Originally Posted by Cirquerider
The Cirque has such unbelievable lines, yet there are a lot of skiers at Kirkwood that can handle it. It seems they ought to open it up, perhaps just weekdays, like Squaw does the Palisades. Its surprising how many guys hit that the day after closing every year.
There are a lot of awesome pictures of the Cirque and its various features here: http://www.aboutlaketahoe.com/ski_re...kiing_comp.htm
They have shots of the Cirque from each of the past few years of competition so you can closely see how vastly different lines and conditions can change from year to year.
As far as opening it up, even on the weekdays like the Palisades at Squaw, would be awesome, but I can't see it happening unless some really progressive management gets in there. If opened, it would instantly transform KW into one of, if not the, premior big mountain playground in North America IMO. And their marketing department would really be able to run wild with it as the site of the US Freeskiing Championships.
But it's such a dangerous area. And as for as many skiers at Kirkwood that would be able to handle it, there are 50 (if not more) that can't. The difference between the Cirque and Squaw's Palisades is that the Palisades are gnarly at the top, but every line there has a clean long run out into an open bowl. That makes things much easier for Patrol to clean up crashes and for your average skier to walk up there and say 'hmm...well this goes...all I have to do is run it out into the open".
However, at the Cirque, you have steep, rocky features on top of steep rocky features on top of steep rocky features, the runouts & safe zones can be relative short, and the terrain is so varried with many different aspects, avalanche control is a PITA. All the gnarly featues are stacked on top of each other, and there's lots of exposure, and it's very easy to get lost off the top. There are chutes that lead to mandatory air that look exactly the same from the top looking down.
Patrol would have a very difficult time making it safe with regards to fencing off the massive exposure in the middle, performing sled rescues, etc.
But all that being said, if anyone from Kirkwood is reading this....PLEASE OPEN THE CIRQUE!
Me and my friends always wondered if it would be possible to limit access via patrol controlled gates. For example, you could get off the top of Chair 10, check in with the Patrol shack right there at the top, they can make sure that you have a buddy and are outfitted with BC gear, and maybe even put one of those gates there that only open after it detects your beacon, etc. You might be able to control like this at the top of Chair 4 (for people who want to hike up 99 steps and then across).
That's a very unlikely scenario I think and for now the Cirque will have to remain in the relm of lines-we-look-at-and-drool-over-everyday-but -are-off-limits, kind of like the Tram Face at Squaw (which was rumored to be in discussions as the Finals venue for the Squaw US Tour stop...but conditions were too thin this year. Maybe this year?).
So for now as in the past, those who REALLY want to ski it, and are motivated enough and capable, can either do so before the resort officially opens (hahahaha) and after it closes via hiking, or by qualifing for the comp
(or poach it on a storm day when visibility is low and no one can see you and then the next day when it clears everyone is like 'whoa! who's tracks are those in there!' and you just kind of smile to yourself and think 'cool'...but not that I condone that sort of behavior, just saying i guess it would be possible