Mid-season update: 90th resort skied!

Record Snowfall in Tahoe

West Bowl at Sierra at Tahoe, January 2023

West Bowl at Sierra at Tahoe, January 2023

Wow, late December to mid January was crazy!  As of January 19th Tahoe had received more than the average snowfall for a whole season.  We experienced power failures, 8″ of RAIN in one day, resort closures, massive traffic jams, and unplowed roads for days in South Lake Tahoe.  That much snow is actually not great for skiing since it impacts resort operations negatively.  Yes, there is such a thing as too much snow! One day we went up to Sierra and just sat in the lodge for 1 1/2 hours waiting for them to open a lift — any lift.  Later, both Sierra and Kirkwood had lifts taken down by wind on January 23rd.  Sierra’s West Bowl and Puma chairs are still down as of this writing 9 days later.  It’s also been the coldest winter in Tahoe since 1973 according to the NWS.

Neighborhood street XC skiing was about all we could do in early January, 2023

Neighborhood street XC skiing was about all we could do in early January, 2023

The Red and White trip

If you are reading this in 2023 you probably remember the meltdown of Southwest Airlines over Christmas.  We had plans to fly to Spokane to ski Red Mountain and Whitewater in British Columbia but luckily canceled them in mid December due to lack of snow.  Turns out our flight to Spokane would have been canceled anyway.  Whew!

Well, the snow finally came and we made the trip in mid January after Southwest got things straightened out.  Those were 2 of the easiest and emptiest flights we ever had.  Our flight back had 33 people on a 170 person plane!  Timing is everything…

Wait is that the sun?? Fun day at Whitewater, BC - January 2023

Wait is that the sun?? Fun day at Whitewater, BC – January 2023

Trip reports are coming later, but we had a really good time and got a good feel for both resorts.  The first day at Red was challenging with thick fog and even some rain at the bottom (again!).  The snow was good starting 1/3 of the way up though, and coverage was great.  Whitewater was fun on day 2 and is clearly loved by the local Nelson community.

There was some drama on the drive back from Nelson to Trail when a rock slide closed the road we were on.  It was dark, there was no cell service / internet for GPS, and we had no idea where we were as we followed vague instructions from the police for a LONG detour to Castlegar.  We made it though, and day 3 back at Red was clear-ish and allowed us to have a complete picture of the resort for a review.

A clear day at Red Mountain, BC - January 2023

A clear day at Red Mountain, BC – January 2023

Housing changes mean new options

We are now back to living part time in the SF Bay Area in Newark and part time in Tahoe.  Because of that we have actually skied Dodge Ridge twice this year using our Sierra-at-Tahoe pass Powder Alliance benefits.  We love it enough to make 2 day trips this year which means getting up at 5:30AM and not getting back until 6:30PM.  The 2nd trip last weekend was our best day of the season with 6″ of snow falling during the day and a great time following AiRung’s friend Nicole and her family who are lifelong Dodge Ridge skiers.  We got to see how the local community up there gathers for skiing and laughs.

Free refills at Dodge Ridge - January 2023

Free refills at Dodge Ridge – January 2023

What’s next?

With 90 resorts complete, we need to get to work on the Northeastern resorts since 8 of the 10 remaining are there.  We have a tentative plan to go back around March 1st.  If that doesn’t work due to continuing lack of snow we will redirect to Alberta, Canada and re-ski Lake Louise and hit up Marmot Basin near Jasper for the first time.  Until then we will be up in Tahoe enjoying the bountiful snow!

This is why we ski. Dodge Ridge - January 2023

This is why we ski. Dodge Ridge – January 2023

22/23 Starts off Strong

A good start

Even with the record December snowfall last year, the snow didn’t really start until the middle of December with no snow in November.  We didn’t even get our first day until Dec 11th.

This year has been very different with 97″ of snowfall at our house by December 12th, so we were able to get some really good skiing done in November and the first half of December.

Rosie breaks trail on November 9th, 2022

Rosie breaks trail on November 9th, 2022

Sierra-at-Tahoe reopens after the Caldor fire

We had some good skiing in Tahoe at Heavenly and Kirkwood with a few powder days but really enjoyed our first day back at Sierra at Tahoe after the Caldor fire. They were closed all of last year and spent the whole summer clearing standing dead/burned trees. Now they are back open with all of the lifts repaired and almost all of the named trails open.  We are so happy to have all 3 of our local resorts going again!  Sierra is special and we really missed it last year.

First day at Sierra after the Caldor Fire, December 9th, 2022

First day at Sierra after the Caldor Fire, December 9th, 2022

Big storm December 9-12

Tahoe is known for huge storms and we were treated to one December 9th-12th with 34″ of snowfall at our house.  Luckily we purchased a new Honda snowblower this year and it made clearing the driveway so much easier.  The power was out for 14 hours which is why we also own a generator.  Gotta be prepared living up here!  The neighbors and I all got together with our Hondas and cleared the whole street after freeing a stuck truck. The arrival of plows is never something you can count on.

Aftermath of a huge Tahoe storm in our backyard, December 11, 2022

Aftermath of a huge Tahoe storm in our backyard, December 11, 2022

Dodge Ridge day trip

Our Sierra passes are good for 3 days at Dodge Ridge and we may just make it an annual pilgrimage. It’s a really fun place with interesting terrain, a really good grooming effort, and light crowds even on the Sunday before Christmas. It is big enough with enough challenge to make for a great day. This year the conditions were all-time great for this early in the season with everything open and some spectacular grooming.

Great conditions at Dodge Ridge, December 18th, 2022

Great conditions at Dodge Ridge, December 18th, 2022

The Plan

This year’s plan is to get as many of the east coast resorts done as possible in late February-early March.  We will spend 2 weeks and keep it flexible with some down days in case of bad weather, which is virtually guaranteed.  The Christmas week plan was to ski Red Mountain, BC and Whitewater, BC, but when we get pounded with snow in Tahoe it usually means it’s not snowing up there, which is exactly what happened. We didn’t want to ski those 2 areas known for great snow when it was thin, so we will have to get those late this season or wait for next year.

We are looking forward to the rest of the season and especially the adventure of bagging some more resorts on the list!

End of the 21/22 ski season

Well here we are again at the end of the 21/22 ski season. Sadly the snow has melted and the long wait begins as always.  It’s only been a week since we last skied and we miss it already!

Obligatory Mammoth summit pic - May 2022

Obligatory Mammoth summit pic – May 2022

Mammoth trip

We wrapped up the season in late May at Mammoth.  This is one of the most fun events of the year for us combining camping with our dog Sammy and skiing.  We take the trailer and camp in the forest off Mammoth Scenic Loop as close as we can get to the main lodge.  In the morning we get up early and park at the bottom of the Stump Alley Express at the Mill parking area.  They open for skiing at 7:30 AM and close at 2:00 PM so we make breakfast and get out as early as we can to get the nice firm conditions before it turns to slush after about 11AM.  They do a fantastic job farming snow and preparing the groomed runs with salt in some areas to keep the snow firm.  It really is the best late-spring skiing in North America.

The Mill parking at Mammoth, May 2022

The Mill parking at Mammoth, May 2022

 

Scotty's at Mammoth, May 2022

Scotty’s at Mammoth, May 2022

Tahoe came back

Back in mid March when we had been experiencing the worst mid-season dry spell ever, we didn’t think Mammoth would even make it to May.  But the weather pattern changed in April and it ended up having above average snowfall and was colder than normal.  This led to the best ski days of the whole year in Tahoe.  Both Heavenly and Kirkwood stayed open late and we were able to ski about every-other day until Kirkwood closed May 1st.  By April most people hang up their skis so the slopes were wonderfully empty most of the time.  We ended up with 55 total days for me and 42 for AiRung.

In early April we even got 1 day of skiing at Sierra-at-Tahoe.  They opened for a weekend for their 75th anniversary.  The skiing was horrendous because this was literally the last 2 days of the dry streak and almost all the snow had melted, but it was good seeing our old friend.

Palisades at Kirkwood, April 2022

Palisades at Kirkwood, April 2022

California run at Heavenly, April 2022

California run at Heavenly, April 2022

Last minute New Mexico trip

After our trip to Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Washington in late January, we kept things going with a quick trip to New Mexico.  We had received only 1″ of fresh snow at our house from Jan 1 to Feb 15th, but New Mexico was getting some good snow.  Due to earlier canceled trips we had some airline credits to use so we booked a last-minute trip to Taos and Santa Fe.  Luck was with us and we hit Taos on a 6″ powder day, and Santa Fe was probably the most fun ski day of the whole year.  We love that place and our stay right next to the square in the town really added to the experience.

View over to the Sandia mountains from Ski Santa Fe, February 2022

View over to the Sandia mountains from Ski Santa Fe, February 2022

Santa Fe historic square, February 2022

Santa Fe historic square, February 2022

Progress was made

We were supposed to get 5 more resorts done on the east coast this year, but our trip had to be canceled when our dog got sick while we were in New Mexico.  He’s OK, but it was a long road getting him better and we had to stick around close to home.

Even with that canceled trip we still made a pretty good showing with 8 more resorts done.  We only have 12 more to do and with some luck we hope to finish up in 3-4 more years.  These are some of the hardest resorts to get to and will all require flying.

View west from the top of chair 23 at Mammoth, May 2022

View west from the top of chair 23 at Mammoth, May 2022

Website changes

Some major changes were made to the website.  At the request of several people I put together an overall rankings page.  I hadn’t planned to do that because every resort on our list is already a winner and rankings are VERY subjective. But the people have spoken so I took a stab at it.  Rankings always get people worked up so we will see what happens!

I also ranked resorts by each of the stats we publish: Real Vertical, Size, Actual Snowfall, Lift Pods, and Trails.

The stats table for each resort was then updated. The rankings for each stat now shows if it is above or below average.  This helps to compare whatever resort review someone is reading to every other resort objectively.

Have a good summer and see you next fall!

Mid-season update: 8 more resorts done!

We just got back from another great Big Trip to Utah, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.  This trip finished up all the remaining resorts in the continental western US.  By the numbers: 15 days, 3,000 miles driven, 10 ski days, 9 resorts, and 8 that were completely new to us.  This was the most new resorts we’ve ever skied on a single trip.  Only 12 left to do!

Sampling the goods at Lost Trail Powder Mountain - January 2022

Sampling the goods at Lost Trail Powder Mountain – January 2022

These trips are fun, but they are a LOT of work.  Planning, scheduling dog sitting, driving in bad weather, checking in and out of many, many hotels, figuring out lift ticket strategies, and many other details keep us busy in the winter.

After last year’s COVID shut-out, we really felt like it was time to get back to work.  The forecast in Tahoe was for weeks of dry weather (which unfortunately continues), so it was a good time to head north and east where the snow was a little better.  Crossing the border is still difficult so we decided to ski every resort left that we could drive to in the US: Powder Mountain Utah, Lost Trail Montana, Ski Discovery Montana, Whitefish Montana, Montana Snowbowl, Silver Mountain Idaho, Schweitzer Idaho, and 49 Degrees North, Washington.

Beginner and Intermediate paradise at Powder Mountain, January 2022

Beginner and Intermediate paradise at Powder Mountain, January 2022

Highlights:

  • Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border was a real hidden gem.  This was one of the most fun days we’ve ever had on the project, with 10″ of powder and empty slopes.  This day was a great example of why we like exploring new resorts.
  • The town of Whitefish is really cool with a lot of great restaurants.  We wish we could afford a ski property there!  At the ski resort we took the mountain tour and learned all about the resort and town from some dedicated locals.  The resort has a team of 22 (!) mountain hosts who give tours and educate tourists.
  • Montana Snowbowl was another hidden gem.  It’s steep, uncrowded, and has some really interesting terrain and surprisingly good lunch fare.
  • Silver Mountain is a really interesting resort starting with the long gondola ride from and back to the town of Kellogg.  The terrain is steep with a lot of steep groomers.  There is also excellent long traverse-to terrain on the backside of Wardner Peak.
  • Schweitzer is a major resort with a great lift network, plenty of snow, steeps and grooming, and we would definitely like to go back and explore the resort more on a sunny day.  Our best lunch was at the summit sit-down restaurant there.  Great food and not expensive.
  • The steepest stuff we skied was off the Limelight Chair at Discovery.  Almost every trail off that lift is legit double-black diamond terrain.  It reminded us of Taos or Crested Butte.
  • Used all 6 pairs of skis we brought with us! One of the benefits of driving vs flying is to throw all of our skis in the sky box so we can choose the best skis for the snow conditions. Powder, firm groomer, off-piste, or icy slopes, we’ve got the ski for it!
Steep terrain off the Limelight chair at Discovery, January 2022

Steep terrain off the Limelight chair at Discovery, January 2022

Yes, there were some lowlights like being woken up at 2AM by drunk and rowdy hotel guests in Anaconda Montana. We also got yelled at by the terrain park worker at 49 Degrees North for going through the terrain park TOO FAST (who knew that was a thing??). AND at the same resort getting yelled at by a guest who almost ran into us (we were downhill, having the right of way).  Working our way through thick fog with zero visibility on steep terrain at Whitefish and Schweitzer was unsettling.  Free breakfasts at hotels — gets old very quickly.  Super late lunch (2:30) at Discovery due to big crowds in a small lodge and no other food options.  Well, these were all part of the experience and we have learned to make the best of it!

Great grooming at Silver Mountain, January 2022

Great grooming at Silver Mountain, January 2022

Tahoe is in the midst of a multi-week dry spell with no snow at all, and none on the horizon.  It looks like maybe 50 days at a minimum, which is insane after what happened in December.  Our next trip is to Vermont in early March. Based on our past experience, that means it will dump in Tahoe!  The upcoming Vermont trip will be another ambitious plan to ski 5 new resorts.

Backside of Wardner Peak at Silver Mountain, January 2022

Backside of Wardner Peak at Silver Mountain, January 2022

 

 

 

 

 

From fire to deep powder – The 21/22 season begins!

Fire

Before the ski season even began for 2021/22,  we returned from a long camping trip on the Oregon coast to the Caldor fire.  Within 2 weeks it was knocking on the door of South Lake Tahoe.  On August 29th, the fire burned through one of our favorite local resorts Sierra at Tahoe.  We were evacuated from our South Lake Tahoe home for almost 3 weeks.  Although the fire spared us due to firefighting efforts and prior forest management, this was a pretty emotional experience for us having the fire only 2 miles from our house and burning one of our big reasons for living where we do.

We will miss skiing at Sierra this year but we are hopeful it will be back next year!

Smoke from the Caldor Fire, August 2021

Smoke from the Caldor Fire, August 2021

October snow

We had great hope when October brought 10 inches of water falling from the sky.  20″ of snow fell at our house and XC skiing started very early.  However, high pressure and warm weather quickly set in and our early season snow was short lived.

First Snow - October 16th 2021

First Snow – October 16th 2021

Dry November

Ironically, November became the 2nd driest month since records were kept.  It was so warm that the resorts couldn’t even make snow to open for Thanksgiving. Boo!

Camping in Death Valley instead of skiing - December 2021

Camping in Death Valley instead of skiing – December 2021

December snow

The snow finally came back on December 9th and the storm door opened.  As of this writing all of the Tahoe resorts are sitting at well over season-to-date averages.  Some are closing in on 50% of their average yearly snowfall!  Our resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood could easily be 100% open if operations allowed for it.

Our ski season started on December 11th.  Although much later than normal, the continuous storms have already given us geat powder skiing at Heavenly just before Christmas. However, great conditions also come with the usual traffic nightmares in and around South Lake Tahoe.

XC Skiing with Sammy - December 2021

XC Skiing with Sammy – December 2021

 

Challenging driving in South Lake Tahoe - December 2021

Challenging driving in South Lake Tahoe – December 2021

Plans

Due to COVID limiting our options last year, we have some catching up to do for the project. We would like to get a couple of Montana resorts done, visit our last Utah resort, and ski 4 more resorts on the East Coast.  This is somewhat ambitious given the current COVID situation. Hopefully, with some luck we should be able to make some great progress.

In between these trips we will enjoy the well above average conditions in Tahoe, which are some of the best in North America right now.  As we sit here writing this on Christmas Eve, we hear the falling snow hitting the window and strong wind gusts outside, promising more powder on Christmas day!

Storm day powder at Heavenly - December 2021

Storm day powder at Heavenly – December 2021

 

Heavenly Powder - December 2021

Heavenly Powder – December 2021

20/21 Season wrap up

As is our tradition, we wrapped up the season with a camping/skiing trip to Mammoth after our Tahoe resorts closed for the season.  This year ended up with way below normal snowfall at Mammoth, so we had to go in early May instead of June or even July 4th.  Because of that the skiing was actually somewhat better than we are used to.  We timed it just right to get nice temps for camping and no wind, but not too warm.

Skyline at Mammoth, May 2021

Skyline at Mammoth, May 2021

Camping is a big part of the fun of these trips.  We typically camp in the woods off the Mammoth Scenic loop road.  That means we have to wait until the snow melts down below but before it melts too much up on the hill.  The lifts open at 7:30AM which is a very early start.  We leave camp and park in the Main Lodge parking lot before 7AM, have a quick breakfast, walk the dog, and then get out on the hill.  Sammy is semi-happy waiting in the trailer while we ski, and we are done by noon or 1PM when it turns to deep slush in the late spring sun.  So we get to ski, camp, and hang out with our dog which is a rare treat!

Sammy the Husky hangs out in the trailer at the Mammoth Main Lodge parking, May 2021

Sammy the Husky hangs out in the trailer at the Mammoth Main Lodge parking, May 2021

Season Wrap-up

Our last update was March 20th and after that we got another month of skiing in Tahoe, mostly at Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly.  It was almost all spring skiing though, because it snowed only 2 more times before the resorts closed, closing out a dry year with more sunny days.

Beautiful groomer at Heavenly, April 2021

Beautiful groomer at Heavenly, April 2021

AiRung’s family came up for several days of skiing over the kids’ spring break.  They made good use of their season passes this year and we all renewed our unlimited Sierra passes for next year.  We love that place!

Vicky, AiRung, and Abao spring skiing at Sierra-at-Tahoe, April 2021

Vicky, AiRung, and Abao spring skiing at Sierra-at-Tahoe, April 2021

Total days were 72 for me, and 40 for AiRung, which is a new record.  I guess we were like everyone else during Covid.  Nothing to do except go outside and ski!

Looking forward…

Our quest for new resorts this season stalled because of COVID. Next year we plan to get as many new resorts done as we can.  We’d really like to make more progress on the project after getting skunked this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late Season update

It’s been a great ski season so far!

Untracked powder at Kirkwood, March 2021

Untracked powder at Kirkwood, March 2021

As of March 20th, I have 55 days and AiRung has a respectable 29.  This year in Tahoe has been far below average as far as snowfall, currently sitting at 66% of normal averaging the 3 resorts we usually ski at: Sierra at Tahoe, Heavenly, and Kirkwood.  The snow quality has been higher than average though, with many smaller but cold storms.  We’ve only had one large storm this year vs. the 3 or so we usually get, which is the main thing this season is missing.  That has dragged down the totals.  But honestly those huge storms are a huge pain and it’s hard to even get much skiing in right after a 4-foot dump.  It takes the resorts days to dig out, fix things, and open up terrain sometimes.

Trench touring after the one big storm, January 2021

Trench touring after the one big storm, January 2021

This will be the first year we actually ski more days at Sierra at Tahoe than Heavenly and Kirkwood.  We have passes to both, but Sierra has been the best option for snow quality and depth most of the season.  Plus it’s close and just really fun.  I plan to update the Sierra review to give it a higher ranking soon.  That place is incredible with great groomers on West Bowl, steeps in Huckleberry Canyon and all over the top of the Grandview chair, and tree skiing everywhere.

Sierra at Tahoe groomer, January 2021

Sierra at Tahoe groomer, January 2021

Crowds have been really bad this year on weekends, but now that I’m retired I ski mostly weekdays which are usually only bad on powder days.  Most resorts have reported that visitation is down compared to prior years, but it doesn’t feel that way.  Lines have been long due to reduced lift capacity to allow for social distancing.  This is usually worst right when the lifts open and base area lifts are jammed with people trying to get up the mountain.

Progress on The List?

We made very little progress on the project this year due to Covid.  Our plan was to get some Montana resorts done, but as the date grew closer there were a lot of anti-masker conflicts going on in Idaho and Montana.  Instead, we used our 5 included days on the Epic pass at Vail, Beaver Creek, and Park City, which had fewer mask issues going on.  Beaver Creek was the most fun of the 3, with a powder day and lots of fun revisiting our favorite runs there.

Beaver Creek powder day, February 2021

Beaver Creek powder day, February 2021

 

The only progress we made was revisiting Bear Valley.  We had skied there last 19 years ago, and had no pictures at all.  On our several prior visits the Grizzly chair was never open, which is the main attraction.  We did a day trip in early March and had a great time.  We were able to ski the whole mountain this time, got lots of pictures, and updated the old review.  It definitely deserves a place on the list and we upped our rating to 3 stars.

 

Bear Valley, March 2021

Bear Valley, March 2021

 

 

 

 

There has been one change to The List this year.  Everyone feels like Powder Mountain, Utah should be on the list.  I’ve been there and felt like so much flat terrain made “powder days” more like “plow days”.  Still, that was more than 10 years ago and we plan to give it another chance with open minds.  The dropped resort will be Montana Snowbowl.  It looks interesting, but the ancient Riblet center pole lifts, lack of snowmaking, and lack of consistent snowfall means it will be dropped.  We will probably ski it anyway in the next couple of years and if it’s awesome we will reshuffle the list again.

 

 

 

The 20/21 season starts!

Ridge Run at Heavenly, November 2020

Ridge Run at Heavenly, November 2020

The 19/20 season was brought to a halt due to COVID-19 right as Tahoe got pounded with feet of powder.  With so much snow left on the table last season, we were looking to start the 20/21 season off strong!  Luckily this year we had a good combination of average snowfall and below normal temps.  This gave the Tahoe resorts the ability to open by Thanksgiving with a decent amount of terrain and plenty of precautions for COVID-19.

Sierra at Tahoe groomer, November 2020

Sierra at Tahoe groomer, November 2020

Our season opening week brought us to 3 different Tahoe resorts: Heavenly, Mt. Rose, and Sierra at Tahoe.  We have our usual Epic Tahoe Local passes for Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar and this year we topped it off with passes to Sierra at Tahoe so we can ski on holidays.  We are really pleased with the decision to buy Sierra passes because the resort opened one day before Thanksgiving with the best snow of the 3.  Heavenly started out strong but their early opening and popularity turned the open runs without snowmaking into rocky hell in short order. Mt. Rose was a surprised add because it opened for non-passholder skiing on Monday selling half-day tickets. We took advantage of the bargain $50 afternoon tickets and were able to ski some nice open terrain in the front side, although hitting some random rocks. 

Heavenly bump skiing, November 2020

Heavenly bump skiing, November 2020

This season we will try to get some of the Northern Rockies resorts in Montana and Idaho done if Covid doesn’t shut us down.  We don’t expect to be able to do more than 4 new resorts, but no matter what happens we will be playing in the snow!

Family XC Skiing at Grass Lake, November 2020

Family XC Skiing at Grass Lake, November 2020

 

 

An abrupt end to the 2019/2020 ski season

Top of Snowbasin Utah, February 2020

Top of Snowbasin Utah, February 2020

Well everyone on planet Earth will remember how the world changed in March 2020.  The coronavirus ended our season 2 months early this year.  At first Vail said they might reopen Heavenly in May, but it doesn’t look like there is any way ANY ski resorts will open back up before the snow melts.  For me, 36 days isn’t terrible, but compared to last year… ouch!  We got 4 new resorts done: Steamboat, Tamarack, Beaver Mountain, and Sunlight.

Our Big Trip this year started in Tahoe with some really low-tide skiing at Kirkwood and Heavenly in late February.  The last snow had been more than a month before, so that meant skiing on the good ol’ ice skis.  We love our ice skis, but they sure got a workout this year!

We were expecting things to improve dramatically in Utah, but our first day at Snowbasin was … icy.  Luckily, our next day at Beaver Mountain in far northern Utah just a mile from the Idaho border was one of the best of the year.  It was one of those rare all-day powder days when you get fresh tracks all day long.  This place is another one of the great discoveries we have made on the project, and we will definitely be going back there someday.

AiRung at Beaver Mountain Utah, February 2020

AiRung at Beaver Mountain Utah, February 2020

Back to Snowbasin the next day, and this is where we got exposed to something.  We were riding the gondola all day and there were a couple of sick people on with us.  Within 2 days we were in bad shape.  At this time (late February) we weren’t even thinking about Coronavirus, but who knows?  A week later it was everywhere.  This made our day at Sunlight in Colorado pretty unpleasant, but we toughed it out so we could do a review.  Now of course the world has changed and if you are sick you self-quarantine, but not then.  Luckily Sunlight has old double chairs so we were never close to anyone else anyway.

Mt. Wilson Colorado, March 2020

Mt. Wilson Colorado, March 2020

Whatever it was, we got over it pretty quickly and by the 2nd day at Telluride we were just fine.  After that one powder day at Beaver Mountain, the rest of the trip was snowless unfortunately, but I did get to at least knock off a bucket list item on that visit to Telluride.  The Gold Hill stairs and Chutes were something I have been looking at for years, but I never got the motivation up to try in previous trips.  It’s steep and exposed up there, and it’s a long hike from the top of the Revelation chair.  What an experience it was though!  Incredible views and some really impressive avalanche chute skiing that very few people ski.

Gold Hill stairs at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill stairs at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill Chute #9 at Telluride, March 2020

Gold Hill Chute #9 at Telluride, March 2020

Around March 14th it FINALLY decided to snow again in Tahoe.  That was a Saturday and that was the last day our local resorts were open.  This was particularly cruel because over the next 4 days it snowed over 60″ at Heavenly and up to twice that on the other side of the lake.  Just at our house at 6450′ we got 53″.  This was followed by a few smaller storms and another big one, turning March into an official “Miracle March”, with over 100″ of snow at most of the resorts.  If only they were open!

60" of untracked powder on the runs at Heavenly, March 2020

60″ of untracked powder on the runs at Heavenly, March 2020

Instead, I did some backcountry skiing, including a day at Waterhouse on Luther Pass and 2 days on the Stagecoach part of Heavenly.  This was actually some of the best powder skiing of the year, but it is a LOT of work climbing up over 1500′ for a single run that is over all too soon.

Climbing up at Heavenly, March 2020

Climbing up at Heavenly, March 2020

Heavenly Stagecoach run, March 2020

Heavenly Stagecoach run, March 2020

With all that snow the XC skiing around our house was good until the last of it melted in mid-April.  This may be the first year I actually did more XC ski days than downhill!  Sammy enjoyed it at least.

XC skiing near our house April 10th, 2020

XC skiing near our house April 10th, 2020

Highlights of this year were the days at Tamarack, Idaho and Beaver Mountain, Utah which were both uncrowded powder paradises.  Those are the memories we will hold onto for this season that will have to tide us over until the world gets back to normal again.  We still have 18 more resorts to do, so plenty of adventures yet to come!

Four Corners on the way home, March 2020

Four Corners on the way home, March 2020

Mid-season update

After some great Christmas skiing in Tahoe and 3 consecutive powder days in mid-January, we headed out on our second trip of the ski season. We returned to one of our favorites: Sun Valley and hit our 2nd new resort of this ski season: Tamarack.

Heavenly powder in the trees, January 2020

Heavenly powder in the trees, January 2020

This was the first time we ever flew into Boise and we discovered that it’s a super easy and quick flight from San Jose.  In fact we think Boise is the best airport experience we have ever had.  It took about 5 minutes for us to pick up the keys to our rental car and when we got to the luggage area it was already waiting for us.  Within 20 minutes of landing we were on the road to Hailey.  The drive on highway 20 through southern Idaho is very scenic and empty.  Some day we would like to try Soldier Mountain which is a small resort between Sun Valley and Boise.

Sun Valley Selfie, February 2020

Sun Valley Selfie, February 2020

We had 3 days at Sun Valley and the truth is that the conditions weren’t very good.  It had been very warm the week before, and then on the 2nd day of skiing it got really cold and windy.  Although they have great grooming there, you can’t really effectively groom compacted ice.  Still, the overall experience was fun because we got a lot of skiing in with zero lines, and cold sunny weather to enjoy the fantastic views.

Sun Valley wind, February 2020

Sun Valley wind, February 2020

Tamarack was a welcome change, with 2″ of fresh at the start of the day about about 3″ more by the end.  It warmed up while it was snowing, and conditions were soft and prime.  This was one of the best days of the season so far, and we were super impressed with the resort and would love to return some day.  We figure there were only about 100 people skiing that day and with the size of the resort it felt like our own private playground.

Hero snow at Tamarack, February 2020

Hero snow at Tamarack, February 2020

Since the last powder day in Tahoe over a month ago, it hasn’t snowed more than 2-4″ so we will have to look forward to our next trip to snowy Utah and Colorado, which are both experiencing above-average snowfall.  We will be visiting 2 more new resorts and a couple of old favorites.  Can’t wait to get on the road again!