After what could optimistically be described as a disappointing ski season last year, it appears that Mother Nature is trying to win back Lake Tahoe’s affections. She succeeded this month, with a series of big storms that left up to 94 inches of snow before and after Christmas. The ski resorts couldn’t be happier, and frankly, neither could I.
The timing has been awesome, as many local’s season passes are blacked out during this holiday period, reducing the bum rush to get the untracked powder. We’ve enjoyed relaxed days at our favorite ski resorts, lapping areas that typically are tracked out in minutes. Despite the holiday crowds, we also found untracked snow and few people at some of our favorite backcountry stashes as well.
While the snow volume appears to be slowing down for now, cold temperatures are forecast for next week, ensuring great mid-winter snow conditions will stick around. At least until the next storm shows up.
Guess it’s time to put away the patio furniture. Photo: N Miller
It’s back. At least for this week.
(Old Man) Winter made his entrance in grand style this week, leaving a LOT of snow in his wake. This morning my little Subaru got hood shots as I drove through the untracked snow on my street. The ski resorts have been excitedly posting photos and updates as the snow totals mount (1-3 feet, if you’re curious). Heck, one’s even going to open this Thursday for the day, clearly breaking some sort of California record.
Considering Winter didn’t really show up last year, it was good to see him, even if some might argue mid-October is a tad early. Sure, the mountain bike trails are now covered with up to three feet of new snow, but you know what they say about making tracks while the snow falls, right? So we did just that today, getting out for some kick ‘n glide in the local meadow and golf course.
First tracks of the season.
While this may only be a preview for the time being, I’ll take it. Even if I still can’t locate my car snowscraper.
It’s been a depressingly low snow year at Lake Tahoe this season, but I should not have been surprised to see snow here this weekend. After all, it’s Memorial Day, which typically brings this type of weather.
Banked turns in the snow
Snow and rain means the equivalent of a powder day for mountain bikers. Despite still freezing weather on Saturday, we bundled up and went exploring. Lower trails were the order of the day, and we weren’t disappointed. Just a tad cold. But it was worth it, even if it did take my feet more than an hour to thaw out.
Smiling even though I can’t feel my feet
Trail conditions should be fantastic now that the clouds have cleared, which is where I’m headed this morning.
12-21 inches of powder – the light and dry ‘white room’ kind- fell at Lake Tahoe yesterday, making today a very memorable (if busy) day at the ski resorts. Despite the hoards of hungry powder-seekers, we were able to find fresh tracks most of the day, though admittedly we did spend our afternoon in a secluded backcountry location.
This storm – heck, this week’s storms – have helped make March a true miracle this year. Snow totals for the month are upwards of 100 inches, making up for some of the pain felt here this season. And with a few more weeks to the ski season (first resort closings are April 15), it’s not a bad time to make hay (or ski tracks) while the ski lifts are still running.
It’s not unusual for the Sierra to see some huge storms in March. After a less than stellar snow season, all eyes were on this month to deliver. Mother Nature (or the jet stream, depending on your beliefs) did not disappoint.
N testing his fat skis out during Miracle March.
We saw rain and snow all last week, with the big storm arriving Friday. By Saturday morning the resorts were reporting between 30-48 inches in a 24 hour period, with another 2-15 inches by Sunday morning. Storm totals for the week were as high as 7 feet.
Light powder snow at Tahoe?
This was the storm that many of us had been waiting for, and no doubt there were loud hollers of powder joy at ski resorts throughout the area. N and I are sporting the tired, silly grins of two people who skied a lot of deep snow this weekend.
Fresh powder even on the last run of the day at Kirkwood.
While spring technically begins in a few days, it feels like winter just arrived. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s welcome to stay awhile.
Lake Tahoe hasn’t caught much of a break this winter. First there was no snow. Then there was snow, but not enough to make up for a dry December (and November). Then came more snow, followed by spring, followed by cold, then more snow, followed by hellacious winds. Backcountry conditions here, which are typically stable, have been anything but of late. As a result, there have been two rare fatalities within the last week. And a lot more digging of snow pits.
So, this winter. It’s not over yet. And many of us are holding onto the hopes that March comes in like a cougar and leaves like a lion. Or something like that. Next week is already looking promising.
Despite my natural tendency towards pessimism, I’ve made a conscious effort to make the most of the snow when it hits, and today was no exception. Yes, high winds had affected the snow and lift operations at many local ski resorts, but we knew that moderate angle north facing trees would probably deliver. And they did. Boot top powder, deeper in places, and super light thanks to overnight temps that hit the low teens and didn’t really feel much warmer by the time we got out there.
N making steezy hippie powder turns
It was just a quick morning lap, but the snow was good, the rocks were few, and I actually passed a few folks on the uptrack, confirming that maybe I don’t suck as much as I think I do.
Here’s to next week delivering even more snow. With far less wind.
I did get out today, and was surprised at how giddily excited I was at the prospect of being on snow. Especially since I missed all the untracked fun yesterday. But tracked out snow is still a treat this year (especially now that there’s so much coverage), so the stupid smile stayed on my face all morning.
And I even stopped to take a photo! It’s rare that any attempt at an action shot is successful on my iPhone, but this one of N in front of the lake works for me.
You might have heard. Lake Tahoe finally got snow. Apparently as much as six feet as of today! This is great news, and means that the ski resorts are opening lifts and terrain as fast as they can.
No surprise that I got out to product test this weekend. Real snow, some off-trail excitement and even a few powder turns made for a fun few days. But it was also a painful reminder that I’m going to be in a world of hurt on our upcoming backcountry ski trip. Seven days with no training? Clearly I’m more optimistic than I think.
I had hoped to get some super awesome snow photos over the weekend. But I didn’t. Blame the light, my cold hands, my pent up need to simply ski. But you get it. Snow at lake level isn’t something we’ve seen much of in awhile, and it’s done a lot for morale, even if some of the side roads were a bit of a circus today, and even if it appeared that everyone forgot how to drive in winter conditions.
But still. Tomorrow we will ski, and even if I don’t stop to take any super awesome – or super mediocre – photos, it will be a terrific day. Winter’s back baby!
…is one where it pretty much stays winter all year round.
Looks like I’m getting my wish. Squaw reported 13-20 inches of new snow on Monday, and while the sun peeked out briefly, the clouds moved in again and are supposed to stick around a little while longer.
My dawn patrol plans this morning were scuttled, but I’m hoping to get out to product test tomorrow. After my reconnaissance walk with the dog in a very wet meadow, I realized that it’ll be a long while before the lower trails will be suitable for mountain biking.