Kirkwood and Heavenly, CA 12/4/23

tseeb

Well-known member
I started my season skiing both Kirkwood and Heavenly on same day, something I also did to start my last season on 11/15/22. Kirkwood made their scheduled (in August) opening day of 12/1 and reported 7” new that morning, the most by far that day of any Tahoe ski area, but they only had 12” in all of November. Kirkwood is running chair 5 which I rode 20x (15K). I did see chair 6 spin a few times, but patroller I asked said chair 11 (The Reut) will most likely open before 6 (Cornice). Last year Kirkwood had been running chair 6 as snowpack was much better, but it was on windhold on 11/15/22.

The only run with snowmaking and being groomed is Bandit, usually a terrain park. They are also letting you ski natural snow that was thin, firm and had some bumps on Lower Monte Wolfe (OK but run is somewhat flat), Mokelumne (has two entrances, but not recommended as very shaded and thin) and Lower Zachary (best of these three and I made some turns in 3-day old powder near bottom). There is a ropeline diagonally above mostly untracked. I made a few turns staying above it on three of my laps.
7727KWPowder.JPG
All the open runs face N/NE and have a lot of shade this time of year from trees along E edge. Some of the best snow I found was lookers right edge of groomer.
7724KWGroomer.JPG

This is looking up Monte Wolfe. Building at top is patrol shack at top of (not yet open) chair 6
7730MonteWolfe2Top.JPG

I quit at 1230 and was on road about 10 minutes later, then loaded Gunbarrel at Heavenly about an hour after that, eating my lunch while driving. I went as high as was open (Canyon chair) and skied Ridge Run 10x. Surface on the semi-steep face in the middle of Ridge was not as good as most of Kirkwood as it was very firm. Some narrow lanes on skiers right edge were better.
7741IcyRidgeFace.JPG

When I was done with Ridge and skiing down Maggie's, I was surprised to see SW-facing Stein's was open so I took it.
7750Steins.JPG
Stein's skied well in late afternoon sun. Heavenly has also opened S/SW-facing California Trail (visible just to right and below occupied chair on Canyon) on snowmaking from the top of the gondola (where start of run is too flat - walking required) to Canyon/Sky base. To ski CA Trail requires walking out to Maggies after it or going up Canyon, skiing down to and going up Patsy’s chair, then downloading Gunbarrel and taking a shuttle back to gondola base. But it does allow people staying near gondola base to get to skiing without a shuttle.
7736Ridge2CATrail.JPG

Gunbarrel is bare until very top where there is an inch or so of snow and a lot of rocks that are usually well-covered.
7731BareGunbarrel.JPG

I quit at 3:45 with 11K after downloading Gunbarrel, a very scenic ride. Looking N over casinos towards Mt Rose.
7754DownloadingN.JPG

Last picture is looking W/NW. Top of Palisades visible to left of furthest right cable and runs at Homewood are visible to left of that.
7756DownloadingW.JPG
 
Last edited:
At least so far, it is about as opposite of a season as possible from last year behemoth snowfalls in California. At least you don't have to worry about chain control.

downloading Gunbarrel, a very scenic ride.
I used to have a picture (snow covered) from about there-ish with the caption "The view from my office" - from back when I worked at Heavenly as a race coach. Many of the views from Heavenly never get old.
 
Did last year's monster snowstorms start this early in the season?
Not the largest of them, but snowfall was between 75% and 139% of normal in California by Dec 1.

That would be 36" at Heavenly and 43" at Kirkwood (the only 2 areas down in the 75%-ish range in Cali ironically) with an imminent 2-4 foot storm incoming to the Tahoe region. Heavenly was 38% open vs a low single digit 4% this year.

All of that is from Tony's archives on Bestsnow.net of course.
 
It must be nice to be on skis and in the mountains already. Good on you.
Incidentally is there a goal as far as days on skis goes for this season?
 
Did last year's monster snowstorms start this early in the season?
My post from last December 5-6 at Kirkwood starts with "Two early December powder days!"
It must be nice to be on skis and in the mountains already. Good on you.
Incidentally is there a goal as far as days on skis goes for this season?
Part of my reason for drive was short window between watching 49ers on Sun and party today, and I had reclining loveseat my wife's son no longer needed loaded into my SUV on Sat. that needed to go to cabin.

It was great to get out there even if mostly on man-made snow. My goal lately has always been 50 days and 1M vertical. I don't have any big skitrips planned and may only make it as far as OR or UT. In 22-23 I had 46 days and got 1.06M. 21-22 was 43/979K after first two pandemic years in low 30s.

We have 8 days to decide whether to defer my wife's (now Base version) Ikon again. She's doing well and there is early March SkiTalk group at Palisades where she'd have ladies to ski with, but she's still very wary about getting back on skis. I had an interesting long chair ride with Squaw resident who had a brain bleed weeks after a mountain bike crash that left him with other injuries and he said she needs to do it.
 
she's still very wary about getting back on skis. I had an interesting long chair ride with Squaw resident who had a brain bleed weeks after a mountain bike crash that left him with other injuries and he said she needs to do it.
Your Squaw friend is correct IMHO. Liz asks when was the last time Lucia had any effect from the January 2022 concussion? She and Lonnie are both eager to get out and see how they well they can ski after their surgeries. Probable first days are Dec. 15 at Mammoth for Liz and Dec. 18 at Big Bear for Lonnie.
 
Incidentally is there a goal as far as days on skis goes for this season?
I regard 1 million vertical as a minimum benchmark since retirement, first achieved the season before retiring. Results here (scroll far right), the only miss due to the COVID spring of 2020. When I first retired I thought 200K of powder per season was another goal. That one is difficult, only attained 3 times. I also want to keep adding new areas to the list every season.
 
I regard 1 million vertical as a minimum benchmark since retirement, first achieved the season before retiring. Results here (scroll far right), the only miss due to the COVID spring of 2020. When I first retired I thought 200K of powder per season was another goal. That one is difficult, only attained 3 times. I also want to keep adding new areas to the list every season.
If I don’t have a ski gadget I simply add the vertical gain of every lift I rode during the ski day?
 
If I don’t have a ski gadget I simply add the vertical gain of every lift I rode during the ski day?
Yes I did that for 17 years. But back then the vast majority of ski areas published the vertical of every lift on their trail maps. I remember going into offices at Vail and Kirkwood to get that info because it was so unusual not to be on the trail map. But now there are many areas that don't put those chair stats on their maps.

GPS is good enough these days that there are phone apps, notably SkiTracks which ChrisC uses and which I tried out at Mt. High West last season. I prefer the watch because cell phones can easily not make it through day in cold weather, particularly if it's spending a lot of time searching for cell or GPS signals.
 
I find SkiTracks and new-to-me Avocet watch, that was an extra one @Tony Crocker had, often undercount a little. It's easy for me to count which lifts I skied when only three are skiable as at Heavenly and Palisades this week, but it gets harder when 10 or 20 lifts are open and ridden. I have new iPhone SE with same format as my old 7 and battery is stronger, but I still charged mid-day when given opportunity. I've found both liftblog.com and jollyturns.com have decent data for lift vertical. I haven't found recent data at skilifts.org where I can only find old name for Palisades and old vertical for Red Dog chair when it had a different alignment and did not go as high or to top of Resort chair. Their new website was "still in development and has a long road ahead of it before it's launched" in Feb. 2011.
 
it gets harder when 10 or 20 lifts are open and ridden.
It also gets harder when you ski new places and/or places you ski infrequently. Pre-Vertech (1995) I was not doing that so much as I have since. I'm sure nearly every lift in the Tahoe region is embedded in tseeb's memory by now.
 
I find SkiTracks and new-to-me Avocet watch, that was an extra one @Tony Crocker had, often undercount a little

You can use the Slopes app for more accurate data since they add the actual ski resort maps to the map. I assume they know the actual vertical rise of every resort lift, but possibly not. Also, it shuts tracking off when not on the map. I have left places, and SkiTracks records my descent down the mountain. Even one time on a plane. Oh well - who knew I was skiing at 500+ mph?

Comparing SkiTracks to Slopes over a week last season, SkiTracks seems to under-report vertical by about 5-7%. However, you get almost locked into a subscription since Slopes will not provide detailed data even if you have paid for it at the time.

I am more into the mapping aspect of the tool and less into an accurate vertical count. I will use it hiking or cat/heli-skiing to see where I have been. Or even when I want to track a flight route.

(There were some big heli days in April in Valdez when you need to burn heli time. Interestingly, we had made it to the backside/north side of the Chugach nearly 40-50 miles from camp. That's a lot of route planning to get everyone out that far and back, but you have almost 15 hours of daylight).

I had an early Suunto 2000 watch for NW mountain climbing, but you needed to constantly reset it again with a topo since the constant storm systems would throw off your altitude at least daily - sometimes even more frequently. So I was over watches.
 
It was great to get out there even if mostly on man-made snow. My goal lately has always been 50 days and 1M vertical. I don't have any big skitrips planned and may only make it as far as OR or UT. In 22-23 I had 46 days and got 1.06M. 21-22 was 43/979K after first two pandemic years in low 30s.
I regard 1 million vertical as a minimum benchmark since retirement, first achieved the season before retiring. Results here (scroll far right), the only miss due to the COVID spring of 2020. When I first retired I thought 200K of powder per season was another goal. That one is difficult, only attained 3 times. I also want to keep adding new areas to the list every season.

Impressive with the 1M vertical feet.

I would probably ski more frequently if I had a 'day area' nearby.

It was optimal to be working in the Seattle area, with Alpental about 1 hour away.

You had near backcountry, far backcountry, plus the ski hill.

1702079643533-png.38065



1702080541262.png

1702080585194.png


Alpental Backcountry Maps
 

Attachments

  • 1702079643533.png
    1702079643533.png
    2.5 MB · Views: 167
  • 1702079755096.png
    1702079755096.png
    2.5 MB · Views: 49
Last edited:
It's a challenge to get 1M vertical while you are working. I thought I would get there the year I was divorced in 2004-05. CA had big dumps in late October, I skied Mammoth in July by lift and August by hiking and went to Las Lenas in September having skied 885K. But Las Lenas had weather and lift issues and I only skied 80K in 6.5 days there. My final year of work I had 6 weeks of PTO, used 5 of them for skiing, still did not get over 1M until 4 days in New Zealand in mid-July.
 
Last edited:
Back
Top