My plan for the first day of skiing each winter is to make it relatively short and easy in order to smoothly awaken the dormant skiing muscels without getting overstressed and sore. Thus little need to make a major day at any of the usual pricy resorts. We drove up I80 towards Donner Summit where we paid $35 or about half what a normal full day adult lift tickets cost at any of the larger Tahoe resorts. Nearby Boreal with similar terrain and many fancy lifts is $14 more and Sugar Bowl $36 more.
Was a mostly sunny day without wind and upper 30 temps. A couple days before more than a foot of new snow fell down to about the 4500 foot level. Thus the squeeky snow covering the base was decent mid winter quality. And at the top were several feet of base covering any obstacles. Parking lot at 9:30am was half full of mostly ethnic and young families. The hill has only two little double chairs with the longer lift at an estimated 6770 foot base and 7310 foot top. That serviced 4 groomed runs off the top of its north facing ridge and one sliding off its east end. The slow short 7 minute lift had a mid station offload where the terrain pitch changes from easy intermediate to more advanced with pitches between 35 and 45 percent grade. Closer to the bottom the slope eased off even more where there was a wide 390 foot long inner tube sliding slope with about a dozen separate lanes that by afternoon had far more traffic than our chair. The other lift further east that we never rode, only serviced the lower slopes. Between the groomed slopes of the upper mountain were a few areas of scattered pines and moderately tracked up slopes since snow had ended a couple days before.
Most chairs at 10am, an hour after lifts started up, were empty and cordoroy grooming rills showed only a few tracks marring the 5 runs off the top. We yoyo'd 10 runs up that lift by noon without ever waiting in any lines. For three decades I'd been an enthusiastic advanced skier at the region's serious resorts, often with season passes, but because of personal financial issues only skied twice during the previous three seasons. My first short swing turns from the top were smooth and sweet like I'd been skiing all month. A resort instructor noted there were usually more at the resort on Saturdays, but 90% to 95% are beginners and novices that stay down on the lower mountain. I enjoyed aggressively cranking my usual short turns down the upper mountain cordoroy, that was just the kind of repetitive skiing exercise motion I sought. Venturing out in to areas between groomed runs, I occasionaly bounced tight S-turns tracks into the shallow powder. Thursday had been sunny so that new snow had a minor sun crust that didn't make it interesting with the skis I was riding but would have been fine with a snowboard or fats.
We skied another couple hours in the afternoon after a short car tailgate lunch. Although the top of the mountain was steep enough to develop modest easier gradient moguls, I suspected there was infrequently enough repetitive traffic between storms, especially by those capable of building up any reasonably shaped bumps to make such interesting. Since bumps are an essential interest to my skiing, I would likely have little reason to return on usual fair weather days. On the other hand I noticed there was ample terrain between the 5 groomed runs off the top and likely so few competant skiers/boarders about that might take advantage of it, that this person could rabbit through a lot of untracked vertical on storm or post storm powder days. Well maybe not? Nearby Boreal is crowded with boarders playing in parks. Some of them no doubt may have noticed this relatively ignored ski hill with slow lifts and thus tend to visit on such days?