Seriously, I have been telling people all week that I thought winds might still be a problem for Saturday at Alpine Meadows. I fully expected that the upper mountains would be closed today at both Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. Even so, with Alpine Meadows showing all lifts scheduled on the app this morning, we dutifully packed in the car and left for Alpine at 7:00 AM, which is the new standard weekend departure time. When the first tweet arrives at 7:18 AM, it’s already too late.
Still, the app was showing lifts on wind hold at Alpine, and not a full on closure, so we pressed on because it was a Saturday and Treats does have the best bacon in town. Experience has also shown, many times, that it can be super windy on the top of the mountain and calm at the base. Today that was not the case, the winds were indeed gusty as we pulled into the parking lot.
We weren’t the only people that assumed that could be the case either. It looked like a typical early Saturday morning with plenty of people ready to wait for an open lift. NOAA had forecast that the High Wind Advisory would expire at 10 AM, leaving a glimmer of hope that some lifts would open eventually. But it wasn’t just that…here’s what the SquAlpine site was showing for lift status, even around noon today:
The Alpine Meadows lift report still showed everything on wind hold, even lifts like Summit and Scott which were just out of the question today. (Yes, please refer to our report yesterday about the confidence levels in the status of operations) The Squaw Valley report did properly indicate that the upper mountain lifts were closed, as well as some lower mountain lifts. So you can see why people were still crowded into the cafeteria and hanging out in locker rooms beyond noon today at Alpine Meadows, waiting for the possibility that something might open.
Nobody is doubting that winds were intense at the ridge lines today. Here’s a post from Squaw today on Facebook:
But I would argue that some of Alpine Meadows lifts are not on ridges and were not subject to the very well advertised 100+ mph winds. Here’s what the NOAA windspeed sensor showed for mid-mountain at Alpine Meadows today:
The latest blog post at the SquAlpine post says winds at the top of Roundhouse were 65 mph. So there seems to be a disconnect there, as in looking at several other remote sensors at similar elevations in Tahoe, they also showed similar numbers. Here’s the one from Squaw Valley at elevation 8000′:
Squaw Valley did run KT-22 today, which is interesting because it terminates at about the same elevation as Roundhouse, on a more exposed ridge. How does that work? What if Alpine Meadows actually had to be competitive with Squaw Valley, like it was for 50 years? What if…
Would you like to look at comparable resorts again?
- Alpine Meadows: Big Carpet and Small Carpet
- Squaw Valley: KT-22, Far East, Exhibition
- Sugar Bowl: All lifts except Crow’s Nest (s0me delayed openings)
- Kirkwood: All major lifts (some delayed openings)
- Mount Rose: Limited operations in the morning then opened all lifts except Chuter in afternoon.
We don’t know how to explain this special little vortex that is Alpine Meadows. Once again, we are not blaming mountain ops or patrollers. These decisions are being made at some different level. We know that when the mountain does not open, that many employees only receive limited pay and frequent mountain closures are hurting their paychecks. I fully expect that the usual suspects will continue to attack the customers and tell us that we should just shut up. It’s an interesting world that we live in where businesses now feel it is right to just tell people to go somewhere else…
If today is any indication, then lifts at Alpine Meadows will not be in operation tomorrow or Monday, as NOAA indicates more wind for each of those days. Ugh. Trust me, we would rather be sharing stoke too.