have plenty of beginner and intermediate terain.
post #9 of 15
sorry, but heavenly blows. lower in elvation and for whatever reason, doesnt get the snow. motts and kilibrew are good, but only in copious snow years. a trip to the north shore is at least 1.0 hrs in winter. kirkwood is your best bet
post #10 of 15
Originally posted by irul&ublo:
sorry, but heavenly blows. lower in elvation and for whatever reason, doesnt get the snow. motts and kilibrew are good, but only in copious snow years. a trip to the north shore is at least 1.0 hrs in winter. kirkwood is your best bet
You just can't dismiss Heavenly. Motts and Killebrew have had good snow the last 4/5 year. 2001 was not as great. These areas are steep. Steep with trees. Also, Heavenly has great tree runs, say, down off the cat track to the Nevada side, and over on the Nevada side above the Stagecoach lodge. But, sigh, irul&ublo is right, sadly, it doesn't get the snow. I took the below picture at Heavenly on April 27 this year. As this picture clearly shows, there is no snow, graphically demonstrating irul&ublo's point, Heavenly doesn't get the snow:
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for all the advice. I think the call is to hit Heavenly a few of the days and venture over to Kirkwood for a majority of the days. Kirkwood will be a tough sell since we;re staying right at the base of Heavenly, but I think the shorter lift lines at Kirkwood is the deal maker (wife hates lift lines even more than me).

Where are some good shops to rent fat skis (near Heavenly and near Kirkwood)? Do I have to call in advance and reserve skis?
post #12 of 15
On the plus side for Heavenly, there's gambling and hookers.
post #13 of 15
That is a nice plus.

I wish I could remember the name of the shop my family used at Heavenly, as the service they received was outstanding. It's name escapes me, but if I can recall it I will post it.

As for calling ahead, the road to the mountain is littered with shops, so I would be surprised if you needed to.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
The wife LOVES gambling, but I'm not big on it. So, for me, that leaves the hookers - which is a lot like gambling. (heh, heh).

Perhaps I'm getting old, but by the end of a ski day I'm wiped out. I usually grab a beer or three and sack out so I can hit the mountain early the next day.
post #15 of 15
Originally posted by Gill:
...but I think the shorter lift lines at Kirkwood is the deal maker (wife hates lift lines even more than me)...
Well...it's not quite that simple. Not to rain on everyone's Kirkwood picnic, but Kirkwood has a quad lift, installed a couple of seasons ago. The rest of the lifts are slow. There is no comparison with Heavenly here. Some are more frequently victimized by wind, like the Sunrise chair which services great corniced terrain and the very fine descents into the Cirque. If enough chairs are on wind hold, you'll use the new Cornice Quad, as will everyone else. In that situation, the singles line to that chair can stretch up the slope.
Also, skiing the Cornice as access to the great terrain over in Sentinal and Palisades puts you down into the Timber Creek beginner area. The only chair back is the Hole n' Wall double (you miss terrain if you cut over early from Sentinal to the Cornice chair). "Shorter lift lines at Kirkwood" does not apply in this case. You are on this lift with the ski school and the beginners.
If you hate lift lines, this will be a big problem. Another lift is planned for this area.
Of course skiing during the week offers fewer skiers, but again, keep in mind, Heavenly has a lot of fast lifts, and Kirkwood has poor lifts and awkward connectivity. Both places are great to ski, I like them both. But it's not like Heavenly blows and Kirkwood has no problems.

I should say about Kirkwood, it is 50% expert and 50% very easy intermediate. There is only one intermediate run that goes up to the ridge, over at Sunrise. Thus, if you want to ski the ridge, you are a pretty good skier. But you do best at Kirkwood if you like to explore. Take the Cornice lift, then traverse skier's left into Sentinal Bowl and beyond into Palisades Bowl. You'll see a couple of caves over there (provided they aren't covered...could happen, but probably not yet in late January). The runs ("runs" is a bad term. It's where you want to go) are wonderful, truly some of the finest skiing you will do. Follow tracks up the ridge for even more terrain you might otherwise miss.
On the other end of the resort, off of the top of Chair 2, there is a good climb into really nice slopes. I like the cornice area over at Sunrise and the drops into the Cirque area. They do the extreme skiing competion on Thimble above it all.
Stay away from the Wall. Everyone skis it, all the boarders are on it, and it gets skied down quickly. It's steep, but there is a lot of other steep terrain people don't ski and the snow is really good. If the snow looks nice and not scraped down, it'll be fun.

I've told you the places I like at Heavenly. The lifts there are good, and again, on a weekday you'll do fine anywhere, so I'm not sure what is meant by "shorter" lines at Kirkwood, because on the weekend Kirkwood gets crowded too, with inferior lifts. I've skied both places at least 15 times each. And if you can ski Mott and Killebrew at Heavenly, you won't see a line. Cheer up the lonely lift attendant.
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