Lake Tahoe Winter – It’s On!

Big snowbanks in south lake tahoeWhen I left South Lake Tahoe on the Friday before Thanksgiving, there was no snow on the ground.  I returned a week later to 3 feet of snow in the driveway along with a 4 foot berm (thanks municipal snowplow driver).  There was more up high – much more. Final snow total for this month? TEN feet.  In November? That’s unheard of.

Apparently La Niña has arrived.

I was in LA for family shenanigans last week, but wasn’t so busy to not keep tabs on the snow and storms, partly for work and partly for my own edification.   Over 8 feet fell during the course of 4 days or so at the upper elevations, which meant that by Thanksgiving weekend, most Tahoe area ski resorts were open for business.  Mid-winter conditions and more open terrain than is typical for this time of year meant that skiing and riding at Lake Tahoe was truly all-time.  My Twitter & Facebook feeds were filled with powder photos, gloating, and ‘Viva La Niña!’

While we missed the Tahoe hilarity (including the sub-zero temps), we did get 4 great days of skiing at Mammoth, 3 of which were powder days.  Our return home was heralded by another storm, which dropped another foot-plus of snow.  And it was cold smoke.

So, despite the fatigue of driving without snow tires and shoveling out large volumes of snow on Saturday night, N and I were up fairly early on Sunday to get our first backcountry day in.   We figured that our favorite easy access tour was popular enough that someone else had already set the skin track.  Not so much.  But the trail breaking was so worth it.  Face shots in November? The fluffy turns convinced us to try another lap, and while it became apparent that neither of us is in top backcountry condition, we made it to the top without collapsing.  And promptly forgot how tired we were as we whooped and giggled our way down through the nearly thigh-deep snow.

Oh winter.  I’m so glad you’re back.

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