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Tahoe - Agony and Ecstacy

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We just returned yesterday from 5 days in Tahoe area, my first trip to this region.

I've never seen as much snowfall in 5 days - likely 5 to 6 feet where we were (Incline).

In my view, Tahoe rates with Jackson Hole and Whistler/Blackcomb for world-class terrain and steeps. Unfortunately, the upper parts of Squaw and Alpine were closed (high winds) on the days we planned to ski them, so we could only admire them from afar.

However, we did get the chance to dance down the Chutes at Mr. Rose (55 degrees in some places). My internal organs objected (are you insane?) as I stepped into "Saddle". But, the 18 inches of fresh wasn't to be denied. What a friggen' ride.

The key, I've learned, with such steeps is to keep throwing your belly-button down the fall-line with each turn - in other words, do the exact opposite of what common sense tells you. Once the rhythm's going, you forget fear and only the rush remains.

I also saw a level of expert skiing at Tahoe that truly impressed me. Like Jackson Hole, the average Tahoe local skier level was extremely high. These guys, and some ladies, could rip with abandon. Awesome skill that was a joy to behold.

Also, like JH, it seemed that most local experts were on skis instead of boards. Also lots of superb tele skiers.

The Chutes at Mt. Rose were among the most heart-pounding runs I've done, and worth everything we endured.

What did we endure? Winds - sometimes as high as 80 mph. Blistering, punishing and relentless. It never gave up. I'm sure it's not always like this.

I also discovered what the term "Sierra Cement" means. At lower elevations, the snow was often deep, heavy and wet. At higher elevations, the snow was excellent, hence, Mt. Rose - the highest.

Finally, fog. We were immersed in it for 4 out of 5 days. After a while, one learns to adapt to it. But, limited visibility lessen's the abandon with which you can hurl your body down perilous pitches. At the worst moments, it was so thick I became nauseous.

The rewards of endless pow are usually accompanied by some of the above limitations. Therefore, you either cowboy-up and pay the price, or go home.

All in all, a memorable and exhilerating experience. I'll definitely be back!
post #2 of 16
What a trip you had ... awesome

I hate fog too. It happened to me a few times and like you, I felt so nauseaus that I had to stop (and almost throw up) when I got down.

The worst condition I was in was when it was snowing (wet snow) on top and raining down the bottom. :

post #3 of 16
Captain, sounds a bit like PNW conditions!!!

Sounds like you got some great turns in though
post #4 of 16
Yup- except we call it "Cascade Cement" up there. Famously wet snow. I don't think I've ever skiied what could legitmetely be called 'powder'.

Hopefully I'll have better conditions this weekend for my first Tahoe trip. I can't stand getting soaked and not being able to see where I'm going. I'm pumped up as hell though- Can't wait to get up there.
post #5 of 16
It sounds like you had a most excellent trip! My best friend lives in Reno and she keeps telling me about all the snow they're getting. Lucky you, to get to enjoy it! We couldn't fit the trip in this year, but we hope to go next year (and hope the snow will be there too).

I too hate fog. Earlier this year, we were cat skiing at Chatter Creek Lodge, just outside of Golden, BC. The snow was phenomenal and thigh-deep, worthy of note because the resorts and other cat-skiing operators had just been clobbered by that tropical punch and skiing at KH was pretty bad. Anyway, the first day, it was foggy as all get out. Could not see a thing. We had to put our faith in the guide, which we did, and the day was incredible. But, the next day, it was clear as a bell outside and when we actually SAW what we'd been skiing BLIND the day before, it freaked most of us out! : That kind of terrain should be skied with some kind of visibility! Some of those cliffs were way too close for comfort...

post #6 of 16
Yeah we get it all here in tahoe. Sunday it was windy and snowing but it was nice light pow....Tuesday it snowed harder than I've ever seen it snow...but this batch was heavy and wet......wednesday morning the snow had a semi-windpacked/frozen layer...but it was still fun and some sections were nice and light...others were tough. Not much fog any of those days....just snow and wind.

When the storms are hitting the best bet is to go to Rose - they really have a set of big ones - they'll run the lifts and they'll open the Chutes (and the road stays open) in most everything Mother Nature throws at 'em....hit the big places once the storm dies down!!
post #7 of 16
So when are you going back and ski the rest of the Mt:-) I really liked Alpine Meadows where a skier can rail off a large Cornice into an open powder field. Your right about the expert Tahoe skiers.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Slider: I'll be back early next season, likely 2nd week of December (before the place goes gonzo for Christmas break).

I reeeeally want to check out the upper alpine areas of Squaw and Alpine. I don't do much cornice jumping or rock-hopping anymore, but I'd enjoy watching the young studdlies do it. I'll still ski almost anything that's attached to the ground.

My wife's an intermediate level skier, and only ventured 6 or 7 hours of skiing over our 5 day trip (too much wind, fog and deep, wet snow for her). Still, she's ready to come back and try Tahoe when the Gods are in a gentler mood.

Regardless of skiing, Tahoe is breathtakingly beautiful, with a special, almost spiritual vibe. It's easy to see why so many have journeyed there.
post #9 of 16
Great report Capt. you are truly a soul skier.
post #10 of 16
Enjoyed your report. Even though the weather was heavy during your stay, you really hit it right. Better to get fresh snow, than the conditions we had the week before you came. But, you should have been here TODAY!
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
But, you should have been here TODAY!
The story of my ski life!!
post #12 of 16
Glad to here you had a good time Capt. I was stuck for 1/2 hour in the East Bowl chair lift in the HOWLING wind on Sunday. Every time a lift stops now my heart sinks . The winds were brutal. Yesterday was awesome, I went to Homewood to escape the winds finally. Not quite the terrain of the other mountains, but untracked lines from first to last chair and really nice snow yesterday. You are right on about how to ski the steeps, COMMIT TO THE FALL LINE (even if every instinct in your body suggests otherwise). I skied Sugar Bowl today which was just sick, they opened the '58s and Pallisades and there was some SICK skiing. Saw 30 foot cliff jums, flips, man, there are some great skiers out here.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Rick: 1/2 hour on a lift in that wind would have left me looking like Darth Vader - without the mask.

I really wanted to try Homewood. Next time, it's on the list. Likewise, Sugar Bowl. I've heard legends about the terrain there.

Yeah, the skier level in Tahoe is out there - far beyond anything I did in my 20's. These people have a clue.
post #14 of 16
It gets no respect, and hardly a passing thought here, but Sierra at Tahoe had no wind holds on Sunday and great conditions. If you can ski with a local, or take the backcountry course ($25 including guide, beacons, probes), the out of bounds terrain adds Kirkwood like terrain to Sierra but that is generally closed on storm days. It is still the best area on a storm day, and the only one with high speed lifts, just don't tell anyone. Homewood actually has better views and smaller crowds, so don't hesitate to go there instead (more powder for me).
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's true, Sierra at Tahoe gets little mention anywhere (even in Tahoe - it seems). Presuming what you say is true, Cirquerider (you have my full confidence), I'm suprised more people don't discuss it.

Are there any significant downsides?
post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
Enjoyed your report. Even though the weather was heavy during your stay, you really hit it right. Better to get fresh snow, than the conditions we had the week before you came. But, you should have been here TODAY!
Yes I was at the misfortune of the 60+ degree days. I would have surely have traded with him!
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