Rain May Dampen Spirits For Closing Weekend

Image via

Image via

There’s some things you just can’t change.  Although there’s some people that believe we could use some chemtrails to prevent some rain this weekend, most of us will just accept the reality of rain and choose to do some skiing, or not.

  • When that sun don’t shine gonna soggy up your spirit,
  • Soggy up your spirit, it’ll hold you down.   – Willy Tea Taylor from Lullaby

The early track for this system had it sliding over the top of the ridge and into Nevada. Those inside slider systems are notorious for bringing colder air and the potential for spring powders days. Unfortunately, the latest models are calling for a battle royale between the trough moving in from the Pacific and the ridge that has been parked over the western states for a week. The end result is a very slow moving system that is expected to bring very significant rain to the Tahoe basin from Thursday into Sunday.

Here’s the latest run of the GFS totals through Sunday, calling for up to 4 or 5 inches of precipitation in favored areas. What that means is some areas may see little rainfall, while others see heavy downpours.

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Snow levels will not be very conducive to skiing and riding. With the low eventually ending up west of  Las Vegas, we would see a southerly flow that brings warmer air from the south. The last forecast we saw for snow levels pretty much keeps them at 7500 feet or higher through the weekend. For complete details on the system, Daniel Swain at posted a good analysis of what to expect this morning.

So the last few days of the Alpine Meadows ski season are  looking just a bit soggy. Will some people still be out there trying to make the best of it? We hope so. Maybe some employee will find a stash of those old plastic bag ponchos with the Alpine Meadows logo to hand out to skiers and riders this weekend. Maybe the clouds will part over Summit and we’ll have that sunny spring corn day that we see in our dreams.

The Future Of Squaw Valley is #$&@!

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If the future of Squaw Valley is #$&@!, then by corollary, the future of Alpine Meadows is also #$&@! as well. We already knew that was happening, but last week, out friends at Death Of The Pressbox published an opinion piece that spells out why there’s a problem. If it seems as if KSL doesn’t care about the true future at either mountain, author Andrew Pridgen gives us a quick lesson about how private equity firms, like KSL Capital, do business.

“Before we jump feet first into the water theme park and the specifics of the Squaw redevelopment plan which they all but burnt the edges of to make it look like an old treasure map like you did for a 5th grade project, let’s get a few things straight about KSL Capital Partners/Squaw Valley USA’s planned development.”

Personally, I’m a fan of Pridgen’s brusque writing style, which pulls no punches and punctuates with plenty of F-bombs. It does get your attention, and though some may be offended by the coarse language, we all need to be paying closer attention. There’s a lot at stake for the future of North Lake Tahoe, and it’s a critical time for people to be taking a stand.

Here’s a quick summary of the key points:

  1. KSL Capital really does not care what we think bout their development plans, nor its affect on the environment or community.
  2. It’s best to think of KSL Capital as a property flipper with short term deadlines to make a large return on an investment. They are way behind schedule at SquAlpine on getting that return on investment.
  3. Placer County does not have the staffing to handle the needs of properly analyzing a development this big. The 3,800 page Environmental Impact Report is more than can be managed by local agencies, and since Squaw Valley is located outside of TRPA jurisdiction, there is not much federal oversight available.
  4. The key to quick profitability at Squaw Valley will always be the short term value of real estate development rights, not the long term profits of a successful ski operation. Right from the day of sale, the mandate for Squaw Valley from KSL Capital has been growth and expansion.
  5. The sum total of the Village at Squaw Valley will not be sold off in one piece. The rights to development will be sold off in chunks as the demand appears. There is no one company that will be making sure things are done according to anybody’s current vision.
  6. KSL Capital and its current minions have no real idea about what the true appeal of Squaw Valley and why it’s so important to the future of everything that is North Lake Tahoe.
  7. The currently proposed plan from KSL Capital is based on what was trendy yesterday. Little thought and creativity has gone into truly making something unique.

There’s also a follow up article at Death Of The Pressbox that suggests the strategies of how to un#$&@! Squaw and Alpine. We applaud Pridgen and Death Of The Pressbox for their willingness to say what needs to be said. If we’re not dedicated to protecting what we have, decisions will be made by what is best for some investors rather what will keep the Tahoe economy and environment alive for everyone for years to come.

Some Awesome Runs Were Made Today

Unpossible and Vets harvesting corn on Powerline

Unpossible and Vets harvesting corn on Powerline

We’re getting down the bitter home stretch at Alpine Meadows. Like we’ve said before, the skiing was definitely better than the skiing at Northstar today, and probably Sugar Bowl too. The word is still out on the skiing at Donner Ski Ranch…

The skies started out full bluebird this morning with a stiff northeast wind still pushing 40 mph at the Summit. As Summit started spinning at 9, a small crowd of people hustled to get the last lift served turns of the year on High Traverse. I followed a much smaller crowd of skiers and riders to the groomed and pretty corny surface of Alpine Bowl. That’s where I stayed for the next 2 hours, tallying lap after lap of perfect spring turns rather than investing time in hiking.

Unpossible caught one last view of Twin Peaks from Upper Saddle

Unpossible caught one last view of Twin Peaks from Upper Saddle

The reports from High Traverse were good, as long as you were there for that first hour. It did not take long for things to get soft and manky. None of that matters as there’s no more skiing in the High Traverse area until after Alpine Meadows pulls the plug on operations next weekend.

Sometime around 11:15 things started getting really sticky in the flat runouts back to Summit. That encouraged us to take one last round of lunch from Melanie at Treats, while we waited for Scott to open at noon. It was well worth the wait. There was perfect corn to be harvested on Ridge Run. I continued the hot laps there until 1:00 pm, when the snow started turning to sludge on the return to Scott.

Vets closing out the day in Keyhole

Vets closing out the day in Keyhole

It’s crazy to think about closing weekend for Alpine Meadows being next weekend. While some areas of the mountain are indeed burning out quick, the snow pack remains very thick off of Summit and Roundhouse. I meant to take a picture today showing that view from the Scott side but hot laps are hot laps. Sure the crowds are almost non-existent these days. The lack of marketing effort, special events, food and drink specials and exorbitant prices for day tickets certainly don’t invite people to keep skiing. That what happens when there’s no competition…

There’s still talk of a significant inside slider moving in late Wednesday into Saturday next weekend. The models today are still calling for up to two inches of liquid moisture for the system. Snow levels are currently targeted to be in the 7000 foot level by Friday.

Closing weekend is looking snowy at Alpine Meadows...image via

Closing weekend is looking snowy at Alpine Meadows…image via

Kite Flying And Skiing Were Equally Good Today

Misty and windy morning with a dusting of new snow

Misty and windy morning with a dusting of new snow

It wasn’t the thunder that awoke me last night, as it was gone before I went to bed. But sometime early in the morning, I heard the noise of the wind blowing things around in my neighborhood. As dawn arrived, I cracked open an eye just enough to look at the Ward Peak wind sensors. It was then I knew that today would not be that day of dreamy spring corn that I was seeking.

The expected tweets arrived announcing that Summit would be on wind hold, but still left the hope that ABC might spin today. But as we arrived in the parking lot, it was clear that the clouds were moving fast. Before our Treats breakfast was complete, the report came in that ABC and Sherwood would also be on hold. But with only a few more days in the Alpine Meadows ski season, we soldiered on to load Roundhouse.

There were good turns and there were bad turns. Roughly two inches of new snow had fallen, but the wind had moved it around quite a bit. In places it was completely scoured, and in others we found pockets that were closer to 6 inches deep. The old snow skied fast, while the new snow was pretty grippy. The key to happiness was finding the slopes that consisted of all new snow, or all old snow, keeping you from having that herky jerky feeling.

The traverse out to Tiegel is getting adventurous

The traverse out to Tiegel is getting adventurous

We tried just a little bit of everything and ultimately found the best results on recently groomed runs that were covered in fresh snow. Yellow, Ladies Slalom and Ridge offered the best powder-like turns of the day. We also found some interesting lines off of Gunners. As the new snow was scraped into piles, Dance Floor and Weasel offered some nice smooth groomed turns.

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Image via

Sometime around 1 pm, the temperature rose 5 degrees as the sun began to peak from behind the clouds. The heavy wet snow turned to glue. When you can straight-line Dance Floor and still have to push to get back to Roundhouse, it’s time to call it a day.

There’s a slight chance of showers tomorrow with a high near 51. The east wind is expected to continue with a bit less force. Ski early.

The Fat Lady Is Singing At Alpine Meadows

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It’s looking pretty grim if you would rather be skiing Alpine Meadows than Squaw Valley. The website does indeed now say that May 8 is the last day of operations for Alpine Meadows. After that, welcome to the village slog and a Funitel ride if you want to have lift served skiing in Tahoe.

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We’ve been indicating for the last month that most of the signs were pointing to a May 8th closing date for Alpine. So we’re really not surprised at all. Welcome to the new Alpine, it’s getting farther and farther from the old Alpine.

Fortunately, the conditions in the backcountry are still looking great for spring skiing, and I’d rather walk up a mountain than walk through a faux alpine village.

There’s Been A Bit Of Snow This Week And Then The Weekend…

With two development related posts running this week, their hasn’t been much happening in the way of keeping up with the skiing and riding at Alpine Meadows. Reports are that there was somewhere between 3/32 of an inch and 2 inches of snow yesterday. Patty has taken some awesome pictures that make me want to get back on the mountain as soon as possible.

Lovely shot of winter like snow on North Peril. Photo by Patty

Lovely shot of winter like snow on North Peril. Photo by Patty

High Traverse was also looking very nice this week. Photo by Patty

High Traverse was also looking very nice this week. Photo by Patty

There’s one more little unexpected inside slider coming through tomorrow that has the potential to bring just a bit more snow and a chilly northeast wind.


By Saturday morning, that system should be moving out, leaving a slight chance of snow in the morning, followed by mostly sunny skies in the afternoon. Temperatures should be moderate. There’s a pass holder party and the Cushing Crossing over at Squaw Saturday, meaning that Alpine should be relatively empty.  Sunday offers more of a warm up, but also a chance of thundershowers.

The rumors continue to fly on Alpine Meadows actual closing date…somewhere between May 8 and May 30th. There’s absolutely no commitment. Then they complain that people stop coming skiing?