Homewood a small gem to check out | NevadaAppeal.com

Homewood a small gem to check out

Sam Bauman column

While the snowsporting season is winding down — although with all the new snow it’s hard to believe it — this could be an excellent time to move from the familiar.

Most local skiers and boarders head for the biggies — Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe. That leaves out a bunch of smaller resorts which each have their own attractions. A few years ago a group of eight skiers and boarders got on a Harveys bus and skied and boarded all 15 Tahoe resorts in one day. We wound up at Squaw Valley which offers night skiing and snowboarding.

While it was an exhausting day it introduced us to resorts such as Homewood on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, Granlibbaken near Tahoe City, Soda Springs and Boreal, Sierra Ski Ranch and Tahoe Donner. Soda Springs is small, Granlibbaken even smaller (one bowl with a surface lift).

I was reminded of this last weekend when I took my visiting older son Marc to Homewood. He had skied most of the big resorts so I suggested Homewood on Highway 89. After a day sporting through six inches of fresh snow on the nearly empty runs, he pronounced it a “gem.”

And it is. Admittedly, no big, crashing black diamonds (well, there is one, Quail’s Nest, but you have to hike to it). From the highway the resort doesn’t look impressive. Cars from the Bay area go whizzing past en route to Squaw or Alpine Meadows, never realizing that behind that looming frontal hill are fun times. Because it practically abuts Lake Tahoe, the views from the hills are marvelous. You feel like you could ski or board right into the lake.

Homewood is basically a family resort, a family resort for locals who probably can’t afford $58 lift tickets. At Homewood an adult day ticket goes for $34 on weekends and $25 the rest of the time. The base Madden triple chairlift is a fixed lifter that takes riders up to the fixed quad chair. A half-dozen runs lead off a ridge heading back down the hill. But you can climb a few feet and reach the Ellis chair, a three-seater. Hobbit land there offers a variety of runs. The Quail chair opens up more terrain, some moderately challenging.

Homewood comes in two sections, the North Lot and base and the South Lot. Both have full facilities, including children’s schools. The Quail chair which services the South Lot is a double which appears to date from the 1960s. But it gets you up there.

That’s one nice thing about Homewood: no detachable chairs. Yes, it takes you longer to get there but then there are fewer people on the hills. Last Sunday one could ski in almost splendid privacy.

There are some minor negatives. The two trails leading back to the main base can be tricky, especially when it gets close to closing time. The South lot is better, chiefly just a moderately steep hill right to the base.

The view from the barbecue shed at about mid-slope is magnificent — the whole of Lake Tahoe is spread out before you. And the crowd seems to be genuinely friendly, not out to rack up thousands of feet of vertical.

The base lounges are both homey, the main lodge being recently redone in a nice light wood. Prices are in scale with everything else –moderate.

Not really small, it just looks small from the highway. Not big, either. But there’s enough terrain — and powder lasts longer there than at about any other resort — for a day on the slopes.

Right now Homewood is running Friday-Monday and kids 10 and under ski and board free. Call (530) 525-2992.

— Easter egg hunt time coming up at Mount Rose next Sunday. Starts at 11 a.m. with groups 3 and under, 4-6, 7-9,10-14. No seniors. It’s also closing day for Mount Rose.

— Sunday Sierra-at-Tahoe will host Breast Cancer Awareness Day, a festival created to educate people on breast cancer prevention and detection while displaying the talents of Lake Tahoe’s local bands.

The event starts at 11 a.m. on the Cheeseburger in Paradise sun deck with the sounds of Lavish Green, Trey Stone, Cool Black Kettle, Bionic Gorilla Project and Uncle Funkle. The bands will play until 5 p.m.

A portion of the day’s lift ticket sales will be donated to the Barton Health Resource Center Breast Cancer Fund.

— Grab your wagon, bike, scooter or trike, cover it with colors and environmentally friendly things and bring it to Squaw Valley on Saturday, April 19 for the first Squaw Valley Eco-Parade in the Village.

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.

The theme is recycling and participants are encouraged to make and decorate their floats out of recycled materials. Parade attendees are also encouraged to dress up in the costume of their choice. The parade route will wind through the Village and base area of Squaw Valley USA and judging will be based on originality, creativity, appeal and environmental friendliness.

Registration for the parade takes place at the South Entrance of the Village from 9-11a.m. and the parade itself begins at noon.

Prizes include a two-night stay in the Village (with lift tickets), cash donated in the winner’s name to the environmental organization of their choice, a child’s season pass to Squaw Valley for the 2003-2004 season and a summer 2003 cable car pass.

Call (530) 584-6268 or Squaw Valley at (530) 583-6985 or visit http://www.squaw.com.

— More Easter egg hunting at Mammoth Mountain. It takes place all over the mountain starting at 11:15 a.m. Call (800) MAMMOTH for details. The resort is also selling 2003-04 season lift tickets for $299 adults, $299 for teens 13-18, $199 for kids 7-12 and for seniors.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.

Guests can enjoy food and beverage specials and a silent auction while visiting information booths representing local health resource centers. The concert is free to all guests at the resort but a lift ticket is required to access the mountain.

“The Boarding for Breast Cancer event has gained so much momentum over the past seven years, we just couldn’t let a year go by without doing our part,” said John Rice, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s general manager