BY SAM BAUMAN
The national ski magazines are coming out and SKI has a nice piece on local Alpine Meadows but apparently locked up the issue before Alpine bought Homewood, one of the better small resorts around Lake Tahoe. Homewood has been coming on strong of late, offering such as "rent a mountain" deals. Homewood has long been ignored by Bay area snowsporters heading for Squaw Valley "their loss. Yep, it isn't as big or fancy as Squaw but there's plenty of terrain for all except black diamond experts.
Locals have long feared gentrification at Alpine and so far it hasn't happened, but who knows what evil lurks in the minds of developers. SKI gets most of it right, but as usual the editors go into the side attractions rather than the hills themselves.
This September issue bills itself as a guide to what's new in ski and snowboarding gear, and it's frightening to see the categories of skis rated " all kinds of categories from "would be expert" to all "mountain expert." But not much for beginners.
It wasn't too long ago that there was just one kind of ski " wood, steel-edged with crude safety bindings. My present 2-year-old skis have been banished from comment and I'm just beginning to get what's there out of them. And the cosmetics are right out of a rock band, which I guess makes sense still the younger skiers are more au courant with fashion than the seniors. Why complain? Probably because I can't afford the $1,505 Volkl Grizzly.
SEASON PASS NEWS
Heavenly announced that Labor Day will be the last day to purchase or renew a 2008 -2009 Heavenly season pass for just $369 " a $130 savings from the $499 price.
Heavenly pass holders get access to Lake Tahoe's top resort as ranked by SKI and Skiing Magazine readers. With the new Olympic Express high-speed lift and several new trails, Heavenly skiers and riders will experience those surface conditions over more terrain in less time.
Heavenly is celebrating Labor Day by offering an extra incentive to prospective pass buyers. Individuals who purchase a Heavenly pass at the 22nd annual Heavenly Sports Tent Sale at Heavenly's California Lodge will receive a $25 voucher to be used with any purchase of $250 or more. The voucher is only valid the day the pass is purchased and may not be combined with any other offer.
Hours for the tent sale are Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The hours for the Gondola season pass office during the holiday weekend are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those purchasing a Heavenly pass also receive unlimited half-price tickets at any of Vail's Colorado resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.
New passes can also be purchased or renewed online at www.heavenlypass.com or in-person seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Heavenly season pass office located at the Gondola.
For the 2008 - 09 season Heavenly will unveil many improvements under the 10-year-master plan. Skyline Trail from the top of Sky Express leading to Nevada has been re-graded allowing for a faster and easier traverse. East Peak Lodge's upper deck has been enclosed adding 90-100 more indoor seats. Three new glade trails have been added, two in Ski Ways glades and one in Powderbowl Woods.
At the Heavenly Tent Sale there will be a raffle hosted by KRLT radio featuring Curtis Fong, "The Guy from Tahoe". Raffle prizes will be announced at the sale, but will include ski boots, snowboards, skis, helmets.
Mammoth Mountain Bike Park announces the opening of its newest free ride trail, Twilight Zone. In addition to being the seventh new free ride trail to open in only three years, Twilight Zone marks the climax of a five-year push to build better-designed and more challenging freeride trails at Mammoth Mountain.
The highlight of this newest trail and the signature feature for all of Mammoth Mountain Bike Parks is "The Deep End," a nine-foot tall, 50-foot wide, elevated, banked wooden bowl structure. This massive structure was constructed in four giant pieces before being transported to the mountain and secured into the hillside. "The Deep End" was specifically designed to fit into the natural terrain with a maximum use of available space and a minimal impact to the environment.
Twilight Zone was originally scheduled to be constructed in the summer of 2007, but dry conditions led to fire restrictions preventing the use of welding equipment in the wooded hillside. When conditions allowed for construction to begin in mid-July, the Mammoth Mountain Trail Crew immediately began shaping the natural mountain-side.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Twilight Zone is the extensive use of recycled and re-claimed materials to build multiple aspects of the trail. Wood from old snow fences was used to create a series of retaining walls etched into the steep hillside, allowing riders to traverse otherwise unrideable terrain. Wooden support beams for around 100 feet of bridging were reclaimed from old Mammoth Mountain properties.
"The Deep End" uses several large, steel beams reclaimed from local businesses to help support and frame the massive structure and is covered in a decking material made from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic.
Mammoth Mountain Bike Park descends over 3,000 vertical feet, offering seven new Freeride trails built in the last three seasons and a variety of Single-track and Downhill options for every level of rider. Visitors to Mammoth can find everything they need to hit the trails, including park passes and Kona bike rentals, at the Adventure Center across the street from Main Lodge or at the Mountain Center in the Village at Mammoth.
NORTHSTAR GEAR SALE
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort holds its Labor Day Street Fair & Sidewalk Sale through Monday. Village shops will have sales of up to 70 percent on summer and winter apparel. There will be sales up to 60 percent off winter ski and snowboard equipment as well as deals on demo equipment. There will be live music, roller skating, face painting, balloon artists, clowns and more. Top it all off with outdoor movies at sundown, a mini-farmer's market, complimentary wine tasting and star-gazing tours.
Guests who purchase their 2008-2009 Adult or Young Adult Double Whammy season pass at the Northstar Season Pass office during the Street Fair & Sidewalk Sale will receive a $25 gift card to be used at select shops in the Village at Northstar.
Free Rim Trail Hike Saturday
The Tahoe Rim Trail group is offering a free guided hike Saturday near Spooner Summmit via Kingsbury Grade going north. This 4-5 mile out and back hike will lead you to beautiful, panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. Families are encouraged to attend, children should be 7 years or older. For this hike, please leave your dogs at home. Meet at the Kingsbury North Trailhead at 9 a.m. Sign-up for the hike in advance by calling the TRTA office at (775) 298-0012 or at email@example.com.