End of the 2017/18 season

The end of our ski season has arrived so we will reluctantly hang them up and reflect on what was our best year ever!  Records were broken, and some great memories were made.  

Heavenly bluebird powder, March 2018

Heavenly bluebird powder, March 2018

Kirkwood closed on April 8th and Heavenly on the 22nd, so this last weekend was the first time I was not skiing and was home in Fremont since mid January! Total ski days this year were 55 for me and 38 for AiRung. This is a record for me and ties a record for AiRung, which is all the more impressive because December, January, and February were way below normal snowfall in Tahoe. At the end of February we were flirting with record low snowfall, but then we got another one of those Tahoe “Miracle March’s” which provided some awesome powder days. In fact March 17th at Kirkwood was the deepest inbounds powder I’ve ever skied. 74″ fell in 2 days, and it was super cold, which made for light blower powder like you would find in the Rockies. Neck deep isn’t an exaggeration!

The start of the biggest storm of the season at Heavenly, March 2018

The start of the biggest storm of the season at Heavenly, March 2018

The snowfall continued well into April and both March and April had much higher than normal snowfall and colder than normal temps — just what we needed. The season ended up with about 75% of normal at Kirkwood and Heavenly which is something I never saw coming at the end of February when we were somewhere around 30% of normal. I skied closing day at Sierra at Tahoe which featured 15″ of fresh and lots of tree skiing.

Closing day at Sierra at Tahoe, April 2018

Closing day at Sierra at Tahoe, April 2018

We had the best ski trip ever this year which started in late January and lasted until early March courtesy of my 5-year sabbatical from Adobe (see the previous post). We skied a record 11 new resorts from the far west coast (Stevens Pass) to the far east coast (Le Massif). Trips like that are what we live for.

10 minutes after Killebrew Canyon opened for the year at Heavenly, March 2018

10 minutes after Killebrew Canyon opened for the year at Heavenly, March 2018

As usual we spent about 10 days skiing with AiRung’s family in Tahoe and Park City.  This is a lot of fun for us because they are now able to ski just about anything and can follow us all over the mountain.

AiRung and family at Heavenly, January 2018

AiRung and family at Heavenly, January 2018

The planning is now underway for next season when we will hit some of the remaining resorts we have to do in Colorado including my old hometown Crested Butte. Can’t wait!

Fantastic grooming at Heavenly, March 2018

Fantastic grooming at Heavenly, March 2018

The 17/18 Big Trip

“I love it when a plan comes together!” – Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith – The “A” Team

Revelstoke, February 2018

Revelstoke, February 2018

The 3rd leg of our 17/18 5-week trip was the most ambitious, with 6 resorts in British Columbia and Alberta Canada planned over 12 days.  The idea was to drive over 4,000 miles to get the most remote resorts on our list done in one big batch while we had plenty of time.  That big chunk of time was due to my sabbatical from Adobe which only happens once every 5-years, so we had to make the most of it!

Of course after weeks of above average temps in Western North America, the day before our trip started an arctic air mass settled in with temps 25F below normal.  We delayed 2 days to avoid skiing in -30F temps, but it was still very cold on our first day at Revelstoke with an actual temp of -2F at the base and a wind chill of -37F up top 5,620 feet higher.  This was something we rarely experience since most of our skiing is done in California and Utah.  We were mostly fine with it and enjoyed the dry, cold snow, but we did have to go in and warm up a couple of times.

-37C/F wind chill at the top of Revelstoke, February 2018

-37C/F wind chill at the top of Revelstoke, February 2018

We found 2 new 5-star resorts on this trip, which is the ultimate goal of the project.  A 5-star resort is rare and the original idea was to find all the best resorts that we would love to return to someday.  Revelstoke and Panorama certainly qualify.  We are already scheming of ways to spend a season in each place.  We experienced so many incredible moments at both of those resorts.

Panorama, February 2018

Panorama, February 2018

Kicking Horse near Golden BC was one of the scariest resorts we have ever skied.  About 50% of the runs are super steep lines that often require a hike along exposed terrain.  We weren’t really impressed with the resort due to the really limited lift network (basically 1 gondola and one chair), but we salvaged the day by visiting the Northern Lights Wolf Sanctuary north of Golden after skiing.  This was the first time we’ve seen wolves very close up and we would definitely like to go back and pay extra to take them out for an off-leash walk in the woods.  Seriously!

Northern Lights Wolf Sanctuary, February 2018

Northern Lights Wolf Sanctuary, February 2018

At the end of the Powder Highway, Fernie featured lots of the fresh powder it’s known for.  We really lucked out with a foot the day before we got there, another foot our first day, and heavy snow falling during the 2nd day.  We had a lot of fun demoing skis from a local ski shop.  Fernie is a great ski town with a scenic compact downtown area and lots of great restaurants and shops.

Fernie B.C. downtown and resort, March 2018

Fernie B.C. downtown and resort, March 2018

One of the most interesting experiences on this trip was the day we went over to Castle Mountain, Alberta.  It was a pretty long 88-mile drive each way from Fernie over Crowsnest pass, and then south along the eastern side of the Rockies through some spectacular scenery.  Castle Mountain is at the end of the road and even a mile before we got there I was wondering what we would find because there were no other cars on the road.  It was yet another powder day, but that’s almost irrelevant at Castle because there are so few people you can find deep untracked lines 2 days after a storm.  It’s a massive 3,500 acres and with sparse crowds it’s one of the best places I can think of to find inbounds powder lines.

Castle Mountain, AB, March 2018

Castle Mountain, AB, March 2018

Once again we were really impressed with British Columbia.  Friendly people, great snow conditions, and a discount due to a favorable exchange rate makes it our favorite ski destination.  We still have 2 resorts to ski there, so we will be back in a couple of years.  Until then we have some great memories and will look forward to the next trip!

From Tahoe to Utah to Quebec

AiRung’s brother and his wife and 2 kids visit us each year from Taiwan starting in late January for an extended ski vacation in Tahoe.  They get better and better each year, and now they can ski just about anything so it’s a lot of fun playing the guide and skiing with them.  We started with 5 days at Heavenly, 2 at Kirkwood, and even a day of XC skiing at the Kirkwood XC ski center.

11-year old Vicky tearing it up on Milky Way Bowl at Heavenly, January 2018

11-year old Vicky tearing it up on Milky Way Bowl at Heavenly, January 2018

 

After Tahoe, we headed over to Park City / Canyons for a change of scenery.  Our Vail Tahoe Local passes give us 5 days at Park City and we usually ski 3 days there every year if we have time.  This year Utah has had historically bad snowfall, but it was still a lot of fun.  We liked it so much in fact that we were scheming of ways to spend the entire winter there after we retire!

Canyons Village at Park City, February 2018

Canyons Village at Park City, February 2018

The last day AiRung and I were on assignment for Snowpak.com doing a piece on Deer Valley, with free tickets that they arranged.  It had been several years since we skied there and we had our opinion of the place improved significantly.  Deer Valley has remained true to its mission of quality, whereas nearby Park City/Canyons Village has just gotten more crowded and expensive under Vail ownership and has lost some of the unique culture that used to exist there.  There is also evidence of cost cutting with reduced grooming vs. what we saw years ago.

Stein's Way at Deer Valley, February 2018

Stein’s Way at Deer Valley, February 2018

After Park City, we flew to Montreal, Quebec to ski the 3 Quebec resorts on our list.  Travel was even more difficult than normal due to weather and airline issues.  We had a connection in Toronto and there was one of the worst snow storms of the season going on when we arrived.  We finally landed after circling around to burn off excess fuel for an hour or so and found that our next leg to Montreal (a 1-hour flight) was delayed by 5 hours.  We had a 2-hour drive to Mont-Tremblant that we didn’t even start until 1:30AM, with snow-packed roads the whole way.  We got to bed at 4AM and got up at 8:30AM to ski in a daze.  Coming back wasn’t any easier because we got kicked from our flight due to high winds that meant the plane couldn’t fly full of people and luggage.  We arrived back home at 2AM (5AM Eastern time), again deprived of sleep. The things we do for the project!

Old Town Montreal, February 2018

Old Town Montreal, February 2018

Quebec is very interesting but is definitely not our first choice as a destination for skiing.  The resorts are impressive on paper, but the reality is that the weather is unpredictable and has a big impact on the experience.  We encountered rain, snow, sleet, wind, and icy cold but even with all that we did really enjoy our days at Le Massif and Mont-Sainte Anne.  Other than Tremblant, just about all the skiers appeared to be locals, so that is a good indication that these are not really destination resorts that would match up to the usual places people travel to in the west.  The few people we talked to were shocked that we had traveled from California to ski in Quebec and one guy went on and on about how he really wanted to move to California as his #1 choice in the whole world!

I hate to say it, but the language barrier is ever present in Quebec.  We are used to chatting up people on the lifts to get perspective on the place we are skiing, but that was largely absent there.  When we were skiing in British Columbia a couple of weeks later we met a guy from Quebec and talked to him about it and he said the people there are somewhat shy about speaking in English because they can’t express themselves.  Our bad for not speaking French, but this is the only place in North America you can really use that skill if you have it!

Le Massif, Quebec, February 2018

Le Massif, Quebec, February 2018

On the positive side, the food in Quebec is awesome, and if you like steep groomers like we do, this is your place.  Just sharpen your skis before going, and bring your warmest clothes!

Mont-Sainte Anne, Quebec, February 2018

Mont-Sainte Anne, Quebec, February 2018

So mission accomplished with 3 of the 10 eastern resorts on our list done.  Now we are up to 27 days on the snow for Ron and 21 for AiRung.  Next up we are heading up to interior British Columbia for the last leg of our 5 week tour.

The start of a big year…

2017/18 is underway with a slow start, but we have a lofty goal of 12 new resorts this season so we will be very busy in the coming months!

First day of the season before Thanksgiving at Kirkwood

First day of the season before Thanksgiving at Kirkwood

Our home resorts in Tahoe had slightly above average snowfall in November which allowed Kirkwood to be almost 100% open by Thanksgiving weekend, but the snow machine abruptly shut off in December with only 6″ falling in the whole month.  There was enough snow for some good days before Christmas, but we could really use some more.  Both Northstar and Heavenly are operating on very limited terrain on basically 100% snowmaking at this point.  Heavenly is reporting 200 acres out of the 4800 that they had open by mid January last year.

Some powder at Kirkwood December 20th

Some powder at Kirkwood December 20th

Every year between Christmas and the New Year we take a trip where we travel to ski 2-3 new resorts.  This time we decided to ski the last 2 resorts on the list in Washington.  This was actually planned a few months ago when we saw that the winter forecast was for La Nina conditions with above average snow in the Pacific Northwest.  That’s exactly what played out with heavy snow north of Portland, so the trip was on.

We also wanted to try out our Escape trailer for winter camping with our dog Sammy so we hitched it up and headed up I-5.  Out of the 6-days we were gone, it rained or snowed non-stop for more than 4 of them.  This was definitely not ideal camping or travelling weather!

Our rig in the Stevens Pass RV parking lot

Our rig in the Stevens Pass RV parking lot

Our first stop was White Pass, which is a smallish resort in the central Cascades.  After skiing there we had an ambitious plan and short timeline which required us to ski Stevens Pass the next day to keep on schedule.  It’s more than 180 miles and a big storm was underway and we had some of the worst driving conditions I’ve driven in in years.  After we miraculously safely reached Stevens Pass we still had to make it the last few hundred yards up a steep hill to the RV parking lot.  This is when we realized that the Honda Pilot 4WD system is not up to the task of pulling a 3,000 lb trailer up a hill in deep snow.  I ended up trying various configurations of chains and the one that finally worked was one chain on one of the front wheels.

Sammy and AiRung on the night skiing slopes at White Pass

Sammy and AiRung on the night skiing slopes at White Pass

Our night in the parking lot at Stevens Pass was not peaceful with constant noise from the snow removal operations going on to keep the parking lot clear for the next day’s skiers in the heavy snow that was falling.  Early in the morning the avalanche bombs started and this caused our dog Sammy to hide under the bed.  We did ski and had a pretty good day, but we were very happy to descend out of the snow on our way to Seattle at the end of the day.

White Pass camping spot

White Pass camping spot

So thus far I have 9 days of skiing and AiRung 7.  Next up we have a trip to Park City in early February.  From there we will fly to Quebec, Canada to ski the 3 Quebec resorts on our list.  When we get back from that we will drive up to interior British Columbia to ski another 7 resorts up there on a 16-day driving trip.  This is going to be fun!

Nice conditions at White Pass

Nice conditions at White Pass

Spring, Summer, and 16/17 season wrap-up

This was a record-setting winter in Northern California which received the most rainfall ever recorded since records have been kept.  This translated into a LOT of snow and Tahoe got the most snow of any place in North America this season.  Our home resort Heavenly received almost twice as much as normal at 639″, obliterating the previous record of 500″ set in the 10/11 season.

Liz's at Heavenly Feb 26, 2017

Liz’s at Heavenly Feb 26, 2017

Just getting around was a challenge at times.  One Sunday in March we had some great powder skiing at Heavenly and then spent the next 1hr 45m driving 6 miles back to our house in a blizzard with gridlocked traffic.  Snow removal was difficult and we saw snow piles over 30-feet tall in the Kirkwood parking lots.  Heavenly had parking challenges all season because there was no place to put the snow.

Deep snow at our house, March 5th, 2017

Deep snow at our house, March 5th, 2017

It kept snowing in March, April, and May, so we kept skiing powder.  April provided the best powder of the any month, and the massive crowds attracted by the record snowfall eased up making for the best skiing of the season.

Heavenly Powder, April 14, 2017

Heavenly Powder, April 14, 2017

Kirkwood closed really early on April 16th with the deepest snowpack in the past 6 years still on the ground.   Heavenly opened one additional weekend so after they closed we had to head a bit further afield to keep skiing.  We had a great day in mid May at Mt. Rose, and then the best Memorial Day skiing we’ve ever had at Squaw.  Amazingly, the Mountain Run and KT22 were still open (6,200′ elevation).  It was interesting skiing past Aspens in full summer leaves and green grass at the bottom of the mountain.

Memorial Day at Squaw, 2017

Memorial Day at Squaw, 2017

For only the 2nd time in my 48 years of skiing have I skied the July 4th holiday, and we actually did 2 days.  It was AiRung’s first time skiing that late.  July 3rd we went back to Squaw where there were massive crowds on the limited terrain.  The party atmosphere was a blast though.

Huge Line at Shirley Lake at Squaw, July 3rd, 2017

Huge Line at Shirley Lake at Squaw, July 3rd, 2017

On July 5th we wrapped up the season at Mammoth.  2,000 vert of skiing on about 25 runs with no crowds and firm snow was so much better than Squaw.  We camped in the RV park with our trailer and dogs, and were able to park the trailer in the Main Lodge parking lot, which was a good test for next winter when we plan to use it on our Big Trip.  They open early at 7:30AM this late in the season so we had breakfast in the parking lot and then skied until 11:30 which was 30 minutes from closing.

Mammoth on July 5th, 2017

Mammoth on July 5th, 2017

So the final tally for this season was 9 new resorts, 51 days for me, and 38 for AiRung.  We met a ton of friendly people and experienced some resorts and adventures we never would have if not for The Project.  A few highlights were Apex Mountain, Sun Peaks, and Silver Star in BC, Canada, night skiing at Mt. Hood Skibowl in Oregon, and powder skiing on runs like “Hogbacks” (below) that are seldom skiable (and never good) at Heavenly due to the record snowpack.

Hogbacks at Heavenly on Good Friday, April 14th 2017

Hogbacks at Heavenly on Good Friday, April 14th 2017

Our normal ski day in Tahoe starts early so we get to the lifts just as they open.  For Heavenly that’s 8:30.   We can get a few runs in before the crowds get large and we usually only ski until 1 or 1:30PM.  After a quick lunch at home, we head out with Sammy for X-C skiing in the neighborhood.  This year we could X-C ski in our neighborhood almost continuously from the beginning of December until mid-April.  In drought years past we might only be able to do a few select days, so this was something very special.  The first snowfall was October 1st and the last was June 11th.

Another great XC ski with Sammy, March 5, 2017

Another great XC ski with Sammy, March 5, 2017

So now we need to wait out summer and start planning for next year.  64 resorts are done and we should make serious headway next year because we are planning to take a whole month to knock off some of the more distant resorts in Montana, Idaho, and B.C.  Can’t wait!

Fantastic day at Kirkwood, March 25, 2017

Fantastic day at Kirkwood, March 25, 2017

The 16/17 Big Trip

Last year we took 4 trips and felt like we overdid it a bit.  It didn’t give us much time to actually ski locally in Tahoe, so this year we planned only 2 trips and the second one was pretty ambitious.  Over 12 days we would drive up from the Bay Area to Mt. Hood and then further north into interior British Columbia to get some of the more remote resorts on our list.  Then we would head west and pick up our new travel trailer and drive home, camping 2 nights.

Road Trip!

Road Trip!

Skiing Mt. Hood is tricky because they get a lot of rain and strong storms that close the upper lifts at Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, so we didn’t commit to going there until it looked like we would hit good weather.  Luckily we got some of the best weather of the season with sunny skies, recent fresh snow, and no wind.

Timberline cruising

Timberline cruising

We skied the 2 main resorts on Mt. Hood: Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, and one of the most unique resorts on our list that specializes in night skiing:  Mt. Hood Skibowl.  The most fun we had on the whole trip was skiing from 5-10PM at Skibowl under the lights.  Ski magazine called them the largest night skiing operation in North America (which is probably not true) but what is certain is that they have some of the steepest night skiing terrain in North America.  Their upper lift is seriously steep and they groom a lot of it.

Mt. Hood Skibowl night skiing

Mt. Hood Skibowl night skiing

Later that night after we finished night skiing it started pouring rain, so it’s a good thing we were heading north the next day.  We drove 442 miles pretty much due north to Penticton B.C., and there wasn’t a moment that it wasn’t raining.  At several points there were rivers flowing down the middle of the road because the large snow banks funnel the water right down the road.  Eastern Washington suffers from freezing rain and the forecast was for up to 1/3″ of ice accumulation, but luckily that didn’t happen.  This is part of the challenge of this project and we are going to hit bad driving weather frequently.

Our first resort in B.C. was Apex Mountain, and that place is fantastic.  There is a tiny village located far up a lonely road that winds up the mountain.  At one point we wondered if we were going the right way because there was no traffic or indication that a ski resort was at the end of the road, but we eventually got there.  There were probably less than 200 people skiing the 1100 acres that day and it was almost surreal to us coming from the crowded California resorts.  Conditions at the end of the day were similar to those that can only be found in the first hour at most of our frequented resorts — patches of untouched powder on the recently groomed runs, and smooth everywhere.

Above the fog at Apex

Above the fog at Apex

We stayed the next 2 nights in Kelowna which is a surprisingly urban and built-up city around a huge lake.  There are many towns there and they all form one large population center without much to distinguish between them.  It’s beautiful though, and would be a great place to live.  The weather is very mild without much snow on the ground.  You need to climb up a couple thousand feet to get to the bases of the ski areas.  We skied Big White and Silver Star from that home base and then moved on to Kamloops where we skied Sun Peaks for 2 days.

Soft snow at Sun Peaks

Soft snow at Sun Peaks

People in Canada were so friendly and we loved it — especially in Kamloops and Sun Peaks.  They seemed genuinely thrilled that we had driven up from California to ski there.  We also found the food to be excellent and prices for everything were cheap (except for diesel fuel), and especially when you consider the exchange rate to US$.  It is pretty much skiing heaven for us and we can’t wait to go back.

This trip came about because we had ordered a 17-foot travel trailer from Escape Trailer Industries in Chilliwack, BC in April 2016.  It was originally supposed to be ready in May 2017, but the production date got moved up to Feb 7th and we jumped on that opportunity to ski before picking up the trailer.  So after 2 days of skiing at Sun Peaks we hopped back in the car and drove 200 miles to Chilliwack.  Highway 5 is an amazing drive between Kamloops and the coastal lowlands.

We picked the trailer up the next day after Escape exported it over the border for us.  We were delayed for well over an hour trying to get back in the U.S.  Welcome Home!

Happy Escape Trailer owner

Happy Escape Trailer owner

Back in the U.S. we spent 2 days driving home and spent 2 nights in the new trailer.  The first night was at AiRung’s friend’s driveway in Seattle, and the 2nd was at Valley of the Rogue state park in southern Oregon.

2nd night of camping

2nd night of camping

It was nice getting back to California where there was lots of green grass and blue sky, but we were already missing interior B.C. and won’t forget this trip for a long time.  7 new resorts in a single trip is a new record.  We don’t plan any other new resorts this year, so 64 resorts completed will be the final count.  That’s 10 new resorts this season, which is far more than our average.

At this point of the season in early March our local resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood have received over 550″ of snowfall and the skiing is excellent (when the wind isn’t blowing).  We plan to finish out the season strong over the next 7 weeks with many weekend trips planned.

 

 

Thanksgiving to the New Year 16/17

We started the season on the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year.  Thanksgiving conditions were nice and cold with some decent snow which allowed both Heavenly and Kirkwood to open enough terrain to make it worthwhile.

Kirkwood, November 28, 2016

Kirkwood, November 28, 2016

December turned decidedly warmer in Tahoe unfortunately.  We had 2 Atmospheric River events with about 10″ of rain at lake level.  If it had been cold that would have been a lot of snow, but only the high-elevation resorts Mt. Rose, Heavenly, and Kirkwood fully benefitted from those storms.  Here we are skiing Heavenly powder when all the lower resorts were dealing with bulletproof ice:

Heavenly, December 11, 2016

Heavenly, December 11, 2016

There was a nice storm just before Christmas week that dropped snow all the way to lake level, so the resorts were able to cash in on the holidays this year.  Here we are doing our usual family skiing on Christmas Eve before our passes were blacked out:

Milky Way Bowl at Heavenly, December 24, 2016

Milky Way Bowl at Heavenly, December 24, 2016

Every year we take a trip between Christmas and New Years and usually try to get 2 or 3 new resorts done.  This year we headed to Bozeman, Montana to ski Red Lodge, Big Sky, and Bridger Bowl.  These trips are never easy and this one was no different.  Salt Lake City got what was probably the biggest storm in 2 years and our flights were seriously delayed.  We landed in Bozeman on Christmas night in a pretty bad snowstorm and had to drive 150 miles to Red Lodge.  There was virtually nobody on the road that night.  50 mph gusts picked up the light snow creating white-out conditions.  Everything was closed so our Christmas dinner was a soggy sandwich wrap from a gas station.

We arrived in Red Lodge about midnight and set the alarm for 7AM.  Red Lodge Mountain was a blast and made the previous day’s journey worthwhile.  It was bluebird and our snow condition luck was holding with 5″ of new snow.

Red Lodge Montana, December 26, 2016

Red Lodge Montana, December 26, 2016

The next day we drove back to Bozeman in another storm.  I-90 was shut down at Livingston due to high winds.  We did eventually make it and found our lodging AiRung secured on VRBO — an apartment 2 blocks from Main St. in a house that was built in 1900.  That storm dropped 14″ of snow at Big Sky, so the next day we had some very nice conditions there.

Big Sky, December 28, 2016

Big Sky, December 28, 2016

2 days of skiing at Big Sky cost us $516 (+ tax).  This was the most we ever spent on lift tickets at any resort.  Add to that the upcoming cost to fix our skis, which were shredded by the many rocks we encountered everywhere, but especially at the top of Lone Peak.

Big Sky Lone Peak, December 29, 2016

Big Sky Lone Peak, December 29, 2016

That picture was taken in a safe relatively good spot for snow, but the next 30-minutes were some of the scariest ever for AiRung.  We had to side-slip down about 300 vertical feet of unskiable rocks to get to the main part of the bowl where the snow had not been blown off by the fierce winds up there.

Liberty Bowl at Big Sky, December 29, 2016

Liberty Bowl at Big Sky, December 29, 2016

We made it safely, and it was definitely a character-building experience.

Big Sky was very crowded so it was a nice change to ski at our next new resort, Bridger Bowl.  This was the day of our return flight, and right on schedule another storm rolled in.  5″ of fresh snow fell during the day, and this was the best day of skiing of our trip.  Bridger is one of our favorite memories of the project thus far.

Bridger Bowl, December 30, 2016

Bridger Bowl, December 30, 2016

 

The flight back was delayed in Salt Lake City again due to ice fog, so we didn’t get home until 1AM California time — a very long day.  So this is an example of some of the random things we run into on the project.  It’s an adventure that’s usually fun but never easy!

So far we have 10 days of skiing for the 2016/17 season and 3 new resorts.  We plan to hit as many as 6 more new resorts this season on our 2-week February trip to British Columbia, so it’s an ambitious goal.  We also have another long weekend trip planned to Park City where we get free skiing on our Vail Epic passes.  All the regions of North America have gotten good early season snow this year, which is a vast improvement over what we sometimes see in December, and it looks like the storm train is going to keep hitting Tahoe for the next couple of weeks.  Should be fun!