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Thanksgiving skiing: where in CA?

Poll Results: Thanksgiving snow in CA I should head to.....

  • 13% (3)
  • 31% (7)
  • 54% (12)
22 Total Votes  
post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
In your experience which place is most likely to have the 'best' (sic) early skiing and snowboarding around Thanksgiving?

I have a season's pass at Squaw and Rose but I'd head to Kirwood or Mammoth for 3-4 days if warranted.
post #2 of 12
You didn't give an opportunity for 'Other'. My vote would be for Sugar Bowl. Last year I had the bright idea that first run should be a pristine, unripped, run under the lift in early November. After many base shots I moved back onto the groomers. But damn it was fun and many other idiots followed me. Now maybe I'd drive down to Mammoth this year, but just 'cause the drive is so spectacular with the fall folliage en-route. Skied there early December last year and it was great - even stayed at 'The Village' despite my aversion to over-development. Sorry to any Mammoth folks. Honest.
post #3 of 12
On average Truckee local is correct. Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl get the most snow in the Sierra. For November you're normally looking at who got the most recent snow.

Last year Mammoth was conspicuously best for 2 reasons:
1) The record October storms had a more southerly track than normal, and there was some rain at lower elevation North Shore areas.
2) Mammoth has far and away the best snow preservation in the Sierra. November and early December were drier than normal, so Mammoth retained its cover and had much more open terrain with better surfaces during that time.
post #4 of 12
Mammoth without a doubt! No comparison for terrain, reliability, snow, food, aprez ski. the only bummer is logistics of getting there from Reno/Tahoe airport it's a 3 hour drive straight down 395 South to the mammoth exit. Beautiful drive and easy. Kirkwood is one hour and 45 minutes from airport and Sugarbowl is 1 hour.
post #5 of 12
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
On average Truckee local is correct. Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl get the most snow in the Sierra. For November you're normally looking at who got the most recent snow.
Really! I think that is not a far statement. Mammoth records it snow at 9000 feet in a area that does not reflect the true snowfall. I have been watching this for over 20 years. I have a simple rule that works most of the time, just add 33% to what you see fell at the measuing station at main. Then you have a real idea what the snowfall on Mammoth Mt. is.

Yes I know you have your charts and stuff, but did you know that the measuring stations at Mammoth have changed places and hands several times Tony. All those number on Mammoth might not be what you think they are.

Many Kirkwood locals say the reports from Kirkwoods snow fall are bunk. Any one from there want to comment on that?
post #6 of 12
Kirkwood measures at upper and lower locations, usually quotes only the upper. I average the 2 quotes, because that meshes with historical data from Carson Pass elevation 8,526 feet. So that's a mid mountain average of 473 inches. Sugar Bowl's 467 is near its base, so TruckeeLocal is probably correct that it gets the most snow. Sugar Bowl's lower elevation and NW leading edge position in the Sierra does mean wetter snow and somewhat increased rain incidence relative to Kirkwood.

I do have some concern about changes in Mammoth's reporting methodology. If you could enlighten me as to the specifics I'd appreciate it. Reporting from the Main Lodge area seems fair, as it would be less than the top but more than the Canyon Lodge side of the mountain. Current average since 1969 of 363 inches might include some understatements in a few of those old years, but unlikely to move the average anything close to 100 inches. FYI I adjusted 1969 up to 505 inches myself already by looking up L.A. Times microfiches.

From a practical skiing perspective Mammoth has huge advantages that could make people think it gets more snow. Most obvious is the blow-in snow on the upper mountain. It is also the only area that combines high water content Pacific snow with Rockies-like elevation to create massive and long lasting snow depths. Nonetheless, in average seasons snow depths are higher at Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl and the upper elevations of Squaw/Alpine until sometime in March when Mammoth's snow preservation advantages come to the fore. Another Mammoth advantage is topography. Many of the lower slopes are fairly gentle and can be skied on a 2-3 foot base, while the steep upper slopes get more snow plus that blow-in.

In most seasons there are storms that hit Tahoe harder, or don't even get as far south as Mammoth. In November the snow has rarely been around long enough for Mammoth's snow preservation advantages to come into play. You're often looking at the result of just one storm, and in that situation the Sierra Crest west of Tahoe is slightly more likely to have the most snow. But the variability is so high you really have to look at the specifics of that first storm and choose accordingly.
post #7 of 12
In an average year, Kirkwood produces reliable results early season. Last year I skied Kirkwood on October 22. By Thanksgiving I was taking base shots at Heavenly, Sierra and Kirkwood. Thank goodness we recovered about December 9 in a big way. Jim, you live here and know how it works. Thanksgiving can be a crap shoot. I hope we ski Halloween again this year, but I will be "thankful" for a good Thanksgiving cover. If all else fails, hike for turns.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
But I moved here in Dec '03 and this will be my third winter here. Hence, I don't have a historical perspective to go on.

There was snow on Mt Rose this morning but it's gone by this afternoon.
post #9 of 12
Your poll is flawed.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Rose should be open then but if it's only the Rose side and not the East Bowl or Chutes.....I might go elsewhere.
post #11 of 12
I just noticed that you live up there. Anytime before Christmas, the answer to your question is where it snowed the most in the last storm. Flexibility is the key to quality skiing in early season anywhere because at that point variability is much more important than long term trends. If you live within drive distance of quality ski areas, take advantage of that flexibility.
post #12 of 12
I'll be at kirkwood, stretching the legs for the first turns of the year. May be all man made, though!
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