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Sierra at Tahoe "NOT" for families

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Stay away from Sierra at Tahoe if you are at all interested in a quality ski/boarding experience for your family. Go anywhere but this place. We saw and skied over many beer cans on the slopes. Viewed lots of smoking, cursing, and drinking in the lift lines and on the slopes. The lift operators were non-attentive. Our kids almost got run over on multiple occasions by out of control snow boarders. Hardly anyone was monitoring the slopes. And to top it all off it took us an hour and a half to get out of the parking lot.

Sierra at Tahoe is a joke of a ski area. Never again will we ski at Sierra at Tahoe. We'll continue to go to Kirkwood, Heavenly, Squaw, Alpine, or Sugar Bowl......
post #2 of 15
There's reasons other than the ones specifed why I don't go to s a t.... Though it does seem to be the ski area du jour on windy storm days.
post #3 of 15
While I never ran over beer cans or got sideswiped by the masses of newbie boarders who seem to flock to S@T, the last time I was there I noticed a distinct vibe that I wasn't totally into. At lunch in the parking lot it was like one of those tricked out car audio competitions with one truck bouncing to 50 Cent, another blasting a Limb Bizkit Nu Metal clone, another blazing the latest from a local Sacto/Vacaville rap outfit, etc. My friends and I couldn't even hear our music sitting on the tailgate of our Navigator.

The overall vibe leaned heavily toward boarders, specifically those who had just taken up the sport. It kind of reminded me of South Shore's version of Boreal. But hey, if it keeps the rabble in one place...

I just stuck to the runs that are on the skiers left of the main lift that takes you to the top (it was in the shade and nary a boarder ventured in there) or on the backside. I had a good time (except for being subjected to sub par rap battles in the parking lot by a bunch of wannabe bling artists). But with so many larger more diverse spots to choose from, it's low on my list. I'd rather ride Alpine or Sugarbowl or the Wood.

I don't mind boarders. Most of the folks I ride with are either ex boarders or are still boarding.

Cirquerider might have a different outlook since S@T is kind of his "home" mountain other than KW.
post #4 of 15
same thread posted in 3 different sections?

a little overkill, don'tcha think?

post #5 of 15
This is the first year in many I chose not to renew my season pass there. Sierra sells more cheap season passes than just about anyone else, and the results are noticeable. The ski area has dedicated more and more terrain to parks and seems to be extremely popular with school-age kids who arrive in unsupervised hordes on any weekend or holiday. They have good high speed lifts, but again, some of the longest lines in Tahoe. The ski area does not segregate experts and park riders from new beginners. The most popular beginner trail Sugar and Spice serves access to expert runs like Dynamite, Jack Rabbit, and many tree runs resulting in high speed skiing along with the beginners at the upper end of the trail; then the expert trails cross the lower part of S&S so high speed collisions are easily possible with fast steep terrain skiers merging and crossing beginners. Sugar and spice is a 1.5 mile long switchback road and the boarders like to straighline it and take aerial hits along the sides. The terrain parks are on Upper Main and along the south side of the beginner hill (Broadway). This again mixes park riders with beginners and intermediates.

SAT opened 6 backcountry gates, and since last year has left them open at all times. The majority of users are kids with no backcountry equipment, often on snowboards. There are chutes, cliffs, large rocks, pillows and trees in Huckleberry Canyon and North Bowl. These areas do avy and slough frequently, and someone is eventually going to be killed. I favor open boundaries, but SAT has become sort of an urban ski area, and many of the users accessing BC are not trained or equipped.

A beer in the lodge costs $6.00 for a 12 oz plastic cup, so with a fairly convenient parking lot, people pack their own. Drinking and smoking on the slopes has become common in spite of the area's claim to be non-smoking. The parking lot is a giant tailgate party. It would be nice if not for the competing stereos as mentioned before.

OTOH, going during the weekdays, SAT can be a peaceful and very pleasant place. The intermediate runs and grooming provide some of the best skiing of that kind in the area. The area is tree covered and skis well in the hardest storms. SAT is all about lapping runs and piling up vertical. You can ski more miles there, than just about any resort. The miles all begin to look and feel the same after a while, but you can ski a lot, and the vertical plus program will track your rides. Vertical Plus used to give away good rewards (I got skis for earing over a million feet one year), but the program has become much less generous and its primary benefit is member only lines, which tend to be shorter. For families, SAT operates a good ski school and day care. They operate a couple magic carpet lifts that are away from other skiers, and this can be a good solution for young parents to ski while the kids play.

Personally I have also moved on. I miss the old Sierra Ski Ranch, but its just a bit too congested for me now; in fact it seems like an Eastern ski area vibe.
post #6 of 15

and here i was hoping for the locals guided tour of S@T this season!

post #7 of 15
I'd still be happy to show you SAT. You can still ski there on a crowded day and not see a soul if you know where to go. Anyway, some aspects of my comments above are pretty harsh. I enjoyed going there, and especially the convenience. SAT was definitely a family place to go, and probably still is...just not on Saturdays and holidays. Also, I think it has the worst layout for beginners of any area; and that is in spite of the fact, that they probably see more first time skiers than any other area due to proximity to Sacramento, and their promotional efforts. There is an answer to that traffic problem, maybe I should share it with them.
post #8 of 15
naw, your comments were spot on with what i experienced there last season.

i went with a boarder friend who loved that place. it's where she learned to ride. admittedly she's not a very strong boarder, but she gets down the hill okay. she is persistent in convincing friends to go boarding with her and she teaches them (won't get into this argument...will save for another time).

at any rate the day we went i was demoing a pair of 175 6stars. I had a blast ripping up the groomers. Not sure what run it was, but it was tree lined, in the shade and skiers right after you get off the main lift that takes you to the top. Nobody was on that sucker but me. I had a good time on the backside as well, as long as i sluffed off onto the more moguly offshoots from the main thoroughfare.

That main green/beginner run that switchbacks the mountain, though? Brutal. Like playing Frogger on meth.

And don't get me wrong. I LOVE rap music. but i'm pissy about my rap. I grew up in the late '80s hey day when Public Enemy, De La Soul, Organized Konfusion, Ultramagnetic MCs and others ruled the roost and rapping about killing fools, having much money, and getting drunk on Moet was NOT the oder of the day.

I thought the whole tailgater vibe was trashy and ridiculous. too many people trying too hard to be hard, blasting the rap du jour and scowling and smoking and tossing trash around. hey, i was a drunken fool in college, but usually kept that stuff under wraps when we were out in public places. i'm more about having lunch on the back of my truck with perhaps a single cold beer and hanging out with a couple of buddies discussing the runs we did and planning our afternoon.

I too also found a "urban" tinge to the mountain and the proliferance (is that a word? I have a tendency to make words up, it's my journalistic trademark) of boarders kind of turned me off. granted as another post said it's not so much that they're boarders, it's just that some of the folks who frequent that mountain missed out on the class about etiquette and proper mountain ethics. At any rate, I enjoyed the terrain, it was the atmosphere that kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

i much prefer the vibe at Kirkwood or Alpine or even Sugarbowl (but then I have a soft spot for the Bowl since I learned to ski there, grew up in the Montclair/Oakland Ski Club, etc.) I also have to say that after experiencing the segregated bliss of Alta last year, I kind of like the whole skiers only mountains. The fact that I ride with a bunch of boarders, though, still has me enjoying sharing the mountain with whomever respects it and those of us who are along for the ride.

we can make some turns at Kirkwood instead (I need to demo the AK King Salmon soonish!)

post #9 of 15
SAT crowds: And you get to drive HW 50 with all those people who were just tailgating.

Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post

I also have to say that after experiencing the segregated bliss of Alta last year, I kind of like the whole skiers only mountains.
dookey67, add Taos to your to do list. More remote and less crowded than Alta. Just make sure to hit it in a good snow year.
post #10 of 15
yeah, Taos, Mad River Glen, and Deer Valley are on the list.

post #11 of 15
It's my cousin's "home" hill when he's out visiting his dad near Placerville, and a fine place for the reasons Cirquerider expressed, but definitely a place to hit during the week.

This year, though, we'll head down to Kirkwood.
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by WesternSkier777 View Post
...Viewed lots of smoking, cursing, and drinking in the lift lines and on the slopes...
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
...Drinking and smoking on the slopes has become common in spite of the area's claim to be non-smoking. ...
: Are you both talking about tobacco ? Non-smoking policy outdoors ?

Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
.. My friends and I couldn't even hear our music sitting on the tailgate of our Navigator
You've been owned !
post #13 of 15
The wife and I are season pass holders at SAT now for the second year. Last year probably 15-20 days there. Mostly weekends. I have not experienced the negative observations by others. I have seen many SAT employees on the slopes directing traffic. I enjoy the "laid back" attitude of the staff especially on the west bowl. Parking can be tight if you arrive late but if you come early or have a parking pass no problem. It's true that drinks are 6-7 bucks but tea for the wife is half the cost of Heavenly. Food costs on the slopes are high no matter where you go but I think that SAT is reasonable or cheaper than Heavenly or Squaw.. We have nothing but good things to say about lift opperators and ticket scanners. Sorry that there are some that don't like it there but to each his own.
post #14 of 15

Sierra @ Tahoe

This mountain has not been a safe place for skiers or families for several years now.
I skied there in early Jan of 2005 and it was a totally different place from a day that I spent there in April of 2001. I swore that I would never go back. They have become a de facto snowboarder haven and it looks like the 'ski' patrol has left the 'zoo to the animals'. Courtesy and responsability are non-existant.

post #15 of 15
Thanks for the heads up on SAT, I didn't realize that it had gone downhill . We are lucky to have a selection of great areas to ski in the Sierras. I am typically skiing Kirkwood but will try to get out to Sugarbowl, Alpine, or Squaw this season.
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