It looks like all snow-sport systems are go in the Sierra Nevada. Even Mt. Rose, with its new Winters Creek Lodge sparkling on the east Slide Mountain side, has four of 10 black-diamond chutes open - just what an advanced skier or rider is looking for.
All mountain resorts are open for sporting, with most lifts and trails open. No need to search the Web, they're all open. Most lifts are spinning their bull wheels or running their cable cars and you can be sure the more popular blues runs will be packed with some stashes of powder tucked away. Tuesday's inches in the valleys translated to powder up high so December is shaping up to be the best in a long time.
Heavenly is opening Boulder base this weekend, joining Stagecoach, California base, the Gondola and maybe even the old tram. Mott Canyon will be open for the weekend and the old Galaxy chair will be spinning too. Crowds earlier this week were big so the industry is getting off to a fine start.
Just in time for the Christmas crowd, Heavenly will open its new tubing system, sure to be popular with the non-ski or rider crowd. Northstar is open for cross country and snowshoe runs and from top to bottom with new biathlon courses ready. This is a first such facility to my knowledge and ties in nicely with the upcoming Olympics in Canada. Many resorts have invited Santa to drop in on Christmas day and he'll be handing out candy canes to the good kids (and the bad will get some too. Santa is an equal-giver).
I've only skied Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Mt. Rose, but the snow has been all one could ask for. I'm off to Minnesota for the weekend, seeing family and skiing where I taught skiing for years at Hyland Hills. Those were cold days.
This week started out messy with Monday's fierce winds and wind-driven snow at such places as Mt. Rose, where the new lodge opened that day. A very spiffy place, lots of glass and great views of the mountain and Washoe Valley. This is a far more fun lodge that the dreary old base on the other side of the mountain. It raises the bar for other resorts. It's ski down the mountain and then brake at the lodge.
Monday skiing wasn't all that nice; the top of the mountain was shrouded in clouds and I opted to ski the lower part of Rose. A couple of runs off the Zephyr quad convinced me to wait for a nicer day and I retired to enjoy the new lodge.
Tip for the rotary-turn skiers
Couldn't help but notice how many of those still using the old rotary turn system of dragging the shoulders around are also still "banking" their turns - that is, leaning uphill and outside the turn. Even if you're not ready to move on to the contemporary style, banking just slows everything down and make turns more work. When you lean uphill you put more weight on the uphill ski early; the ideal balance on skis is usually 40-60 percent with the 60 on the downhill ski. Of course, you ski both skis all the time.
Poker run at Diamond Peak
Diamond Peak and Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe are hosting the second annual Diamond Peak/Hyatt Regency Poker Run on Jan. 3. Registration is at the Diamond Peak base lodge at 9 a.m. and the entry fee is $10, which includes a T-shirt. There are five dealers at different locations on the mountain with a deck of cards. Each participant is given a game card with clues on where to find the dealers. Participants will ski or snowboard around until they find all the dealers. After their poker hand is completed they return it to the base lodge. The award ceremony will be on the outside deck where the top five hands will win prizes. Diamond Peak will also offer live music by Under the Radar.
Safe for the holidays
The holidays are fun times and lots of flatlanders join the locals on the hills. All well and good, but remember most slope accidents are people running into each other (I got blindsided last year twice by out of control snowboarders, suffered a broken rib and smashed cell phone). Key to safety is skiing and riding in control. That way you can avoid most accidents - with luck. See you on the hill Dec. 29.
• Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.