South Lake Tahoe, CA 2/10-12/2017

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South Lake Tahoe, CA 2/10-12/2017

Postby tseeb » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:58 am

Heavenly 2/10/2017 (28" new with 24" reported overnight and 65" in last week - no pictures from this day)
My son and I left San Jose about 5:15 and other than stopping for gas at a truck stop that did not have power and hitting some traffic approaching Sacramento, we were doing great until a couple of hundred feet before Echo Summit where we had a 90 minute delay for avalanche control (~930-11). We drove back to Sierra where we had a couple of free tickets, but heard from someone leaving that they were only running Nob Hill and that parking was a mess with only one lot plowed. So we got back in line near summit which had not grown much as traffic must have been being held. We had further delays getting down 50 to Meyers and some flooded roads in SLT but got to Heavenly before noon. We would have liked to have gone to Kirkwood (reported 25" new and overnight and 64" in last week), but Carson Spur was closed and they had announced they would not open chairs 5 and 7 until 10:30 and 6 until 11:30. And we did not want more time in the car including a lot of chain control and some one-lane between Caples Lake and Kirkwood. I later heard Kirkwood opened 5 and 7 after 11 and did not load 6 until 2:30.

We skied deep, heavy powder on lower mountain lapping Tram or Gunbarrel with Groove until line for Powder Bowl went down after 3. The NV side opened late then closed due to power problems for at least the 4th time in last two years when I have been there. Power outage persisted into evening as Lower Kingsbury was dark when we tried to go to dinner there. Signs said Canyon and Sky, the top CA chairs were closed due to wind, but it seemed like lack of effort/staffing as there was no wind in PM. Highlights were in area between Advanced Roundabout and Hogsback where we had some steep turns in lightly tracked. The one hike we took to knoll above top of Groove did not pay off that well at the top as we gave some of the altitude getting through very narrow track between rocks created by sideways snowboarders. Lower down we did have a lot of lightly tracked, but you needed to be careful crossing tracks that often made wide and deep trenches in the wet snow. We skied until after 4 and I counted almost 13K vertical.

Heavenly 2/11/2017 (13" new with 3" reported overnight and 67" in last week)
Again, we would have liked to have gone to Kirkwood, but we did not get out of cabin until 8 so we returned to Heavenly. (And somebody posted on TGR that not only did Kirkwood run out of parking, but also ran out of food at some places.) We got in short line for tram about 8:20, but CA lifts were 15 minutes late opening which meant our wait on cold and icy cement was over 30 minutes instead of the 15 it should have been for 2nd tram. We went straight to Canyon and got 6 laps before crowds drove us lower.chair
Our first two laps we skied non-stop to get as much untracked as possible. Then we took two slightly slower laps before doing long traverse to either side of Ellie's for last two laps.
This picture was taken at 10:55 when we did not take Canyon. I timed line at 12 minutes on our last lap.
We found top of Face nearly smooth and snow was good enough that we braved Gunbarrel which had moderate bumps that got very firm towards the bottom where they had received a lot of r--n. We also skied Advanced Roundabout that I was surprised to find had been groomed and even groomed very widely in a couple of spots. Then we took one Face run all the way down and found it better than Gunbarrel although it also got firm before getting to groomed area under race course lift at bottom.

We heard Sky had opened so we went back up the mountain and rode Canyon three more times since line had moved to Sky and found some overlooked untracked between Ridge Run and the lift. Once we did go up Sky, I could not believe how many people were (mostly stopped) on Skyline trail to NV and how bad the visibility was. Our first time up, we went down Pinnacles and I experienced vertigo a couple of times before getting to trees where there was still room for some tracks. At the top you were happy to have anybody in sight so you could tell what was ahead (or if you were still on run). Our next time up we went to NV via Milky Way Bowl where visibility was near zero and the hair sticking out of my son's helmet and my beard got rimed.
We had a great nearly untracked run returning to CA via S-facing slope high above Maggie's Canyon. The only problem was my iPhone would not stay on long enough in cold to get picture of my son when he got decent air in powder over a steep drop that I had spotted.
I should've had my camera. We skied to CA base and quit at 3 with 22K.

Kirkwood 2/12/2017
We finally made it to Kirkwood at it was on our way (and the only reasonable way with US-50 closed due to slides) home. After packing, cleaning and closing up cabin it was 8:45 before we got on the road. There were a couple of slowdowns with the biggest one not too bad for chain control at base of Carson Pass. I've seen worse traffic turning into Kirkwood, but it was still slow enough that I parked well before Timber Creek base. After walking nearly 1/2 mile to lift, we loaded at 10:25. We skied to and went up Cornice where line was moderate, but long enough that we moved to uncrowded Wall.

Kirkwood (and Heavenly) had been hit with Evil East Winds that gusted to 80 mph overnight. They had done a lot of work to put road back in at top of the Wall, but it left a lot of chunks on the steep face at top. Our first run we took very icy traverse into Headwaters where we found some great windsift. Our next two found we found slightly better entrances at top, then skied more windsift that was re-filling. The lower half of run we skied that I thought was once signed as Waterfall, but when friend we met up with later questioned that, I see map says Dick's Drop, probably named after Dick Reuter, Squaw's mountain manager after the Olympics, one of Kirkwood's founders and Coop's father-in-law.
Dick's Drop is usually rocky, but now is very filled in and even though crusted snow was not very smooth, it's steep enough and had enough windsift to ski well. We came down it 4 of the 5 times we rode the Wall. Just before noon we rode chair 2 that had a moderate line. Partway up, we could see the Backside lift had opened for the first time since latest storm cycle. The line there was out of the maze our first two laps, but first time I timed it at 'only' 10 minutes and it went down from there. We never skied most of Backside as we dropped into Thunder Saddle all three times we rode it, including taking challenging Hell's Delight on 2nd lap. For our last chair 2/chair 4 lap we met up with friend whose family has had cabin in Kirkwood for a long time. He offered a place to stay if we'd help shovel some of the 10' of waterlogged snow of his deck. To get to his cabin requires climbing a near 20' vertical wall from parking. But my son had to work Monday and my wife needed a ride to/from SJC for 630 AM flight to LAX to work in Torrance for the day so we quit with almost 17K and got on road about 3:30. Traffic going W on 88 moved well especially considering everyone returning to Central Valley and Bay Area from Heavenly and Sierra were also on it.
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Re: South Lake Tahoe, CA 2/10-12/2017

Postby tseeb » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:12 am

I meant to include a comment on the last picture of my son skiing about the chute behind him and to lookers right that you can see exiting behind rock (not the one directly above him that also had a track). We saw Jr ski team skiing it early in the day and I wondered if it was wide enough for turns using 180+ length skis. Then on our last time in that area we saw somebody do it very raggedly and thought we could do it better, but decided against doing it so late in the day. My friend says it's called Pencil Chute. It is very filled in and much easier than most years.

Following are pictures my son took of me at Heavenly Saturday afternoon. The first three are coming off an untracked knoll we found after 1 pm near the bottom of Canyon chair. The last one was taken at 2:40 and must have been in the S-facing on our return from NV. All were taken after I had switched from mid 110-width powder skis to mid 90-width all-round skis. In all the pictures of my son, he is skiing Volkyl 74-width 724s that a friend gave me that I thought I had worn out.
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Re: South Lake Tahoe, CA 2/10-12/2017

Postby q » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:35 am

Looks fantastic out there this year!
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