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Plenty of snow in the mountains

Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer

Last Friday Heavenly lived up to its name with fine snow, fine weather and fine old friends.

Visiting from Texas was Bob Valiquet, former Heavenly instructor at the Boulder base. Off skis for six years, he still lived up to his nickname of “Bullet Bob.” Also on hand was current instructor Stan Timoshenk, still teaching at 82.

Snow was outstanding with bits of powder still on Olympic.

But then Sunday was pure disaster. Hit Kirkwood amid massive crowds, everything fine until we headed for the Sentinal Bowl off the Cornice Chair. It was fresh snow of about 18 inches well tracked and tricky. At one point I was on a cattrack and missed a turn, fell into deep stuff. The struggle to get up took so much out of the old bod that I fell twice more before making it to the Red Cliff Lodge. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen more than once in a month. Lousy way to enjoy fresh stuff.

Now off to Mammoth Monday and Tuesday. Haven’t skied there for a couple of years so there’ll be some new vistas to scan. More on Mammoth next week.

HELMETS, ANYONE?

Another death on the slopes at Northstar-at-Tahoe again when a San Jose skier collided with a tree. Would a helmet have saved him? Who knows, but a helmet saved me from serious damage at least twice – once when skiing the trees at the Olympic run at Heavenly when a stray branch scraped the side of the helmet, and once when I failed to sit down fast enough at the Mt. Rose six-pack.

Although most ski and boarder accidents are caused by people colliding, trees are always out there, and if you ski the edges of the trails (for the untracked Snow) it’s easy to slip and hit the trees. Helmets are a bargain.

MORE KIRKWOOD

Close to 20 feet of new snow in the month of March has set the stage as Kirkwood kicks off Spring Bling, a month-long celebration of snow frivolity and fun. Events include the North American and World Tour Freeskiing Championships, the 13th Annual Spring Jammin’, the Sort of Famous Banked Slalom and the Copeland’s Sunday Series. Add in the deepest snow pack in North America (currently 180-291 inches).

This weekend’s events include the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, a fun family race course off the new high speed TC Express that promises great prizes for all competitors, and the Snowbomb Sick n’ Twisted Slopestyle Competition in the DC Stomping Grounds terrain park.

This event is open to all ages of skiers and snowboarders, with a $2,500 cash purse for the pro class and prizes for the amateur class.

The 10th Annual North American & World Tour Freeskiing Championships, AKA the Extremes, runs through Sunday. This event draws the world’s best freeskiers as they compete at Kirkwood’s legendary Cirque, a permanently closed area that is opened once a year for this competition.

Weekend Expeditions include a Ridgeline Snowshoe Tour, One Day Freeride Camp and Backcountry Awareness Clinic. Powder Cat Tours will be in operation, offering cat skiing on Martin Point/Two Sentinels. Availability is extremely limited, if interested make reservations in advance. For all Expeditions, call (209) 258-7360.

GPS ON THE SLOPES

Ever get the feeling on the hill that you’re lost? Sprint’s Garmin Mobile GPS Navigator, available to all Sprint customers and accessible on most Sprint wireless handsets, may be your answer.

Sprint’s Garmin Mobile GPS navigates the slopes as well as the road.

Residents of the Truckee Meadows and Lake Tahoe Basin no longer have the stress of playing tour guide to friends and family that come to town to hit the slopes while they’re visiting. Sprint’s Garmin Mobile GPS Navigator makes arriving and departing to local resorts such as Squaw Valley or Northstar effortless.

We’ll be testing one next week.

BANFF FILMS ON TAP

Celebrate all things adventurous at the Banff Mountain Film Festival on Tuesday and Wednesday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

The festival returns to the Nugget this year with films about kayaking, base jumping, skiing and rock climbing. Different films will be featured each night.

Several prizes, including new mountain bikes, ski passes, tents and apparel, will be given away both nights. All proceeds benefit the Nevada Land Conservancy, Nevada’s only local nonprofit land trust.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. The films begin at 7 p.m. Call (800) 648-1177 or (775) 356-3300 or visit http://www.janugget.com.

SEASON PASS TIME

Squaw Valley is offering the ‘Rise Up to Squaw’ spring pass program. This program offers new pass holders the option to buy their 2006-2007 pass after Saturday at the early season discount rate and ski or ride free for the rest of this season. With a scheduled closing date of May 29, you can ski longer at Squaw than anywhere else in Tahoe.

You’ll also get free Cable Car rides all summer. The early season 2006-2007 price is $1,339 for an adult full pass and $849 for a Midweek pass.

Squaw is currently making changes to improve the jibbing, jumping, and pipe riding experience. This spring, look out for an extended rail line on Sunnyside, a long trail that serves as an alternate route for the Mountain Run.

To take advantage of this offer visit Squaw Valley’s Special Tickets office or purchase your pass online at http://www.squaw.com.