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North Lake Tahoe vs. South Lake Tahoe

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'd appreciate some opinions on the differences in skiing conditions, if any between the resorts around North Lake Tahoe vs. South Lake Tahoe. How do the resorts compare as to steeps, gnarl, grooming, etc. We're looking to make plans and wanted to stay close to the location that delivers more of what we wanted, rather than drive.

The family is pretty much at the 6 - 7 skill level, loves to cruise but enjoys the some untracked snow. I've looked a bit at Squaw and Heavenly's trail maps and either looks to be a toss up for me, but trail maps are limited.

So if ones would please share their experience ... it's very much appreciated.
post #2 of 23
Level 6-7? South.
post #3 of 23
You gotta give us more to work with here. Do you like steeps and gnarl, or do you like groomers? How long are you coming for -- a weekend, a week or two, what? Do you want to hit a single hill or multiples? Slopeside lodging or in-town (i.e., more important to walk to the hill or dinner)? Price range? Planning to take lessons?

That said...

When I think about groomers in South Lake, I think Heavenly; North Lake, I think Northstar. I don't ski either place, for that reason. Squaw's grooming has gotten more extensive in recent years, but that's not generally what you look for when you go there, unless it's been a long time since the last snow.

If you want to hit multiple resorts, you should be thinking about North Lake. South Lake has Heavenly and Kirkwood -- the latter of which is a pain to get to. North Lake has Squaw, Alpine, Homewood, Sugar Bowl, and Mt. Rose (for a travel day). Oh, and Northstar. The two easiest to combine are Squaw and Alpine, which are in adjacent valleys along the Pacific Crest Trail.
post #4 of 23
North Shore has more resorts, less drive time and less chance of road closures impacting your vacation if a HUGE storm comes in. Stay away from Northstar on weekends.

South Shore has the casinos and the great buffets. But drive time to Kirkwood and Sierra at Tahoe can be rough in really bad weather as each requires traves through a mtn pass.

If I had limited time I would stick with North Shore. Has some nice cheap resorts for your 1st day out (homewood, diamond peak) and enough big & steep stuff to make a whole week interesting (Alpine Meadows, Squaw, maybe take a jaunt over to Sugar Bowl or Mt Rose)
post #5 of 23
I too am considering North or South Tahoe.

How many miles or how long does it take to get to Sugarbowl from, say, Tahoe City or Truckee??
post #6 of 23
Sugarbowl is easy from Truckee -- 20 or 25 minutes, max. From Tahoe City, add 15 or 20 minutes.

If you're thinking you'd want to ski, say, some combination of Sugarbowl, Squaw and Alpine, Truckee is your best bet.
post #7 of 23

No. and South Tahoe

Sugaree. To be more specific: If the wather is ok and old Hwy 40 is open youre 18 min from Judah Lodge at Sugar Bowl to truckee. If 40 is closed and you have to take 80, your're 38 minutes away. If you ski Sugar Bowl, go to Judah Lodge and get there about 8, have breakfast in lodge (reasonable price) they have a really good breakfast for a fair price. that was you can park in front and be there for lst lift.

North Shore. Weekdays ski anywhere (Fri at Nortthstar pretty busy). Weekends - ski Diamond Peak or Homewood. I'd pick Homewood for weekends because their parking lot isn't big enough for them to get crowded. Worked there teaching and this is a fact. Ski Sqaw Tue Wed or Thurs if you can, no one there, Alpine Meadows great skiing, ditto. Northstar is getting pretty crowded even midweek sometimes.

From Tahoe City you are: 11min to Homewood, 20 min to Northstar, 18 min to Alipine Meadows, 22 min to Squaw, 40 min to Mt. Rose, 40-50 min to Sugar Bowl
post #8 of 23
Maybe I underestimate people. But I think Squaw isn't exactly a resort great for the level 6-7 skiers. To a lesser degree, Mt. Rose and Alpine Meadow are both also better suited for higher level skiers. There're trails for intermediate skiers. But the jewel of these resorts are in their expert terrain. In a nutshell, they're not known for their cruisers, except for Northstar.

Granted, there're many smaller resorts north than south. But for someone traveling from the east coast, I'm not sure those are worth the air fair.

When the coorperation of weather, the south Tahoe resorts has vast cruising groomers...
post #9 of 23
Personally, I would recommend the North Shore because of the number of resorts easily accessible as mentioned. Do you have a preference about accomodations? There is a lot of variety/gambling, etc. at South Shore (i.e. Heavenly). I like Kirkwood a lot but it is harder to get to. Heavenly is vast and very panoramic so perhaps it offers a broader vacation type experience along with the various non-skiing activities. Overall, personally, I would choose North Shore.
post #10 of 23
There's a difference between intermediate trails and cruisers.

That said, while long groomers aren't the forte of Squaw and Alpine, both have their share. At Alpine, most of the terrain served by the Roundhouse and Lakeview chairs is fine intermediate fare. Better still, skier's left off the top of Sherwood is chock-full of intermediate goodness, with a little more challenging terrain off to either side of the marked trails -- probably the closest to true "cruisers" on the hill. At Squaw, there's obviously the whole Gold Coast and Shirley Lake areas, but a little further off the beaten track, Solitude is usually accurately named, and the resort run back to the Squaw Creek chair was a perennial favorite when my wife was not yet comfortable venturing onto blacks.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorm57 View Post
I'd appreciate some opinions on the differences in skiing conditions,

both are very dry right now. I'd call it really dusty really hardpack.

If you want to know about terrain...

It sounds like northstar and heavenly are right up your alley.
If you have snowboarders with you, go to northstar.
post #12 of 23
You should be convinced about North by now. But you should take 1 day to Kwood, it's the mecca in Tahoe.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorm57
I'd appreciate some opinions on the differences in skiing conditions,


both are very dry right now. I'd call it really dusty really hardpack.

If you want to know about terrain...
He ask for skiing condition, not snow condition.

Kidding aside, I think intermediate are the hardest to please. I've been there. I remember looking at trail maps long and hard, trying to find area that has the right mix of relaxing fun and just a little challenging but not over my head... In reality, I've found myself occasionally looking down at a vast mogul field of the size of Volkswagon stretched beyond the eyes can see!!! : (on the other hand, I found out I could handle them better than I gave myself credit for! )

My first trip to Tahoe was during that stage. While I did had a good time at Squaw, I felt limited and intimidated by the terrain, precisely the fear of getting dump from the chair into steep walls full of moguls!!! Heavenly was much more relaxing in that regard. An intermediate can just freely roam around without too much fear of getting into tough area without an easy way out. And when I felt like kick it up a notch, there're also lots of places to get my heart pumping!

Northstar is definitely the cruiser heaven. But without the view.

Dorm57, how many are in your "family"? Are you all going to stick together through out the day? All north shore resorts are smaller than Heavenly by a long stretch. So if there're more than just a couple of you, the daily drive to a different resort and waiting around at the base lodge to meet up at the end of day can get old real fast. When we went with other couples, we prefer South Tahoe because we don't have to stick together. The shuttle bus (runs every 20 min?) allows each couple to quit at different time of the day and still meeting up back at the hot tub.
post #14 of 23
Pete No. Idaho..........Very good information! Thanks!

If I flew into Reno and rented a 4x4 vehicle is there enough lodging around Lake Tahoe that I could go gypsie and stay at a random lodging unit nightly, or should I make a reservation in advance, first week of March??

Sorry to derail though it's all good Tahoe stuff.
post #15 of 23
I would probably make reservations in advance, even in March. But the idea of choosing two bases -- one North, one South -- probably wouldn't be a bad one.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the great advice. I realize the vagueness of the original question, but some comments had just what we were looking for.

"At__NYC" hit the nail on the head with the comments about trying to transition and cross over into the next skill zone or level of difficulty. We've been to SLC many times, and my favorite places to ski there are Powder Mtn, Canyons and Snow Basin ... leaste favorite is Snowbird, hands down.

So, using this in the context of my question, might this be typical of the Tahoe area with Squaw taking on the Snowbird mode ... tons of natural, ungroomed steeps, blue runs that turn out to be mainly cat tracks, etc?

We're looking for the area where we can mix it up the most ... cruise when we feel like it, and ease out into some more difficult when we've the starch in our shorts. Thanks again for the feedback and great comments
post #17 of 23
Personally, Squaw, Alpine and Kirkwood are my favorites. I am a level blue skier. Northstar has the easiest runs and is also really crowded most of the time. I think Kirkwood has very good transition runs. Alpine is a good spot for working on development because runs, overall, are more difficult and its next door to Squaw. Squaw is huge and there are lots of blue runs that are not cat tracks. If interested in lessons, I think Squaw has a really good ski school.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorm57 View Post
"At__NYC" hit the nail on the head with the comments about trying to transition and cross over into the next skill zone or level of difficulty. We've been to SLC many times, and my favorite places to ski there are Powder Mtn, Canyons and Snow Basin ... leaste favorite is Snowbird, hands down.

So, using this in the context of my question, might this be typical of the Tahoe area with Squaw taking on the Snowbird mode ... tons of natural, ungroomed steeps, blue runs that turn out to be mainly cat tracks, etc?

We're looking for the area where we can mix it up the most ... cruise when we feel like it, and ease out into some more difficult when we've the starch in our shorts. Thanks again for the feedback and great comments
Thanks for clarifying.

The "Squaw is like Snowbird" analogy only makes sense when paired with "and Alpine is like Alta." Basically, the former are both more commercial and "resorty" mountains, while the latter are more "core." It has nothing to do with the blue runs.

I've already identified my favorite blue runs at Squaw below, and should reemphasize that what I liked most about skiing Squaw when I was comfortable on blacks and the occasional double, but my wife was a late-starting intermediate, is that there are a number of areas on the mountain in which you can titrate different levels of difficulty on the same basic run. Intermediates stick the the groomers, while those looking for a little more excitement cut off piste alongside.

And while grooming hasn't been Alpine's selling point, rumor has it that a bunch of new equipment has been purchased in the off season, and there are a number of wonderful blue runs. The best description I've heard about intermediates and Alpine is that it's a great place for intermediates who want to challenge themselves to improve.

One thing to think about may be whether one of the ski areas you're interested in is running a clinic you might like at the appropriate time. My wife did a three-day women's clinic at Alpine a year and a half ago and greatly improved her skiing.

Whatever you decide to do, you should try to hook up with some local Bears who can show you around.
post #19 of 23
for a level 6-7 - I would go to heavenly. I can't think of any other mountain that has as many options for an intermediate that likes groomed trails. and if you want to move up - there are some steeper/ungroomed options as well.

if you are in SLT - of course you could also go to Sierra at Tahoe and kirkwood.
post #20 of 23
what?

no love for Homewood?

post #21 of 23
what;s the latest on Homewood. is it still a ski resort or a condo development.
post #22 of 23
dunno.

but they are offering an Alpine/Homewood season pass this year...
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
but they are offering an Alpine/Homewood season pass this year...
... for slightly less than the cost of a Squaw pass. I'm, er, passing.

I haven't skied Homewood, so I can't speak to its suitability. My understanding is that it's a great storm day backup for Squaw and Alpine, because it doesn't get nearly the amount of wind (FWIW, Alpine's better than Squaw on that front too). And it's supposed to have a nice lake view (which is, incidentally, my favorite thing about Heavenly).
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