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Opening Day At Squaw Valley Tomorrow

What we have here is a failure to provide information...

What we have here is a failure to provide information…

It’s finally about to arrive, the day that some of us have waited for since last May. Squaw Valley’s opening date has been set for November 26th for quite some time, with that caveat of weather and conditions permitting. So what can we expect for tomorrow? Excellent question. We would love to help you figure that out. Unfortunately, the current SquawAlpine.com website is a complete disaster, at least in terms of finding out about skiing and riding. You’ll find it simple and easy to find out about lodging, activities and shopping in the Village though.

With some educated guesses and intuition, we were able to locate some information about opening day with only 7 mouse clicks. Here’s what we found out:

• Terrain & lift ticket information coming soon!

• Portions of lift ticket sales and beer sales will benefit the Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows Foundation

Yes, less than 24 hours before opening and that is the extent of information available. Word on the street is that snowmaking operations have been focused on Gold Coast. Several people have reported that when they called, no commitments were made beyond the magic carpet lifts at Squaw Kids. The lack of information is somewhat appalling but not really surprising,  given that there has been some transitions in the marketing and PR departments lately.

We’re not just dismayed about the lack of information for opening day. Prices have not been posted yet for daily lift tickets, and the season opens tomorrow. I just don’t even know what to say about that. I do know it does not bode well for those of us that used to enjoy a useful and complete website for Alpine Meadows. #FreeAlpine

Update: Squaw Valley sent this out by email at 1:00 pm today…bit late for planning your holiday eh?

• Funitel with access to Gold Coast lift, no mountain run access
• SnoVentures with First Venture chair
• Squaw Kids with Wiley carpet for lesson participants
• Tucker carpet at SnoVentures
• Snow tubing at SnoVentures 11am to 4pm
• Ice skating at High Camp 11am to 4pm 
• Aerial Tram for sightseeing with dogs on leashes still permitted
• Silvey’s and Bar North open at High Camp
• Arc open at Gold Coast lodge
• We’ll also be donating $20 from the sale of each ski/ride lift ticket to the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows foundation. 

Photo via SkiAlpine.com

Photo via SkiAlpine.com

 

Tahoe Sports Hub Adds New Staff, New Products & New Services

The peak of the holiday shopping season is upon us, and the Tahoe Sports Hub has made some exciting additions to their staff, products and services.  New team members Kenny Good and Corey Champagne are a great addition to the awesome staff at the Hub, allowing for the additions of a snowboard line-up and custom boot fitting options this season.

IMG_0828Champagne is the new head boot-fitter and is developing a new running shoe department which will debut in the spring of 2015. With extensive bootfitting experience in various local ski shops, he has drastically improved the boot fitting service at Tahoe Sports Hub. A foot expert and on his way to becoming one of few licensed pedorthist’s in Northern California, Champagne will be taking his pedorthist board certification exam in the spring of 2015. In addition to his pedorthist training he has over ten years experience  custom fitting ski boots and holds certifications from the Robert M. Palmer MD institute of biomechanics, Superfeet University, and Masterfit. When Champagne is not fitting custom ski boots or building custom orthotics for running shoes he is playing in the mountains. He is an accomplished outdoorsman and has kayaked the Grand Canyon and finished multiple Tough Mudders. He also has multiple ski mountaineering summits under his belt including; Mt. Rainier, Mt Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt St. Helens, and plenty of impressive ascents in the Cascade Range, Eastern Sierra and Chamonix France.

562814_10100758495655523_93952689_nGood has a long history in the ski industry. He has repped snowboard lines, managed shops, overseen retail websites, and even dabbled in product development. Good spearheaded the new Tahoe Sports Hub snowboard department. The department features boards, bindings, and boots from some of Snowboarding’s most respected brands as well as a huge selection of splitboards. Good is an expert on all forms of backcountry travel and snow safety equipment and has improved the snow safety and backcountry department dramatically.  Good is passionate about advances in snow safety technology and wants to make sure that Tahoe Sports Hub customers have the knowledge to make educated equipment choices.

“We are so lucky to have Kenny and Corey on the team this year; they both bring so much to the shop and make us well rounded. We believe in investing in the right people and both Kenny and Corey are great additions” – Rob Cavallo, Tahoe Sports Hub owner

Should An EIR Be Required For The Incorporation Of Olympic Valley?

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The battle over the incorporation of Olympic Valley continues this week. The lastet skirmish revolves around the necessity of an Environmental Impact Report for the incorporation. From the eyes of Squaw Valley Real Estate and KSL Capital, the incorporation could lead to an environmental disaster, and therefor, they have insisted that a full EIR be completed, at the expense of the Incorporate Olympic Valley movement. The Incorporate Olympic Valley group has countered that not one spade of dirt will be turned as a direct result of the incorporation effort, therefor raising a question about the need for an EIR.

Notice of Preparation regarding the EIR process was released by Placer County LAFCO Executive Director Kris Berry in October. A scoping meeting was held last Tuesday, and relatively few people attended. While most of us failed to notice the significance of the meeting, it’s not too late to get involved. IOV released an e-mail request to subscribers today reminding people that the public comment period is open through November 25 at 5:00 pm. Your comments may be helpful in preventing the need for a full EIR for the incorporation effort.

Here’s a few of the concerns that have been brought up by IOV board members:

  • The EIR does not have to be all-inclusive. The EIR may only analyze the potential environmental impacts of the incorporation.
  •  The EIR should not analyze all aspects of incorporation that LAFCO will be considering its broad review. For instance, the financial viability of the town will be covered in the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis
  • The EIR must be limited to reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts. Any impacts which are purely speculative should not be analyzed.
  • The incorporation will not change the provider of wildland fire protection services, which will continue to be Cal-Fire by contract, thus there are no potential environmental impacts related to fire protection.

A complete list of the concerns is available on the Incorporate Olympic Valley website. Your comments on the NOP should be directed via e-mail to Kris Berry, Executive Director of the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission.  We continue to believe that self-determination by local citizens will result in the best decisions for the future of Olympic Valley. The push for a full EIR by Squaw Valley Real Estate and KSL Capital is an obvious attempt to drain IOV of its finances. This reckless and irresponsible behavior should serve as yet another important reminder of why we don’t want them calling the shots for the future of Olympic Valley.

Only One More Weekend of WROD Season?

Boreal's snow guns were blazing today at 10 am. Photo by TGR member Lepistoir

Boreal’s snow guns were blazing today at 10 am. Photo by TGR member Lepistoir

With each passing day, we’re getting closer and closer to what most people would call ski season, rather than WROD season. We know that there’s people that did get out an make some turns this weekend, even if conditions were less than perfect. While the conditions for next weekend look like they will be similar, the extended range is starting to look very interesting.

Saturday’s storm was quite a bit wetter than expected, which is great news for bringing water to a parched state. It was not ideal for skiing. Snow levels stayed at about 9,000 feet for nearly the entire day. The rain, which had been forecast to taper off by mid-morning stuck around until the early evening. Consequently, the webcams at Boreal and Mount Rose showed light skier and rider traffic and soggy conditions. There was enough warmth and precipitation to remove all 5″ of the new snow that fell during Thursdays storm.

Conditions for Sunday were much colder, with most resorts able to make snow not only overnight, but well into the morning hours. Although I put in some laps at Boreal this morning, there is not a wax that will handle fresh manmade powder over refrozen slush. The speed variation can be pretty great in that situation. Although today was forecast to be bright and sunny, a pretty solid deck of mid-level clouds moved in early and kept things cool.

Boreal was getting quite serious about making snow to open Accelerator. The word on the street is that the goal is to open it for Friday, and that would match previous year’s operations. Currently, conditions look to be favorable for nightly snowmaking except for Tuesday. One would assume that Northstar will also get at least one run open to the top by next weekend. Squaw Valley has been very quiet about their plans for opening on the 26th. No announcements have been made, but snowmaking seems to be happening at Gold Coast. Snowmaking was also evident on Kangaroo and Roundhouse this morning, but that hardly seems to matter, does it?

Things are still looking good for a significant change in the pattern by next weekend. As BA always cautions, the bigger of the two storms is still a week out, so things are still subject to change. Once we get to about 5 days out, the models are much better at these predictions. Snow levels are going to be tough to predict until we see exactly where the jet ends up. As of today, NOAA was suggesting snow levels will run at 6,000 feet next weekend, and lower a bit more for the second larger storm.

Image via TwisterData.com

Image via TwisterData.com

This model run picked up today on the potential for the second storm. It’s showing the potential to bring several feet of snow to Tahoe by Tuesday. Parts of the Sacramento Valley would stand to pick up as much as 10 inches of rain, which would not be a drought buster, but it would do a lot toward getting this season on track. While this model was the most progressive of any we have seen yet, all of the models are picking up on increasing amounts of moisture for the Monday-Tuesday system. We’ll be keeping our eyes on this storm and hoping we don’t have to report on any shifting, splitting or flipping. Come on Mother Nature!

The Weather Models Have Not Given Up And Neither Should You

Sven and family from UnofficialMtRose.com catch the first chair of the year on Pondo today. Photo courtesy of SkiRose.com

Sven and family from UnofficialMtRose.com catch the first chair of the year on Pondo today. Photo courtesy of SkiRose.com

We’ve been avoiding posting anything about the weather lately, mostly because it’s been quite fickle. Honestly it gets depressing to see the parade of weak storms continue to roll in. But yesterday’s storm was a little bit under-rated. This morning we woke up to reports of as much as 9 inches of snow falling near the crest. As the sun rose over Truckee, it suddenly looked like winter. Today also marked the opening of more resorts, more lifts and more terrain.

We’re not super excited about the storm for tonight and tomorrow. As of this evening, we can’t even get a snow advisory for the area. We do have a High Wind Advisory for tonight through tomorrow, with winds expected to gust as high as 75 mph at the upper elevations Saturday. Snow amount are supposed to be limited to a few inches, mostly above 8,000 feet. Although Saturday may offer some interesting conditions, things look good for Sunday and early next week. No significant weather systems are currently in the models until shortly after Thanksgiving…more on that later.

There’s now 4 places to enjoy a bit of early season skiing and riding in Tahoe. Here’s the round up for the weekend:

Boreal has expanded operations to include a second chair and a second run this week. The Nugget chair will offer a small slope primarily intended for lessons and beginners. While that news in itself may not seem exciting, it pulls a lot of that slower traffic off of the Castle Peak Quad, resulting in fewer obstacles on the slope, and fewer stops on the lift. Boreal will be offering skiing and riding 9am until 9pm daily. Lift tickets are $49 for adults and $29 for children.

Mount Rose also expanded operations today, with the Ponderosa Chair opening serving low angle terrain and some small park features. The Pondo chair is serving a long gentle WROD on Lower Galena and the Enchanted Forest Trail. Currently 6 park features are offered on Show Off, served by the Flying Jenny magic carpet. For this weekend, lift tickets are $29 for adults and $19 for children.

Northstar and Heavenly Valley also opened for business today. Both resorts have some of the biggest snowmaking systems in the area, so it’s not surprising that both have covered a lot of terrain over the last week. While it seems like they have a lot open in the way of lifts, in both cases lifts are required to get you to the part of the mountain where snowmaking has happened. KCRA reported this evening that Heavenly lift tickets were priced at $90 today, and that is often the price for early season tickets at Northstar. We would love to verify that, but both the Northstar and Heavenly web sites are down at the moment. If you like the park far away then slog through a village routine, all so you can ride a gondola to begin skiing and riding, you can now have that experience.

While none of the skiing and riding this weekend is going to be absolutely amazing, it’s always fun to get out there and start using those muscles again. More importantly, it’s important that we reward the resorts that open before Thanksgiving with our business, even if it means just stopping by for a few hot laps at Rose or Boreal before you go out shopping. I am hoping to do one day at Boreal and one day at Rose this weekend.

Looking ahead to the future, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will offer similar conditions, except that more resorts will offer those conditions. Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Squaw Valley are excepted to offer their own WROD beginning on the 26th as well. If snowmaking conditions are favorable during the week, you would expect that either Boreal or Rose will open to the top by next weekend. Hopefully we get a good cold air mix instead of inversions this week.

In the department of weather, the overall weather pattern has been locked into to place for the last three weeks due to the pattern set up by Typhoon Nuri. The cold polar jet sunk into the eastern US, bringing cold temperatures and huge amounts of snow to the east. The west was parked under a large ridge of high pressure pushed up by the movement of the typhoon. This ridge was atypically farther north than usual, which allowed a weak jet to undercut. This has allowed the series of weak and warm storms to bring up limited amounts of snow and rain. That should be changing soon. Forecasters have said that the Buffalo, NY area, which received 70 inches of snow this week, is expected to see spring-like temperatures in the mid-50’s next week. While this may lead to some flooding in upstate New York, it’s a sign that a significant change is nearing. The models are getting into agreement on a very deep low off the coast of California during the first week of December. It’s still pretty far out there, but its a good reminder that this is not last season. Things will be different, eventually.

Gallery Of Weather Possibilities

 

Sharing The Stoke For DSUSAFW In San Francisco

Thursday evening saw intense rain and another get the stoke out movie showing & fundraiser down here in San Francisco. The downpour I walked through on my way to the Victoria Theater in San Francisco’s Mission district definitely had me wet and smiling. That was echoed on the faces of the folks who came out for this event.  Nothing like a good November soaker to get us ski and board freaks here in the Bay Area excited.
The night started with a presentation by Blair and Marina. Blair is a San Francisco resident who has been volunteering w/ DSUSAFW for two yrs. Marina has been a part of the adaptive program at the Disabled Sports USA Far West at Alpine Meadows for 15 years as an adaptive skier, and then working as an administrator for them for the past 4 years. After a short synopsis of the program, a short film starring Marina was shown, showcasing her love for skiing. It really captured the joy she gets out of the mountains and what the program means for her and so many others. A question and answer followed the film short.
Level 1’s latest was a nice fun film and if you get the chance to go see it, do so. As fun as the film was this night really belong to DSUSAFW.
The turnout was light for this shindig. I think being that this was an inaugural event/fundraiser could have been why. I am sure with a bit more  promotion this could grow into a nice little annual event. Thank you for putting on this event, hopefully it will become another don’t miss pre-season San Francisco  Bay Area event again much thanks to Nick, Nate, Dave, Sean and Kelsey for making this happen.
Ski you on the hill soon!
Hairfarmer