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Tahoe: 3/25-3/30 with video links

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well here goes:

I flew into Reno at 12:00pm on a Sunny Tuesday-my Buddy Luke and His wife (who had been there since Saturday skiing) picked me up at the Airport and whisked me away to hit some afternoon skiing in the warm Spring Sun-Mt. Rose (only 25 minutes from the Airport) was our destination-however , the Winds were kicking (30-40mph gusts) and Mt Rose had it's top lift closed and the Chutes closed so we pushed on to the next nearest area between us and our Townhouse in lovely Carnelian Bay-that was little Diamond Peak-a family ski area in Incline Village, NV.

1. Tues-Afternoon, March 25 Diamond Peak-a Fun little Place!-Look, it's no destination resort and time and fate brought us there-but we had a great afternoon skiing slushy spring snow. It's basically one long ridge with some fun, mildly challenging and mildly steep tree runs, groomers, a couple of mini chutes-honestly we enjoyed it. Stopped at the Hacienda for cervezas and fish tacos on the way to our Townhome.

2. Next Day was again very sunny...but very, very windy-some places were reporting ridge top gust of 90mph (!!!)-only a few areas were offering lift service of any kind and only Alpine Meadows was running to the top. So we headed out to ski Alpine Meadows! We'd wondered whether the sun would trump the wind and soften the mountain up as we took a few warm-up runs on the groomers. Well, it didn't, the winds (damn convection) kept the corn at bay and left us with mostly frozen crud to navigate. Nonetheless we soldiered on and found a few good runs-the best snow was under Sherwood Chair on the South side where the Sun had at least a fighting Chance against the prevailing winds. Some true spring-like Tahoe bumps had formed and a completely empty high speed lift served this terrain so we spent an hour or so here. We also fanned out and explored everything we could (from Our Father to CB Chutes)-the wind just prevented it from softening. Too bad, because alpine is blessed with an abundance of great terrain and steeps, and like everywhere in tahoe it has just plain stellar views. Also, Alpine Meadows was EMPTY-seriously, it was like we owned the place-which, regardless of conditions is a great experience. All in all a good day-but not the epic spring days you hope for. We finished with a few beers at a tavern on a brook right near the entrance rd to Alpine-great spot, actually.

3. Thursday. No wind, good sunshine-but colder temperatures prevailed. We decided to head to South lake Tahoe and ski Heavenly. Look, I know a lot of folks dump on Heavenly because 1.it's crowded and 2. It's shamelessly corporate (pricey)-both accusation hold water for sure, but, Heavenly also boasts the most diverse terrain and varying faces (and more altitude) than anywhere else in tahoe. The base area crowds can be a drag, but once you get to the goods (Mott canyon, Kilibrew, even the Face) you'll find the crowds dissipate and Heavenly serves up some of the best steeps, and undoubtedly the best tree skiing in Tahoe. And that was the case again today. The hunt for good snow took some effort as the colder temps mitigated the effects of the strong sunshine-but we found great snow on the Sunny side of Mott canyon-which is served by an absolutely empty double chair. We also hit some great trees (which are everywhere at Heavenly). By 2:30 the Face (Gunabarrel and East Bowl, East Bowl Trees,etc) was finally warmed up to typical Tahoe Spring goodness and we spent the last 1.5 hours lapping the gunbarrel chair wearing out ourselves silly on the incomparable bumps of the Heavenly face.. Honestly, among the many must do's in skiing, afternoon laps on the heavenly face in high strong sunshine (with that glorious lake in view with every turn) is one of the best IMHO. Again, though the mountain was crowded there was no wait on the Gunbarrel express and almost no skiers on the runs (except a few very talented bumpers).

3. Friday-Mount Rose. Look, this is easy, Mount Rose (especially midweek) rules. I just love places like this. The weather, again was a little tricky-the high winds returned by early afternoon and closed the main area lift. No big deal to me however, as the Chutes remained open as well as the backside 6 person express. The mountain was basically empty. If you haven't skied the Chutes at Mount Rose-make it a point next time you're in lake tahoe-they're easily my favorite terrain in region. In spite of the wind they were full of damn near perfect, cold midwinter snow (they're very sheltered, very high, and completely north facing). The Chutes serve up the best sustained steeps (from low 40 degrees up to low 50's degrees pitch) for 1500-1800 ft. There's small cliffs to huck (if you like), steep trees (over by the chuter lift-pretty awesome, actually) and just one fantastic steep turn after another. The two lifts required to keep running them goes very quickly. We spent almost the whole day here (especially after the winds began to really howl-the Chutes are completely wind protected) and honestly it was the best day of skiing I've had all year.

4. Saturday-Sugarbowl! Last day of skiing. Sugarbowl picked up a heavy 4-5 inches of fresh snow, and colder temps were prevailing today. No where else was reporting snow and, on a Saturday, I prefer to avoid crowds rather than chase legendary (read Squaw) terrain, so we hoofed it up to Sugarbowl. What a fun place-I hadn't been there before. Although it seemed busy at first we didn't wait in a single lift line (they have high speed lifts everywhere). We found unbroken snow for most of the morning (especially over in the Strawberry Field area), by mid morning the heavy snow was in piles and a fair amount of the frozen crud base could be felt. However, even this softened as the day warmed, and while the snow wasn't the easiest-it was soft and fun. We found plenty of great stuff to ski all over the mountain-the place is definately worth a visit-it's got steeps, trees and bowls-though, it doesn't have the vertical (at least it didn't feel like it) that some other places do. It is also a snow magnet and gets yearly snow totals similar to kirkwood (as was evidenced by the snow they received).

All in all a good trip. We only got a few tastes of the more legendary tahoe spring skiing (the Heavenly Face), but, we made many, many great turns. I know, I didn't hit Squaw this year-my friends did before I got there-basically, we were faced with weather based decisions and the cards never stacked up right for Squaw this time-honestly there is so much great skiing in Tahoe it requires some tough choices. Also, I've been to a fair amount of ski areas and regions, Tahoe, is well and by far, the most stunningly beautiful-I mean, turn after turn as you gaze down at the deepest blue lake you've ever seen ringed by tree covered snow capped mountains with the Sun setting off a cerulean sky-it's breath-taking. One of the best parts of this sport are the places it takes you-and Tahoe, with or without skis-is one of the best.

Below are a few links to Google videos:

This is my man, Luke on the CB Chutes at Alpine Meadows: -don't let the camera fool you, this run is steep-and the conditions were less than Ideal (it looked like Spring corn, but it turned out to be frozen Crud


This one is Me on the Sunny side of Mott Canyon-it's steep and soft (a little heavy and sticky, too)-not quite hero-snow corn, but plenty fun just the same


And This one is Andrea (Luke's Wife) skiing what I think is Nancy's Couloir in the afternoon at Sugarbowl-again, the camera doesn't reveal how steep this is-and the snow was pretty heavy and a little funky underneath. She does pretty well with it (better than I did for sure!)


post #2 of 7
Thanks for the report Liam. We haven't had much Tahoe stoke this year since the snow quit falling in February. Looks like you found good skiing and had a good time with what we got.
post #3 of 7
Nice report!
You are right, the camera makes it look flat. The reduced image quality for googvids probably makes it worse, too. But on the last vid, notice how quickly Andrea gets smaller -- that is a serious slope.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the comments guys-I enjoyed writing this report-

Yeah, the terrain flattening effect of low -res video is a bummer-but actually naming the areas at least lets folks who know the runs appreciate them. Andrea does get down the ghill in a hurry-but to be fair I think that the pitch my man Luke skied had the nastiest conditions and was equally steep-his skiing may look prosaic-but the fact he makes it look so simple and dull is a testament to his unflappable skill..honest.

Also-the trees in the videos help show pitch-they grow at near 90 degrees so if you look at the slope in relation it helps show the actual pitch a bit.
post #5 of 7
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
And This one is Andrea (Luke's Wife) skiing what I think is Nancy's Couloir in the afternoon at Sugarbowl-again, the camera doesn't reveal how steep this is-and the snow was pretty heavy and a little funky underneath. She does pretty well with it (better than I did for sure!)


Not a local by any means, but I think you're right on this vid being Nancy's. It is pretty steep. I like Sugar a lot, but there's lots of outrun to negotiate for only 1000 or so vert.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Your comments on the vert at sugarbowl echoed our on-mountain sentiments exactly-just seemed a little 'shorter' than the other places-especially on that Srawberry Fields area-fun trees, a few good pitched but they ended too soon and were followed by a lengthy run back to the disney express. The best sustained runs we found were pretty much following the Lincoln express lift (staying slightly to the skiers right-through the multiple tree stands and around the one cliff) all the way down. Sugarbowl makes for a great saturday (less crowded-good snow/ terrain) option for the Tahoe visitor--and that's how we used it. Checking those other reports sounds like Jackson and the North Country really got it and got it good, huh. Man-timing is everything!
post #7 of 7
Very nice report. Thanks for posting.
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