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S Lake Tahoe trip - Feb 7-14

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
So... I'm taking my first tirp out west and we're staying in S Lake Tahoe (Heavenly slopeside) for a week. We'd prefer not to drive around too much (but will have a rental car), but I'd still like to get to Mt. Rose for sure and perhaps Squaw. What advice does anyone have for me, particularly on where to go/avoid on the weekend? I value powder and a lack of crowds most, meaning that I don't need the most vertical, the gnarliest terrain (although some would be fun). I also love to ski in the trees. A caveat is that my wife and some other less-agressive females (no stereotype, just the case in this instance) will be part of the group as well. Also, any recommendation for food/drink (I am a beer snob/geek) would be appreciated - thanks.
post #2 of 14
I am not trying to be a jerk but I will say that Heavenly is by far my least favorite resort I have ever been to I have skied it several days. I do not think that it sucked (there is no bad skiing some is better than others) but there are much better places IMO. I did almost the same trip last year but with a buddy and no wives so we had a car and used it a ton. We skied Squaw, Kirkwood, Mammoth and Heavenly. Heavenly can be fun if you find some stashes in the trees because it seemed like the majority of people stick to groomers, I skied untracked alot of the day I was there, but one day is about all I would devote to it. Kirkwood and Squaw are must do's in my opinion and Mammoth was an overnighter and was worth it but is a bit of a drive. We called mid week and scored a room last minute at Mammoth Mtn Inn for 150. I recall that Kirkwood was about 45min from Slake and Squaw was about an Hour (in good weather)

Alpine is another that is supposed to be great but I have never been.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Don't sweat the Heavenly-bashing - seeking others' opinions is why I started this thread. Heavenly is just where we found a great deal on a house for the week. Kirkwood is on the list for sure for at least one day. How about Sierra-at-Tahoe? Also, on average, what can we expect weather-wise?
post #4 of 14
Welcome out west where it can be fantastic BUT hit the wrong resort on the wrong day and it can be horrible. This is my advice (based on over 15 years of tahoe riding)
1. For the weekend Mt. Rose would be a good trip. Will be the least crowded and will have runs for all levels. Rose gets the tail end of the storms so it can be a bit icy/windy at times but never crowded.

2. Stay AWAY from Sierra at Tahoe on the weekend. They sell TOO many cheap season passes and they are the 1st resort on Hwy 50 from Sacramento/Bay Area. During the week this place is wind protected, has some of the best tree skiing/riding in tahoe and you will not have a lift line.

3. There are shuttles that run to Kirkwood from South Lake Tahoe. Grab the 1st one on a weekend (if you don't go to Mt. rose). I would Suggest either Mt. Rose or Kirkwood for your weekend or holiday skiing.

4. Heavenly is nice, just expensive ($74/day). during the weekend they are WAY busy in the late morning until about 1:30 PM. but in the late afternoon most have called it a day. they also have night parks with some major talent in the parks. You should check it out. Night riding/skiing is Included in your lift ticket price, plus the night view from the Gondola is AWESOME.

5. Make sure to Hit Alpine, not as big a Squaw (and not as crowded) but they have some major bowels and open terrain. That is a FUN FUN FUN moutain.

6. During the week you will practically have any of these moutains to yourself. Since you are going during the week you might want to check out
For $40 you get a Kirkwood lift ticket and membership that lets you buy discounted lift ticktets (avg discount is about 10-15/lift ticket), it will pay for itself quickly.

7. Hit the buffet at the Horizon during the week, for $10 one of the best deals in tahoe.

I think you will have a GREAT time out here.
post #5 of 14
Andrew, lots of great "Eastern-esque" tree skiing at heavenly - but it's very easy to spend your day traversing and looking for steep enough terrain. Try to hook up with someone who can show you around.

Definitely get to Squaw, Alpine, Kirkwood and if conditions are right Rose's chutes for a day can give you an experience that rivals (and beats some days) the other big fellas....Sugar Bowl is great too.

Since you're from my old stomping grounds (grew up in Goshen, a wee bit NW of you) I'll help you out. As your trip gets closer send me a PM and I'll give you the lowdown. Tahoe is very dynamic and knowing where to go, when and in what conditions can make or break your experience. If it's storming you'll have to be on top of road conditions and lift openings, snow conditions and crowds at the various resorts. If you have a laptop bring it; internet access is KEY to beaking things down.

In case you're wondering, I live in Reno now so I get a pass at Rose each year, I also had a pass at Kirkwood last year, this year it's squaw and maybe kirkwood again, I know Alpine Meadows quite well. Weekend crowds are fickle too, I've had the least crowded (liftline-wise) weekend days at Squaw but have heard reports of other times they've been mobbed - Rose is pretty crowded (from 10am-1pm only for the most part) when sunny & warm but not when it is less than perfect - Alpine has had really bad lift lines when I've been there on weekends - Kirwood was never too, too bad for lift lines (except chair 4 when they open it mid-day) just get there EARLY as the traffic and parking is a nightmare.

Anyway, contact me before you head out and I'll walk you through it....hell if we hit the same place on the same day, maybe I'd even show you around a bit
post #6 of 14
I agree with much of what others have said.

My experience in comparative weekend lines at Alpine and Squaw is the opposite of X-EC. One of the reasons we went for Alpine over Squaw last season was the ridiculous lines at Squaw, especially on KT-22 and to a lesser degree Headwall. Alpine can have long lines at the frontside base (esp. Roundhouse and Summit Six) as well as Scott, but in my experience, not nearly as bad as Squaw. The trick is to get up high as soon as you can and then hit the lower volume lifts -- laps on Alpine Bowl Chair or Sherwood, or figure 8s between the two, make for an excellent day. Particularly on the high-speed lifts, the singles lines can be a godsend.

Also, remember that you can get to Squaw, Alpine, and Homewood from SLT via the Tahoe Queen ferry -- haven't done it, but it's supposedly a hoot.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any experience with the powdercat service at Kirkwood? Is there anything that a first-timer shouldn't miss?
post #8 of 14
only experience i have had is in booking one. that has been bad. a few times
I called - they were not running it that particular weekend - either due to low snow or too much snow. the other times - it was all booked up.
post #9 of 14
Heavenly gets a bad rap. On a crowded weekend, try out some of the older lifts that remain mostly empty even on holiday weekends. For some surprisingly good tree skiing, check out the North Bowl lift on the Nevada side. The Mott lift--that serves Mott and Killebrew Canyons--has Heavenly's "gnarliest" terrain. Take the time to traverse across Milky Way Bowl to hit Killebrew on crowded weekends; much less traffic than Mott itself. The views are spectacular from the California lifts, but the crowds get pretty bad (same with Comet and Dipper, the two main Nevada-side quads).

As to other resorts in the area...I'll throw out Homewood as a sleeper pick for lack of crowds, decent powder and tree-skiing, a laid-back vibe, and cheap tickets. Among the more well-known resorts, Kirkwood, Alpine, and Squaw are worth the drive; the others aren't, in my opinion.

Have fun...
post #10 of 14

Y kirkwood?

I gatta be honest I really don't know why everyone is sooo high on Kirkwood on this board. I'll admit it has some NICE steeps but when it comes to HOLDING powder it's awfull.

I was there last year, and I went 5 days after a 2-3 ft snow storm and the mountain was mainly Crud/hard pack at best. I did find Some nice stashes in some places, but nothing compared to the stashes I found at Squaw (where I will not tell you).

I say hit kirkwood up if they get slammed a day or two before. Anything more than that you can forget finding the Pow there. I don't like their lifts either, slower than hell.

But, don't let my statements discourage you, I did have a great time there, I just think there's better slopes..

In my Oppinion:

I liked Squaw the best, and Alpine was very close to it. Alpine has alot of runs. I was impressed.

H****ood is a hidden Gem, and I hope it remains like that, I can't believe the amount of powder that that places holds even a week after a storm.

Northstar is Blah, way too crowded for it's terrain, ok if you're going with family etc. I woudn't ski it again, not worth the money.

I still have not been to Heavenly, I'm looking forward to trying it this year though.

that's my 2 cents...let me know if u need change.
post #11 of 14

you and i - are I think the only people who don't like kirkwood here. as u said - the lifts are so slow. and also becos of the flat layout of the resort - you are forced to take a lift every minute or so. no sustained long runs. i am bored my mid-day. but where do i go - their restaurants are bad too.
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by Marty View Post

you and i - are I think the only people who don't like kirkwood here. as u said - the lifts are so slow. and also becos of the flat layout of the resort - you are forced to take a lift every minute or so. no sustained long runs. i am bored my mid-day. but where do i go - their restaurants are bad too.

add the fact that there are very few lifts going to the top, and to get to untracked terrain you gatta hike.. it has the potential to be a good resort, but it's missing a 100 million or so in upgrades,
post #13 of 14
I like Kirkwood, mainly for its remoteness. I've always felt the skiing was decent, but not incredible. It's been 23 years since I've skied there, but back then you had to take a couple of lifts to get to the steep stuff, then repeat. It was... inconvenient?

I love the tree skiing at Sierra and most of the hill is a great intermediates playground so the wife and friends will like it as well. I always preferred Squaw over Alpine but either is good and both will be busy on a weekend. You may want to think about renting a car. Maybe you can rent one locally in SLT just for a couple of days.
post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by Xtremity View Post
to get to untracked terrain you gatta hike
Other than maybe Deer Valley, is there any resort where that's not the case? The need to hike usually is what keeps the teeming masses away.

(I'm not a Kookweeder, having never skied there, so no agenda.)
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