Sierra Nevada resorts to start closing

Courtesy of David RittenhouseSkiers and boarders can now ride the surface T-bar tow to ski areas only reached by a long hike. Two lifts are now in operation.

Courtesy of David RittenhouseSkiers and boarders can now ride the surface T-bar tow to ski areas only reached by a long hike. Two lifts are now in operation.

Resort closings are coming up, but we've got most of the month to hit the slopes (gently, I hope).

I tried Kirkwood Tuesday just to see those new T-bars running. Then today it was to Mt. Rose to have Rusty Crook rule on my skiing level. Saturday we'll go to the old Home Town of Heavenly where I taught for several years at the Boulder base.

Expect Boulder and Stagecoach to close any day now. Rumor is that Boulder Base will close for good next season. Too bad because Boulder offers a decent site for beginner lessons, although the beginner run off Boulder chair can be tough for many newbies; I know, I escorted many a fearful student down that slope.

Kirkwood was a beauty of a day, edge of storm arrived just as I hung it up. Snow was excellent except at the top of the back bowl Sunrise quad. If you got off the piste, the crud was frozen solid, making turns was an exercise in edge control.

Fellow skier David Rittenhouse did the two T-bars to check them out. No. 1 at the top of the Caples lift requires a short hike; and No. 2 was right off Sunrise lift. Snow was "pretty demanding," reported David.

Remember this is spring skiing and riding so hit the slopes early and prepare to hang it up for deck-sitting after noon. And sunblock, no matter how much you have been out there, is a good idea. Picnics on the slopes are great fun this time of year.

HELMET TIP

If you're wearing an old ski helmet and have problems with the sun in your eyes, here's one way to reduce the glare. Take an old baseball cap, cut the brim loose. Apply Velcro to the helmet and the seam of the cap bill. Stick them together and enjoy the spring sunshine.

With the nice weather, I often consider going without the helmet, but a little voice tells me that the minute I do so I'm going to have a bad fall. My helmet has saved me from injury more than once, the worst time when I was skiing the trees off Heavenly's Olympic run and started through a gap. At the last moment I saw a branch sticking out from one tree, raised my hand to fend it off but of course was pulled into it. The jagged end of the branch scraped the side of my helmet; without it I would have suffered a serious injury.

DEALS, DEALS

Northstar-at-Tahoe will close on Sunday, April 19. These have been the days of limited layers and sunshine. Corn snow and sunblock. And, while it's close, it's not over yet. Best part ... some great deals as the season comes to a close.

- April 15: Tax Day Relief Ticket -- $25. Must be purchased online at NorthstarAtTahoe.com in advance. Only valid on the 15th

- April 16: TGI Thursday. $49 ticket must be purchased online at NorthstarAtTahoe.com in advance. Only valid on the 16th.

- April 18-19: Earth Day Tickets. $40 for a two-day ticket valid April 18-19, with $5 of each ticket sale going toward the purchase of Green Tags.

- Value season vouchers. Pick up a free voucher at participating ski and board shops (list available online at NorthstarAtTahoe.com and turn it in at the ticket window at Northstar Resort for purchase of a $56 lift ticket (a $23 savings). Valid through the end of this season.

MAMMOTH PLAY

The West Coast Invitational May 1-3 is back at Mammoth Mountain resort, featuring pro riders and up-and-comers. There's a WCI Package for $139 per person per night. Includes lodging, lift ticket for each night stayed and an event T-shirt for each adult on the reservation. Call (800)-MAMMOTH. Stay slopeside for $99 and save more than 35 percent.

Mammoth is famous for spring skiing. Here are some of my favorites from years gone by:

- Best Spring Skiing Run on Stump Alley in the mornings, then once it warms up, move onto the Panorama Gondola down Cornice Bowl to St. Anton winding around back to the base of the gondola. The gondola laps on Cornice Bowl can be really fun in the a.m. too if there is some good windblown snow.

- Best Spring Skiing Restaurant/Bar Offer: The Mill Cafe at the base of Stump Alley Express is one of the best places to hang out and catch the spring skiing action. The Mill offers a large patio area and they also set a bunch of beach lounger chairs on the snow to relax in and watch the hill.

When the majority of ski resorts in the U.S. are closing down for the season, Mammoth is still running strong. Its season typically lasts until Memorial Day and July 4th isn't too out of the ordinary. Latest closing date was Aug.13, 1995.

Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or sambauman@att.net.

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