Hey, Denver! Pass along that snow
Appeal staff writer
The recent snow drop should help get mountain resorts up to speed, but a lot of snow will be needed to get all the trails open. About the only areas not yet open are Homewood and the cross-country trails, except for Kirkwood, which, as usual got a good snow dump. But as always in skimpy snow times, check with your destination resort before taking off. Almost all mountain resorts have a Web site based onthe resort’s name that will alert you to conditions.
Of course, you need to speak mountain resort to read between the lines. “Packed snow” usually means just that – a well skied or boarded run or two. “Variable conditions” means it’s probably not very good. “Fresh powder” can be taken to suggest that sometime in the last 24 hours there was fresh snow. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be “fresh powder” when you get there.
And speaking of powder, Skiing magazine recently came out with a “guide” to 96 “secret powder stashes” around the nation. Well, most of them are in other areas and the ones they cite around here are dubious.For instance, Homewood Mountain Resort on the west side of Lake Tahoe is listed because it is protected from gale winds and the powder hangs in there. Yep, but it’s a hike to the Quail’s Nest runs and the powder is just a iffy there as anyplace around the lake.
Heavenly’s Monument Peak is also rated as hot off the Sky Express, but the directions are sketchy. So forget out the magazine’s 96 stashes and just go out and find your own.
• Last week’s storm helped Alpine Meadows with more than a foot of snow and allowed the resort to add the Summit Six chair to its operation schedule. Alpine will offer top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding daily. Hot Wheels triple chair will offer groomed terrain best suited to intermediate skiing and riding.
Alpine Meadows will continue to make snow and open additional terrain as conditions allow. Call (530) 581-8374. The daily online snow conditions report is at http://www.skialpine.com.
• Terrain park fans rejoiced when the Mammoth Unbound crew opened the Super Pipe for the season. The slow start to winter didn’t stop the Unbound staff from putting over 350 cat hours over the course of eight days into building the Olympic-sized halfpipe, with added help from Mammoth snowmakers.
The Mammoth Mountain Super Pipe is 450 feet long with 18-foot high walls and 20 feet of transition. Mammoth is the only place in the world where riders can find all three halfpipe sizes: Super, Super-Duper and Mini. All three are cut every night.
• As it prepares to start turning its first six-pack express chairlift, the Tahoe Zephyr Express, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort will host a grand opening celebration complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 5.
The 007 James Bond-themed event will take place at the bottom of the new lift, with lift operators dressed to the nines in black tie apparel, and the terminal decked out in Bond-themed décor. Guests can participate in grand opening celebration activities, including a Bond/Bond Girl look-alike competition.
Skiers and riders can also participate in a geocaching event-an outdoor treasure-hunting game-using their Global Positioning System receivers to find specific places located on new terrain and features within Northstar’s ski trails.
For those who don’t own a GPS receiver, a limited number of units will be available for rental at The North Face retail store. See NorthstarAtTahoe.com.