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Spring Skiing Quality mid April at Squaw/Alpine?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:27 pm
by baldyskier
I'm leaning toward buying the Ikon Pass for next season. If I do, I may try to ski Squaw and/or Alpine Meadows for a couple of days some time between April 13th and 23rd, as I'll be in Fairfax, CA for a of couple weeks. Any thoughts on what to expect given this year's snow pack plus Covid-19 related restrictions/bottlenecks? Any recommendations on where the skiing would be good at those resorts in mid April?

I've only skied Squaw once before, in February, 2017.

Re: Spring Skiing Quality mid April at Squaw/Alpine?

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:39 am
by tseeb
Tony Crocker will probably have a lot more to say, but I'm also planning to get next year's Ikon and ski Squaw during week of 4/12 so I'll give you some of my thoughts. The good thing about both Squaw and Alpine is they have a lot of different exposures so you can follow the sun and often get decent skiing from 9 until at least 2 PM. But if there is a warmup before you get there and then a hard freeze without sun, you can get limited to groomers. And some years it gets too warm too fast and everything, besides places like North Bowl on Headwall, hike-to Palisades runs and very shaded spots between Shirley Lake and Granite Chief get too soft too fast since the top of Squaw is 2,000' lower than top of Mammoth. And this year both places only have ~70% of normal snowfall so it is as not filled in as usual which means more rocks and thin spots than usual. I have not skied any weekends and did not like crowds at Heavenly on Wednesday this week and would not go on weekends although I'm planning on skiing Kirkwood's closing day on 4/11.

Re: Spring Skiing Quality mid April at Squaw/Alpine?

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:20 pm
by Tony Crocker
I think tseeb has described accurately the range of conditions you might expect at Squaw/Alpine in April. My own spring experience at Squaw/Alpine is limited as Mammoth's advantage in conditions increases every week the farther you advance into spring. Comparing tseeb's and my reports this week shows that difference already vs. south Tahoe areas that are higher and usually retain winter snow longer than Squaw/Alpine do.

My one day at Squaw this season was on February 10, and it was in full on spring mode that day, though much of that was due to wet fog the prior day. However, note that was overall a quite positive report. Squaw in particular is so vast that if only half the mountain has pleasant snow conditions you can still have a great day.

One issue with Squaw is that the volume lifts out of the base are the tram and Funitel enclosed lifts. In February I chose to leave the base via KT-22 and move up the mountain via chairs. I do not think Squaw is a good place to be on weekends with COVID capacity limits. And we have all heard that Fridays seem to be part of the weekend as far as ski area crowds are concerned this season. My son Andrew is a liftie at Mammoth this year and he says Fridays are busier than Sundays there.

The below average snowpack will be of concern as spring advances. As one might expect in La Nina, Squaw (82%) has done a little better than Mammoth (77%) on snow so far in 2020-21. However if April is warm and dry, Squaw will lose snow much faster than Mammoth will.

If I ski both Mammoth and Bachelor in April, I might take a day at Squaw in between.