More snow, rain, and ski resort events

Happy Skiers in a group

Happy Skiers!
Photo courtesy of Sierra-at-Tahoe PR

First, take a look at this YouTube video. These guys are the real deal, and yes, they really did do that much skiing and boarding in the backcountry in one day. Stunning.

Snow, anyone? Rain? You’re in the right place if you are in the Sierra around Tahoe. We are looking at another 7 days of snow and rain around here. Adding to the snow pack is always good, and it is now at 194% of average for this time of year. We have a long ways to go before the snow is over.

While there have been road closures on Highways 80 and 50 and State Routes 88 and 89, as of today everything is open. The roads will most likely be clogged with cars starting sometime tomorrow and running through Monday. It’s a 3 day weekend.

In case you missed it, Sierra-at-Tahoe in partnership with The Barton Foundation in Tahoe is just about at the end of its annual Snowsports Week, which benefits local South Lake Tahoe Youth and Community efforts. According to Thea Hardy, Communications Director at Sierra,  lift tickets will be sold for $50 at over 20 locations. Proceeds will benefit The Barton Foundation, Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation, Lake Tahoe Education Foundation, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and Sierra-at-Tahoe Education Foundation.

 “Skiing and snowboarding is the heart and soul of this community,” says General Manager, John Rice. “We want to express our deepest gratitude and give back to our locals who continue to uplift the sport and are instrumental in preserving Lake Tahoe as a thriving ski destination.”

You have one day left to take advantage of this fantastic price on lift tickets.  These specially priced tickets must be purchased in advance at bartonhealth.org/snowsports or participating locations. Here’s the list:

STATELINE AREA
• All Powder House locations
• Sports LTD (Village Shopping Center)
• Raley’s (Village Shopping Center)
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
• Powder House – Pioneer Trail
• Rainbow Mountain Sports
• The Rock House Sports
• George’s Ski & Snowboard
• Grocery Outlet
• The Ski Renter
• South Tahoe Ski and Board
• CVS at Bijou Center
• Lake Tahoe Community College Bookstore
and Foundation Office
• Knight’s Inn
• Barton Foundation
• Raley’s at the “Y”
• CVS at the “Y”
TAHOE PARADISE/MEYERS
• Tahoe Paradise Chevron
• Lira’s Market
• Sunrise Ski Shop
OUT OF TOWN
• The Ski Renter in Strawberry (Twin Bridges)
• Strawberry Market (Twin Bridges)
• Fresh Pond Trading Post (Pollock Pines)
• Crystal View Station (Pollock Pines)
• Wine Country Chevron Station (Camino)
Credit card sales available through: Barton Foundation,
LTCC Foundation, The Ski Renter
Tickets valid only Feb. 13 -16, 2017
They will not be sold at Sierra-at-Tahoe.
No will call. 24-hour sales available
These tickets will not be sold at Sierra-at-Tahoe. While they’ve been available all week, by now each ticket is valid only for Friday, February 16, 2017. Remember, tomorrow is the last day to ski for $50. It’s the best price for a day of skiing at Sierra this year.

In other ski news, Liesl Kenney, Director of Communications at Squaw/Alpine, said that their 8th annual Kid-O-Rama extravaganza returns to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows this President’s Day weekend from February 18-25. This family-friendly resort tradition features popular events like Big Truck Day, where kids can ride along in fire trucks, snowplows, and grooming machines, live kid-friendly music, an all-kid game an craft room, a Farm to Table Dinner + Movie, a Moonlit Snowshoe Tour + Dinner and more. Click here for a full lineup of events. It’s a true child oriented event. The smiles and laughter of the children will bring joy to everyone at the resorts. Bring you camera, full battery and empty memory card–you’ll need it.

Jessica VanPernis Weaver, of JVP Communications in North Lake Tahoe, sent out word that Homewood Mountain Resort has some pretty good deals going too. According to VanPernis Weaver, “Homewood offers the best value on daily lift tickets, with prices starting as low as $49 when purchased online in advance. In addition, lift ticket 3-Packs are also available for advance purchase for $66 per day. These non-transferrable lift tickets can be used by one person any three days of the 2016-17 season with no restrictions.


For those just starting out, the resort offers a $59 first-time adult ski and snowboard package that makes it incredibly affordable to learn to ski or ride. Valid Sunday through Friday, non-holiday, this package includes a half-day lesson, all-day rental equipment and lift ticket accessing beginner terrain. The Learn to ski/ride 3-pack extends the $59 lesson package for two additional days at the same daily rate, and adds in Homewood’s Learn to ski/ride guarantee—participants will be skiing or riding down one of the resort’s signature upper mountain beginner runs by the third day or the fourth day is free.”
Keep in mind that all the skiing in the Tahoe area is on a record pace snow pack (Homewood’s count: 88 inches at the base area to 191 inches on the upper mountain), with half the snow season left. It simply hasn’t been like this since the winter of 2010-2011. Take advantage of it.

Posted in Outdoor Recreation, ski resorts, skiing by

Tahoe snowpack at 191%

New snow at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley snow Jan. 2017
Photo Courtesy of Squaw/Alpine PR/JT Connery

As the snow keeping falling, the snowpack just keeps getting deeper. Overall, the snow on our part of the Sierra is at 173% of normal. Tahoe’s is at a whopping 193%. With February and March typically adding to the count, this could be one of those years that will be talked about for a long time.

The resorts are keeping busy just staying open. When the storms are too rowdy, too much wind coupled with a heavy snowfall, they either shut down or curtail operations. Not only that, the sheer volume of snow presents issues. John Rice, longtime General Manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe said it quite well: “There’s a point where you start running out of places to push the snow.” It really does become a problem. The time and equipment needed to keep the parking lots and the lodge areas clear of snow is significant.

Any of the resorts that have to clear the roads leading into their area have a fairly big job on their hands. When CalTrans, Nevada DOT, or the county is doing the work the resorts concentrate on other things. When the resorts are doing it, the big pieces of snow removal equipment put in a lot of hours so that skiers can get to their trails.  It’s a good problem to have, although it is an expensive and time-consuming one. Better this than the drought.

Backcountry skiers, riders, and snowshoer’s have different issues to deal with. The biggest one is avalanche danger. The Sierra Avalanche Center issues its observations every day by 7:00 a.m. Anytime the advisory is above “low”, the backcountry terrain is at heightened danger for either skier caused or natural avalanches. Anyone who ventures out into the high backcountry absolutely needs to check the Sierra Avalanche Center for current information before heading out.

For daily information about all the resorts in our part of the Sierra, Curtis Fong’s Bike and Ski Tahoe is the best site for up to date info at all of them. With this much snow the season is likely to extend well into spring. Squaw Valley typically earns bragging rights for staying open longer than anyone else.

This year may be quite a contest. One of the catch 22’s is that even with great spring skiing, once the sun pops out in the valley and Bay Area, thoughts of skiing start to take a back seat to other outdoor opportunities. Still, for skiing and riding fanatics, no season is ever long enough.


Posted in Lake Tahoe, Outdoor Recreation, ski resorts, skiing, snow by

Snow and lot of it

Snowmegedon

Snowmegedon at Mt. Rose Photo courtesy of Mt. Rose PR

Recent storms made for a stunning 3 day weekend at area resorts over the MLK holiday. Added to that is this next series of storms that are again adding multiple feet to the Sierra snowpack. The new snows at the resorts are topping 10 or more feet. By the end of this series of storms, that’s like to move to well over 15 feet of new snow.

Along with the additional snow, the resorts have been dealing with wind and avalanche conditions. The resorts shut down when the storms bring big winds and white out conditions. Avalanche dangers have to be mitigated. The highways also shut down. All in all though these storms are welcomed all around.

Before heading up to your favorite resort, check the CalTrans site for road conditions first. Next up is the resorts website to find out if they are open, and if so, what runs are available. Make sure that you know what to expect when you head out.

The most busy times are weekends, with holiday weekends taking the prize for most crowded. Weekdays tend to be less busy, but with this years snows, that may not always be the case.

Enjoy this new snow. Powder days are here, and winter is giving us all exactly what we’ve been hoping for. Take your time driving to your favorite resort. Pay attention to the conditions and cautions once you get there.


Posted in Lake Tahoe, Outdoor Recreation, outside treks, ski resorts, skiing, snow by

Alpenglow backcountry demo event

xc demo days Alpenglow

Alpenglow Backcountry Demo Days
Photo courtesy of Alpenglow Sports

Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City has announced their 11th annual Lake Tahoe Backcountry Demo Event. The event is held at Alpine Meadows and will take place on Saturday, January 21. Everything kicks off at 9:00 a.m. and will wrap up at 3:00 p.m.

According to their press release, this is North America’s largest venue for all things alpine touring, Telemark and splitboard. It’s a pretty inclusive backcountry menu of gear and techniques.

Alpenglow, which has been leading in the outdoor recreation realm in Tahoe City for the last 30 years, partners with Alpine Meadows to offer this event to the public. It is the “largest and most well known backcountry event in North America.” Alpine Meadows is a perfect place for the event. The terrain, from beginner to uber advanced, provides some areas for all levels of skiers and riders.


Participating vendors. according to Alpenglow, will include DPS, Black Crows, Dynafit, Blizzard, Tecnica, G3, Scarpa, Salomon, Scott, Marker, Volkl, Twenty-Two Designs, Voile, Moment, Julbo, Fly Low, and Jones Snowboards. Additionally, the exotic and revolutionary Meidjo Telemark binding will be on hand to try as well.

While the event itself is free, participants must possess a valid lift ticket or season pass purchased from Alpine Meadows or Squaw Valley USA, along with a driver’s license and credit card for deposit. Registration for the event will occur onsite at the Alpenglow Sports tent on January 21st. Call 530.583.6917 with questions. If you live up that way just head over to the shop.


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Rain, snow, wind, avalanches

New snow Mt. Rose

Mt. Rose with new snow
Photo courtesy of Mt. Rose PR

It’s time to pay attention to the advisories on the Sierra Avalanche Center website. The advisory today, Sunday January 8, simply put, says to stay out of the mountains and the backcountry. The avalanche danger is rated as extreme. That kind of rating isn’t very common or issued lightly. Here is what it says, ”

“Natural and human triggered avalanches are certain today due to the significant amount of rain on snow expected below 9300 ft. and heavy wet snow loading above 9000 ft. Large, deep, destructive wet slab, deep slab, and wind slab avalanches will occur today as well as loose wet avalanches. Avalanches could run farther than expected and involve almost the entire snowpack. Avoid travel in or near avalanche terrain or runout zones. EXTREME avalanche danger exists at all elevations.”

That should be loud and clear to everyone. Check their site before you head to the backcounty. These conditions may continue for a while. Know before you go is a mantra on their site, and it’s more than a catchy phrase. That knowledge and a large dose of common sense and good judgement are what may keep you safe out there.

The storm today caused most of the ski resorts to shut down. The few that were open had limited operations. Curtis Fong’s website, Bike and Ski Tahoe, lists all the resorts and the daily conditions all around the Tahoe area.

Over the last few storms, quite a lot of snow fell. Jessica VanPernis Weaver, of JVP Communications, sent out a press release noting that Sugar BowlRoyal Gorge clocked 7 feet of fresh snow. That’s on top of the 201 inches of snow season-to-date, and current base depths averaging 56-81 inches. She also noted that Mt. Rose added 5 feet or more of powder last week.

Liesl Kenney, Public Relations Director at Squaw/Alpine, noted that they have had over 7 feet of new snow at the resorts. Additionally, she said, “Over the past 45 years, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows’ January snowfall has averaged 70 inches. With 84 inches in the first five days of 2017, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is already at 120% of the January average. The resort’s record snowfall for the month of January came during the 1981-82 season with 175 inches. In the first five days of January 2017, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has received 48% of that accumulation and is anticipating additional snowfall over the coming weeks.”

Other resorts are reporting great snow amounts as well. There are more storms, colder ones, that are predicted for the coming week. Check road and resort conditions before heading to your favorite resort.

New snow at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley snow Jan. 2017
Photo Courtesy of Squaw/Alpine PR/JT Connery


Posted in Lake Tahoe, ski resorts, skiing, snow by

It’s a snowy Christmas Eve

Squaw Valley snow

Powder at Squaw Valley
Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows PR

A series of storms blew through the Sierra, dropping snow at all the resorts. Powder dominates at the resorts. The outlook for Christmas Day is for blue skies and fantastic snow. Here, courtesy of Stephanie Myers of the Abbi Agency, is what North Tahoe resort reported:

Boreal Mountain Resort: 17”

Diamond Peak: 10”

Donner Ski Ranch: 12”

Homewood Mountain Resort: 8”

Northstar California: 13”

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe: 14”

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows: 16”

Sugar Bowl & Royal Gorge: 18”

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area: 8”

Tahoe XC: 8”

The rest of the resorts in the Tahoe area reported similar snow totals. Curtis Fong’s Bike and Ski Tahoe site reports that Heavenly gained 10″ of new powder, Sierra-at-Tahoe 11″-15″, Kirkwood 12″, and Soda Springs 2″. He also lists all the other resorts, in the Tahoe area and down into Mammoth.

Joyce Coker, Hope Valley Outdoors, said that Hope Valley finally has a cover of snow, with the best xc and snowshoe opportunities up at Blue Lakes Road, Forestdale Creek, and the Carson Pass area. Grass Lake at Luther Pass is also good to go with the new snow that the storms dropped.

In general, here it is: Merry Christmas! The snow has fallen and the slopes are calling. There is a Santa Claus!


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Squaw/Alpine add transportation

Chariot company shuttle

Chariot Shuttle in Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Photo courtesy of Squaw/Alpine PR

Liesl Kenney, Public Relations Director at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows let loose in a press release with a couple of initiatives at the resorts for this holiday season. Transportation in and around the resorts has just become much easier.

Kenny said in a press release that this holiday season, …”Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will offer a pilot intra-valley transit program in partnership with the app-based transportation provider Chariot, beginning December 23 and operating through the holidays until January 4. As part of its ongoing efforts to support regional transit solutions, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will offer the Chariot trial program as a modern and convenient transportation option for guests and residents in the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, while simultaneously removing cars from roads and parking areas.”

Chariot is a mass transit service that offers a fast, reliable and comfortable ride experience. Chariot’s mobile app  allows people to book rides for both on-demand and fixed-route services within the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, using new 14-passenger Ford Transit vehicles equipped with ski and snowboard racks.

This service, according to Kenney is available from December 23 through January 4. The14-passenger shuttles will pick up passengers along fixed 15-20 minute routes between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and from 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. In the middle of the day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Chariot will provide custom resort-to-doorstep rides within the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, in addition to fixed routes. Resort-to-doorstep rides can be booked via Chariot’s mobile app, which works much like other popular ride-hailing apps.

Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has this to say, “Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is dedicated to enhancing public transit in our region right now, with concerted action. As we seek to modernize and improve the ways that people get around in our region, this pilot project with Chariot is an opportunity to deliver a quality experience while removing cars from the road and pollutants from our environment. Our sponsorship of this pilot program is a short-term step toward what we hope will be a longer-term sea-change, where the community and its leaders come together to improve the transit experience for all residents and guests. We are very excited to see what we learn from this pilot and eager to apply these learnings to long-term solutions not just in the immediate vicinity of our resort, but across our region in partnership with others.”

Ali Vahabzadeh, founder and CEO of Chariot said that  “This is a great way to deliver people the stress-free, safe and convenient ride experience that Chariot is known for during the busy holiday season. We look forward to partnering with the innovative team at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows on this service offering and solving for some of the specific mobility challenges local residents and visitors face.”

Kenny laid it out in easy to understand directions:

1. Download the Chariot app and sign up for an account.
2. Schedule your Chariot. Once you do this your space is reserved.
3. Now you simply watch your Chariot approach on the app and proceed to your stop when you see that it is close. No need to wait at a crowded stop and hope there’s room for you.

Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley will each have four Chariots. Between 8am and 10am and again between 3pm and 5pm you can schedule a Chariot to pick you up or drop you off on the designated routes at one of the many pick-up locations along these routes.

Between 10am and 3pm the service also provides free return home service to your doorstep. The Chariot will pick you up at either Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows and return you to an address in the same Valley. It is important to note that you cannot get picked up at Alpine Meadows and dropped off at an address in Squaw Valley. Or vice versa. To do that you need to take the Squaw Alpine Express.

This complimentary service will run December 23, 2016 through January 4, 2017.  Wirth said that they hope it allows their guests to more fully enjoy their vacation with a free, easy, and friendly ride to their ski day.

What’s this going to cost you? Zero. That’s right. It’s free. Merry Christmas.


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Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows welcomes Santa

 

Santa True

Santa arrives at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Photo credit Santa True

Liz Lauer of Cinch PR said today that Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will welcome Santa Clause at the Reno-Tahoe Airport tomorrow, December 16. Santa is arriving at around 2:30 p.m., and everyone is invited.  “Santa True” is arriving in his travelling Santa suit, kicking off two weeks of Squaw and Alpine Meadows Merry Days & Holly Nights festivities from December 17 to December 31.

Lauer said that as a member of The Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, Santa True is the real thing, with a Bachelor in Clauseology from the Santa School and The Santa Claus Conservatory. Following his arrival, Santa will be out and about skiing at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and in The Village at Squaw Valley® and, on select evenings, he will be telling classic Christmas stories by the fire with milk and cookies. A child’s delight to be sure.

Merry Days & Holly Nights is a full schedule of events December 17 – 31, opening with a torch light parade on Exhibition Trail, fire dancers, a 25-foot-tall Singing Christmas Tree, and illuminated ice sculptures in the Ice Garden at Merry Wonderland, according to Lauer.  Merry Days & Holly Nights features both free and ticketed events. Enjoy horse drawn sleigh rides, skiing with Olympian Jonny Moseley, moonlit snowshoe dinners, music and dance from national performing artists. Farm to table dinners with Olympians and legends are also offered. Visit Merry Days & Holly Nights for more information.

This is you and your child’s chance to welcome Santa to the mountains. Who knows, you might even end up skiing with him. What a gift.


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Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows top list

View of Gondola

Gondola view, Squaw Valley. Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows PR

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have topped out for the second year in a row. A panel of pro skiers and riders nominated 20 resorts. USA Today and 10Best “…announced that their readers have selected Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows as the winner of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Poll for ‘Best Ski Resort,’ marking the second consecutive win for the resort after it secured the top spot in 2016.”, according to Liesl Kenny, Public Relations Director at Squaw/Alpine.

Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows had this to say: “Our team is thrilled to be recognized as the USA Today and 10Best Readers’ Choice winner of ‘Best Ski Resort’ for the second year in a row and we are delighted to share this award with the entire Reno-Tahoe community, which works together to provide an award-worthy experience for our guests. Truly, this designation belongs to the community:  the people in the businesses of Truckee, Tahoe City, all of North Lake Tahoe and the entire region. We send sincere thanks to our loyal guests for their proud support and look to continue to build on this momentum in the 2016-17 season.”

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows give the snow crowd access to more than 6,000 acres of skiable and ridable terrain. With 42 lifts and 270 trails it’s a great bit of terrain. Over 65 percent of all that is beginner and intermediate, with 14 easy-to-navigate mountain zones, Squaw/Alpine has something for all levels of skiers and riders. All of that for one lift ticket. Sweet.

Kenny went on to point out that for the 2016-17 season, the resorts will “celebrate the first annual Merry Days & Holly Nights, two weeks of spirited events and activities December 17-31. Merry Days & Holly Nights will bring Santa to town along with spectacular music and dance performances, delicious Farm-to-Table Dinners, parties, fireworks to ring in the New Year and much more.”

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows continue to bring the best they can for their guests. For more information and tickets, visit Squaw/Alpines Merry Days & Holly Nights page.


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Skiing, riding, safety

xc ski

Know before you go.
Photo credit: J. Ferris

As we near the end of autumn and get ready to greet winter, the storms continue to roll in. Snow, rain, and a mix of both, along with wind, makes for wonderful outdoor weather, even if you have to stay inside for a bit.

All of us who venture out into snow country enjoy the various bits of snow sports that we get to take advantage of. Our entire area is a haven for outdoor recreation every month of the year. The gear changes from season to season. The joy is the same no matter what time of year it is.

When the snow flies, everything in the mountains changes, especially in the backcountry. At the ski resorts, as the snow piles up, more terrain opens up until, finally, it’s top to bottom skiing for everyone. The season truly begins when that happens. The crowds increase, and the winter break for schools means a lot of skiers and riders will be heading up the hill to put in serious time on the slopes.

Every day, before the resorts open, there’s a lot of activity at all of the resorts. Primary to all of them is skier safety, and this early morning activity is devoted to that premise. It’s serious business. The men and women who check everything out are highly trained and motivated.

Each resort has someone who is in charge of mountain operations, making sure that all the mechanicals work and the resort is safe and ready for the day. There are a lot of moving parts that all have to work together, from the top of the mountain to the base area.

The men and women of the National Ski Patrol are part of that. They check out all of the terrain at the resorts, every day, before the resort opens. They are well trained experts, certified each year. They look for hazards on the trails, and in the more steep areas asses avalanche conditions. When they find anything that concerns them they are likely to intentionally attempt to trigger an avalanche to lessen the danger. When things are just too weird, they will close an area.

Closed areas are clearly marked with signs and barriers. Skiers and riders are expected to abide by the written code at all resorts. Part of that skier code is to stay out of any closed or out of bounds areas. They are closed and out of bounds for good reason. They are flat out dangerous.

Here’s a simple truth. When there’s snow in the mountains, there will be avalanches. They aren’t predictable, but the conditions that can trigger them are pretty well known. They happen around here every winter. Some are pretty small, others much bigger. Some are human caused, others just cut loose all on their own. They stop only when they run out of energy to continue down slope.

Chances of surviving when caught in one are better at a resort than in the backcountry, but not all that good. Survivors consider themselves extremely fortunate. Search and Rescue squads from multiple agencies respond to these very quickly, often operating in very bad conditions. They are very good at what they do, and train constantly for these situations. They are aware of the odds, and strive rescue trapped skiers or riders.

Sadly, an avalanche at Mt. Rose last Saturday, December 17, on Jackpot Chute, a closed area of the resort, claimed the life of one of the skiers who entered that area. He was found under 8 to 10 feet of snow on Sunday, December 18.

That will not be the last avalanche in the high country, at a resort or in the backcountry, this season. For your safety, and the safety of everyone else, please stay out of any area that is closed or has a high risk of avalanches, anywhere in the mountains. Get outside, but do so with safety as your guide.

  


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