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Tahoe trip report (long)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi Bears;
The wife & I just got back from Tahoe, 2/13 - 2/19. Skied M - F. This was a first time for us in the Tahoe region. I'll try to break this down into a logical report, (I do science-type stuff for a living....sorry).

Background: Both expert skiers, East Coast, (near Albany, NY). Me 43 years, her 40 years skiing. I'm 58, she's 48, both in good shape. Can ski just about anything except we're not so hot at deeper powder but we manage after we reacquire the 'feel". I'm to the point that the really harder stuff is still doable, but saps a lot of my energy and can slow the rest of my day, so I tend to limit the really gnarly stuff now.
We've skied: Utah, most major resorts and Colorado a lot, mostly going back to Summit County. We've been to Snowmass and Steamboat besides all areas in and around Breckenridge. We've got considerable background and are not first-time ski travelers.

Weather: Mostly cloudy, (in the clouds much of the time), and temps in the mid to upper 30s. This made the snow hard first thing and soft to wet by day's end. We saw some new snow a couple of days.

Monday: Heavenly - This was our coldest day and the surfaces were pretty hard, more like we're used to skiing in Northern NY and VT, except no thin spots. We were surprised at the crowds in some areas, it being a Monday. We learned long ago that people are "heard-animals" and tend to clump up. We found plenty of places to avoid the busy trails. We didn't care much for this area. Found it to be cut up into smaller pieces and didn't flow. I have to be fair and say the the surfaces were bullet-proof and can see that the tree-skiing sould be dynamite! We tried some, but it was'n't much fun in the woods without softer snow. All-in-all a typical big mega-resort.

Tuesday: Kirkwood - Wow! Loved this place!! What terrain!! Could use a base lodge improvement, but we have nothing but good to say about Kirkwood.

Wednesday: Squaw - man, again awesome! We moved all over the mountain as much as time allowed. Sampled everything from Shirly Lake to Squaw Creek. What terrain! Did some tree-stuff, but nothing steep. Didn't feel comfortable with where we'd end up, not knowing the place. Needed a Bear for a guide! That day, Siberia Bowl was a white-out, but fun anyway, wish we could have seen what we were skiing, seemed pretty steep. That's why we didn't do Granite Chief, total white-out.

Thursday: Alpine - Another beauty! Super terrain, although the snow in bowl off the Sherwood chair was tracked out and very heavy - tough sledding. We dipped in and promptly got out, too much work! The stuff off the Lakeview chair was nice. A couple of those Blues would be lower Balcks in the East! Fun! Can't say enough about the base lodge. We were really surprised at what a good job they've done here and all for $39.

Friday: Kirkwood again, (couldn't get enough). Snowed all morning and cleared in the afternoon, (figures, our last day). Another great day.

South Lake Tahoe: Hmmmm, best described as tacky! At advice of travel agent, (ski oriented company), we were at Harvey's. Nice, but a bit over-the-top. This ain't a ski town like Breck. It's tourist and Rental Randys all the way. I didn't know there was so much old ski equipment left in the whole world and people are paying to rent it!!
The town is full of run-down old motels and rental shops. The restaureant are outrageously priced if you want to go to a "good" place. Thanks to the Bears we found plenty of good places to eat at reasonable prices.

Conclusion: Positives: great ski terrain, warmer weather, (hero snow), and lower altitude for us sea-level folks, (Summit County in CO can be tough).
Negatives: Long drive between areas and crummy town. North Lake looked to be much nicer, as many of you told me. I'd already made the reservations by then.
We'd do it again.
post #2 of 7
Good report! Makes my separation anxiety even worse (we just moved from the Bay Area to Atlanta last year).

You really captured my opinions of Tahoe pretty well, considering that it was your first visit.

Southshore is my wife and my least favorite part of Tahoe. The casino town glitz doesn't match up well with the alpine environment. Additionally, the restaurant choices are very limited for families. The entire area is always crowded. I made the mistake of attending a July 4 wedding there once. Yuck.

And Heavenly, as you discovered is one of the worst laid out mountains I've skied. The natural bottlenecks create long liftlines in certain areas regardless of how crowded the mountain is. It's very tough to put together a nice top-to-bottom run there without a long, flat traverse. That being said, the views from Heavenly on a clear spring day are unmatched and Gunbarrel is still my favorite ski run in the world (I love big bumps).

The rest of Tahoe makes up for the shortcomings of SLT. Squaw is the king. Expert's paradise and lots of variety. This was my entire family's favorite area to ski multiple days.

The smaller areas, Kirkwood, Alpine, and Sugar Bowl, though, are the bread and butter of Tahoe skiing. Better atmosphere than the big resorts and plenty of delicious terrain for all levels of skiing. Both my kids learned to ski primarily at Alpine so I've got a huge attachment to that area.

Like you also noticed, the entire Tahoe area lacks the charm of the typical ski town. Tahoe City and Incline Village, on the north shore, are closer but still a far cry from a JH, Steamboat, Breckenridge, or Crested Butte.

Meh...who am I kidding. The worst of Lake Tahoe is still exponentially better than the best of Atlanta. Glad you had fun!
post #3 of 7
Thanks for the report.

Try SugarBowl next time.

Smaller but very cool.
post #4 of 7

Cheap Tickets?

C.B., a group of friends and I are going to be in the Tahoe area next week for a similar trip. Sounds like we are in for a great time. Thanks for the great report.

We have been delaying the research a little and haven't ironed out our plans to obtain lift tickets because we wanted to remain flexible concerning which resorts we went too.

Were you able to find any cheap/discount sources for tickets to the resorts you went to?
post #5 of 7

REI has discount tickets

post #6 of 7
Good report.....nail on the head with Heavenly...

next time - no kidding - do a day at Mt Rose in Reno...small place with amazing terrain now that 'The Chutes' are open...it has a very high base elevation - which means the best snow consistency in Tahoe....and the views of the Washoe Valley are breathtaking!!!
post #7 of 7
Yes, try Sugarbowl and Rose next time, both worth at least a day (or, combined with the others, a lifetime IMHO).

Wait, I mean both suck, stay away
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