When attitude meets altitude.
California and Oregon or Bust
29 posts from 11 users
Updated 6 years ago
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
California and Oregon or Bust

Jim and Vince Kenney are heading out tomorrow on a far western ski safari and hope to provide periodic updates, images and commentary right here on DCSki.com over the next two weeks. We’re flying from Washington DC to San Francisco from where we’ll roam far and wide. First stop on the schedule is Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon. Never skied a white volcano before. laugh We’ll eventually wind-up at Kirkwood south of Lake Tahoe, California, while visiting many great ski spots in between.

Part way through the trip we’ll be joined by wife and daughter for a two-day sightseeing break in the city by the bay (San Francisco) and then all of us will close out the final ski leg of the trip by visiting the region south of Lake Tahoe.

Not including flight time, we may cover close to 1700 road miles on this sojourn visiting perhaps seven different ski areas. Reports of great early season snow conditions in the far west have us stoked, but also on pins and needles with regard to road closures, avalanches, and various ski safari logistics. "Have skis - will travel" is our motto and one way or the other we’ll try to share some of the fun of our adventure with DCSki.com readers.

Happy Holidays,
Jim and Vince Kenney

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 years ago
Have a great time and keep us posted!
6 years ago
Awesome! Can’t wait to hear some updates.
6 years ago
was at bachelor about 15 years ago. blue sky day, and an incredible amount of snow, maybe the most i have ever seen anywhere. unfortunately much of the mountain was closed, including the summit, for avy work.
6 years ago
Have fun! Will look forward to your updates.
6 years ago
Sounds like a great trip ahead. I’m looking forward to reading about your exploits.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
What a spectacular afternoon we had at Mt. Bachelor today 12/29/12. Our flight from Dulles arrived in San Francisco about 2pm on Friday so we split the 8 hr drive to Mt. B into evening and morning segments and arrived at the ski area around noon today to sunshine and pleasant temps in the 20s.

We started at the West Village base Lodge at 6300’. Our first full run ever at Mt. Bachelor was down the front face of the 9065’ summit to the Sunrise Base Lodge at 6500’ all on ungroomed, tracked-up loose powder. The conditions are great here. After that we recovered by skiing some groomers like Carnival off the Sunrise Express Chair. Then we took a second ride up the Summit Express chair and skied the backside of the mountain, eventually returning to the Sunrise base again. We finished with some more groomers over by West Village. This place is gorgeous and I snapped a bunch of photos while the visibility was good.
We’re here for two more days.
Happy Trails, Jim and Vince

Approaching the mtn got us super stoked:

Your intrepid tourons at the summit:

That is the Sisters to the left and Broken Top to the right. This view is from the frontside near the summit of Mt. Bachelor.

The scope of things out here is amazing.

Everybody was taking photos at this spot near the summit looking down on the clouds to the southwest (backside of mtn)

Vince and some big hoodoos on the backside

JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
Another beautiful day at Mt. Bachelor, 12/30/12. Clear skies, 20 something degrees, little to no wind, packed and loose powder conditions, crowds reasonable. We’re fried from a big day, I’ll let the pics speak for themselves:
View of nearby cindercone off backside of summit, San Francisco is about 500 miles straight out to the southwest.

This is a view of the Northwest Express chair terrain, that is the Sisters mtns in distance.

When everything is open like it is now, you ski 360 degrees off the top of this huge mtn across ~3700 acres.

Vince is going to add a couple of short videos soon to this post.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
If it’s Tuesday, this must be Homewood. We just finished a beautiful day skiing at Homewood overlooking the north end of Lake Tahoe (Jan 1).
But first to recap our whirlwind stay at Mt. Bachelor, we skied a third day on Monday highlighted by two great runs from the summit led by a friendly local, and an endless late day black diamond glade run that must have dropped 1800 vertical feet beside the Northwest Express Chair. Then we drove 7.5 hours on a two lane road and arrived at Reno, NV just before New Year’s celebration.
Homewood was great on New Year’s Day, light holiday crowds, intimate base area, super scenic, many runs with awesome lake views. Homewood is about the size of 2 or 3 Snowshoes and is one of the smaller resorts in the area, but for us it was a great intro to the beauties of this region. It’s got sweet groomers and hillsides of soft bumps. Our big adventure was to visit the side country of Quail Face which required just enough hiking that we were the only ones in there during our run down Main Cirque. This area has got to be among the most scenic double black diamond runs I’ve ever been on. They had about 5 feet of snow about 5 days ago and it’s still soft and very deep in the off piste. I made “slough” on some of my turns, something you don’t see in the mid-Atlantic too often smile
We’re staying in a little mom and pop motel on the north shore for a few days and today (Jan 2) we ski Squaw. Time to quit typing and get moving.

Many runs at Homewood have this kind of view:

Take you pick, bumps, groom, or trees:

Vince at the top of Main Cirque, Heavenly is right behind him across the lake.

Making slough on Quail Face:

Happy New Year everybody.
6 years ago
Wonderful pics and reports…BUT PLEASE BE CAREFUL IN BACKCOUNTRY, especially if you do not have avalance beacons, etc.
The Colonel
Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 years ago
I have a beacon and wear it when in the west, but am well aware of the ski mountaineers saying, "beacons are for recovering bodies". I just stay off slopes over 30 deg that are also not in run out zones below steeper slopes. You can have plenty of fun on 30 deg. Slopes. This is the pitch of the steepest part of Off the Wall at T’line. I have measured it with a slope inclinometer.
6 years ago
Wonderful pics and reports…BUT PLEASE BE CAREFUL IN BACKCOUNTRY, especially if you do not have avalance beacons, etc.

All the terrain Jim mentioned at Homewood is in-bounds and avi-controlled.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
Huge day at Squaw Valley, CA, 1/2/13, about 15 minutes less than bell to bell. First ever visit for both of us to this giant of American skiing. What an expert’s paradise, much of it over my head, but we did our best to see a little of the terrain of almost every major lift. We started on the KT-22 chair near the lookers left border of this 3600 acre layout. No cliff jumping for us, but we had many black diamond highlights including a run off Red Dog Ridge below KT-22, a descent among beautiful rock spires beneath the Squaw Funitel and Broken Arrow lift, amazing undulating terrain to lookers left of Granite Chief chair on lookers right border of 3600 acre layout, long and bumpy run down Landbridge canyon to Silverado chairlift.
After lunch outdoors (temps warmed nicely, fourth blue bird day of 5 so far) at Squaw KT-22 base we took a ride on the Gold Coast Funitel (small aerial tram) and skied rest of day sans jackets. Funny thing, biggest pucker factor for me all day was riding the Red Dog chairlift. It must rise 250’ above ground in some places and climbs incredibly steep terrain. They thoughtfully included a safety bar. Tomorrow: Alpine Meadows.

Near Broken Arrow chair beneath Squaw Funitel:

This is where the ski school trains seven year olds near Broken Arrow chair:

After butchering this run, I watched a ski school group of 12 year old girls come laughing a skipping by on Red Dog Ridge in KT-22 section of mtn.

Vince was very impressed with KT-22 and all of Squaw, so was I.

Varied terrain to lookers left of Granite Chief chair full of cool features:

JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
We had another wonderful ski day today (Jan 3, 2013), this time at Alpine Meadows, CA ski area. We’ve been blessed with perfect ski weather our entire trip; sunny skies, 20-something degree day time temps, no wind. The 4-6 feet of snow that dumped on this region about a week ago is holding up very well in the coolish temps. Overnight lows are close to zero, but things warm up nicely each day, evidenced by us comfortably brown bagging our lunch at outdoor venues each of the last two days. Crowds have been very manageable.
We were a bit tired today after a huge day yesterday at Squaw. Nonetheless, we skied about 30 minutes less than a full day and skied groomers 85% of the time in deference to rubbery legs from six straight days of active skiing. Early in the day we worked the kinks out on some beautiful, sunny groomers on the “backside” of the Alpine Meadows layout on mellow terrain served by the Lakeview and Sherwood chairs. Eventually we worked our way to the steeper front face of the mountain and skied huge, steep, groomed bowls like Alpine and Wolverine Bowls served by the Roundhouse and Summit express chairs respectively.
After lunch we enjoyed more groomers on sun drenched Lakeview and Scott Ridge trail pods. Later we returned to the front side of the mountain and made a bunch of summit runs as crowds really died out after about 230PM.
Tomorrow we ski Sugar Bowl then take a two day break sightseeing in San Francisco were temps are expected to be in the upper 50s under partly sunny skies. I guess that means no skiing down Nob Hill. smile

Vince on the South Face near the Sherwood Express Chair, believe an Alpine Meadows ski patroller lost his life in an avalanche last week on the terrain in the background distant right.

Kiddie ski team member and coach cruising on Sherwood Trail at Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe in background.

Sunshine on Wolverine Bowl, center part is a sweet, long, steep groomer.

Steep terrain served by the Scott chair, base area visible below. Like nearby Squaw Valley, there is a ton of very serious steeps/extreme terrain at Alpine Meadows.

Bodacious upper mtn Alpine Meadows terrain. Every square inch of this is skiable laugh
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
I love all the marvelous moments of discovery on a ski safari. On Friday, January 4, 2013 we skied Sugar Bowl ski area near North Lake Tahoe, CA. What a cool place! We got there late and had to leave early, but between 10AM and 3PM we skied some of the most memorable ski terrain of the trip. The layout features three high lift served peaks and another side country area. On Mt. Judah (8238’) we skied on ungroomed mountainsides that fed into some pretty glades. The view off the backside of Mt. Judah included beautiful Donner Lake near where early pioneers feasted on human flesh crazy

On Mt. Disney (7953’) we skied the East Face. This was a very steep and long groomer that felt like it dropped about 800 continuous vertical feet. Vince was loving it for practicing his carving turns..

On Sugar Bowl’s highest peak, Mt. Lincoln (8383’) we found one of my favorite runs of the trip, Silver Belt. This is a big, long gulch with bumps at the single black diamond difficulty level, but surrounded by double black diamond cliff drops and chutes. It features the kind of terrain you don’t find in the East.

We parked at the well appointed Judah Base Lodge. It was a clean and pleasant place to gear-up and stop for lunch.

Now we are resting and sight seeing with my Cousin Paula in San Francisco for the weekend. Next destination on our ski itinerary is Kirkwood this Monday.

East Face, a very steep groomer on Mt. Disney, is in center of photo. Extreme terrain of the Palisades is to the left.

Vince carving on East Face:

I met Jan (left) on a chairlift ride. He’s a Czech that emigrated to the Bay area 50 years ago and also sported a pair of Volant skis like myself. He’s 77 years old.

Sugar Bowl has some spectacular ski terrain including everything shown in this photo:

Silver Belt gulch is in upper center of photo:
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
We took a couple days off for rest and sightseeing in San Francisco. Here are a few pictures taken on 1/5/13.
Lucky dude in center surrounded by spousal and daughter units. Alcatraz can be seen in background.

My cousin is on right. She was our host and tour guide in SF and lives near Coit Tower in background.

We spent a few hours walking around nearby Fisherman’s Wharf. A colony of Sea Lions have taken up permanent residency on the docks here and draw a lot of tourists.

View of downtown San Francisco from the Bay Bridge.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
Great two part ski day at Kirkwood today, 1/7/13.
Vince is under the weather with a nagging cold. I skied in the morning by myself, but quickly connected with a very friendly local named Phil from Modesto, CA. Phil has been an instructor at Kirkwood and over the course of a couple hours led me off the beaten track including fluffy powder on Fawn Ridge way over by the far lookers left of the ski area boundary. We also skied the saddle near chair 4, very cool gully type terrain. We eventually wound-up skiing off piste terrain of Palisades Bowl to the far looker’s right of the ski layout. All this was black diamond terrain. Phil is 71 years of age. However, no pictures, camera batteries dead. Must go back with Vince tomorrow.
After lunch I went cruising with daughter Suzy. We had a great few hours together with very sparse crowds on the mtn, we are now fully post holiday and the mtns are totally ours. They got about 5 inches of new snow on Sunday topping off great conditions. This time I got a few pictures. Looking forward to two more days here at Kirkwood.

I’m a gaper, but hanging with a coed from UVA below 9876’ Thimble Peak gives me instant cool.

Suzy skiing on Caple’s Crest late in the day.

Father and daughter again at summit of Chair 4, Fawn Ridge terrain is treed area at lower left.

View of Solitude Chair and beautiful cruising terrain on Caples Crest in near background.

Jim skiing under Solitude chair, Thimble Peak in upper left.

6 years ago
Thanks for the updates Jim.

I’m amazed your trip is still going on; that’s quite the safari.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 years ago
Great reports Jim. Thanks. I’m envious.
6 years ago
Wow, great trip report! You’re right, hanging with a Wahoo does give anyone instant cred.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
Kirkwood is a little off the main grid about an hour south of Lake Tahoe. Internet connectivity spotty in our condo. Posting during lunch on our last day here, 1/9/13. Super low crowds all three days for us. Getting some great exploration of this mtn. One of the highlights has been a classic run here through the Notch in the Sisters rock formation off the summit Wall chairlift. There was great snow for 2000 vertical feet below the Notch back to Kirkwood’s base.
Got to ski this run a couple times and compiled some pics.
Here is the anatomy of a ski run through The Notch in ten photos.
1. View of the Notch between rocks called The Sisters at 9400’.

2. You have to ride chair 10 (Wagon Wheel) to get to the highest point of Kirkwood’s terrain near 9876’ Thimble Peak to left.

3. Taking the high traverse to the Notch, plaque is dedicated to Dick Reuter legendary mtn manager at Kirkwood.

4. These folks thought about dropping over the Wall cornice, but instead followed us to the Notch.

5. Entrance to the Notch, super hot shots huck the rocks to left and right for 50-100 foot drops.

6. I wasn’t too proud to take off my skis and step down the tightest 8 feet entering the Notch. Faithful Chubbs with me all the way.

7. This is the view just below the Notch, we are heading for the Notch Chute straight ahead, nice soft snow all the way down 2000 vertical feet.

8. Fabulous lady freeheeler in Notch Chute.

9. Looking up the chute towards the Notch.

10. Mission accomplished. The Notch is on the right side of this photo under the jet stream, between horizontal and vertical slabs of the Sisters rock formation.

Tomorrow we ski Sierra at Tahoe then head back to San Francisco airport for the flight home on Friay. Several inches of new snow expected. Guess what? They (discount car company named after three letter sly little animal) did not have our rental SUV when we showed up at SFO on 12/28 so we have done entire trip in Chrysler minivan with crappy tires, just like I have at home. crazy We bought chains, but have not had to use them yet for about 1800 miles. Maybe tomorrow.
6 years ago
Have a safe trip home! I sent you a PM.
The Colonel
6 years ago
Very solid TR . Really enjoyed that! Going to visit some friends in Carnelian Bay and SLT in February and can’t wait .
6 years ago
Thanks for Sharing!!
6 years ago
Jim you are living life well and an inspiration to us all. well done and thanks.

the only place on this trip i have been to is kirkwood, and i remember that saddle area near wagon wheel you are talking about. i don’t remember any safety bars on those chairs! I do remember steeps so long i had to stop and rest more than once. that and 10 foot high snow drifts everywhere and avy cannons ringing all day and night. did you make it over to the that old lodge bar and restaurant out on the road ? that place is great.
6 years ago
As of March 2012, still no safety bars on those chairs!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 years ago
Just got a Facebook update from my daughter who is on a ski bus on the way to Squaw. She moved to CA for a new job this week. the rest of the family will follow when the school year is over.

Of course this means I will have to make some visits. smile
JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 years ago
Originally Posted By: Brook
Very solid TR . Really enjoyed that! Going to visit some friends in Carnelian Bay and SLT in February and can’t wait .

Brook, we stayed in a little mom and pop motel in Carnelian Bay for three nights while skiing in North Lake Tahoe area. It was the kind of place where they put ear plugs on your pillow, not mints. The plugs were utilized and much appreciated. grin But the skiing nearby is spectacular.

If it ain’t obvious, we’re home. We spent dawn to dusk in airplanes yesterday, 1/11/13. Changed planes in Denver and got stuck there for an extra hour or two due to unforecasted snow requiring aircraft deicing delays.

But WOW, we went out with a flurry, literally, on our last day in Northern California on 1/10/13 skiing Sierra at Tahoe (SAT). This place was great and finally after a ton of sunny weather we caught a powder day, about 12 inches overnight on the ski slopes and a few squalls during the day. We were required to use tire chains on the drive from Kirkwood to SAT. At SAT we got super lucky and were befriended by two SAT locals who showed us some of their favorite spots on the mountain during the course of 2-3 hours. Photos below tell the story.
As a brief ski safari summary, we skied seven different mtns on this trip, drove 1850 road miles, skied 11 out of 13 days, dealt with colds/flu bugs and frequent locations to sometimes lousy/noisy motels, greatly enjoyed and needed two rest days with relatives in San Francisco at midpoint in the trip. My bones are weary today, but we all feel very blessed that things went as well as they did and the family got some awesome ski time together. Must admit it felt good to be home yesterday and I slept like a rock last night. Thanks for following our posts.
Happy trails to each and every one of you,
Jim and Vince Kenney

Sweet powder day pictures from Sierra at Tahoe ski area near South Lake Tahoe, California:

We started by skiing a few groomers with tons of fluffy, chopped up snow on them, but soon veered off into the woods. Yours truly in Castle Creek trees:

This is where we met Gordon the Kid from Placerville, CA. He said if you like this, follow me and we did.

Vince on Eastabout, we saw some snow squalls during the day, SAT’s glades and tree sheltered runs are the place to be on a Tahoe storm day.

Gordon introduces us to SAT Ambassador Ed Dillon who we come across skiing off piste in the trees of North Bowl. Now the fun really begins because these two gents from Placerville know stashes where the untouched, but soft old snow lays covered with the foot of freshies.

We stop for a scenic view of the Tahoe Basin. Lots of snowboarders at SAT and they could shred.

Vince follows Ed into Huckleberry Bowl, the premier side country zone at SAT.

Vince in DEEP, Huckleberry Bowl.

Ed leads us to "A" Bowl, its inbounds, but not on a trail map.

Gordon’s world, he skis on a $99 Sierra at Tahoe season pass for age 70+.

Ed’s happy place, he first skied SAT at age 16 and is still killing it 50 years later as an exceptionally generous and capable mountain host.

Vince left SAT all smiles.

Our Huckleberry Bowl buddies at Sierra at Tahoe, thanks for a great day!

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