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Tahoe locals: skiing during storms??

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
A question for those of you real familiar with Tahoe: which areas are reliable for being most open during major storms? I'm heading up this weekend and another big storm is predicted, but I'll ski in any weather as long as the lifts are open. I'm trying to figure out if north or south shore is the best strategy to find open lifts. My experience over the years is that the mostly above-treeline areas like Squaw, Alpine, Kirkwood, and Sugar Bowl have very limited operations during major storms due to high winds, if they are open at all. The below treeline areas like Northstar and Sierra would seem to be best as they are most wind protected. Not sure how reliable Heavenly is.

Anyway, any recommendations to increase my chance of actually skiing this weekend would be greatly appreciated!!
post #2 of 11
Northstar is where a lot of my friends head. I've never skied there, but I hear the trees on the back are fun during storm days. My choice however is Homewood. It's lower and protected by the trees. Uncrowded, lots of fun, and the lifts are almost always running.
post #3 of 11
Normally I expect Sierra at Tahoe to be well sheltered from storms. During the last one however, it was on wind hold and access was difficult. I found that Homewood could bee skied through the heart of the storm. In fact, snow was deep and untracked on Dec. 31 - January 1 when all other south Tahoe resorts were on wind hold with 115+ mph winds over the summits. Was able to ski on the 1st at homewood and still go to the first openings for the summit and Motts Canyon at Heavenly on the 2nd.

Northstar has a reputation for being sheltered. I wonder if the Lookout Mtn area is open during storms. A little steeper than Backside, but sheltered by trees.
post #4 of 11
I'm not a tahoe local, but have been there quite a bit during storms the past few years. My recommendation is definitely Northstar over squaw/alpine/sugarbowl/kirkwood. I don't know about heavenly or sierra at tahoe.

At northstar, there will be good sheltered powder skiing in the woods on the backside (many lines off that ridge between the frontside and the backside). Lookout mountain will also most likely be open and there are somewhat steeper tree lines there.
post #5 of 11
Lookout mountain at Northstar had a late opening on Friday (12/31) around 1pm.
On saturday (1/1) - it was not open when i called them around noon as I was driving up on 80 - they were working to get it open. I wanted to get to northstar - but with the slow moving traffic and icy roads - I decided to take the sugarbowl exit.
post #6 of 11
If it's a huge dump, Hw-50 may got shutdown before I-80, even if it's not, the delay is very long to make it hard to get to Sierra-Tahoe or Heavenly. For Kirkwood, hw-89 and 88 usually got sutdown during heavy dump so it's not accessible.
The north shore is a better bet since CalTran plow I-80 pretty fast and if not traffic just slows down for chain inspection.

If it's rediculously bad (like the last storm on Sunday/Monday), all bets are off; you don't want to sit in traffic for 6-7 hrs to move 2 miles. :

Edit to add some pics...

If it's dumping like this

And like this

I-80 got shutdown for 2+ hrs

: :
post #7 of 11
I go to the back side of Northstar....

Although I've *read* on here time and tiem again that Homewood is also a good choice.
post #8 of 11
Alpine is not that bad. Though usually during a storm, its blowing like mad on top, there are areas down low which are steep enough for interest and somewhat protected. Also, Alpine has slopes on many different aspects, so you can avoid the wind direction. Squaw is the same way, though the 8200 ft lifts are pretty exposed. But if the storm is nice and cold, you can spend all day on KT and Oly Lady.

Sugar Bowl has quite a bit of tree skiing, much of which is unknown, or at least ignored.

Sierra and Homewood both have the reputation of being out of the wind.
post #9 of 11
I'll echo what others have said about Northstar, Homewood, and Sierra-at-Tahoe, being the best choices on storm days. During storm days, travel is often difficult on snowy roads. Also if one is planning to ski during storms, it is likely one is an enthusiastic powder skier. As such there is a need to get to resorts early on storm days in order to harvest goods. Thus one doesn't really have an option to lodge on the south shore and ski the north or vice versa unless one doesn't care about spending hours driving.

From the perspective of easiest access on snowy roads, the two northern resorts are preferable. S-a-T may be inaccessable from Tahoe at times during large storms because US50 east of Echo Summit climbs a grade with considerable avalanche threats. Caltrans regularly closes it for a few hours. Also US50 has much more traffic than roads accessing the northern resorts, thus is more liable to become blocked by accidents. Homewood is the easiest access from the north shore and Northstar is easiest from Truckee. SR267 from the north shore rarely closes and when it does, such is likely due to accidents on the winding road up top.

Skiing wise, S-a-T has better terrain for advanced skiers on storm days, but is also more likely to have limited lifts open during windy storms due to more exposed lifts. During windy storms, Northstar may shut down the advanced terrain on its backside leaving mainly low gradient terrain which heavier powder skiers may often just get bogged down in. Homewood is the better choice as long as the storm is cold with a sub 5k snow level. The old lift system and trail layout is awkward. However the savvy skier that has studied the trail map and topo will find considerable rewards in neglected out of the way glades.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks to those who recommended Homewood!

I skied untracked powder at Homewood all day Sat & Sunday during the storm. The wind was blasting at the top and I'm sure the other Tahoe resorts were in real bad shape, but Homewood was open, uncrowded, and I found untracked powder throughout the day. The trees are great. 2 of the best powder days of my life! Thanks!!!
post #11 of 11
Its going to be tough to keep the Homewood powder stashes a secret with this kind of feedback. BTW, welcome to Epic. Are you local?
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