First Bluebird Day Of The Week

It’s a terrible week to be required to work. It’s a guarantee that people will send me pictures. Sometimes it’s painful to see those powder shots in my inbox. Seeing them taken in Scott’s Chute today did not make it any better.  We also went and harvested a few more from social media sites tonight to round out todays conditions report. Let’s do pictures first today.

We keep hearing rumors that Lakeview will be opening for Friday, but as of 6:20 this evening, it does not appear on the schedule.

Snow is in the forecast one more time tomorrow. Somewhere around 3-8 inches is forecast for tomorrow, mostly during the day time hours. Snow levels are expected to rise slightly to near 6000 feet. Snow is also expected to taper off by the afternoon, which should end any chain restrictions over the summits. We’re forecasting a chance of very heavy traffic tomorrow evening over Donner Summit.

The weekend will be the start of a drying out period that is sure to inspire some crowds for the holidays. Next possibility for snow in the forecast is for a possible inside slider on Christmas day.

Andy’s Latest Report, More Powder Pictures…And Scott Chair Tomorrow

More snow fell today, and there’s still a bit more on the way. Earlier this week, we said that we were seeing up to 2 feet of snow falling over the course of the week in the GFS forecast. Official reports are that 10 inches of new snow have fallen this week as of this morning. Unofficial reports and photos suggest that number may be slightly under reported. Regardless of the actual numbers, Alpine Meadows has the Scott Chair on the schedule for tomorrow. While not all of the terrain is skiable off of Scott yet, it will be a good place to spread out holiday crowds. The terrain report lists the usual south facing runs as opened and groomed, as well as Scott Chute and Seldom Slides. Gentian Gully is not listed as open and we would expect that coverage in the lower areas would be slim.

Hot Wheels has also been added to the rotation, opening up a lot of intermediate terrain, which was in short supply last weekend. It seems reasonable that if Scott can be opened, that we might see Lakeview added soon too. Many people have been asking about Sherwood, as it would provide access to High Traverse. That sure would be a sweet way to enjoy Christmas. Hopefully that can happen before there’s too much sun to turn the snow to junk.

We have a few more pictures from today, all of which make me wonder why my winter break could not have started a week earlier:

Andy Wertheim: Another Day

Hello Skiers and Riders,

More snow fell overnight, not much, but enough to allow us to make a few fresh lines in the soft topping.  It snowed lightly during the day.  Temperatures have warmed a bit  today, but showers were still white.  The early part of the day visibility increased which made it more pleasant for me.  Later clouds dropped again and flattened out the light.  However, in the morning hours I could actually see variations in the snow.

Today was the first day I really felt I was skiing and not picking my way down in flat light.  The mountain still lacks a couple of feet of depth on the lower trails, but all the trails can be skied.  The upper mountain is in pretty darn good shape.  The snow stake at the top of the Sisters read 52″.  This is real base and does not include any man-made snow.  We are expecting more light showers tonight and another round of light showers on Friday.  It certainly feels like winter.

Enjoy your day.

Andy Wertheim

Someone Put The Brakes On SOV Spending…The Latest From Over The Ridge

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It’s mid-month, which means it’s time for the latest release of financial spending regarding the incorporation of Olympic Valley. Over the last two months, we have noted that the pace of spending by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital has slowed considerably. This month it slowed even more. With each passing month the reports get a bit more complicated, as expenses and income are shifted between different months. Nonetheless, much less money is being spent to fight the incorporation effort.

In general terms, approximately $13,000 was spent by the Save Olympic Valley group during the month of November. That money all went to the same group of lobbyists we noted last month. Notably, there were no new expenses for advertising. The current editions of Moonshine Ink and Sierra Sun do not contain ads for SOV. We did note the presence of a full page ad in the shiny new Squaw magazine that arrived in the mail last week. Squaw Valley Ski Holdings contributed a total $32,000 to SOV during the month, with $25,000 of that being a cash contribution to cover previous expenditures.

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On the other side of the effort, Incorporate Olympic Valley ran their first big ad in Moonshine Ink this week. The ad introduces the IOV organization’s Board and offers some sound reasoning for considering the incorporation. You have to wonder if their ad will inspire a whole new round of spending by SVSH and KSL.

On a related note, Olympic Valley resident activist Dave Brew wrote a nice editorial that appears in the latest edition of Moonshine Ink. The piece, titled “Squaw Valley: Is A Village A Community?”, does as the title implies. Brew is a seasoned writer and does a great job asking us to clarify the difference between a “village” and a “resort”.

What does this mean to our thinking about the proposed development at Squaw Valley, which is commonly referred to as the expansion of the existing “village” at Squaw Valley? I think it means that almost all of us have been using the wrong terms all along. There is no “village” at Squaw Valley. However, there is — and has been for many years — a resort. There is also a community. – Dave Brew

We encourage you to check out the entire piece at Moonshine Ink.

Meanwhile, Valley Girl just sent us a reality check. While we often end up posting about the antics of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, what we’re really trying to protect is this….Free Alpine!

It looks like we missed another fine day at Alpine Meadows. Photo by Valley Girl

It looks like we missed another fine day at Alpine Meadows. Photo by Valley Girl


Andy Wertheim: A Little More New Snow

Hello Skiers and Riders,

Light snow fell most of the day today.  It actually accumulated to four or five inches, bringing a layer of white to the slopes. Along with the quietly dropping flakes were the loud blasting of snow guns.  I did not get out until the afternoon when the visibility was a little flat, but we did appreciate some nice runs. Sunspot, North Peril (where we could see in the trees), Dance Floor where we were pelted with wet snow from loud guns, Charity where the snow was soft as butter, and various other lines that were mostly delightful.  There were icy patches, especially where snow had been scraped off from the man-made topping, and slim coverage at the bottom of the runs.   Overall, there seemed to be plenty of smiles on the hill and on the faces of those heading home after a good day of sliding.

Enjoy your day.

Andy Wertheim

We’re also adding some pictures from Valley Girl and crew from the sleeper mini-pow day. It was one of those days where pictures kept arriving via text and  I stupidly kept looking at Facebook. Ouch, skiing would have been so much more fun. – Mark


First Weekend Done And A Look At The Week Ahead

Photo by Valley Girl

Photo by Valley Girl

Just like that, the first weekend of the Alpine Meadows ski season is done. It was another fine day of skiing and riding today. While skiing again was pretty good all over the mountain, conditions were a bit more variable today than yesterday. In general, the powder conditions of yesterday were gone, either through skier traffic or through the effects of sun and temperatures that were slightly above freezing yesterday.

Although groomed runs were generally wider today, the surface was variable. Some high traffic areas of the groomers were quickly scraped down to ice. That meant we spent more time looking for off piste lines that were skied in, but not too bumpy. For the groomed runs, Weasel held up the best, as many people never realized it was open or did not want to deal with the poor coverage in Tiegel Flats. For off piste terrain Lower Idiots, Charity and Red Ridge offered good coverage, nice snow and less traffic than some other areas of the mountain.

There were some incremental expansions of terrain today. The Meadow lift offered some beginner terrain. The upper section of Hot Wheels was also groomed, which was odd since the chair was not running. It makes sense that the mountain would like to get HotWheels operational by next weekend. The section between the Chalet and the base needs some serious work. Hopefully Mother Nature will be cooperating.

A small shortwave of snow moved through Tahoe this afternoon, bringing a quick squall that dropped an inch or two of snow. Here’s a series of captures from the new 360° Roundshot webcam that captured it this afternoon. All three images are via

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For the upcoming week, we will be seeing periods of snow between Monday and Wednesday, and possibly again on Friday. After all of the “hype” accusations after the last storm, many of the forecasters seem a bit gun-shy in going with the models. The WPC 5 Day Total shows the possibility for up to two feet of snow through the week. The timing for these storms is all over the place, but the biggest wave seems to be coming in sometime Monday afternoon. The snow levels should be significantly lower with these storms, though again, forecasters are a bit gun-shy about giving any specific numbers. Most of the sources say snow levels will be from 4000-6000 feet, which even at the higher end will keep the Tahoe basin and Truckee in snow, which is good for holiday visitors, chain installers and snow removal services.


In the longer range, there’s some talk about a stronger ridge building in next week, bringing fearful talk about the Return of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. Discussions have suggested the return of the ridge for the last six weeks, always near the end of the 16 day models. It has not materialized yet. At least we’re not still stuck in a ridge pattern looking at the possibility of storms 16 days out. Here’s to the hope that the storms live up to the “hype” this week.

Many People Said “Best Opening Day Ever”

I don’t know if it can be the “best opening day ever”, as opening day was actually yesterday. Those of us that have been around the block also know we have seen some epic opening days in the past too. But when things have been thin for several seasons, it sure was nice to open the season with a pow day and very good coverage on the top of the mountain. Everything skied well today, with the only exceptions being the lowest 200 feet of the mountain. It was a miracle that mountain ops was able to get that covered in time for today after a lot of rain last week.

There’s no point in listing what was good today as it all was. For some reason, there were essentially no lines today, once the initial queues were cleared. How did that happen? I saw some pictures from other North Tahoe resorts today where that was not the case at all.

We did have some extra time spent on chairs today. The initial ride on Roundhouse this morning included a 10 minute stop, as did a later ride on Summit. Those were the minor stops. The big stop was on ABC, when a regional power outage stopped lifts at Alpine and Squaw. While Roundhouse and Summit were switched to diesel immediately, it took awhile to get ABC going on diesel. Fortunately it was a nice sunny day with no wind, and we had a nice view of Lower Saddle and Keyhole during the 35 minute stop. Alpine Meadows staff were informative and friendly about the situation.

We took that as sign it was time to have lunch, as only Roundhouse was running on diesel, and the line filled the queue. We noticed that many people left during lunch, but by the time lunch was over, things were back to normal. It was a fantastic 2nd day of the season, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come. See you out there again tomorrow.

Andy Wertheim: First Second Day: A Powder Day

Hello Skiers and Riders,

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday it was warmish and wet with puddles at the base area.  Last night the temperature dropped and snow making kicked into high gear.  This morning the base area had frozen and looked much better as some new man-made snow covered the dirty wet snow that existed yesterday.  A few morning clouds disappeared and blue sky replaced the past few days of grayness.  Snow that was questionable yesterday dried out over night and turned into a nice powder consistency.  It was the first day of the season for the upper mountain to open at Alpine, and  it was not a disappointment.  I think many skiers and riders were surprised to see the rather good coverage on the upper mountain.  We were not limited to a thin ribbon of white.  Instead, we were offered plenty of off piste skiing.

I made some fresh turns below the top of Summit Chair between Sunspot and the groomed areas of Alpine Bowl that were delicious.  We skied the trees under Alpine Bowl and ventured out to Lower Our Father.  Under Roundhouse Chair was also filled with nice powder early in the morning.  People were out in Lower Saddle and tracking up Wolverine.  I did not even hit a bare patch during my morning tour.

However, after making a number of runs the power went out at both Alpine and Squaw.  We quit at this point as we did not really want to ride Roundhouse with the backup generator running.  It was a short, but lovely morning.

Evidently a truck hit a main power pole on Hwy. 89 which caused the power to fail at Alpine and Squaw.  Rumor is that the pole and power will be back on in the morning.

Enjoy your day.

Andy Wertheim