Squaw-alpine + Mammoth 4/13-21: Powder, creame cheese to mashed potato!

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    Mar 2008
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    Squaw-alpine + Mammoth 4/13-21: Powder, creame cheese to mashed potato!

    Last week of MY season (shoulder surgery next week). I opted to use the remaining of my annual vacation to ski California. (Colorado or Utah would be just as good in terms of condition, but I happened to have free lodging in the Tahoe area this past week. Thought I might as well take advantage of it).Another preference for California being, I was in the mood for some reasonably steep skiing. Knowing the California Sierra with its maritime snowpack, will have plenty of (some might say heart stopping) steeps for me to play on.

    Flight out to Reno with a stopover at SLC is always a bit strange. Everyone disappeared out the terminal while I and a few wait for our onward flight to Reno. But not this time. The previous flight were late coming into JFK. We hurry to get onboard, only to end up sitting on the runway for an hour waiting for our turn to get off the ground due to (air) traffic. So we were late into SLC and had to literally run to the gate where the Reno flight was.

    I thought with the tight connection, my skis might not make the same flight. I was resigned to have to wait for it to arrive the next morning. So imagine my surprise to see my skis sliding out from the bulk luggage chute!!!

    Good start to the week!

    (but, don’t stay at the Nugget! It’s a 5 minute extra driving, which is no biggie. But the poor service was a total turn off. Long line at check-in, at 1am!)



    Part I — Squaw Valley (4/13-15)


    Day 1 (4/13, Saturday), Squaw Valley USA — 50-60 degrees + sunshine, day of corn harvet

    Having arrived late the night before, I was slow to get going. Didn’t make it to Squaw till well past 1st chair. But lucked out in hooking up with my local gang the moment I hit the slope. So was shown the mountain nice and easy.

    By “nice and easy”, it meant we first skied Silverado. (There’s a race going so some of the more challenging gates were off-limit) That was followed by the Headwall face and Classic Chute. Snow was nice and soft, fairly deep, albeit a bit on the heavy side except on the steepest slopes. I guess that explained why my local buddies took me straight to Silverado and the Headwall. After a few lapse of the Headwall, we finished the day with a few more lapse on KT22.

    I managed to drop my phone into the sink full of water! So while the gang went into the hot tub, I sat on the hot seat with my carrier to get a replacement phone overnight to me. Surprised later to found the waterlogged phone came back with SOME life, the phone function still works. But the touch screen was VERY erratic. On the plus side, the voice command still works!


    Day 2 (4/14, Sunday), Squaw Valley again, cloudy, very warm, and quite windy

    I had less perfect luck hooking up with my friends who had to run errands in the morning. We each ended up skiing alone for half the day. Lapped Granit Chief several times. Smoothie was open. But with flat light and no one to show me the route, I thought it’s not the best day to do it. Little did I know it was the last day of the season for the Silverado chair. So no more Smoothie after Sunday, which I only knew 1/2 hr before they close the chair due to strong wind. By then, the entire upper mountain were like one giant wind tunnel. I could barely standstill. So back down to KT again. No complains there. KT was soft, smooth and steep enough to keep on going. Early ending as even the top of KT retreat into the clouds.


    Day 3 (4/15, Monday), Squaw again. Very windy and the peaks are all in the cloud.

    We knew for forecast this will be a difficult day weather-wise. On my way up the gondola towards Granit Chief, we got words GC was closed due to wind. So, back down below to KT one more time!

    Not that I care to complain about “having to” ski “only” KT. Condition were quite good. Just for a change, I hop over to Red Dog, which serves a lot of glades. Loved it! Had great fun skiing the widely spaced trees. Snow were Cream cheese like smooth. Ended up skiing that chair for a bit. Then it’s time to hit the road...to Mammoth!!!





    Part II — Mammoth (4/16-18 )

    Day 4 (4/16, Tuesday) Mammoth, POWDER DAY!

    Mammoth reported 4”. We suspect the upper mountain probably got more. But we had to wait to find out as none of the upper mountain chairs were open for much of the day.

    So we lapped the lower + mid mountain chairs, which had plenty of slightly wet’ish powder. Big mountain + sparse skier traffic = first track over and over!

    As more and more chairs got open, we tried our best to be where the chair started to spin. So got first track more than once. By 3, MY legs were toast. Decided to call it a day. Two of my gang later reported they got more fresh track when mid-mountain runs started to open. But me and another buddy of mine were ready to quit by 3.

    Also, knowing the top chairs weren’t running this day, there’s a cheesy justification of “saving” our legs for tomorrow’s charge to the top! (Not sure even I myself believe in that justification. But I was really dog tired at that point)


    Day 5 (4/17, Wednesday) Mammoth, 2nd helping of fresh powder!

    Since the top chairs never open the previous day post storm, we targeted chair 23 first thing!

    No, we didn’t actually planned that. We got off the Broadway chair and saw chair 23 just started loading! Needless to say, we bee lined for it. The snow did NOT disappoint! We did 3-4 laps without repeating our lines.

    Naturally, we need to go up top via the gondola. But the snow wasn’t as good as chair 23. So we didn’t linger on too long.

    Then, just by chance, we found ourselves at the Cloud Nine chair! Because this sector faces east, it’s just reaching perfect corn consistency. Needless to say, we went straight back up and repeat it again, and again, and again!!!

    Cloud Nine chair is in a no-mans-land. I mean, no food land! So we thought we’ll hit the Canyon lodge for lunch. Well, we made the mistake (actually, yours truly was the lead scout, so fully guilty for the result) of dropping down chair 22, which was terribly heavy, manky giant moguls!

    So, our legs demanded a long and restful lunch break.

    After lunch, we split up as each of us wanted something different. I went back up to the top, over to the back side. Snow was surprisingly good on the back side. Until it was time to come back to the front side. Scotty, the run down from chair 14, hadn’t been groomed for a few days. So it grew into giant moguls, complete with manky snow!

    I just have this uncanny ability to find manky snow at the end of some good runs, just when our legs were toast. So that was enough to call it a day.


    Day 6 (4/18, Thursday). Going from corn to mashed potato in a matter of minutes! (OK, maybe only 1/2 hours)

    I had to work in the morning (price for having the rest of the week off). It took longer than I hoped. So by the time I hit the slope, it was already 10:30’ish. A run down to Canyon was enough to verify the snow was no good any more. So I head over to Cloud NIne again, hoping to hit that perfect corn harvest window like the day before. Somewhere along that very flat traverse, my ski tips caught some snow, spun me around and slammed me to the ground, landing my ribs on my pole handle. Ouch! Who would have known plastic pole handles can be so hard and so painful!

    Anyway, Cloud Nine was past prime. So headed further up to the top. Surprisingly, the upper part of the back side was still in good shape. The only price to pay was the flat runout back to chair 14 was a slow slog. Around 2, it was getting so heavy it’s more work than fun.

    Just when I was about to call it a day or at least move back to the front side, I noticed I lost a pole basket in the wet cement like snow! Thinking I NEED to find the basket, I retrace my last run looking for it, but never found. By then, it’s getting close to 3, decided I called it a day. My ribs were still hurting, and I had no basket in one ski, which sank into the snow on each pole plant. And I had a 3-4 hr drive back to Truckee...
    Last edited by abc; May 1, 2019 at 5:22 AM.

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