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Lift Lines/Hassles 12/27-1/1 Mammoth vs. Heav/Squaw??

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hola again! We can ski at either location (mammoth or heavenly and squaw) on the dates mentioned, but which one is likely to be Noticeably less crowded, less hassles due to crowds, etc.?

Of course, I presume our skiing during 1/2-8 should be a breeze at any of these...

Grazie!
post #2 of 27
Mammoth will definitely be less crowded. A big part of the Tahoe problem is traffic, where South Shore and Tahoe City/Hwy 89 can be close to gridlock on busy days.

If your trip is that long I would recommend going to Mammoth first, and then on to Tahoe after Jan. 1. Since you haven't skied the Sierra before, it's worthwhile to try both on a 2-week trip.
post #3 of 27

And in Tahoe

The previous poster was correct. That period is a zoo in Tahoe. The locals hibernate, leave town, or have a really bad attitude. Know that there are differences between Heavenly, South Shore, and Squaw Valley, North Shore. South Shore is (even) more targetted to the New Year's crowd who seem to think it's fun to celibrate the new year in a catatonic state. This leads to a benefit - New Year's day tends to be ok on the slopes. But South Shore has even worse traffic problems, North Shore more skiing options. But at least Mammoth is constrained by the amount of local accomodations.

As an aside - is it 'fun' for folks to come up on holiday weekends ? My guess is that it more resembles their hectic lifestyle the rest of the time :
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Tks again folks! Car traffic doesn't bother us, we're usually in parking lots at least 1/2 hour prior to opening time. What about the slopes themselves, any major differences at this time, re lift-lines, crowds on runs, etc.?
post #5 of 27
Mammoth is still better. 4 base areas to access the mountain and spread people around, especially the casual intermediates that make up a higher-than-normal proportion of holiday skiers. The lift capacity and layout handle the crowds easily if all the lifts are running. Problems arise only on the bad weather days when upper lifts are closed.

Heavenly is not a place I want to be with peak crowds. The lines at Sky and Dipper will be considerable. For access the new gondola is convenient but will have big lines both going up and coming back down. Better to drive to one of the Nevada base lifts if it's a busy time.

Squaw is still fine for experts, assuming coverage is adequate (that means 6-8 feet on the steeps, far from automatic at Christmas), because there are so many lifts that service exclusively advanced+ terrain. Not recommended for lesser skiers during peak times as intermediates runs/lifts will be extremely congested. Be there by 8AM to mitigate parking/traffic issues.

If at Tahoe during Christmas-to-New Year's I would be inclined to do the skiing at the less famous or convenient areas: Sierra and Kirkwood south, Sugar Bowl, Homewood, Mt. Rose north.
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Gracias Tony! The idea of doing Tahoe first, Mammoth last is to be closer to LAX on day prior to flight, and also hoping to get a better deal on lift tkts/Condo or Hotel @ Mammoth during period after Holidays.

As you suggest, I had thought of Sugar Bowl and Sierra at Tahoe 12/30/31, and Alpine on 1/1, leaving Squaw and Heavenly for 1/2-6, then on to Mammoth 1/7-11.

Of course, it may depend on weather after all. I will wait for the El/La Nino (a) predictions as you so expertly advised on some other thread I read recently.

Cheers!
post #7 of 27
Tahoe is no bargain during the holiday week either. I strongly recommend you do Mammoth first due to the crowd issues. Tahoe to L.A. via I-80 and I-5 is 8 hours of mostly cruise control, only a problem if you have bad weather or a Bay Area weekender traffic crunch over Donner Summit. You're going to be doing that drive once anyway, doesn't matter whether at beginning or end IMHO.

I don't know which shore you're planning on staying at Tahoe, but between Sugar Bowl and Sierra on 12/30/31 one of them will be a commute from hell. If you're spending as much as a week at Tahoe you may want to consider dividing the lodging between North and South to cut down the daily commuting.

An El Nino/La Nina prediction is almost useless for early season/Christmas in the Sierra. The extra El Nino snow is skewed toward late season. La Nina is neutral for Tahoe and only about 10% negative for Mammoth.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Probably will stay at both shores (most likely Reno for Squaw/Alpine/Sugar).

To be frank, I'd rather just go to Utah and base ourselves in SLC (like last year), but gotta get Disney out of the way before my kid becomes too old, darn!

Hopefully the weather will be sunny California, and snow the day before/after we are there, or just at night and no inhibiting dumps like the recent onslaught they had. Hah!

Where will you ski early winter?
post #9 of 27
SLC during the Christmas-to-New-Year's madhouse is no picnic either. Traffic flow is better, but Alta/Snowbird have long lift lines and often the snow at the Park City group is not yet adequate to open advanced terrain. So the same strategy is needed as at Tahoe. Ski the less famous areas: Brighton, Solitude, Snowbasin, Powder Mt.

Mammoth really is one of the better mountains to ski during this time. Lift capacity is huge to handle its weekend concentrated business, and its broad variety of terrain makes it one of the very best for a group of mixed ski abilities, which I recall you have. You won't be disappointed with Tahoe either in terms of ski quality assuming the weather is cooperative, but I think it will be more enjoyable after Dec. 31.

I personally never book destination trips before January. My first ski day of the season was in January 3 of the 4 years before this one. When the snow came early this year I arranged to drive to weekends at Mammoth in November and December and also had local SoCal day trips on Oct. 30, Dec. 4, Dec. 30 and Jan. 1.

The volatility of Sierra weather does present some risks. Snow coverage is marginal at New Years about 20% of seasons. The last 2 years have had the opposite problem: it snowed 7 feet during the Christmas-to-New-Year's week. My son's college ski team trains at Mammoth that week, and they got very little skiing in due to most of the lifts being closed.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Tks again Tony. Boiling down to this +/-: 12/30,31 Mammoth/June, 1/1 Alpine M., 1/2 Sugar Bowl, 1/3,4 Heavenly, 1/5 Squaw,1/6 ???, 1/7 Sierra at Tahoe, 1/8-12 Mammoth. What say ye?
post #11 of 27

Some adjustments

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpaul
Tks again Tony. Boiling down to this +/-: 12/30,31 Mammoth/June, 1/1 Alpine M., 1/2 Sugar Bowl, 1/3,4 Heavenly, 1/5 Squaw,1/6 ???, 1/7 Sierra at Tahoe, 1/8-12 Mammoth. What say ye?
Heavenly is South Shore, Squaw North Shore. South Shore is on the way back to Mammoth. I'd move Squaw earlier in the week. And I'd even suggest Squaw is a possibility on 1/1 given that not as many folks ski New Year's Day. And maybe I'd bracket Sierra at Tahoe with Heavenly so you could get an better run to Mammoth from Heavenly than from Sierra at Tahoe.

So Mammoth, Tahoe North Shore ski areas, Tahoe South Shore ski areas, Mammoth. It's basically 200 miles from Tahoe to Mammoth. Normally it's a fairly easy Highway 395 drive but there are a couple of passes. And a couple of neat diversions - Bodie is a real ghost town about an hour round-trip from 395, Mono Lake is interesting about a 5 minute round-trip from 395.
post #12 of 27
If I were you coming back from Mammoth, I'd stay in Carson City or Reno and ski in Mount Rose, Kirkwood or Squaw from Reno. These are as challenging mountains as Hevenly. I will not attempt Heavenly on Holidays, neither I will attempt Sierra or Northstar, as these three have cheap seasn tickets and all the crowds are going there. Northstar is good if Squaw got high winds and closed most of the lifts.

I was in Northstar the day after Christmas two years ago when Squaw closed its lifts due to high winds. It was a mob scene, took me 1.5 hours to get out of the Northstar parking lot.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Tks TruckeeLocal, good advice on Sierra paired w/Heavenly. We may actually stay in Reno or Carson City on 12/31 and 1/1, then move on to SLT 1/2-7. Of course, it all depends on conditions both at Mammoth and Tahoe!and alos the season pass mobs.
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Tks TruckeeLocal, good advice on Sierra paired w/Heavenly. We may actually stay in Reno or Carson City on 12/31 and 1/1, then move on to SLT 1/2-7. Of course, it all depends on conditions both at Mammoth and Tahoe!

jackwan1, good heads-up on Season Pass mobs.

BTW, booked a 2-room Suite (?) in Rodeway Inn South Lake Tahoe, for a song! Is this place okay?
post #15 of 27

Reno New Year's Eve ?

Good luck getting a place in Reno for 12/31. It's even more of a zoo than South Shore. For some reason folks seem to think that congregating at casinos, drinking enormous quantities of booze, and flooding onto the street to celebrate the New Year is fun. Me ? I'm in bed before 10:00 (celebrate New Year's on East Coast time), and then am ready for skiing : On the other hand there's not much in the way of hotel/motel accomodation around North Lake Tahoe - it's more cabin rentals and Reno is only 40 interstate minutes away.
post #16 of 27
TruckeeLocal:
Funny you brought that up. I was in Downtown Reno this Past NewYears Eve. It was a Zoo And it was Fun. Watching fire works shooting of the tops of the casino's in a snow storm, Rock band playing in front of Harras. I was @Mt. Rose first thing the next morning sking 2' fresh (With no sleep) and I would say hangover but was really still drunk.
It was a good day!!
MTT
PS: Your suggestions eairlier in this thread about smaller resorts was spot on. Just don't violate the local rule about Homewood AGAIN!! Remember, HomeWood sucks, Just a small informal place with dirt parking lot!! Seeya there!!
post #17 of 27
GPaul:
Don't stay in
Carson City!! Stay SLT, Or Reno or North shore Around Tahoe city. Another option is CrystalBay (Nice area more laid back, Affordable) and not a bad shuttle ride or drive to any Tahoe area.
Don't buy any lift tickets in advance of your trip (leave your options open)
Each one of the area's I mentioned has a completely different atmosphere and amenities.
My Credentials)
Spent the first 18 years of my life living in North Lake Tahoe (13 of those sking)
Spent the next 20 tears of my life living in the East and Midwest, Making frequent winter and summer trips (Home) to Tahoe to Ski and enjoy the lake. (I have stayed @ hotels, motels, and Condo's around the lake numerous times.


I have been living (Near Home) just outside Reno, the past four years.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
TruckeeLocal:

PS: Your suggestions eairlier in this thread about smaller resorts was spot on. Just don't violate the local rule about Homewood AGAIN!! Remember, HomeWood sucks, Just a small informal place with dirt parking lot!! Seeya there!!

I second on that.... The place is a dump, trash.. and whoever gets there will have a flat tire...MTT is doing his needlework...
post #19 of 27
BIG GRIN (Knowing wink)
MTT
post #20 of 27
I'm in general agreement with the above comments. Stay 4-5 nights in Reno, do the North Shore skiing from there, then 3-4 nights South Shore. North Shore skiing has more variety (and challenge, if Squaw is fully covered). South Shore is better for snow preservation, but that's more a spring issue, not as much difference in January.

Reno to Kirkwood on 395 and 88 is well over an hour but on usually uncrowded roads. I would normally do that from South Shore, but that might work on your transition day from Reno to South Shore.

I would ski Mt. Rose New Year's Day, closest to Reno and avoid end-of-holiday Bay area skier traffic, then Sugar Bowl/Squaw/Alpine Jan. 2-4 (no particular order, base on weather, conditions, mood of group), South Shore areas Jan. 5-7, keeping in mind the 7th is Saturday, might want to avoid Heavenly that day.

June Mt. is good for your move day Jan. 8 back to Mammoth, especially since it's a Sunday.
post #21 of 27

Bad weather skiing

In bad weather Northstar is normally a good choice. Homewood is never a good choice, especially in bad weather South Shore the choice would be Sierra at Tahoe (but the drive is a problem) or possibly the Nevada side of Heavenly. Mammoth, generally, isn't a good bad weather place because the crowds are forced down onto the lower slopes. I don't know about June.
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Whew, you guys know your stuff! And don't worry about Homewood, I'll go on a weekday if no other choice, can't bear slow lifts all day long.

Gracias!
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpaul
BTW, booked a 2-room Suite (?) in Rodeway Inn South Lake Tahoe, for a song! Is this place okay?

We stayed at the Rodeway the end of April 2005 and liked it just fine. The room was small, but clean and the breakfast in the morning was suitable.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
Tks Fotofriend, you've put me at ease!

The drive to Squaw and Sugarbowl from SLT, someone mentioned it was actually better to drive up on the East side of LT rather than the more obvious West side. Sound advice or depends on how much snow?????
post #25 of 27
Glad I could help!

Don't know about which route around the lake to take, but I think the east side recommendation is a good one. We were there in April, the western route was open. It's a beautiful drive,but could be nasty in the winter.
post #26 of 27

West Lake Tahoe

The west route from SLT up to Tahoe City is normally closed at Emerald Bay due to avalanche danger.
post #27 of 27
During the Sierra's extended clear spells the scenic Emerald Bay route is kept open in winter. But it will be closed fast with any kind of storm activity. I would not commute to Sugarbowl from SLT. Save that for when you're at North Shore or Reno. Squaw from SLT is manageable if weather is good and you're willing to get going early.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Lift Lines/Hassles 12/27-1/1 Mammoth vs. Heav/Squaw??