After skiing Kirkwood on Sunday, I did the nearly 2 hour drive to Reno, with a stop for $3.65 gas in Minden (CA’s cheapest gas is over $4). I got to Reno about 5 pm, an hour ahead of Tony Crocker who skied Mammoth. We are both here for the EpicSki Tahoe gathering. There was a kickoff party in ski shop in the hotel, followed by an after party, but I was tired and barely made it through the kickoff. When I looked out the window Monday morning it was snowing and from the 10th floor it looked like there was already an inch or two new on the ground. This was the first of four days of predicted storms and was only supposed to be 1-3” at 6,000 feet and 2-5” over the crest. It over-delivered, as it snowed hard most of the day at Alpine, and by the end of the day at least 8” had fallen.
We were supposed to meet at Alpine at 9 am, but due to snowy roads that too many people could not stay on and a little late start, it was closer to 9:30 where we arrived. We still were able to join a large EpicSki group at the Summit chair. We started with a warm-up run on Alpine Bowl, where I tried the powder on the left side. At this time it was only 2-3” so you always found the hard layer. Lower down on the right side it was a little deeper. Next run we went into Yellow Chair area and found 3-4” inches new untracked snow. We went to Scott Chair and did Bobby’s, then Ridge into Chute that Seldom Slides with a too long bathroom break in between. Next we went left at the top of Scotts into Gentian Gully. Getting to the top of the run was bad, especially when you have a group of ten and the first one through uncovers rocks. I was second and managed to get through OK, but it took a while for everyone. Then I tried to take a couple turns into a steep area off the ridge to the right and went down hard on firm layer above some steep rocks. I was pointing in the wrong direction, but made a turn and got out of it.
There was some good untracked in Gentian Gully. I stayed a little right of the group. The guide and one other person went to the left of rock ridge near the bottom. Tony Crocker followed me to the right, where I had good snow and coverage about three weeks earlier. We were the first tracks into the area and I set the traverse out. We got to the bottom of where the guide and one follower was coming down in time to see him tumble into and get stuck in some willows. The rest of the group followed where I had gone. We had a rocky traverse to the base then went up Roundhouse and did Yellow Cliffs. The snow was getting deeper, about 6” in most places, but there was not enough to get to the Tiegel Chutes so we skied some trees past base of Yellow chair. While the group went in for lunch, Tony and I took one more quick lap on Roundhouse where we joined three small, mostly untracked knolls. He found one rock at the top of a knoll, but it was we were not really moving.
After lunch we took two more laps on Roundhouse, then two on the Wolverwine Bowl side of Summit. The bowl, D7 chute and trees at far side of the bowl all skied well and I got my first face shot of the day. The lower half of Summit was more problematic as Face and Waterfall were very thin and rocks now barely covered. First time, we went under the Sisters and found OK but somewhat tracked snow. Next time we went further out and a few people had rock problems including our guide who crashed on a rock, bruised his hip and got a core shot on new Moments; Tony Crocker, who got a core shot or two; and one other skier who double ejected on top of a rock pile and was luckily unhurt. I went farther left and found untracked and only uncovered one rock.
Our guide was done for the day so one of the other guys and I, both with some Alpine experience, took over. We were going to try Peter’s Peril to Gunnar’s Knob, but ran into another of the group at the top who said patrol said Lower Saddle was open and untracked. It was about a 15 minute hike from the top of not-running Alpine Bowl chair, but once out that way you were committed as only other way open was Palisades, which looked good at top, but I knew got very steep and rocky. Our group included three ladies and everyone did great on the hike. The Lower Saddle was very good, but too short. Spencer kept us all to the right side of bowl as he was concerned about rollover on steeper left side sliding. At the bottom we took traverse across High Yellow Gully, into lower Our Father, where deepest and best snow of the day was enjoyed by all. Then Spencer tried cutting across a creek at the bottom to get to some more turns on Yellow, but got stuck in it for about 15 minutes. At least he did not get wet. I had crossed higher on a little snow bridge and did not have a problem. We stayed above the closed signs and did get a few more turns on Yellow, staying above the creek. My watch counted 15.7K