Lake Tahoe, CA 1/12-25/2017

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Lake Tahoe, CA 1/12-25/2017

Postby tseeb » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:13 am

Notes: Edited on 1/28 to cleanup dates as I skied Northstar Mon, Tues plus Wed morning and my skiing ended Fri.
May add some pictures from 1/12-13 trip after completing 1/23-1/27 trip report.
Edited on 1/29 to add some of my limited pictures from 1/12-13 trip and to change end of report on 1/25
Edited on 1/31 as I found more pictures from 1/12 at Heavenly

I'm really late posting some of this, but here goes:
Heavenly 1/12/2017 Instead of driving up in the early AM as I did previous week, I left San Jose about 2 pm Wednesday and got to Tahoe at 6:30 PM after about 30 mile of chain control. I shoveled for about 20 minutes on the 3+ foot snowbank separating our driveway from the street. Then using neighbor's driveway, I post-holed through about 24" of snow to get into cabin where I slept in fold-out couch in living room to be able to hear and move my car if snowplow came in the night.

I caught first tram at Heavenly and skied powder on Gunbarrel and the Face for three laps. Heavenly reported 20" new after 48" each of the two previous days, but it did not ski that deep as lower mountain was open during storm and I found a rock or two in Hogsback. Then I went up and skied three laps on Powder Bowl chair which was as high as Heavenly opened all day. (They had rimed and buried chairs higher on mountain and I heard cats were getting stuck trying to get staff up to them.) First I skied Powder Bowl Woods, then I skied in trees to left of Waterfall and seeing that line was quickly building, for my last AM lap I hiked above top of where (long removed) Waterfall chair used to unload for some deep untracked to the right of Waterfall.
Then I skied the lower mountain, moving from Gunbarrel chair to the Tram when line at chair got too long.
I did a few laps using Patsy's chair and a short hike to Upper Roundabout where there was a lot of untracked and also took one lap into Avalanche Bowl (looker's right in previous picture).

They opened Groove after noon (picture of Powder Bowl 6-pack chair line at 1222 - I'm in much shorter Groove line)
and I did the short hike above the top to get first tracks going off the East side as everyone else was going S or W.
I did that hike a couple of more times, going E once more, then finally going S to see what everyone was hitting there. I pushed the S boundary line a few times, but never followed temptation to poach the big untracked area below one section of Roundabout that probably requires some hiking to get back.

A lot of people, mostly snowboarders were hiking up the old T-bar line NE of the top of the tram, past and above not-running handle tow. I finally tried it and it took me 35 minutes to gain 400 feet of elevation. Nobody passed me, but I let 4 people catch me while recovering at the top. None of us had done it before. I found some good deep, almost untracked that reminded me of my first time into Firebreak, a 3K vertical side-country run with similar exposure and big trees that is about 1/2-3/4 mi. N of this run that dropped in Avalanche Bowl. Picture from top of hike

After getting one more lap on Powder Bowl when line finally when down at 3:30, I quit after 4 PM with 23K. I needed a couple of people to push for me to get out of parking space. Not only had I nosed into snowbank,
but a truck was parked close next to me and my back end wanted to go that way. After my 3rd or 4th 15-20 min of shoveling, I was able to get my SUV off the street although neighbor kept making it tough to get in and out by parking his large truck on street across from our driveway.

Kirkwood 1/13/2017
While I could have stayed at Heavenly, they were only supposed to add Canyon on CA and Stagecoach and Olympic on NV. While the two NV lifts should give you Firebreak, but without the Gondola it requires a shuttle that I later heard developed hours-long lines. Kirkwood reported 5-7" new on top of enough feet over the last few days to close highway on both sides for multiple days had run Cornice lift and was scheduled to add the Wall. Rather than line-up at the not-running Wall, I took three laps on Cornice, twice hiking towards the corner of Wagon Wheel Bowl, where I skied off a huge cornice. The snow did not ski that deep as it was wind-affected and must have settled overnight. The Palisades skied better as without going out very far I found very consistent 10" deep untracked wind-sift.

The Wall opened a little after 10 with about 200 people lined up. I skied it four laps. A lot of the usual rocky entrances were well-covered and many people where using them. I took a higher than usual entrance off road and endured very bumpy traverse to get to Notch chute where I found better snow on ridges above chute than in it. Next I went over to top of Notch chute, where I had to ask some people why the were carrying there skis instead of keeping metal edges under them on icy walk to entrance where you did have to remove skis to down-climb 20 feet. Once past a very icy area, snow was good. One lap I went above top of still closed Eagle Bowl and found snow was icy in places due to Evil East Wind. My last lap, I went around the back of the Wall and I and a few other looked into Sisters Chute, that I had skied a week earlier, but we all declined to try it. This accidental selfie came out better than the ones I took. I don't think it was snowing - this was all from blowing snow or face-shots.

I quit at 12:30 with almost 13K vertical with another lap into Palisades where I went out further to find untracked. I was on road at 1 and hung around the closed Carson Spur until 1:30 PM hoping it was going to open. I followed a Caltrans truck to the closure gate and after making sure it was not going to open in the next hour or two, drove the 25 miles back to US-50 for longer/open route home. Since I was so late getting into San Jose, I hit some traffic and it was about 6:30 before I got home and did not even have time to totally unpack as I had to leave before 7 AM for SFO-PVR flight where my wife and I celebrated our 27th anniversary with a week in Puerto Vallarta. My wife got three massages and attended a cooking class while I took two mountain bike tours and did an hour SUP.

Northstar 1/23/2017
I left home at 5:10 and didn't get to Northstar until 5 hrs later (50 miles of chain control on I-80 beginning at Colfax). I also had to park at Castle Peak remote lot, but with 29" new in last 24 hours on top of 4-5 FEET over previous 4 days it all was worth it. Some powder every run and a lot of untracked on most runs even with late start. Note that friend is 6-4.

I quit about 4 with 24K vertical. I hit run in this picture 4x, once coming from Lookout and 3x by being the 3rd, 4th and 5th person doing short hike into an entry off a steep knoll.

I could have gone to Heavenly instead as US-50 opened 30 minutes before I got to Sacramento, but I did not want to deal with all the 2-lane road or have to shovel and post-hole into cabin after skiing. I will add more pictures from this and two previous days when I have more time AND Internet access. This picture of snowbanks around my friend's house was taken after returning from hot tub at his neighbor's house where banks are even higher.

Northstar 1/24/2017
Following is a copy of post made to EpicSki with some additions:
Sorry to hear about the patroller who died at Squaw while working to safely open the mountain for us.

Today at Northstar was nearly as good as yesterday for powder even though they only reported 2" new in last 24 hours. The cold temperatures helped and you had to go a little farther out and sometimes settle for shorter stretches of it. I now have 8 days in CA in Jan, with all-day powder on 7 of them and the last 6 only using my powder skis.

Traffic was slow from I-80 to the 1st light on 267 and parking was getting full even though we arrived not much after 8:30. I was with Don, the snowboarding friend I was staying with and Lenny, his neighbor who telemarks. We took 4 laps on Martis where they were not letting you go right at the top of the lift although you could traverse under it and get to most of the terrain. After Don quit, Lenny and I moved to the Backside where we found untracked by going right at the top then going left of the run, then some steeper lightly tracked in trees past follow me. The biggest (and almost only - see below) line I experienced was for Tost, the free 2 pm champagne toast on East Ridge.

After leaving that I skied mostly untracked down a place I would not share on the Internet and went up Zephyr and skied glades to far skiers right going down to Martis. When I got to chair, it was not running. There were about 50 people waiting and I heard it had been stopped for 5 minutes. They eventually announced it was a power failure and asked everyone to line up at road where buses would pick us up and return us to Village. They were having problem arranging buses, let alone getting access for them to gated community where base of lift is located. I never took off my skis and they eventually started lift on Evac power and let us go up. I later heard that all lifts may have been affected along with communities of Kings Beach and Truckee.

I was about 10 minutes late to scheduled 3:30 PM hot tub at friend's neighbor's house. Neighbor was not there as he went out when he returned to no power, but showed up a few minutes later. We had a few more outages this evening where I'm staying a couple of miles N of Truckee including one that started just before 6 and was about an hour long. Luckily dinner was far enough along that we could finish it on gas stove and eat it by candlelight.
Last edited by tseeb on Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Lake Tahoe, CA 1/12-27/2017

Postby tseeb » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:57 am

Northstar, CA and Heavenly, NV and CA 1/25/2017

There was some traffic on 267 from I-80 to the 1st light on 267, but it was better than on Tuesday. After first getting f-bombed by guy who turned around slower than me at end of parking and thought I stole his spot (he could have had it as it came with a No Parking Tow-away sign), I was able to squeeze between two vehicles that left enough space for another in parking close to Village. I could not tell if Highlands (pulse) gondola was running so I took longer walk for faster Village gondola that I got on before 9.

Since my snowboarding friend was a little behind me due to requiring a shuttle, I went up (name not shared) chair and pushed further into glades I had skied four times the previous day and found totally untracked.
I tried to catch up with Don, who was skiing Zephyr lift (shack at top of Zephyr)
with some local friends, but I found a good route through powder that started low-angle where I made all three of these tracks,
then got steeper before ending with a groomer and they were skiing faster than I expected so we stayed out of sync. Don and I eventually met up at top of mountain where we skied four laps on Comstock. Twice we skied under the lift, hitting some leftover powder that was steep at the top, then barely steep enough to make turns the rest of the way down. We skied similar terrain next to Toninni's with his neighbor, then for my last Northstar run, I led them into same glades where I had started my day. I found another good, very light tracked line, especially towards bottom where it was shaded and untracked. I gave both my poles to my snowboarding friend for the short, slight uphill on the exit and shared poles with other friend as it was too narrow to skate. I skied down to Village with 13.5K and was on the road to South Lake Tahoe before 12:30.

EpicMix shows me boarding Heavenly's Stagecoach lift at 1:30. A friend said his phone's battery was weak, but he would meet me at Tamarack at 2. I made it there did not see him. I walked through lodge and bar looking for him, then took a lap on chair before riding chair again and skiing to CA via glades between CA trail and Pinnacle, then Maggie's Canyon. I rode up Powder Bowl and Sky chair and led two boarders who I rode Sky with and needed to return to Boulder base into high entrance to Milky Way Bowl where snow was mostly skied out. We found Mott Canyon gate open, even though it was a couple of minutes after 3 PM close so I led them down an easier route where snow was very good as it had only been open a day or two. The run at looker's right (just visible left of tree at right in this picture) has a Cliff Area sign hanging from a cable that is usually very high above rocks, but looks filled in this year.
After riding Mott, I took NV trail to Stagecoach base, rode up and did a couple of laps on Olympic. It had started to snow very lightly when I arrived and had been snowing harder and steadily since about 2.

I debated whether to ski Olympic until closing vs. or in addition to taking the 3100' vertical Firebreak side-country run to gondola base. At 3:50, I went for Firebreak which I had not skied since 2013. I found a boarder sitting near the top drinking a beer. He said had done it a couple of times already and offered me his last beer. I accepted, then declined, but we agreed to partner going down. Snow and terrain was not as good as I remembered, except towards the bottom where we got left of rocky knoll and ridge where most people go right. There I found nearly untracked burnt trees on last pitch that skied well even though elevation was below 7,000'.
I hit the exit just barely too low and after short walk from where I took off my skis near gondola base, I only waited two minutes for long shuttle that returned me to my car. Heavenly vertical was 11.8K so my day was over 25K.
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Re: Lake Tahoe, CA 1/12-25/2017

Postby tseeb » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:18 pm

Since adding pictures to the previous post, put my over the picture limit, I'm adding this one from 1/13 back in a reply.

Picture is of one of the slides above Red Lake on the E side of Carson Pass.
Carson Pass and Carson Spur, CA-88 the only access to E and W to/from Kirkwood, respectively, were closed a lot during Jan storms. I think the longest the Pass was closed was a day and a half before they convoyed vehicles out towards South Tahoe. The Spur was closed for three days at least twice. Ten days after most recent snowfall, Highway 89 around Emerald Bay is the only remaining closure other than passes that close for winter.
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