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.