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Andy Wertheim: Smoke And Rain Disappear

Hello friends,

The smoke we were inundated with last week emanating from the King Fire is no longer an issue.  The steady, very welcome, rains that fell over the weekend have cleared the air and moistened the ground.  We even received a nice thin layer of snow on the mountain above the top of the Roundhouse Chair.  I noted a number of locals wearing down jackets over the weekend, which made my feet itch to be inside a ski boot.  Of course the sun came back out and the air has warmed bringing my mind back to fall.  Bike and hiking trails should be in great condition after the weekend rains.

mt_judahYesterday, we ventured out to the top of old Highway 40 (Donner Summit) and hiked the Mt. Judah Loop Trail.  This trail begins at the Pacific Crest Trail Head just west of the summit of Hwy. 40.  The first section of the hike is over rather rocky granite switchbacks that include a number of granite stair steps.  Later the trail smooths out and winds south through beautiful stands of fir and pine trees.  The total hike is about 5.5 miles in length and climbs 1,700 feet to the top of Mt. Judah. We remained on the PCT until the trail to Mt. Judah turns off to the left.

This is a point just before you would have arrived at Roller Pass, the point where emigrants struggled to push their wagon over the Sierra before heading down to a fertile valley far to the west.  I have often stood in Roller Pass trying to envision cresting the Sierra with my wagon, that I have struggled to get to this point from the mid-west portion of our country.  We just do not know how easy we have it these days when traveling to and from Lake Tahoe in a few hours.  Imagine having to push your car up and over granite boulders to get to Alpine Meadows.  Of course, you would not have had to work quite as hard to get to Sugar Bowl.

Photo via Peakery.com

Photo via Peakery.com

Once you turn off the Pacific Crest Trail that heads on toward Squaw Valley and parts south, the vegetation changes from forest to open scree slopes with volcanic rock formations sticking up into the sky.  We walked along the open ridge enjoying a cool breeze and fantastic views in all directions.  The sky was clear allowing us views far out into the distance.  We passed signs indicating the boundary of Sugar Bowl to the east of the ridge, and looked down some rather short, but steep, slopes that are accessible with a short hike from the top of the Judah Chair. The trail drops to a saddle at the base of Donner Peak and then heads west to rejoin the PCT after which we retraced out steps to the Trail Head.  We were not rushing along the trail, but stopping to enjoy the view and take some photos which stretched the hike to just under 3 hours.

I would suggest getting out and taking this walk soon to make sure you have the opportunity to soak up the intense fall colors before winter arrives. By the way, there are a couple of small fixer uppers on the market in Alpine Meadows for anyone looking for a contractors special.  These are creek frontage properties in the low $400,000 price range.

Enjoy your day.

Andy Wertheim

Powderwhore’s “Some Thing Else” At The Tahoe Sports Hub October 17th

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There’s nothing like a great ski or snowboard movie to build stoke for the new season. Many of us are old enough to remember when the one Warren Miller film a year was all you could count on. Times have changed and there is no shortage of films released every season. This year happens to be quite the banner year on the snow movie scene. Both TGR and MSP premiered films that people have agreed might be the best ever. But the one we’re really looking forward to is Powderwhore’s latest release, “Some Thing Else”.

SAC-LogoFortunately our friends at the Tahoe Sports Hub and the Sierra Avalanche Center will be screening “Some Thing Else” on Friday, October 17th at 8 pm at the Tahoe Sports Hub. Tickets are available online at the SAC website, or at the door for $10. The event is a fundraiser for the Sierra Avalanche Center, those fine folk who give us a solid starting point in making smart decisions in the Tahoe backcountry and Alpine Meadow’s popular sidecountry. Refreshments and a raffle will also be sponsored by SAC. The doors for the event open at 7 pm. You should know that last year’s showing of “Elevation” was packed, so an early arrival is not a bad idea.

The fact that the Tahoe Sports Hub is willing to clear out the store and make the space available for the SAC Tahoe_sports_hub_webfundraiser event gives a clear indication about the how they are more than your typical sporting goods store. Formerly known as the Truckee Sports Exchange, which focused primarily on ski and climbing gear, the Tahoe Sports Hub now carries a full line of gear appropriate for recreating during all of the Tahoe seasons. The store space is now also shared with Cyclopaths and Tahoe Mountain Guides. There’s far more going on than just a change of name and logo. If you have never had a chance to talk to Rob, Dany, Jacque, Kenny and the rest of the staff, the Powderwhore showing would be a good opportunity to become a part of the Tahoe Sports Hub community.

Added 9/30/14: Just in, JP Auclair was confirmed dead in a large avalanche today on the border of Argentina and Chile. It’s sadly ironic that he appears in this film, to be shown to the benefit of an avalanche safety group. Let’s dedicate this showing to JP and the other victims. Here’s the story at Powder.

Here’s the trailer for “Some Thing Else”. It’s definitely going to leave you with a case of powder fever, and hoping for a better season in Tahoe this year. We’ll warn you early, there’s a couple of f-bombs. You may need to enable “boss mode” before watching.

Barely Covered Month 48 Turns

Barely covered at Mount Rose...

Barely covered at Mount Rose…

The whole concept of year round turns seemed so easy when I started the process 4 years ago. That first year brought us over 800 inches of snow to the Tahoe region and it was easy to find snow, even in September and October. Since then, we have faced three years of drought that have lead to the death of some of Tahoe’s oldest snowfields. Consequently, with a super busy work schedule in September, I resigned myself to the simple fact that unless Ullr intervened in September, my streak would end at 47 months.

While yesterday I was skunked at Mount Rose, today I was rewarded for my patience. That is only if you consider skiing on an inch or two of snow a reward. Yes, the slope was barely covered. Still, with a little persistent hiking after work, I found a line of continuous snow about 150 yards long that allowed me to string together 15 turns. My old PM Gear Bros rose to the challenge, sliding over granite and pinecones mixed in with a bit of snow with no discernible new base damage. Mission accomplished.

What really made my day? Seeing a small posse of young snowboarders and skiers setting up a small jib park near the top of my line. They were super stoked to be getting in their first hits of the season, and getting it all documented for Instagram and Snapchat, all in two inches of snow. They giggled as Rossi snuck into their shots, and smiled as they hiked further up the hill to harvest more snow to keep their line alive. If you really want to find the soul of skiing and riding, head out to the Mount Rose summit during a September snow storm.

Hopefully, the October turns will be a bit deeper.

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First Fall Snow For Alpine Meadows

The morning webcam image from SkiAlpine.com

The morning webcam image from SkiAlpine.com

I’m a bit late to the party with this post. There’s been Tahoe snow photos all over mainstream and social media sites today. Sadly I was in the wrong area to find snow today. The skis were loaded in the car and I was ready to catch some September turns today before work. The Mount Rose forecast had called for 5 inches overnight.

The Slide side at Mount Rose did not look nearly as attractive as Alpine Meadows at 6:30 this morning.

The Slide side at Mount Rose did not look nearly as attractive as Alpine Meadows at 6:30 this morning.

Sadly, the summit of the Mount Rose highway only showed a minimal dusting of snow last night, which paled in comparison to the 4 inches reported at the Summit of Alpine Meadows today. Imagine my surprise to see the crest of the Sierra still coated in white as I returned home from work this evening, just a bit too late to go out and hike for some turns. Hopefully there will be one more chance for snow on the Rose summit on the way to work tomorrow.

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It looks like we will return to a fairly neutral pattern for the first half of October. The GFS shows a significant storm forming near the end of it’s 16 day run, in the fantasycast time period. The PNA index is decisively negative territory this week, with little agreement on the trend in the next week. Things change rapidly this time of year.

A New Season, A New Look For UnofficialAlpine.com

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The first snow of the new season fell today on Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen.  There hasn’t been any new snow yet in Lake Tahoe, but it’s finally in our forecast. There’s a chance of snowfall throughout the weekend at the Mount Rose summit, as today’s cold upper low stalls over Nevada, creating a classic Tonopah Low scenario. While the expected snow totals are not huge, I hope I can find enough to finally get in my September turns.

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We figured that with that new snow, it was time to roll out a new look for UnofficialAlpine.com. While accepting change is never easy, we were never completely in love with our old look. It was thrown together in a frenzy of a divorce from Unofficial Networks and was never meant to be permanent. More than than two years later, we’re finally getting around to changing the look.

The new theme brings a modernized look to UnofficialAlpine.com, most importantly for the growing number of users that use mobile devices to access the site. While we’ve spent a few weeks working out kinks and refining some features on our development server, there’s still a few bumps here and there that we are still ironing out. We’ll also be rolling out the new look at our sister sites at Mount Rose, Bear Valley and Mount Bachelor over the next week.

Hopefully the change in the look for UnofficialAlpine.com will also encourage a change in the long term weather pattern to one that produces a lot more snow this season!

Post Lost Sierra Hoedown Blues

 

Once again, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit closed out Saturday night with a raging set.

Once again, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit closed out Saturday night with a raging set.

The third weekend of September has come and gone, and the second Lost Sierra Hoedown will Iive on only in our memories. It was every bit as epic as we thought it might be, especially for those that heeded our advice and purchased their tickets early. Yes, the Lost Sierra Hoedown was completely sold out by early Friday afternoon this year, leaving quite a few people disappointed to find that gate tickets were not available. While many festivals can sell unlimited tickets, the Johnsville Ski Bowl is located within Plumas Eureka State Park. They have smartly limited ticket sales to 500 people to minimize impacts on the Ski Bowl and its historic lodge. A cadre of artists, guests and volunteers brought the peak attendance to roughly 700 people over the weekend.

Attendees enjoyed a wide spectrum of music over 4 days, with musicians chosen from the local population and nationally known stars providing sets that ranged from classical guitar to the Grateful Dead, Nirvana, americana and rockabilly. While early afternoon shows enjoyed small and mellow crowds in lawn chair mode, the evening shows churned up the dust in the Ski Bowl with a large crowd enjoying boot stomping fun. When the main stage was done at midnight, the late night shows continued in the Eureka tent until nearly sunrise.

The Hoedown is more than just a music festival. It’s also a celebration of camping, sustainability and a passion for sliding on the snow. With the weather bringing mostly sunny skies this year, nearly all of the guests and artists camped together, just feet from the stage. Those seeking at least a few hours of sleep each night moved a few hundred yards down the road to makeshift car camps in the parking lot, or enjoyed the peace of the Plumas Eureka State Park campground. The perfect weather offered more opportunities for hikes to Eureka Lake and Eureka Peak, or a scenic tour to the old town of LaPorte.

This year’s Hoedown is expected to largely close the gap in funding needed to complete the installation of Squaw’s old Mainline chair at the Ski Bowl, as well as bring the Intorf Lodge and restrooms back up to code, allowing  for an opening in 2015-16. We were really proud to be help underwrite and sponsor this year’s Hoedown. We offer a big salute to Azariah Reynolds, Drew Fisher and the army of volunteers from Plumas Ski Club, Sierra Nevada College and other volunteers that made the event possible. Thanks to the many people that stopped by the merchandise booth and shared your happy thoughts about UnofficialAlpine.com!

We already can’t wait until next year. We sure hope you believe us when we tell you the event will definitely sell out, so grab your tickets early!