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This weekend should be a delight on the slopes

Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer

Closing day at Heavenly was a poser. Low clouds obscured the upper half of the Gunbarrel Run, so the prospects didn’t look good.

But then at the end of the Patsy’s run, the clouds lifted. So on to the Powderbowl six-seater and on to Sky chair, where the visibility was good. But at the top of Sky chair the clouds were thick and visibility was near whiteout.

Taking the crossover to the Nevada side was an exercise in Braille, hoping that dim shape ahead of you knew the way. Once in Nevada at the midpoint of the Dipper trail, whiteout again. But the snow was fine, hard enough to give you a foot massage in the corduroy.

One blind flying run down Orion was enough to convince one that maybe California would be better. The Von Schmidt trail was foggy but visibility improved at the base of the Sky chair. And on the Ridge run the sun even peeped out for a few minutes. The top of the Sky chair continued to be wrapped in clouds, but a few hundred yards along Ridge things opened up.

So last day at Heavenly was a mixed spring bag: Great snow, no crowds but lousy vision. By noon it was time to tell Heavenly “Adios,” and take the Gunbarrel chair down (Gunbarrel run was socked in). To get to the chair off Patsy’s lift was something else; it took two rides to find the way to the top of Gunbarrel.

This weekend should be a delight. Lots of sun, no rain and heaps of good snow. We’ll try Alpine Meadows first (last time there the wind was howling and the snow falling vertically) today, Squaw on Saturday and Sugar Bowl on Sunday. The season isn’t over yet, with Squaw open through May 29, Alpine through May 21 and Sugar Bowl end of this month but open on weekends in May.

And spring on the hill is the high life.

EARTH DAY

Squaw Valley USA and the Village at Squaw Valley are teaming up with the Tahoe Earth Day Foundation to celebrate Mother Earth at the 2006 Earth Day Festival on Saturday.

Visitors are encouraged to come to Squaw Valley and learn about the environmental issues, programs and projects currently underway in the region, including watershed health, forest health, pollution prevention, alternative energy, waste management, recycling and much more.

Guests can also visit with agency representatives and nonprofit staffers from more than 50 local organizations.

Squaw ‘s base Village will be filled with educational and environmental booths, earth-friendly vendors, hands-on activities, arts & crafts, food and drink, mural and face-painting for kids, a bouncy house and more.

Music and entertainment throughout the day will be provided by groups including Blue Turtle Seduction, the Jeff Jones Band, Sol Jibe, Frame of Mind, Old Dog Ð New Trix, Mad Cow String Band, the Chad Bowen Project and Daowaga All Nations Drum Group.

Music and entertainment will be performed all day long on two stages.

One of the highlights of the Festival is the Push, Pull or Pedal Eco-Parade! Entries may include anything that can be pushed, pulled or pedaled and does not have a motor, including bikes, wagons, skateboards, scooters or big wheels. Participants are encouraged to make and decorate their craft out of recycled materials. Judging will be based on originality, creativity, appeal and environmental friendliness. Registration for the Eco-Parade will be at 10 a.m. at the drawing tent and the parade will begin at noon.

Nearly all food vendors, along with New Belgium Brewery will be using biodegradable take-out containers made of either paper or PLA, a high tech starch-based plastic.

New this year, Tahoe Truckee Earth Day welcomes the Patagonia Wild and Scenic Film Festival. The film fest presents a series of thought-provoking shorts and documentaries Friday at 7 p.m. at Bar One.

The Earth Day Festival is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. Call (530) 545-2565.

Passholders from any closed resort can ski or ride at Squaw Valley for $10 off the full price lift ticket (until discounted price goes into effect). To take advantage of this deal, guests can simply bring their 2005/2006 season pass, from any closed resort, to Squaw Valley’s Special Tickets office.

STILL RACING

Skiing and snowboarding’s best riders gather at Mammoth Mountain for a weekend of contests under the springtime sun at the 5th Annual West Coast Invitational, May 5-6.

The events kick off with the Fiesta de la Pipa on Cinco de Mayo. The inaugural halfpipe event will feature the talents of 20 pro snowboarders, including Mammoth team riders and Olympians Danny Kass and Mason Aguirre, as well as Kelly Clark, Molly Aguirre, Mercedes Nicoll, J.J. Thomas, Scotty Arnold, Peter Line and many more. There will also be an on-snow demo event at Main Lodge featuring products from outlets including VANS and Quicksilver.

The action continues on Saturday with the fourth annual Orage Masters freeskiing event. The Orage Masters has been voted “Best Spring Party” two years in a row by Freeskier Magazine. Skiers will be taking on a specifically designed course in an exhibition style competition.

On Saturday night, the Unbound crew will bring the terrain park to the Village for the urban WCI Rail Jam. The invitation-only field will compete for $10,000 in cash at this standing-room only event in the Village under the lights. Last year’s champion Mike Casanova is back this year, but he’ll have to take on the likes of last year’s runner-up Eddie Wall as well as Kass, Marc Frank Montoya, Bjorn Leines and more.

For event details, visit http://springest.mm.com.