The Roundhouse Roundup

Many people would claim that today was the first real day of the ski season at Alpine Meadows. As much as I am always anxious just to be sliding on any snow, it sure felt great to be skiing off piste today. By the hoots and hollers and laughter we heard today, many other people felt the same.

There’s been a ton of work going into the snowmaking and grooming to get Rock Garden and Dance Floor into shape over the last week. Yesterday, we watched crews also build an early season park at Sandy’s Corner. Their efforts are actually quite stunning, with a very wide and solid trail offered from the top of Roundhouse back to the loading area. There was nary a rock to be seen, and although the surface was firm, it should hold up well to higher levels of traffic and some potentially warmer temperatures next week.

That said, where most people wanted to ski today was off piste. We were near the end of the queue when the chairs started loading this morning, and by the time we were half way up, people were coming down in waves. None were on Dance Floor – they were enjoying the powder on Charity and Werner’s. Other’s found out that the coverage was still pretty sketchy on Sympathy Face.

Plenty of people found submerged obstacles today, and we saw some gnarly falls due to those obstacles. The name of game today was to know the underlying terrain very well, have wide skis, and avoid steep terrain. As the day progressed, powder turned into small skier packed moguls and most obstacles became more apparent, allowing higher speeds without worrying about ending up in a patrol sled. Some of the best turns today were likely found on the lower half of the Face for those that headed there first.

Alot of people were leaving P-Tex on the mountain today, and we left some too. Fortunately, we know some people that are able to help with that problem. If you’re headed to the Tahoe City area, Tahoe Snow Lab will happily help bring your equipment back into shape. In the Truckee area, our friends at the Tahoe Sports Hub will be happy to take care of you. Both shops do excellent work, and supporting these local businesses that have survived 3 years of drought will make you feel happy.

The snow guns were firing away today on Tiegel. It makes sense to get an alternate route back to the base open to reduce pressure on the main runout to Roundhouse. That would also allow access to be opened into Deer Camp and Yellow in the near future. Several people noted that snowmaking was not happening in Alpine Bowl today. That also makes sense as it’s still looking quite wind scoured. The east wind near 45 mph would likely have just carried newly made snow in Alpine Bowl over the hill into the Granite Chief Wilderness.

The weather models are still all over the map for the next system. Most models have dropped the idea of anything happening Monday. A system seems to be looming in the Pacific, with a potential for moving in around next Thursday. This system could include an atmospheric river component and snow levels that would range from 6,000 feet (very good) to 8,000 feet (very bad). The last run of the GFS I looked at showed the jet splitting and keeping nearly all of that moisture near the coast. Each model run brings a different solution, so we really can’t make any reasonable prediction yet.

We’re anxious to get out again tomorrow. Shirley Lake opens at Squaw Valley tomorrow and that should reduce the number of people coming from the other side of the mountain. We’re pretty sure that the skiing is always better at Squaw.

A Happy Thanksgiving At Alpine Meadows

The storm tapers off at sunset yesterday. Photo via

The storm tapers off at sunset yesterday. Photo via

It was somewhat of a homecoming day at Alpine Meadows, with many families marking their first day of the season today. The temperatures were definitely chilly with a little east wind thrown in to make sure you knew winter is on the way. I found myself wanting one more layer all morning. Fortunately, Melanie and the Treats crew were on hand for hot chocolate, coffee and cookies today.

Crews were working hard at prepping Roundhouse for launch tomorrow. Snow guns were pumping out the snow on Dance Floor and cats were pushing it around to create the best coverage possible. At Sandy’s Corner, a few pieces of park hardware were being moved and set into place. We look forward to graduating from Kangaroo tomorrow. Enjoy your Thanksgiving all and see you out there tomorrow.

Corduroy At Alpine, Powder At Squaw Today

Winter returned to Alpine Meadows this week after a brief bout with 50° temperatures. We’re happy to see temps return to a nice and cool normal or sub-normal state. We’re also thankful for the approximately 10 inches of new snow reported by the marketing department, albeit a bit late.

Early this morning, we were doing that dance of “go to work” or “go see Dr. White”. Anyone that was looking for information about conditions and operations this morning would have been very frustrated. We’re not just talking about the “worst in the industry” combined SquAlpine site, we’re also talking about the lack of updates. Other local resorts updated totals throughout the day yesterday and again at closing. Many had updated morning totals available early this morning. Here’s what the SquAlpine site showed this morning:

The SquAlpine site after the latest storm...0 inches of new snow?

The SquAlpine site after the latest storm…0 inches of new snow?

Given that report, we chose to go to work today. It’s not the first time we’ve seen some pretty terrible inaccuracies with reporting on the SquAlpine site. Remember our survey last spring? The average rating for the site was 2 out of 5 stars and it looks like things have not changed.

Here’s what we missed at Squaw Valley, as posted on Facebook and Instagram. It looks like there was some powder skiing to be done on both Gold Coast and Red Dog.

Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley...looking pretty sweet, no matter how short lived.

Photo courtesy of Squaw Valley…looking pretty sweet, no matter how short lived.

For those that were looking for a powder day at Alpine Meadows, it was a different story. We understand that Roundhouse and Summit still need quite a bit more work to get open. But we also know how to make a mini-pow day work on Kangaroo as well. Several people sent comments today because there was no powder day at Kangaroo. Everything at Kangaroo had been groomed to accommodate the race team training. Ultimately it produced conditions that were too soft for racers and too ordinary for those seeking a bit of powder fun for a few runs.

Here’s Andy Wertheim’s short report for the day:

Skiers and Snowboarders,

It is a winter wonderland in Tahoe today.  We received a nice layer of new snow yesterday and it has been snowing lightly all morning.  Temperatures dropped overnight giving the snow making crew a reason to be on the mountain.  Alpine is making snow on Roundhouse with hopes of opening between now and Saturday morning.  The forecast of very cold temperatures should guarantee  opening for the weekend.

We took a few runs on Kangaroo again this morning and enjoyed  the soft groomed surface that was topped with an inch of light snow.  We even ventured slight off the groomed areas for a short taste of boot deep powder.

Winter is off to a good start.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

We’re thankful just to be skiing Alpine Meadows during the Thanksgiving holiday. The last social media post from SquAlpine notes that Roundhouse is expected to open on Friday. Thanks to the employees that will be working on Thanksgiving to make that happen. We appreciate your efforts.

Andy Wertheim: A Double Dose Of Reports

Editor’s note: We fell behind a day on Andy Wertheim’s reports. It happens.

A Winter Day (published 11/24/15)
Photo by Andy Wertheim

Photo by Andy Wertheim

Skiers and Snowboarders,

Winds are whipping, snow is falling sideways, and roads are white.  It looks a lot like winter this afternoon.  My fingers are crossed that this will keep up for the entire day and night.

The temperature is in the 30’s which should mean this first round of snow is a little wet.  We always want wet snow in the beginning of the season as it makes for a good base.

Alpine was closed today.  I guess it was too windy to operate Kangaroo.  The upper mountain at Squaw was also closed, but Red Dog appears to be running.

Attached are some photos I took on my way back from Truckee early this afternoon.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Skiing & Art (published 11/23/15)

Skiers and Snowboarders,

We have been taking a few runs each morning on Kangaroo just to get the legs warmed up, enjoy a few rays of sun, and feel clean crisp mountain air on our faces.  The snow has held up well even though the midday temperatures have been warm.  I have not ventured over to Squaw to try Red Dog, but a few of my friends have been over there, and they all seem to report it as being pretty good.  Mammoth, on the other hand, has been reported to be very good.  The upper section of the mountain was smooth and chalky the other day, according to one of my friends who skied there last Thursday.

We are all hoping for enough snow out of the next storm to allow Alpine and Squaw to open a few more lifts for Thanksgiving.  We will have to wait and see what mother nature brings us this week.

If you are in Tahoe over the Thanksgiving weekend and decide to ski, then you might want to take advantage of a very interesting exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.  This is an historical retrospective of the Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake areas as seen through a number of different artistic media.  There is a documentary film to watch, photographs to enjoy, paintings dating back to the 1800’s, and Native American baskets to gaze at along with explanations of each that are very informative.  This exhibit is definitely worth seeing.  It is showing until sometime in January.  Give yourself at least 2 hours to spent in the museum.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Editor’s Note: We took up Andy’s suggestion on seeing this exhibit on Sunday afternoon. It was quite an exhibit. We left with an even deeper appreciation for everything that Tahoe represents. Anybody that believes that a 90,000 square foot indoor water park, 1500 more bedrooms in Squaw Valley, and a gondola connection from Squaw to Alpine is a good idea should go see the true visual history. Andy Wirth’s grand plans for SquAlpine would look just as silly at the proposed 4 lane bypass bridge over Emerald Bay proposed by CalTrans in the 1960’s.

Editorial: Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth Declares Victory In War Over Incorporation

We just love this picture of Andy...yes, we've used it before.

We just love this picture of Andy…yes, we’ve used it before, but it just seems right for this editorial.

It’s been a long tough war. This week, Save Olympic Valley, funded 100% by Squaw Valley and led by Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth, declared victory in stopping the incorporation of the town of Olympic Valley. The press release was issued after the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission met on Wednesday to address the financial viability of the town after the California State Controller’s office identified multiple errors in the draft CFA.

It would be incorrect to call it a press release, as it appears that Squaw Valley released the email addresses of passholders to the Save Olympic Valley campaign. Many have noted their dissatisfaction with receiving the email without signing up for SOV communications.

We reported earlier this month that Incorporate Olympic Valley officials had reviewed the issues identified by the SCO, and calculated that the town of Olympic Valley would be viable. It could be so viable that it would have the capability to generate millions of dollars in reserves over 10 years. Such a drastic change in a CFA outcome is unprecedented and that left many questions about how LAFCO would respond this week.

We weren’t able to attend the meeting, but we heard it was quite tense. But the upshot is that it appears as if LAFCO chose to ignore the $125,000 review of the CFA completed by the California State Controllers Office, which was paid for by the generous supporters of IOV. Without making any corrections to the flawed CFA, LAFCO board members would have no choice but to reject the application for the incorporation of Olympic Valley. It seems as if they were anxious to be able to just be done with the proposal.

While IOV has not said anything officially, we’re guessing this is the end of the line for the incorporation movement. It’s not the end of the line because the town of Olympic Valley is not a good idea or isn’t financially viable. It’s just that the opponents of incorporation, primarily Squaw Valley Holdings and KSL Capital, vastly outspent the local community group that supported the incorporation. Instead of waiting until the initiative made it to the ballot and run a “no” campaign, Save Olympic Valley disrupted the democratic process, muddied the waters and cast uncertainity about the town’s fiscal viability, contrary to the State Controller’s Review findings.


We’ve been tracking the numbers ever since this war started. Through October 2015, Squaw Valley has contributed nearly $800,000 to the Save Olympic Valley campaign when you include monetary contributions and non-monetary contributions. Keep in mind that’s just the portion that they are required to report as contributions to the campaign. We have no doubts that there have been many more dollars spent greasing the wheels to make sure the outcome of the incorporation effort was guaranteed to fail before it could be put in front of the registered voters.

“This meeting validated most of what we have known and have been saying for quite some time, and that is that incorporation is not feasible and is a patently dangerous notion not just for the community of Olympic Valley, but also for the entire community of North Lake Tahoe and Placer County. With the great many variables and challenges our community has, introducing yet another civic entity — and in this case, a fiscally unstable civic entity — doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.”  -Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO

It’s interesting to note Wirth’s choice of words describing the dangers of the incorporation, as the same words could be used to describe the current SVRE proposals for the Village at Squaw Valley project and Gondola connection project. There are many people that feel these projects are not feasible and represent a patently dangerous notion about what is appropriate for development in the Tahoe region.

If the incorporation of Olympic Valley fails, it’s not necessarily a win for Wirth, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital. It’s a sign to all of us that we had better take a stand, a strong one, and sooner rather than later. The ruthless behavior publicly displayed by Andy Wirth is an eye opener to the depths in which he will go to push his agenda. The reality is that the development plans being offered by SVSH and KSL will have impacts that reach far beyond the boundaries of Olympic Valley. The draft Environmental Impact report identified more than 20 different “significant and unavoidable impacts”, many of them would affect people all over the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee area. Those impacts resulted in more than 350 individuals and agencies speaking up to share their concerns about the project.

Sadly, we know that won’t be nearly enough to get the attention of Placer County supervisors. Squaw Valley is all ready making the case for Placer County to overlook the concerns in the EIR due to “over-riding considerations.” The fact that they are hammering on the creation of 1400 jobs is a clear sign that they will be pushing that as a reason to overlook the facts in this case. It’s going to take a huge movement of people to get Placer County to say no to the supersize development proposal, and insist that they only consider proposals for reasonable redevelopment and growth at Squaw Valley. It might just be easier to keep Tahoe KSL free.


We have great respect for every member of the Olympic Valley community that gave their energy, time, money and lives toward the incorporation movement, known as IOV, over the last three years. We’ve always known that it was a David vs Goliath battle. The fact that this dedicated group of individuals didn’t give up much sooner is a testament to how strongly people feel about the unique thing we have in Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Lake Tahoe. All we can do now is stand together to protect it from over-development.

Another Mellow Roo Day

Just a short report from Kangaroo today. It was another day of fabulous spring-like conditions on the Roo again today. With most other resorts now offering a bit more terrain, the traffic and lines were mellow through out the day. There’s been a lot of activity in prepping Dance Floor and the runouts to Roundhouse since we were at Alpine last. With some new snow and much colder temperatures moving in by Monday, it’s a good bet that Roundhouse will be opening some time during the upcoming week.


The snow making and grooming crews have been working hard over the last week to get Dance Floor open. We don’t have a view of Rock Garden yet.

The models are still wavering back and forth with differing amounts of precipitation. The GFS and NAM are the weakest, bringing roughly 6 inches of snow to Tahoe. The Euro and Canadian models continue to be a bit more optimistic. No matter how much snow falls, the temps will fall low enough to allow round the clock snowmaking, which will help expand terrain availability. All models seem to be in agreement that December should be beginning with a string of storms.

We will see you at the Roo again tomorrow…