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Tahoe Season passes

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
So I've already got a Squaw bronze pass in the bag but what would folks recommend for bang for the buck to complement it for me, a prospective part season (mature sabbatical taking) ski bum.  

Intending to live somewhere around North shore/Truckee assuming I can get a room/basement suite (any leads welcome - see separate thread in classifieds) so Alpine or Northstar would be obvious complements.  I've skied at lot at Kirkwood before and would probably favour it for terrain but given the length of the drive would doubt I'd go that often in a 2 month period.  Just missed the netwrok pass deadline too.

Alpine - like the place but pass isn't super cheap particularly if I wanted to cover off blackouts in the Squaw pass. Concerns about them limiting openings mid week?  Get Homewood for storm or holiday crowd days.

Northstar/double whammy - Free weekday lessons which I might make use of, Sierra included for days when I fancied a change of scene.  But flatter, Lookout and the backside are reasonably entertaining but there's nothing to compare to Squaw/alpine or Kirkwood for terrain unless I've missed something.  Possibly gets tracked a bit slower on powder days due to the family crowd positioning?

Rose - never skied them so a bit unknown for me/

Payback on a Double Whammy (moderately restricted for Nstar) would be sub 9 days and would mean I didn't necessarily need to go skinning every Saturday to get some turns.

No doubt I'd spring for the odd day ticket at say Mt Rose or Sugarbowl when conditions permit & have vistors etc.

 Any thoughts from the wise? How good is Northstar's teaching programme on the free lessons? Just a marketing tool to convert a few more schmos to passholders? Are Alpine's owners committed to full opening in season?
Edited by fatbob - 9/10/09 at 8:51am
post #2 of 7
I'll address the N'star double whammy & free lessons for ya.  Others here can better advise on the rest of the N'shore area passes,benefits,programs. 
Yea, I love my double whammy. Both Northstar & Sierra at Tahoe can and will run lifts when most others are on windhold or closed for harsh weather reasons. They both pretty much shut down their lifts only for thunderstorms & lightening strike danger.  
    Possibly gets tracked a bit slower on powder days due to the family crowd positioning?
Correct. Lots there remains untracked for a day or so. And the Backside can be pretty vacant at times. There is enough area to get away from crowds & have fun terrain, fresh snow, or simply different or challenging snow depending on where in the area you are. 
   How good is Northstar's teaching programme on the free lessons? Just a marketing tool to convert a few more schmos to passholders? 

It is in fact free,see website for details. Quality wise, the day I was there to pick up my repaired & tuned skis, I took advantage of the free lesson program.  The quality was unsurpassed for a group lesson.  They do in fact assign top instructors. I have to laugh 'cause,,, Our instructor for the black group was none other than an Epic Bear, bootfitter guru, highly skilled experienced & certified L3  & past examiner - Bud Heishman.   We had a blast for 2 1/2 hours, everyone learned lots & walked away a better more confident skier.   All for free. (one skier was upset because she lacked having $ in pocket & she was so happy with her improvements &greater  confidence she really really really wanted to tip the man who helped create that breakthru for her ! )    So, as to motivation ? Dunno. Create lifelong skiers ? maybe,  Benefit everyone,increase skills, safety, joyfullness ? could be. Meet instructors you might want to book privates from ? Can't hurt to drum up future business. Forward the sport of skiing ? Yeah, for sure. Lifelong skiers buy passes everyyear. soooo,, a round about method of getting there by paying an hourly wage vs. high dollar advertising & gimmicks - definately more win/win giving away those lessons & far cheaper. 

Terrain - I don't know N'star well enough to clue you in on the secrets. However, Sierra has a new backcountry program that is dirt cheap w/some awesome instruction, great terrain http://www.sierraattahoe.com/info/winter/backcountry-lesson.asp . What changes may occur for the 09/10 season ? Prolly not much.  Augmenting your Squaw pass with another could be beneficial and this is a choice w/some great benefits for your personal growth depending where you are.

Each ski area in Tahoe has vastly different vibe, culture, feel, terrain, focus. Definately worth several season passes to multiple mountains. I have 2 passes, use self restraint so it's a no on a 3rd. (among other possiblities, I could easily develop a season pass addiction problem for Tahoe).  If you choose the double whammy, pm me, I'll direct you to the most cheapest beneficial pass you can find.
Edited by 911over - 9/10/09 at 1:26pm
post #3 of 7
I think the Rose pass is the cheapest and it's a pretty good hill with the Slides area.
post #4 of 7
So bottom line, you're looking for a good weekend complement to weekdays at Squaw.

I suspect that's probably not Northstar, which has heavy duty weekend crowds.  I can't speak to Rose or Sugar Bowl due to lack of experience.  So my gut would be Alpine.  But I'm biased.

As for your specific question, Alpine's midweek closures are usually lifts, not terrain.  E.g., there's no reason to run both Alpine Bowl Chair and Summit Six, or both Yellow and Roundhouse, or both Scott and Lakeview, when there aren't enough people to keep the faster chair busy.  The exception is spring, when it seems like the backside is often closed midweek to preserve snow.

That said, if you're going to have a Squaw midweek pass, do you really care?  If Alpine doesn't have enough terrain open on a specific midweek day, just go to Squaw.

If you're in the market for a pair of Moment skis, the combo with the pass is a killer deal.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts so far.  I think Alpine makes sense for the sort of thing I like and is probably the place on the North Shore I've skied most on holiday trips (from UK), however it feels it is essentially similar to squaw (although not in vibe or Bogner/fur wearing crowd) whereas at least Northstar is something different (If I was a park monkey I guess it would be more attractive). ANy thoughts on Sugarbowl?

I suspect I've got my priorities a bit wrong here and would be better sorting out somewhere to live first - any leads on rooms for part season/out skiing everyday welcome, craigslist probably won't be a great point of call until nearer arrival date I suspect. 
post #6 of 7
Yes, it would be good to figure out your living arrangements first.  But there are impending early pass purchase deadlines to worry about.  And trying to nail down a roommate situation for the winter may be difficult right now, although not impossible.  I would look to share with seasonal workers.  You will probably find cheaper lodging as you get further from I-80, since that's the main artery for weekend travel; North or South of Tahoe City could be a good bet.  The Donner Lake area might work too; that's more favored by the summer crowd than the winter.

Northstar, by reputation, is for groomer zoomers and park rats.  That's an unfair stereotype, of course, but it has a basis in fact.  Sugarbowl draws an interesting combination of the old San Francisco elite (it's the oldest real ski area) and dilettantes seeking the resort closest to the Bay; it boasts very nice terrain and usually gets the biggest snowfall North of the Lake (thanks to its high base and location on the leading edge of the Pacific Crest), but its downside is a horizontal rather than vertical layout.  It's also a good 40+ minutes from Squaw, so unless you're planning to live in Truckee or along Donner Lake, you will have dramatically different travel times.

One other significant difference between Alpine and Squaw is the former's open boundary policy.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Yeah great point on the open boundaries too. I've only really skied Nstar on storm days so might have a bit of a rosy view of it, but even them remember the flat of the frontside.
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