3/22- ?/2017, Lake Tahoe


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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley

    3/22- ?/2017, Lake Tahoe

    After my little break back home to wait out the blow torch hanging over Tahoe, I came back to Reno to find rain in the city and new snow on the peaks of Tahoe Rim.

    Forecast for Tuesday was high wind and continue snowing. Of all the Tahoe mountains, Northstar is the most sheltered from the wind and, because it's entirely below tree line, there's no worry about visibility. More over, it got as much snow as the other mountains. So all the benefit and no drawback. Northstar it is for Tuesday.

    Day 1: 3/22, Tuesday, Northstar. Snowing, & freezing my butt off, Literally!

    Last week, it was so hot I took out all my light weight spring skiing stuff for the first time this season.

    This morning, I put them back on, oblivious of the light snow flying outside my car window. On the last minute, I decided I'd put my heavier jacket back on. And I stuffed an extra layer of both top and bottom into my Camelpak "just in case"...

    Well the "case" turned out to be pretty obvious the moment I got on the chair. I mean, THE MOMENT! Two lifties, one wielding a bat, the other a bloom, took turn to attack the layer of white on the chair, but seemed to have made no difference. So as I sat down, I ran my hand under my butt to brush the snow away...

    That's when I realized those were not snow but ice! It was frozen to the chair.

    It didn't take long before my body heat melted them and it didn't take long before it soak through my pants. My butt was slowly freezing while the chair inches its way towards the top.

    There's a lodge at the top of the 2nd chair. And I made a beeline to that. Thank god I had an extra layer in my backpack! But for unknown reason, there's no chair/couch to sit down inside the bathroom, which makes it quite impossible to get out of my boot to put on the extra layer under my pants. I was a bit upset and decided I'll simply do the change INSIDE the lodge, in full view of the families having breakfast! I don't think I made a good example of adult behavior in public for the children.

    Once properly dressed, I started exploring the mountain. 8-9" had fallen in the past 24hrs. It's pretty obvious there's a lot of snow on all the previously frozen surfaces. It took me a couple runs before finding the best condition. Basically, there's a few inches of "hero snow" on all the groomers. On the other hand, some of the more popular groomers were being scraped off alarmingly fast. Somehow, I stumble upon a few runs that no one seems to be interested in skiing. So I got to lap the hero snow for multiple times.

    Then I moved on to the trees.

    Northstar is basically one giant mountain of widely spaced glades, with trails cut in regular interval to provide access. There're so many lines there's no need to repeat other peoples line or one's own!

    Still, what's under the new snow were frozen coral reefs, some of them giant icy bums, surrounded by tree wells. So it's a random thing. Some patch of trees were nice and smooth, others pretty scratchy. Needless to say, I repeat those that were smooth and stayed away from those that were scratchy.

    Interestingly, the endless mogul field under the lift on the back side, were completely covered by new snow and smooth as the baby's bottom. And no one were on it! So I dropped in and lapped it a couple times. Sampling a little of the trees next to it along the way too.

    Nevertheless, the snow was slowly settling down and starting to get heavy. The infamous "Sierra Cement" was taking form. My legs let me know they needed frequent rest. I did early lunch because that's what my legs demanded. And by 2:30, my legs reminded me that day is coming to an end soon. I stuck it out till about 3 and decided it's no long fun to push those wet cement around any more.

    Another sugary strawberry+Nuttelle crepes, enjoyed leisurely by the fire next to the skating ring in the village round off the day. I can get used to this silliness of "base village" pretty easily.

  2. #2
    Nice report!

    The snow does not change to corn snow like man made does. While the natural snow gets creamy and soft it also gets heavy. Corn snow seems to push easier.
    2012-2013 (39)
    2013-2014 (36)
    2014-2015 (51)
    2015-2016 (47)

    2016-2017 target - 50

    If you take what the mountain gives you, you will always have fun!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley
    Mt Rose is a special mountain in my heart. When I used to live in the SF Bay area, Mt Rose is the mountain I skied most frequently. It's kind of sort of my then "home mountain". But I was a much different skier back then. So what I knew of the mountain, is not the same as what I would see it now.

    Even though I never bought a season pass there, I was infinitely familiar with its many deals and packages. All the years since then, every time I went back to the Tahoe area in the winter, I always include one or more times skiing at Mt Rose. This time, even though it's not part of my 2 passes, I know on every Thursday, it's Ladies Day, $29 lift ticket for ladies, (and rumor has it, anyone who will show up at the ticket window in a dress). $29! That's "almost free".

    Day 2, Mt Rose.
    Condition: sunshine + leftover powder -- A "picture perfect" day!
    After yesterday of pushing "Sierra Cement" around in Northstar, I was desperate to find something a little lighter and softer.

    Mt Rose, its base at well over 8000', is higher than the top of Northstar! If anywhere there's dry powder that hasn't turned into wet cement, Mt Rose has the best chance.

    Morning, I checked the lift status. The Chutes are OPEN!

    But Lakeview chair is not. That means there's a small uphill skate to get to some of the trails with lake view, AND TREES! No matter, there're tons of terrain, more than one can cover in a single day anyway.

    Since the Slide Bowl is facing southeast, that's the first to soften (or turn to goo). So that's where I went straight for. What a gorgeous day!

    And surprisingly, still powder no one bother to touch!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by abc; Mar 24, 2017 at 11:23 AM.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley
    High as it is, with the strong sun, the bowl was starting to soften up a little too much. And one of the guy I shared a chair with said the front side was in good condition. So I pointed my skis to the Lake View side of the mountain. For one thing, there's good view to gawk at. For another, there're lots of well spaced trees that way!

    Cloud had started to move in from the west, as the forecast was calling for a small storm the next day. Still, the lake was visible, just below the cloud. Quite a magical scenery actually.


    Once I put the camera away, I start the serious work of powder hunting! But I didn't have to hunt too hard, the snow in the glade was deep and soft and smooth! I lapped the glades off Upper Remsey several times and had a whale of a good time.

    It's time for lunch. And my legs demanded a bit of a rest. Besides, there's no little competition, why hurry?
    Last edited by abc; Mar 24, 2017 at 1:08 AM.

  5. #5
    Mt. Rose looks nice! Never been there, but always heard good things about it.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley
    Lunch, is at the gorgeous Winter Creek lodge, which has a fantastic view of the reservoir on the Nevada side, and the snow-caped mountain beyond.

    Once rested and with a happy stomach, it's time to tackle "the chutes". Earlier in the morning, on the chair ride up, I took a look at the entry to one of the southeast facing chutes. It looked absolutely unappetizing! Steep icy drop in and a short remainder of decent powder. That icy drop-in never improved each time I look at it from the chair. So I decided I'll go around and try the northwest facing ones. They've got to have better snow! My first candidate was Beehive. That prove to be excellent! Well spaced trees shelter the snow from the blazing sun. Condition was positively creamy! Though as soon as I moved away from the trees into the open, I encounter small patch of ice here and there. Nothing to worry about but it motivated me to stay IN the trees as long as I could.

    Beehive was so good I did it again. On the Chuter chair out, I spied another run lower down that looked all shaded and, as there were a couple of skiers coming down it, I didn't hear any scraping sound. So that was my next target. Unfortunately, the sun had by then receded behind some cloud so the snow lost its contrast. It was soft and nice, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Beehive under full sun. That's what I decided to do on my last run, as the clock was nearing 3:30 and the patrol is on its way to closing the gates.

    Taking my last chair ride out of Slide Bowl, the wind was now howling and sandblasting me with ice particles. AND dumping dry powder on the runs. I dropped down The Face, a black run with some not-too-big bumps. The wind had dump so much loose powder on the trough, it skis as smooth as baby's bottom! A perfect powder run to finish my day.

    A parting view of my beloved former home mountain.


    And such a great day is worthy of a bit of celebration, I think.

    Last edited by abc; Mar 24, 2017 at 1:47 AM.

  7. #7

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley
    Today is the day I moved down from Reno to South Lake Tahoe. (I'll be spending the next week in south lake area) What that means is I can ski any mountain north or south on my way.

    On the other hand, I had a couple of phone chores back home I needed to get done. And the 3 hr time difference is making it hard for some of them. So I wasn't sure how much skiing I get to do once I finish my phone chores.

    Forecast for today was for high wind, snowing all day long, and zero visibility. From talking to those who ski Tahoe regularly, I knew Squaw will probably have a lot of wind hold, so does Heavenly. Mt Rose? It's entire back side will be in a pea soup. Most likely, that lift wouldn't run anyway.

    That pretty much left Northstar in the North shore the only game in town! With its entire skiing below treeline, wind and visibility won't be bothering them! Though wet snow or even rain would...

    Fortunately, they lucked out. The snow/rain line was just below their mid-mountain lodge. So, while the village had on and off rain mixed with snow, the upper mountain were all snow.

    3/24, Day 3, Northstar
    again! SNOWING AGAIN!!!

    After getting done with a lengthy phone call, I got to Northstar a little after noon hour. Some people were already leaving. It's hard to guess whether they left because condition were so terrible? Or they maybe working afternoon shift and this being the time to leave the mountain. No matter, I took one of them parking spot, 6 cars from the edge of a slope (and gondola).

    Then, just as I was pulling my skis out of my trunk, a guy walk up to the car next to mine, put his skis in there and proceeded to take off his boots. So I asked him what the condition was like. His answer "today is a teaser day!" What he meant was condition changes up and down, this way or that. But for anyone who had the right attitude, this can be a great day. He also gave me a detail list of runs that were not yet trashed by high skier traffic. So I beeline to it! (he also gave me info on where NOT to go, example, Lookout mountain was too low so got mix of rain with snow)

    1st run off Plunge. Top half of the run were deep new snow. Not quite "powder", more like "chowder". Still, snow was soft and deep as cushion. Lower part of the run was scratchy though. Don't ask me how it got that way. But once was enough. I moved on.

    On the chair up, the woman sitting next to me said the backside skies well! So I went over there for my 2nd run. Sierra Grande was ok but at places scratchy. So I duck into the trees...Eureka! Woods were untracked and smooth as cream cheese! Deep enough to pretty much covered up all the re-frozen coral reef. I surfed the dense snow, again and again!

    I went back up and intended to repeat the run one last time, only to find the access to that part of the backside CLOSED! Asked why, someone apparently gone missing out of bounds. They need to close the whole section as they go looking for him. Fortunately, the lines I wanted to do were still accessible from just under the chair. I traversed a good ways till I don't see tracks, then drop in and have the woods all to myself!

    All the while, snow kept coming down and re-filling all the tracks as though they weren't there. After a couple more runs on the back side, I remembered the suggestion of the guy who parked next to me, I switched to working on the East ridge. The woods here are just a tiny bit tighter. But then, the snow were deeper too. I did a bunch of runs where I went from boot top dense "chowder" to a couple inches of "hero snow".

    I felt like I was some waterproof gear tester. My pants held up better this time when I had my extra layer on. My jacket was totally bombproof! Erhh... I mean waterproof! I wasn't even cold in just a base layer + jacket. My gloves were the only thing that didn't quite worked out as well. Though the glove shell was waterproof, the cuff wasn't! The wet snow stick to it, melt and soak the cuff. The moisture slowly worked its way inside the liner... Fortunately, it wasn't cold enough for it to be a problem. Just a damn sight unpleasant with that wetness feel.

    Time flies when one is having fun. The clock inside the lift hut was showing 3:45. I knew I had but one more chair ride if I hurry. I dropped into one of the groomer with some hero snow, and made the chair one last time before they closing it. But in my rush to get one last run in, I miscalculated what I need to be at in order to ski back to my car. On the map, it looked like I could get to the run that reach my car, but in reality that was the wrong direction (uphill!). That means I had to walk through the silly base "village" and get a bus back to my car. Though not a terrible hardship, it was made less pleasant when I saw a long line in front of the crepe place. No more sugary crepes for me today...
    Last edited by abc; Mar 27, 2017 at 11:17 PM.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Lower Hudson Valley
    Day 4, 3/25/2017, Kirkwood Condition: blue bird mini-powder day in the morning, cloudy & heavy Sierra cement in the afternoon.

    Today I hook up with an epicski "bear" I met in Whistler gathering 2 weeks ago. He's a semi-local, home in Silicon Valley but skied Kirdwood a whole bunch. He picked me up at my hotel at South Lake Tahoe and we carpool to Kirkwood. The road was as treacherous as I remembered it. But he's used to it. We made good time in the morning and got there well before 1st chair.

    My buddy knew Kirkwood well. And he had his routines. We parked in the beginner area early. Then we rode the beginner chair to the main base. There's about an inch or two of fresh powder on the groomer, which we enjoyed. Though when we dropped down to the main base, to our disappointment, none of the lifts were running at 9. Upon asking the liftie, they're still doing avi control work. That's why the delay opening. ETA were 9:30 to load. We had no choice but to wait. We can't even get back to the beginner area.

    We stood around, chit chap, until there comes a big roaring cheer when people up front saw the lefties getting ready to load the chairs!

    I was intimidated by the "double black" designation of "the wall" so we didn't take that chair first thing in the morning. Instead, we rode the chair next to it, which "only" got up half way. My buddy led, I followed, a little bit of traverse later, we stood on top of a short stretch of mostly still untracked powder from the previous day. It was sweet, if too short.

    Snow were already consolidating in the lower mountain. So I was eager to go up higher. The obvious choice was to go up "the Wall". But the line on that chair was huge. So we rode the "half way up" chair again. My buddy knew other lines that were less tracked, if no less consolidated. We got in another decent run before we decided to finally suffer through the Wall chair, via the single's line.

    It's very plain to see, the previously smooth untracked face of the wall is now completely tracked out! So my buddy took me on another short traverse, then dropped into one of the chutes. Except we didn't drop in by skis. We down climbed it on 4's, carrying skis (ok, on 3's). It's only about 20 ft down, but it felt like 20 yard. Though once we put our skis back on, the skiing was comparatively easier. The snow was good, still untracked pockets we could "patch hop" from one pocket to the next.

    We even stopped to watch a group of kids being coached to jump down a cornices taller than their height.

    The wall proved to be a disappointment, too much time in line for the amount of powder we could harvest. But just fortunate in timing, the chair to the back side finally started loading. So we made a beeline to that. And a lucky confusion at the next chair had us skipping the line to the front. We finally got our fresh track on largely untracked powder! (or chowder by this point of the morning).

    The skiing was good enough we repeated it. This time, no confusion to help us skip the line. Though fortunately, the line weren't too big just yet. So we got in another similar run on the fresh chowders before the line finally drove us away.

    Next on the list of my buddy's routine, we went for the t-bar that would take us up further. The entry to the t-bar was a steep icy incline which had us skiers side-stepping and boarders carrying their board. Since my buddy and I were of very different height, so we purposely didn't stay together. I eyed another skier of similar height, but was trumped by a ski instructor who fortunately was also similar in size. So I commented about the steep icy entry to the t-bar. He answered "I do it on purpose to keep out those who don't belong here!"

    Well, I'm not convinced. But I wasn't going to bother arguing. There's good skiing to be done on the top! Largely untracked sections. Sweet California chowder! Creamy smooth.

    Unfortunately, the chair to take us back up that way were long. So we moved on. And a while later found us looking at the base village again. It's now 1:30 and I was kind of hungry. So we went into one of the few places that are easily reachable in ski boots. We got seats without too much difficulty, but that's probably due to the lines for food was so long people probably turned around and left.

    We were in ok situation, between the 2 of us, there were enough pocket food to last us till closing. So we replenished with water. I even made a hot chocolate from a pack of powder chocolate in my pack. We rested a little before resuming our hunt for still untracked snow.

    Kirkwood has quite a lot of terrain. And it's relatively slow and low capacity lifts meant a lot of the terrain won't get skied out too quickly. Unfortunately for today, what the skiers didn't trash, the sun did. By the time we went back out, we realized the snow condition had deteriorated so much a lot of the terrain were just no fun to ski! To make matters worse, the cloud came in and visibility went to the dogs.

    We headed into the tree for a bit, having mixed result. As we were ready to call it a day, we finally hit the lower mountain trails that had been soften by the sun JUST RIGHT, it's cream cheese surfing! Needless to say, we pushed off our quitting plan and went back up the chair again, this time targeting only lower mountain trails that's been under a lot of sun! The next thing I know, my buddy was pointing to the clock in the lift hut. It's showing 2 minutes PAST 4! We made last chair!!!

    All in all, a fun day. It wasn't the powder day we had hoped for. But we did find plenty of soft snow, some of them untracked. Mostly, we had a lot of fun!

    Also, Kirkwood is a beautiful area. I have to apologize that I didn't take pictures because I was in too much of a hurry to hunt for powder in the morning. And then, the cloud came in after lunch so make that pointless.

    And boy, was my legs tired from pushing those wet Sierra cement around in the afternoon.

    The reward of the hard work of the day:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by abc; Apr 2, 2017 at 11:08 PM.

  10. #10

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