Any input you all can provide would be greatly appreciated. Mucho thanks!!!
My fav resort in the US.
Also check out Northstar -- great place, the backside is amazing there as well.
But Squaw is unreal -- KT22, Granite Chief -- there is a reason I have skied over 25+ days at this resort. (The Fingers) -- the locals at Squaw are amazing as well -- great people. If you have advanced/ expert ski ability -- the locals can guide you to places that are not only steep but incredibly technical -- I can't say enough good things about Squaw. It is a MUST ** MUST ** do in Tahoe.
Squaw also has what might be the most innovative/ efficient lift system in the US, which means rare lines (unless there on a weekend, when the resort can literally see 50,000 people). Even then -- lines are not that bad.
Let me elaborate on Northstar -- which is really more of a "crusing" than steep place (Squaw can be very steep/ moguled). Northstar's backside is one of the most amazing secrets @ Tahoe, long trails, great grading on them -- ... truely a fun place (And cheap hot chocolate at the top of the Backside).
Additionally, Alpine Meadows = great resort, and so is Kirkwood (which is South Lake Tahoe, but a real gem).
ONE MORE -- MT ROSE is wonderful for a day trip -- the lodge is (eerily) similar to Winterplace/ Schaver @ Snowshoe, but the mountain is extremely fun (Especially east bowl). Just so every else knows, next year THE CHUTES @ Mt Rose open, which means more incredibly steep/ technical in bound skiing for us snow fans .
If your only going for 3 days, Heavenly is not worth it. While it has some great trails, you also spend a lot of time trekking around the mountain.
MUCH closer to Truckee, it's hard to argue with Squaw and Alpine Meadows. Personnally, I like AM much better, but mainly because it's much less "developed" and stikes me a more of a "mountain" experience. Squaw does have some great terrain, but also HUGE crowds and the attendent parking issues, esp. on the weekends. It's sort of like the Alta (AM) vs Snowbird (Squaw) contrast in UT.
Either way, though, Tahoe is simply a spectacular place in every season.... Have a great trip (and watch those cliffs ;-) )
[This message has been edited by Rich (edited 02-20-2004).]
Northstar is getting some surprisingly good reviews. WP_Employee-- how does Squaw handle if weather moves in? Is it still good or does it's bowl-like skiing create a lot of flat-light? And is the 6200 foot elevation a problem for snow/rain? And anyone have any thoughts on Sugar Bowl? Finally, how steep is Northstar's backside? Any thoughts on the terrain at Alpine-- it's less developed character sounds great and it looks like it has some nice intermediate skiing; what about the blacks and chutes there?
[This message has been edited by Roger Z (edited 02-20-2004).]
Now this goes for ALL, ** ALL ** Tahoe resorts -- on storm days (when I was in Tahoe 3 years ago, it snowed 5.5ft" in a matter of 72hrs) the wind will be unreal along the ridges. Literally -- you are talking 55+ mph at the ridgelines @ Squaw (and the top of Northstar, Alpine for that matter). Whereas at Northstar/ Alpine (moreso Northstar) which have a lot more tree cover down the mountain -- it is easy to evade such wind (but it may shut a lift down).
Now at Squaw on the other hand -- if it is windy every single lift (and nearly every lift *is* on a ridge) will be on a "wind hold". Now -- this does not mean all is lost. The funitel (the only one in the US) can operate in nearly *any* weather conditions (it is a double wired gondola, best way to desrcibe it).
You can look for the following lifts to be closed on most storm days that are heavy w/ wind:
Squaw One Express
Pulse* [Which is more transportation anyway]
Squaw One Express
Broken Arrow [which has some of the most insane terrain on the mountain, and is hard to find open at any rate]
The Cable Car [really takes a lot to close this one, but the funitel runs a similar route so not all is lost].
Basically -- look at their lift map and for any lift on a ridgeline -- it will not be open if a huge storm moves in.
Northstar is definetely a more sure bet on a storm day -- but in any case you always have to check the reports. I was at Northstar (when the storm first moved in, before it snowed 5.5ft) and while it was *insanely* windy at the top/ ridge, as soon as you went over the hill no problem (kinda like Snowshoe). This is, of course, thanks to great tree cover.
A little more on Squaw -- the left side of the mountain [Snow King] has one of the scariest lift rides I have been on in America. At one point, the lifts 'Red Dog' and 'Squaw Creek' are literally 30 - 40 feet ** above ** the trees below -- these are two of the few lifts where I actually do put the bar down .
Yes light can get flat at Squaw... yes the elevation change does make quite a difference in weather. It hasn't rained out there in sometime -- I would not worry to much about that.
But it is reason for concern -- @ 6200 ft the difference is huge (as you can see in the base amnts on Squaw's website)... it is almost 1:3 (ratio of snow @ 6200:8200).
You know someone else on here mentioned a dislike of Heavenly because you do so much "trekking" -- I really have to agree with this. I never did find myself fond of the layout of Heavenly (well, the Calif. side, the Nevada side I find nice for cruisers/ trees). In any case, I would venture to say you are not missing much here.
The backside of Northstar is relatively steep -- what is unique about it is that it is not so steep that it is impossible to ski -- but at the same time, when you SEE how LONG the trails are down the mountain, you won't believe your eyes.
I have a lot of pictures from Northstar/ Squaw i will try to put online later today -- I have one @ Northstar, looking down the trail "Rail Splitter" -- in the picture you can see the trail get smaller, and smaller, and smaller in the distance, but you can't see the end. Northstar will wear you out.
Lookout Mtn @ Northstar (which is relatively new) is just a little steeper than the Backside... very nice contrast, but the trails are not nearly as long.
Just a quick tip -- if you are riding in the tree's @ Northstar (which is very easy to do) don't ski out of bounds . A few years ago (this would be about 5) a friend and I were cruising in the trees off the backside -- we heard an extremely loud machine noise at one point and sure enough we had skied right past the lift. Easy to do when you're having a lot of fun and conditions are just that good.
Enjoy your trip.
As for Truckee town, I took my friend to the cute little Truckee hospital from Northstar for dislocated shoulder treatment. If you want, you can step inside the hospital and earn a bragging rights for being in the "Broken Bone Capital of USA". Yep, that little hospital is famous for handling the most broken bone cases in the USA. If I remember from reading the newspaper clip, the hospital at one time handled 345 broken bone cases in a day. I was told by someone there that not only that the broken bone cases are from skiing but also from rock climbing, mountain biking, water skiing, wake boarding, running, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and numerous other extreme sports that occurs around Lake Tahoe.
I think it's about 3 hr drive from Sacremento to Lake Tahoe.
Have fun at Lake Tahoe!
As I saw mentioned Squaw is the place to go. Terrain for all levels. But the more advanced you are the better the moutain is.
I would suggest taking a lesson while out there because skiing at tahoe is noting like skiing on the east coast. If you are an advanced skier then you must do KT-22, after you get of of the lift traverse left on red dog ridge and then drop in, you will always find some great powder stashes there. (local stash!) The front shoots tend to get tracked out very quickly because that's where everyone goes. Granite Chief is anthoer great lift. After getting of the lift hike up a little ways to the peak and you can huck in for some great lines. Also the slides are closed on weekends (to many ediots trying to ski them), so if want to take your shoot at them then you need to go on a weekday!
Alpine Meadows is my second best. Small compared to other tahoe resorts but huge terran. In my opinion it has the best bang for it's buck! Great steeps and tight steep chutes. Some of the chutes. If you go on a powder day then watch out in the chutes their, they tend to get a lot of slough! Just go to the backside and you will see!
Sugar Bowl is nice but unless there is some fresh then I wouldn't make the trip there with just 3 days to ski.
If you don't mind making the trip Kirkwood is also an experts playland!
But In three days and having skied all the tahoe resorts the list is as follows:
1. YES you must do Squaw! The lifts at 8200' only close on windy days and that means that there is also some fresh falling! When they close head over to KT or Red Dog. And keep on rippin!
2.Alpine Meadows, great terrain easy to get around and endless stashes!
3. Kirkwood As an advanced skier I would do. They do have a bus that you can catch in the morning to the resort if you don't want to make the drive.
PS If you would like to do some backcountry then you should check out Sierra at Tahoe, great backcountry from the gates and there guides are really good!
So, it looks like a day at Squaw, a day at Alpine, a day at Northstar. One day at any of these places probably aren't doing them justice but it's a sampler platter; what can I say?
Thanks again for all the advice! To norfolk-- I'll be there a month before you and I got a cheap rental car. Yeah the weather could come down but my schedule is flexible, so it's no big deal if I get out a day later or get stuck at the Lake for an extra day or two.
Will provide a report when I get back; though with only one day at three different ski areas, not sure I will get an ample sample for fairness in the report!
We went from Heavenly to Squaw one day and had a convoy of 3 vehicles: 2 4X4 trucks and 1 car. We stopped and put chains on the car because the Heavenly side was getting pounded with snow and it was required to pass north of the lake. Once we drove out of the storm, the sky cleared and all 3 vehicles went to 55 mph. We did not stop and take the chains off (yes I know this was stupid but there were 11 people on this trip and they weren't getting along and the 3 drivers were the biggest a**holes of the group. Another story, another time).
Needless to say, the chains wrapped around the axles, we had to tow the car, and the day was ruined for those in the car (but the rest of us skied). Chains are a pain and if you can avoid them, then avoid them.
Thanks for the info sounds like one heluva story. Chains are a pain so I most likely will end up getting a SUV of some sort. Found one on travelocity for $340 for 8 days.I am trying to hit a fair amount of resorts while I am there so I figured better to have reliable transport than getting stuck in a late season storm. Any advice on Alpine Meadows? Noticed they have alot of hikeable terrain inbounds?
I have personal experience with the following Tahoe areas over two trips (April, January) about seven years ago.
Squaw - 6x (ski clinic)
Northstar - 2x (mixed group) Lookout Area has since opened.
Homewood - 2x (mixed group)
Heavenly - 1x (mixed group)
Haven't been to Alpine Meadows, but have heard great things about it wrt advanced terrain. Sugar Bowl is also the home mtn of Eric DesLauriers, and I believe they have recently opened some radical terrain.
If you do ski Northstar, a real nice gladed area is to skier's right of the Vista Express Quad. The pitch is relatively mellow here, but there is some nice open tree spacing with some interesting features. You can really let your skis run in this area. I didn't have as much luck with the backside trees; I found pretty tight spacing in the areas I explored. The backside trails are fun, but not epic.
For Squaw, there is some great uncrowded terrain off the Granite Chief chair. From skier's right off the lift, follow the upper ridge and drop down to the treed ridge which separates Granite Chief from the Shirley Lakes chair. Some great steep treed stuff in there. Or take skiers left and hit sections of the huge face which slopes towards the lift. Plenty of rock jumps in that area.
There are some nice trees off the Red Dog and even the Exhibition lifts.
I think the wind closures and flat lighting at Squaw are a bit exaggerated. I was there for one extended dump where it snowed 2 feet per day for four straight days. Granite Chief was the only lift that remained closed during the storm. The first or second day, there were minor slides all over the mountain (pre-storm base was pure ice) and the mountain closed early. That one day, KT-22 closed very early (10ish) due to a slide and the whole mountain was closed by 3:30 or so since there was even a slide off of Exhibition. Except for that one day, we were skiing the whole mountain during the storm.
Kirkwood is really too far from N. Tahoe for an easy day trip, especially if there's weather at all. But if you have the chance to go on another trip, do it.
While you may think that wind closures are exaggerated... Squaw's mountain was practically shut down while the last storm went through (over the past 3 days).
Still my fav Tahoe resort by far though...