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Season pass for which Tahoe resort?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi, everyone. I just moved from SoCal to the Bay Area and am suddenly faced with an embarassment of riches: Lake Tahoe resorts only 3 hours away.

I've never skied in Tahoe, so I really don't know where to begin. Actually, I do have some idea of what I want:

1) First off, I will EVENTUALLY try all the resorts for myself over the course of this season, however...

2) I am convinced that this season will be killer, so I've decided that I will purchase a season pass NOW, while it's cheap.

3) From the combination of feedback in this forum, 3dskimaps.com and Youtube, it seems to me that Northstar-at-Tahoe might be too flat for my tastes.

I am not too well-skied, so my frame-of-reference is SoCal resorts (Snow Summit, Bear Mountain) and Mammoth Mountain. I liked Mammoth a lot and felt that the top of the mountain was challenging for me, with some runs that I would eyeball with real pucker factor (i.e. double-black rocky chutes). I would be happy with a Mammoth-like resort: meat-and-potatoes blues and blacks, with a garnish of habanero double-blacks.

I can't afford a pass for Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, so AFAIK it's a choice between Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe/Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Does anybody have any insights or suggestions? Thanks in advance.

(Aside: Northstar-at-Tahoe/Sierra-at-Tahoe was originally suggested by snowboarding coworkers. However, various reasons led me to begin to suspect that their idea of a good ski resort was going to be different from mine.)
post #2 of 15
Sugar Bowl
post #3 of 15
Your profile says:

Favorite Terrain: Groomed blue/black runs

Northstar backside runs are arguably longest consistent blue/black pitches in US. With vilage development though focus is shfting from skiers to homeowners. Seems like skiers become an annoyance to the resort management.

Kirkwood is anything but groomed. PITA to get to. Great mountain though.

Heavenly - views, wind.

Whatever you choose - enjoy the season. You'll like it there.
post #4 of 15
2nd SugarBowl.

Make sure to get some one to show you around. There is lots of fun stuff if you know how to get to it. I was not that impressed with SB until I skied it with someone who really knew it.

If you don't get a SugarBowl season pass, at least get their Core Daily pass. Pays for itself in 3 days.

Also, the shorter drive makes it easier to do day trips.

I got a midweek pass at SB last year and it work out pretty well.

For the other days:
http://www.snowbomb.com/
post #5 of 15
A big part of the decision needs to be how and wnen you plan to ski. If you are driving up and back, you need to select closer. If you drive up and stay several days, then any of the resorts are fine. If you plan to carpool or split rides with your buddies and they are going to Sierra/Northstar, then that is where you should go. There is terrain inaccessible to snowboarders IF you are prepared to go out the boundary gates.

I have had a pass at Kirkwood for several years, but found getting there was so difficult, I was going less. Since I have an arrangement to ski there now, I'm going to get a pass elsewhere.

Sugar Bowl is close and has great terrain. I have to agree with Stormday, it sure sounds like your kind of place.
post #6 of 15
Another vote for Sugar Bowl, with the caveat that I found it hard to find reasonably priced accommodations nearby, which may affect your appreciation of the place. Others here may have a line on good places to stay, though.

And Cirque, every time I see your signature I try to wipe a bug off my screen.
post #7 of 15
Cirquerider brings up an important point. When and how you plan to ski, how many days in a row, day trips, etc. As you are in the bay area, check into the Bay area ski bus for their season pass. See if that fits your needs. They go to a number of different resorts depending on their schedule.
post #8 of 15
Sugar Bowl: I third as a good place for terrain with affordable pass. Runs are not long, but they are good. Lifts are fast. You will do a lot of laps here.

Kirkwood: Awesomeness for terrain. High angle grooming if that is your thing. Lots and lots of off piste. You will never hurt for fresh turns once you know where to go. Getting there can be awful. Affordable lodging nonexistent.

Alpine is worth every penny, but I admit it's a lot of pennies!
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.

Upon further consideration and discussion with coworkers, I think I'm pretty much limited to Northstar (they're really not considering anywhere else, as they JUST committing to blue runs) if I'm going to carpool and limit the money hemorrhage that's par for driving these days.

Of course, there will be storm-of-the-century-but-can't-get-the-gang-together days, so that's when it'll be time for me to play at Sugar Bowl, etc.

Thank you for all the feedback, but I guess I'm stuck.

(Bay Area Ski Bus season pass is ~$1.2K. Yikes.)
post #10 of 15
Northstar is a great resort - I bought passes at both Squaw & Northstar last year and spent more days at Northstar. You will have a lot of fun, don't feel bad that circumstance constrained your choice.
post #11 of 15
Perhaps get the double whammy to Northstar and Sierra? Northstar doesn't have any of that challenging stuff you described like the top at Mammoth, but it does have a plethora of what you seem to like to ski.
post #12 of 15
If the only reason he's buying the Flatstar pass is because that's where he can get a ride, why would he want to go to Sierra?
post #13 of 15
He mentioned Heavenly and Kirkwood, so I assume he can make it to South Shore?
post #14 of 15
That was earlier, before he realized he could only get to Flatstar consistently. One of the disadvantages of timing out the ability to edit your posts, I guess.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DtEW View Post
Hi, everyone. I would be happy with a Mammoth-like resort: meat-and-potatoes blues and blacks, with a garnish of habanero double-blacks.

I can't afford a pass for Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, so AFAIK it's a choice between Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe/Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Does anybody have any insights or suggestions? Thanks in advance.
Kirkwood is the best skiing and deal right now, if you can tolerate the extra 1/2 hour getting there, have 4-wheel-drive (frequent, multiple chain controls, plus occasional avalanche controls), can get up early enough in the morning to get a parking space (i.e., be IN their parking lot NLT 9 am), patient enough for the extra 45 minutes to exit their parking lot, and don't need anything besides skiing (nothing within 20 miles of that resort). Kirkwood's website says something about some new lifts, which would be even more reason to buy there (had I known that, I would have). Otherwise, heavenly has much easier access, parking and lodging; they also offer 1/2 price lift tickets at their colorado resorts to passholders (not as good as past years, which were 3-5 days FREE!!!! at vail, bc, etc.).

The steeps and large open bowls of kirkwood are up top, as are several large, consistent cornices and cliff hucks, which vary from 15-100+ feet - if you are into that. Heavenly is a different shape mountain (kinda intermedio on top, steeper on bottom slope), and more tree runs, narrower open runs. Heave's biggest jump is probably off the super half pipe (when it is open - they spent half the season futzing with it last yr), or, when conditions permit, in some double blacks (mott/killebrew) or thru the firebreak gates (out-of-bounds, legally accessible) between Olympic and the casino's. Kirk's extreme skiing is somewhat more accessible.

As far as grooming, neither kirk or heave do much on blacks - though they both occasionally do steep angle grooming of one run every other day or so. Just don't expect it.

Northstar and SAT are lamer, cheaper, not really my style, tho I do go there once in a while for variety. Northstar grooms the crap out of everything. Both have lower base/peak elevations than kirk/heave, that affects season length/snow quality at either end of the season. Location wise - SAT (and sugar) seem to get more serious dumps.
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