|New Years Day 2011. We had plenty of snow.|
It is fairly typical for snow enthusiast to find at least a few days over the holiday period to get up to the snow and make some turns. For many, it is their first day of the season. Others will have logged 10, 20 or more days by then. Especially in years like last season when we saw a 100" week in November and another in December. This year, we have yet to see any significant snowfall, other than from the storm in early October. And most of that snow melted away within a few days. So what can we expect for the coming holiday. I mean, you need to make your plans. Right?
Well, we do have a week before the holiday run starts up, and a lot can change with the help of Mother Nature. But that does not look like it will be the case. We see a chance for a dusting later this week. A slim chance. Not enough to make much of a difference, other than helping a bit in the zones where snow has been made. The middle of next week looks like a storm may move into our north. Still, this one looks to get knocked east before moving south enough to give us any snow. The best chance we see right now is for a possible storm the weekend of New Years. And there is nothing set in stone about that fantasy right now. In fact, the best bet would be for no significant snow until after the New Year. Say around the 10th. So, you may want to make your decision based on things other than your usual criteria.
Getting the #1 vote for best skiing to date is Northstar. While not known for its gnar, it is known for its snowmaking genius. Northstar has manmade snow on many runs from beginner to advanced. They have opened the backside lift recently. There is just enough variety and length to the runs out there to keep things interesting for a day or two. And they have some nice park features set up. Expect more trails to open as the temperatures stay cold this week allowing for more snow to be made. And the reports keep coming back with excellent surface conditions.
Kirkwood has committed to try to get Chair 6 open from the top for the holiday. Currently they have three lifts and four trails open for skiing. Nothing too exciting, but with limited terrain with snow making, they just keep resurfacing what they have. They also seem to have more snow off piste than anyone else. Things have gotten thin, but you can still take the rock skis off the groomers in spots for a little adventure. Expect lots of deals and programs from these guys, as they are moving back to their roots. They do have a few small park features set up at the base. And even with just another foot of snow, the K-factor will kick in, and things will get real fun.
Heavenly has the views. And plans to open up Stagecoach Lodge this week. Currently, skiing is limited to the Dipper/Comet/Tamarack chair zone on the upper Nevada side. Riding is limited to a few trails, but they have decent length, pitch and are quite wide. As they move down to the base, they will start to get some serious vertical in the mix. Surface conditions are not quite the quality of Northstar, but then again,it is a bit steeper. And they have several park lines set up. Watch their website, as they plan to move things over to the California side quickly.
Alpine has high speed Roundhouse open. As well as a beginner lift and Hot Wheel soon. While you won't get a lot of vert over at Alpine, you can get some quick laps. And if you enjoy park, this seems to be the place to be. Word is the park features are sick. Or you can go next door to their sister resort (did you hear Alpine was bought by KSL?) Squaw has Red Dog open with some steep groomer action. This stuff is all in the shade, so you may find things a bit slick by afternoon. But it is still skiing.
Sugarbowl has the best coverage in North Lake. So if you want to get off the groomers, this will be your best bet. Mt. Lincoln has good coverage and benefits from its north facing slopes. Pretty much every thing except for Disney has lifts running, so there is a good variety of terrain. Across the lake, Rose is running the 6 Pack to the top, with at least one run with coverage. While it is not a whole lot of variety, you could get the leg burn going with consecutive high speed laps and a decent pitch.
It looks like Sierra will have one lift open with their wide beginner run, Broadway. If you are a beginner, this could be just the ticket, with a high speed lift and no crowds. Homewood looks like it will remain closed. I am guessing that Donner Ski Ranch is closed, as their last update was from when they ran their lifts last July 4th. Got to give this small hill props. They are one of the few hills that stay open into spring, as long as their is snow.
That is kind of the low down on the holiday ski stretch. This is Tahoe, so things can change quickly. Keep an eye on the forecast and read the real weather. If we are lucky the change will come sooner rather than later. Better luck for the week following the New Years holiday. On the plus side, it looks like things will be a bit milder the week after Christmas, so if you do decide to schuss, it at least won't be bitter cold. Go out there and get some.