Squaw Update 3-18-2013: Decent spring conditions, U.S. Alpine Championships this week

The US Nationals ski races are on this week at Squaw Wednesday Thru Saturday.    The races are at Red Dog at lower Squaw,starting at 9am and 12pm with live music (and sunny, warm temps)  at the outdoor pub from 1:30-40, so you don’t have to be a skier to have some fun.

The full schedule is at the Squaw Valley website.

Despite all the drought hand-wringing nearly all the  main groomed runs that usually operate in the spring of  good years snow are open with decent coverage.  It’s still getting below freezing at night so snow surface is pretty good though lower Mountain Run turns to mashed potatoes pretty quickly.

How Truckee became a top ski town

Hmmm, Truckee does seem to be getting some buzz in the national media as evidenced in pieces like this Mercury-News item, “How Truckee became a top ski town”.   There have been some pretty swanky restaurants and boutique hotels opening up lately.    Restaurant Trokay, in particular, seems to be going for Michelin star.

Still just adequate on this season’s snow situation, though.  At Squaw and Alpine pretty much all the normally groomed runs are now open with decent coverage, though I’m still using rock skis just in case.

Yosemite National Park drops plans to ban bike and raft rentals

So says the Mercury News.     The plan also provided for eliminating horse rentals, an historic bridge, and the swimming pools and ice rink.  The bridge and pools will remain, the horses will go.   The River campgrounds flooded in 1997 will be partially brought back after a mere 17 years of delay.

This brouhaha came about when two small activist groups sued over the Merced  River Plan and the Wild and Scenic River designation, which was intended to stop dams outside the park, to force the park to restore the river within the valley to their definition of wild pristineness and eliminate some rather minor visitor services and amenities they found aesthetically objectionable.

Curiously, they were most opposed to a plan to build a parking lot in the western part of the valley for a mandatory shuttle system, like at Zion NP, to get cars out of the rest of the valley alltogether.

I guess the public outcry was too much.

Tahoe Donner XC: 2-15-2013 – 30km open with loops and ridge views

Tahoe Donner XC is open for President’s Day weekend with 30km including some big loops and all the way to Donner Ridge. Hawk’s Peak is also reachable with about 200 yards of hiking. Cover IS scanty in some stretches so bring rock skis. Opensnow’s Brian Allegretto is calling for 3-6 inches Saturday night with clearing on Sunday.  Hopefully this timeall the precip will come down as snow not rain.  The current trail map:


Tahoe DOnner XC - open trails

Tahoe snow report 1-31-2014: 6″-14″ fresh snow but…

The good news is Tahoe has 6″-14″ of fresh stuff, with the higher numbers naturally at the higher elevations and is looking prettier. The bad news it doesn’t make much difference as far as additional trails opening up, just making the ones that have been open better (and they’ve been surprisingly decent). Note that that the resorts’ learn-to-ski areas all seem to be in great shape.

Royal Gorge XC and Tahoe Donner XC are still closed.
Nothing new at Sugar Bowl or Squawpine. I was thinking maybe Shirley Lake could open, but guess not.
I haven’t been following the others so I can’t say if new trails have opened up.
Mammoth IS opening up some new stuff. According to the snow report, Dave’s, Cornice Bowl, and Roadrunner off the top are open though I suspect they’re a bit dicey.

KSL revises Squaw development proposal, death of Lake Tahoe still predicted.

KSL has revealed scaled-back development plans for its corner of Squaw Valley.   Buildings have been reduced by about  1/3 and a fair amount of the existing day-use parking, which was going to be virtually eliminated, is retained.    I suspect this was the target all along and the original proposal was simply a posture from which to make a concessionary retreat when the inevitable opposition arises.

This, of course, will not mollify the usual suspects opposing any development proposal.  Note that virtually all construction comes on top of existing paved parking or unpaved dump/storage sites.   The footprint is a tiny fraction of the whole of Squaw Valley and subsantially less than the existing subdivisions occupied by the resident opponents.  In the flatlands this sort of thing is what the Sierra Club refers to as “smart growth”.

Here’s the original plan (click to enlarge, and it’s large):

Original Squaw development proposal.

Original Squaw development proposal.

Here’s the new plan (click to enlarge, and it’s large):

The new proposal

The new proposal

Here’s the new plan (click to enlarge, and it’s large):

Tahoe Donner XC: drought update

Though Royal Gorge has closed for the time being, Tahoe Donner still has a few trails open:

Tahoe Donner drought update: open trail map

Tahoe Donner drought update: open trail map

Tahoe Donner XC: a big beginner loop for a blustery day

One of the great things about Tahoe Donner XC is the Euer Valley trail system that is relatively sheltered when things are stormy up on the Donner Ridge/Hawks Peak track system, or at the Donner Pass/Royal Gorge or Kirkwood XC areas. Plus it’s relatively flat with an initial downhill that requires little downhill alpine-style skiing ability:


By John Reece

Tahoe Donner XC: An advanced, viewful loop for a sunny day

This intermediate-advanced loop is a pretty good workout with fabulous views for the effort, provided the sky is clear and the winds are low.   Opportunities for fairly mellow off-piste (and unpatrolled) powder skiing in Sunrise also abound:

Tahoe Donner XC: a viewful ski tour for a sunny day

Just the ticket for a sunny day.

A slight majority seem to prefer doing this clockwise as the uphill slog is more gradual.   Either way, you do have a pretty clear downhill run all the way back to the lodge, with minimal elevation losses and regains, to finish the tour.   I hate elevation losses, regains, and finishing a nordic day slogging uphill.

Note that the lengthy stretch of ridge is rather exposed if the wind is blowing or visibility is poor.    The trails out to The Far Side often aren’t groomed until the 2nd day after a big dump.  Some of the downhills are bona-fide black diamond.   Sunrise Bowl does have one small, obvious area with slide potential, aka “The Bulge” at about the exclamation point on the map to the right of “Far Side”.

By John Reece

Note to Stienstra: there IS top-to-bottom skiing in Tahoe

Regarding the Chronicle columnist Stienstra’s disparaging article about Tahoe snow conditions there IS skiing in Tahoe. Sugar Bowl and Alpine are open top-to-bottom, and Squaw from Gold Coast down Mountain Run and off Red Dog/Squaw Creek. It isn’t terrible exciting, since generally only the main way down from each lift is, but there is skiing/boarding.

Royal Gorge and Tahoe Donner also have enough trails open to work up a sweat, albeit not to any of my favorite destination/vista points.