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Snowbird vs. Squaw

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Though I have skied Snowbird (loved it!) I have always wanted to ski Squaw. Squaw, however, seems like such a gamble much in the way Whistler is. Weather, weather, weather??

I woud like to hear about Squaw.....What was your experience like at Tahoe??....Weather, crowds, access, traffic, steeps, snow condition, etc., etc..

How about the Palisades at Squaw?? Looks amazing. How long of a hike?? Hike from Headwall chair or Siberia chair?? Can a single diamond skier handle it or is it a truly double diamond, hang on to your hat freakin', heart pounding rush??:

Help me decide......Squaw (Tahoe) or back to Utah (which is a pretty safe bet on snow condition and weather).

Discuss.....
post #2 of 47
Squaw is an amazing mountain. When conditions are good, it's on par with any place in North America, especially in the spring. Kt, Headwall and Silverado lifts alone could keep an expert busy for years.

The Palisades are tough runs. The main chute you could probably survive, but the entry is a fairly large cornice drop. There are lots of shots I would put in the insane category. It's about a 10-20 minute hike from the top of Siberia and there is a fairly easy escape route off of the back side. If it's a nice day, I'd say go for it, just to check it out. If it's crappy, don't bother. It's closed on weekends.

I personally like staying in Squaw or Tahoe City, much more than Snowbird/Alta.
post #3 of 47

squaw conditions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
I woud like to hear about Squaw.....What was your experience like at Tahoe??....Weather, crowds, access, traffic, steeps, snow condition, etc., etc..
Have you tried using the Search function on this forum?

I can guarantee you - that not only can you find answers to all these questions - one can also find out - which bar in squaw has the friendliest waitresses
post #4 of 47
seriously though - if you have to ask about Palisades - don't think it's for you. I would say it is gnarlier than Great Scott (snowbird) - not having done either - but watched skier's come down it. there is a great vantage point - from the top of Headwall. only on weekdays though. closed on weekends for the "weekend warrior/accidental tourist"
post #5 of 47
Tied as the two favorite mountains I've gotten to ski. I did tahoe in mid january 2 seasons ago for a week and conditions we're perfect. Had 7 or 8 inches of snow total during the week and temps were in the teens at night and mid-high thirties during the day.

Given that I straddle the intermediate/advanced line on the ability scale Squaw seemed to ski a little bigger than Snowbird, but not hugely so. If your anywhere near me on the ability scale you'll love the KT, Headwall, Siberia, Shirley Lake, Emigrant , Far East, Red Dog and Granite Chief chairs. There was always at least one steep groomer off of all of them if your intestinal fortitude wasn't up to some of the VERY steep off piste stuff. They had a run starting just below High Camp that went down to the Silverado chair called the "Land Bridge" that an instructor pointed out to me. I'm sure I went faster on ski's on that run than I ever have before or since.

Fantastic hill and the smaller but just as good Alpine Meadows is just down the road.

On the conditions front you already know that Snowbird over the course of a season will likely be much more consistent. Have fun!
post #6 of 47
I've skied about 20 days at each of these mountains. They both are awesome and challenging. For me Squaw has more variety than Snowbird, it's got the steeps of KT and Headwall the unique terrain features of Granite Chief and some good high speed cruising in other areas.

But I prefer Snowbird for two reasons - 1) the access to the mountain via the Tram is awesome you can ski a serious amount of vertical off the tram in a relatively short time and 2) Alta, when discussing Snowbird you always need to remember that the access between Alta and Snowbird is fast and easy.

To answer some of Sugaree's Squaw questions-

weather- the good news about Squaw is that they can run the lifts in almost any weather condition. I've been to Snowbird too many times when they've closed the Tram. February and early March I'd say are the best conditions and the least likely chance of rain. Squaw does not get the nasty fog that they get up in Whistler.

crowds- yes. They are there just when you would expect them

steeps- as steep as you want (and then some)

powder - Both mountains get skied out too fast for me. Unless you're a local you won't be finding anything untracked after about 10:30...

Squaw is definitely worth the trip.

As to other California areas - the other one that is really worth visiting is Mammoth.
post #7 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
seriously though - if you have to ask about Palisades - don't think it's for you. I would say it is gnarlier than Great Scott (snowbird) - not having done either - but watched skier's come down it. there is a great vantage point - from the top of Headwall. only on weekdays though. closed on weekends for the "weekend warrior/accidental tourist"

So you are saying it's much like Corbet's Couloir?? Then yes, count me out.
Oh, and by the way......I like things fresh and present, I don't do searches other than Google. Thanks for the tip, though.

Thanks for the interesting posts. I loved Utah but I really want to branch out. Squaw for '08?? I'm thinking Squaw first week of March.:
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
Squaw for '08?? I'm thinking Squaw first week of March.:
For my money I like Alpine better - smaller lines, at least where I like to ski. Similar terrain, less Hollywood. You're not going to find untracked for long but it seems the snow doesn't get hammered as quickly. Maybe I just have figured out where it's hiding.

It's just like everywhere else - the better you know the mountain the more fun you'll have.

Advantage to Tahoe resorts over Utah if hiking is your thing - lower elevation makes for easier bootpacking.
post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by couloir8 View Post

To answer some of Sugaree's Squaw questions-

weather- the good news about Squaw is that they can run the lifts in almost any weather condition. I've been to Snowbird too many times when they've closed the Tram. February and early March I'd say are the best conditions and the least likely chance of rain. Squaw does not get the nasty fog that they get up in Whistler.
This is not really true.

During big storms, it is very common to get 100 mph wind gusts across the Sierra Crest (high point). All the resorts along the crest - Squaw, Alpine and Kirkwood - close many of their lifts for the duration of these storms. Yes, Squaw can run the Funitel, but generally you are confined to Red Dog/KT 22 areas....with Granite Chief, Headwall, Emigrant all closed.

Positively, Squaw is relatively quick to open terrain after significant snows. Snowbird is not. Numerous times Snowbird will keep the back side and Little Cloud for an entire day after a significant dump. A lot of competition on only half of Snowbird's terrain.
post #10 of 47
Thread Starter 
chrisc....I hear ya. I, too, have learned that much of Squaw is unavailable during big storms with wind.

Mountaingirl1969.....I have heard great things about Alpine Valley. If I make it to Tahoe I will ski there.

As for untracked, it's not important to me. What is important.....
I would hope for good skiing conditions.
I would hope for sunshine with 100 mile visibility (I love scenery and photography).
I would go mid-week and hope for light crowds.....core skiers or hollywood plastic doesn't matter to me.
And sure, I would hope for fresh snow, though skiing in the NorthEast for a lifetime has NOT been disappointing. The skiing is great back here even though we don't get a lot of knee deep powder dumps.
post #11 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
chrisc....I hear ya. I, too, have learned that much of Squaw is unavailable during big storms with wind.

Mountaingirl1969.....I have heard great things about Alpine Valley. If I make it to Tahoe I will ski there.

As for untracked, it's not important to me. What is important.....
I would hope for good skiing conditions.
I would hope for sunshine with 100 mile visibility (I love scenery and photography).
I would go mid-week and hope for light crowds.....core skiers or hollywood plastic doesn't matter to me.
And sure, I would hope for fresh snow, though skiing in the NorthEast for a lifetime has NOT been disappointing. The skiing is great back here even though we don't get a lot of knee deep powder dumps.

Sound like you would love Tahoe mid-week.

If you do make out, you should think about a day trip down to Heavenly. Heavenly has the truly amazing views of the Lake. Homewood and Diamond Peak are 2 small areas with great views of the lake. Plus, they are not as far from Squaw.

Alpine Meadow - go to the backside (preferably by hiking) from great views of the lake. Attached pic from from the High T hike to the backside.
525x525px-LL-vbattach2056.jpg
post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
seriously though - if you have to ask about Palisades - don't think it's for you. I would say it is gnarlier than Great Scott (snowbird) - not having done either - but watched skier's come down it. there is a great vantage point - from the top of Headwall. only on weekdays though. closed on weekends for the "weekend warrior/accidental tourist"
::: Nothing like an an arm chair quarterback to 1st tell you 'if you have to ask...", then in the very next sentence tell you he has never skied either run. Wow.
post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
So you are saying it's much like Corbet's Couloir?? Then yes, count me out.
Oh, and by the way......I like things fresh and present, I don't do searches other than Google. Thanks for the tip, though.

Thanks for the interesting posts. I loved Utah but I really want to branch out. Squaw for '08?? I'm thinking Squaw first week of March.:
You may want to look at the Bear gathering planned for Tahoe in March. It's posted when & which places in the Tahoe area. May tie in with your plans.
post #14 of 47
Thread Starter 
Powdr......I wanted to grind him on that......glad you did.

All that after he told me to go search. I freakin' hate the search option on all forums!! Give it to me fresh. I don't want info from 3 years ago!! Resorts are forever changing.

Ski on......
post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 
StormDay.....Thanks for the photo. Very nice.

I am somewhat torn on Heavenly. I am big on Homewood.
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
I am big on Homewood.
post #17 of 47
If you're from the northeast, then even the worst snow condition Squaw has will be good for you.

Snow-wise, I like Utah better. I've had fresh dumps while skiing Tahoe. It's a lot of snow, but it's heavy snow. A bit lighter than the ones we get in the northeast but not by much. It's also too warm for the fresh snow to stay fresh. While the snow in Utah stays dry even days after the storm.

What you get in Tahoe that you don't get in Utah is the view. It's not just the lake. The scenary is different. Very grand! So if you're into pretty scenary, you've got to go to Tahoe at least once.

But for just skiing? I'd go to Snowbird.
post #18 of 47
Thread Starter 
at nyc......Thanks for the comment on snow condition.

As to scenery, the photo posted by StormDay says a lot!! Awesome photo and very inviting to a skier!!!
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
What you get in Tahoe that you don't get in Utah is the view. It's not just the lake. The scenary is different. Very grand! So if you're into pretty scenary, you've got to go to Tahoe at least once.
Pfftt ...... if you want good views go to Vail ........nothing better than the view of I-70 rolling through the valley
post #20 of 47
sugaree,

I love them both but if you happen to be here in Tahoe during a good dump and miss the first tracks at Squaw, not to worry.... go to Northstar, even if it is a day or two later, you will find untracked powder in the trees off the back. For some unknown reason, most skiers at Northstar stay on the trails and leave some awesome terrain and great tree skiing untouched for days!!! and this resort is one of the most protected on windy storm days!! If it is sunny it is hard to beat Squaw on the North shore, though Alpine meadows next door is worth a day too! Have Fun!
post #21 of 47

Both are great!

Snowbird for powder, Squaw for corn. The kind of corn that sluffs away as you are ripping it-light like popcorn-and super fast. The runs off Headwall are exceptional for this kind of snow in the spring. Just enough shade-I haven't seen corn snow as good anywhere (except for possibly Schweitzer)

And to UGA-tear yourself away from the front side at Vail and you might see some views (which are great BTW)-Vail bashing in a Squaw/Snowbird thread? actually pretty creative
post #22 of 47
Come one, Vail is not even in Utah!

Save the Vail bashing for another thread.
post #23 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cal to colorado View Post
Snowbird for powder, Squaw for corn. The kind of corn that sluffs away as you are ripping it-light like popcorn-and super fast. The runs off Headwall are exceptional for this kind of snow in the spring. Just enough shade-I haven't seen corn snow as good anywhere (except for possibly Schweitzer)

And to UGA-tear yourself away from the front side at Vail and you might see some views (which are great BTW)-Vail bashing in a Squaw/Snowbird thread? actually pretty creative

I guess you missed the wink at the end....Vail is my home mountain and I don't spend much time on the frontside. I just thought I'd get the standard Vail bashing started early in an effort to keep the crowds down:
post #24 of 47

Weather at Squaw

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post
sugaree,

I love them both but if you happen to be here in Tahoe during a good dump and miss the first tracks at Squaw, not to worry.... go to Northstar, even if it is a day or two later, you will find untracked powder in the trees off the back. For some unknown reason, most skiers at Northstar stay on the trails and leave some awesome terrain and great tree skiing untouched for days!!! and this resort is one of the most protected on windy storm days!! If it is sunny it is hard to beat Squaw on the North shore, though Alpine meadows next door is worth a day too! Have Fun!
Just wanted to reinforce the comment above re: weather. We stayed at Squaw for a week around Xmas a couple of years ago. During that particular week, the resort closed down completey for two of those days because of high winds. Alpine was also closed. But Northstar, which is the most protected, was open.

If weather is good, Squaw and Alpine are fantastic (and even better for your level!)
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugaree View Post
So you are saying it's much like Corbet's Couloir?? Then yes, count me out.
.:
I think Corbet's is more difficult. Why?
  • bigger drop (8-10ft)
  • tighter
  • more speed to check
  • often a rock in the land zone
The Palisades - specifically National and Main - are more doable. The drops are not that great and often snowboarders have created a traverse into the chute. If you fall, it's open steep open terrain without rocks/trees to slide into.

Here is a good vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z20V6TS8JfU

Also Kitchen Wall on the backside of the Palisades (facing south) is quite steep without a drop. Quite nice in spring corn. Death slide before it ripens.
post #26 of 47
I wish I knew what squaw was really like been there once in may and had very limited open lifts and I had no clue what was actually open to hike to.

I have seen some really gnarly lines in the palisades, but just think about this one. Snowbird not squaw holds the national for Big Mountain Freeskiing every year
post #27 of 47

what's your point Powdr?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr View Post
::: Nothing like an an arm chair quarterback to 1st tell you 'if you have to ask...", then in the very next sentence tell you he has never skied either run. Wow.
so what? I have seen skiers come down both runs. I have stood at the top of both runs ( I am referring to palisades and great scott). I have skied marked double-black run in squaw. I know what's involved.

I haven't climbed Mt Everest either. I don't have to have climbed it to know what's involved in climbing it.

Here is a guy - who is visiting squaw for the first time!!

This is like somebody visiting JH for the first time - hasn't explored the Hobacks, Rendezvous Bowl, expert chutes, crags. Nor has any questions about any of these black/double-black runs. But Nooooo - he want's to know about how do-able is Corbet's Couloir !!!!

Gimme a Break!
post #28 of 47
Thread Starter 
Marty......I wanted to Rail on him.........Glad you did.
post #29 of 47

Squaw

Sugaree. Here some tips (I have skied Squaw approx. 75 times). First part of March good time. No holidays, do not ski weekends, too crowded. Pro bably too early for any corn snow. However Squaw probably has some of the best spring corn snow skiing anywhere. Why? Its how the ski mountains are set. Start west side of gold coast area and then follow the sun to Siberia, Headwall, KT, red dog and finish at the bar for a cold one.

There is absolutely no shortage of steep skiing. Just go up and use your imagination, you will have no trouble finding some steep lines.

Yes Squaw can be windy, if it is go: Alpine 7 min away. Homewood about 15 min away (very protected). Northstar yes but can be very crowded even midweekl. Diamond Peak has some really nice tree skiingl. If you have to ski on a weekend go to Homewood, their parking lot isn't big enough to get the hill crowded (taught there before moved to Idaho).

Personally I would rate for just the skiing: Squaw, Kirkwood,Alpine Meadow, Heavenly, Sugar Bowl as all lst rate. In that order. Have a great time. oh yeah. Breakfast: Squeeze In in Truckee. Also I think the food sucks at High Camp @ Squaw. Eat down below on way to Red Dog or KT22 lift.

Have a great time.
post #30 of 47
I largely agree with Pete's comments. I would add that an early Squaw corn harvest can often be found in Sun Bowl off the top of Headwall, and in the Kitchen Wall above it. Also, if it's too early for corn, the good news is that Silverado will probably still be open. In my opinion, Silverado has steeps to match KT-22, without the crowds to spoil it. If I were only allowed to ski one lift for a full day at Squaw, Silverado would be it.
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