Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

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Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby tseeb » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:53 am

Friday 4/19/19
A friend who retired from the same place as I bought out his siblings and step-siblings and now owns cabin his family built at Kirkwood 45 years ago. There is still a lot of snow at Kirkwood which planned to close April 7, but after receiving nearly 24’ in Febru-buried extended daily operations to April 14 and re-opened for April 19-21. They had announced it would only be chairs 5 (Solitude which I don’t think I rode all season), 6 (high-speed with over 1300 vertical and some steeps, but a lot of E-facing), 7 (hi-speed but low on mountain and not steep) and 11 (bottom half of the Wall). But they rushed some maintenance on chair 10, The Wall, their best lift for holding good snow into afternoon during Spring skiing, and on Thursday announced it would re-open.
7563DanTruckSnowbankGregsCabin.JPG
Friend who is still working (at same place where other two of us retired from) and I left San Jose about 5:45. After unloading a little and picking up friend at his cabin, we parked at Timber Creek base and were on lift before 9:45. We took one groomer on Cornice before moving to The Wall, which needed more softening. We returned to Cornice which EpicMix says we rode six times. Snow stayed good, even though it was sunny and warmed quickly. I think we did Sentinel a couple of times before hitting the steep face (a cliff in low-snow years) between Olympic and Janek from each run and from what my friend thinks is Stump Run off Olympic. We also stopped by Kirkwood’s Hole-in-the-Rock where my friend took a selfie that included one of the Sentinels through the hole.
TonyGreg_HoleInRockSelfie.jpg
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7570GregOnSteepFace.JPG
After a break at Monty Wolf that was longer than I wanted to take on such a warm day, we skied The Wall twice. Both times we entered from looker’s left at the top and I went across the top of closed (due wet slide danger?) Eagle Bowl and over the top of Norms Nose. Snow was excellent. But we had noticed an employee on top of the cage above the bullwheel at the top of the lift (is that an OSHA violation when lift is running?) and next time down it was closed so we moved to 11/The Reut for two laps. I’m not sure it they had replaced the bullwheel or only the bearing, but whatever work was done may have to be re-done as others reported bearing was noisier that it should have been.

We moved to Cornice for three more laps that probably included more of Olympic and steep face between it and Janek. There were a couple of sticky spots so we quit at 2:30 and skied to 7800 where other friend, who said lower angle chair 7 skied well until 3, picked us up. EpicMix, after removing an extra Wall lap, counted 16 lifts and over 20.5K.
7573GregsCabinRoof.JPG
Cabins at Kirkwood need to be designed and built to handle almost 600" of snow this year, almost 700" in 16-17 and over 900" in 10-11 using numbers from https://opensnow.com/dailysnow/tahoe/post/15232
7580SunsetFromCabin.JPG
Sunset over Sierra Crest from friend's cabin
Saturday 4/20/19
A weak storm had been predicted to bring r--n about noon that was supposed to change to snow (at 36 degrees) later in PM so we got out early and parked not too far from Cornice lift that we loaded shortly after 9. Even though there was not much of an overnight freeze the E-facing groomed Zachary was very good and N-facing Sentinel was firm. After three Cornice laps, where at top the visibility was marginal and wind gusty, we moved to the Reut where we did 4 laps, skiing all the runs between Shoitgun and Conestoga (except for Snowsnake Gully). All had good to excellent surface. While my phone showed the storm coming later, it had other ideas and we started get wet about 11. Precipation turned to snow about halfway up Cornice ~8500’. We did two laps, included one where we skied one of the gullies that drops off Sentinel and goes past a cave where some people where celebrating 4/20. We were lucky that we had just loaded chair and were still under the structure at base when there was an extended stoppage. People who we in line or ahead of us on the chair got wet. We quit at 11:30 and EpicMix (which seems to have worked far better for me at Kirkwood than at Heavenly or Northstar this season) counted 12 lifts and 13,350’. While it would have been nice to have been there for closing day, which was a return to Spring and usually features friend of my friend BBQing and making sandwiches out of a large piece of beef, I returned home in the interest of domestic tranquility and helped my wife as we had her son and family and in-laws for a total of 10 for Easter dinner.

I thought we would be skiing more tight spots so the only skis I brought were 88-waist Head Rev3s demos that I bought for $45 when I was having binding problems (due to ice inside binding) earlier in year. Since Kirkwood had received 4-5” new when they were closed that had consolidated to 1-2” of heavy snow and we were skiing more open groomers, I should have had bigger skis. But my longer 94-waist skis needed a wax that I didn’t have time to do and I thought we were going in friend’s sedan which meant I could only fit one pair. At least I didn’t make mistake friend whose cabin we stayed did as he left his skis and poles under cover in friend’s truck which we didn’t realize until we we over an hour away. Good thing he had found a pair of Nordica skis with demo bindings and poles in Kirkwood dumpster that he waxed and adjusted to use on Sunday.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby baldyskier » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:25 pm

Nice report, tseeb. I had to chuckle at your friend salvaging some skis from a dumpster when he forgot his own. I left my skis at a friend's house north of Salt Lake City back in January and didn't realize it until I had gotten all the way up to Alta. It was a storm day, and the road was closed behind me soon after I arrived. I didn't think to look in a dumpster for a backup pair, lol. I rented skis from the shop at Alta and had a great morning. Unfortunately, they shut down the lifts for the day once the road reopened at about 12:45 PM in an effort to clear the mountain of day traffic before the storm came back stronger.

What would you expect Squaw/Alpine to be like next week? I have 2 days there and 2 days at Mammoth on my MC Pass, and am considering taking a road trip.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby tseeb » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:09 pm

Note that my friend had to use skis and poles he had already found in dumpster at Kirkwood. He did not find them after leaving his skis in other friend's truck.

Alpine is only open Fri-Sun and no Scott or Sherwood which give you S and W-facing for early and late in day so keep that in mind. KT at Squaw is scheduled to be open through 5/12. Red Dog and Squaw Creek and I think Headwall and know Silverado are already done for season, so the high-altitude lifts with some steeps are Granite Chief (slow lift) and Siberia (where a little hiking gets you top of Headwall and more hiking gets you Palisades where National Chute had a tough looking entrance with big cornice almost two weeks ago). I may be there on Monday, but will have to leave by 2 pm which is probably later than it will be good. Mammoth likely much better so you may want to go to Tahoe first to avoid disappointment.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby baldyskier » Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:50 am

tseeb wrote:Note that my friend had to use skis and poles he had already found in dumpster at Kirkwood. He did not find them after leaving his skis in other friend's truck.

Alpine is only open Fri-Sun and no Scott or Sherwood which give you S and W-facing for early and late in day so keep that in mind. KT at Squaw is scheduled to be open through 5/12. Red Dog and Squaw Creek and I think Headwall and know Silverado are already done for season, so the high-altitude lifts with some steeps are Granite Chief (slow lift) and Siberia (where a little hiking gets you top of Headwall and more hiking gets you Palisades where National Chute had a tough looking entrance with big cornice almost two weeks ago). I may be there on Monday, but will have to leave by 2 pm which is probably later than it will be good. Mammoth likely much better so you may want to go to Tahoe first to avoid disappointment.


Thanks. Maybe I'll skip Squaw. I'm coming from LA, so Mammoth is closer.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby tseeb » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:43 am

baldyskier wrote:Thanks. Maybe I'll skip Squaw. I'm coming from LA, so Mammoth is closer.

Depends on how much driving you want to do to use your 'free' MCP days at Squaw. Hopefully you've used it in other places.

Squaw can be on the way from LA to Mammoth if you take I-5 to Sacramento. Google maps says it's 16 1/2 hrs/985 miles of driving LA-Squaw-Mammoth-LA. Dropping Squaw cuts the drive from LA to/from Mammoth to 10 hrs/660 miles. And Google maps says it's about the same distance, but an hour long if you go through Mammoth both ways.

I'm looking at skiing Heavenly tomorrow, Mammoth on the weekend, then returning via So. Lake Tahoe and skiing Squaw on Monday (and I have a 7 PM meeting W of downtown San Jose). My drive would be 14.5 hrs/775 miles.

Not sure when you are thinking of going, but if you want fast chair to steep terrain, get to Squaw before KT closes. And if you are just going to Mammoth, watch the weather predictions. Unless you can arrive the day or two after predicted storm, you are probably better off avoiding them as they can close top and adversely affect the Spring skiing. Next Mon/Tues does not look good at Mammoth with warm storm on Mon (although may be cool enough for snow up high), then winds predicted for Tues.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:04 pm

We are leaving for Mammoth in an hour or so. Friday and Saturday weather look great. The warm storm may start Sunday but possibly not until after the ski day. Monday does not look good. Why does tseeb think it will be any better at Squaw than Mammoth?

Getting Squaw before KT closes sounds like a good idea. In 2017 we skied Squaw two days before Granite Chief closed. We did over half our skiing on Granite Chief, and most of east facing Siberia gets sticky fast by late morning, so we were pleased with that timing.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby tseeb » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:22 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Monday does not look good. Why does tseeb think it will be any better at Squaw than Mammoth?
The storm is going to be S of Squaw. My phone shows only sun for Truckee Fri-Tues and has a chance of rain at So. Tahoe on Tues. Also https://www.mammothsnowman.com/mammoth- ... -forecast/ shows storm to the S of Tahoe.
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Re: Kirkwood, CA 4/19-20/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:18 pm

That is an interesting forecast for a narrow band of precipitation moving NW from the Central Coast. Howard Scheckter and Bryan Allegretto are only making forecasts sporadically and both are several days stale now.
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