And then it snowed

Snowy chairlift ride

So apparently all it took was a blog post.  It started snowing in late February, leaving the Tahoe ski resorts with up to 4 feet by the time the week was up.

Feels like winter

Feels like winter

The first weekend in March attracted every powderhound within a 500 mile radius – or so it seemed.  So after a day at the resorts with 12,000 of my closest friends, I spent the next day going for a stroll with N.  Nice views and great snow for the top half of the descent made for a fun morning.

Nice day for a walk.

Nice day for a walk.

The old man appears to be back for now.  But there’s no harm in continuing to drink for snow, right?

Ski Safari, Part 4: Revelstoke

Missed Part 1, 2 or 3?

Revelstoke

Big views & big vertical

The Whitewater to Revelstoke leg of the trip was one of the longer drives, involving high mountain roads, beautiful scenery, some snow, and a ferry crossing.  That was my favorite part of the drive, and not just because it was free.

We arrived in Revelstoke along with the snow, which resulted in our second official powder day of the trip.  New snow + 5620 feet of vertical + high speed chairlifts meant that we quickly racked up vertical, along with face shots and grins.  Revelstoke’s terrain includes some fun hiking, a ton of trees, and sustained steeps.  That there was nothing resembling a lift line during our two days was further reason to love the place.

In its current incarnation, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a new ski resort, only opened in 2007.  Admittedly there was another smaller ski resort and a cat ski operation before that, so it’s not like skiing is new here.  But it doesn’t come across as your typical destination ski resort.  There’s no lodge around every corner, and not everything is groomed to perfection.    Like Red and Whitewater, this is a skier’s mountain.  And like those two resorts, there are a lot of people that drive up the Powder Highway to hit them all.  We saw a few of the same people at the three resorts doing just what we did.   So clearly this Powder Highway thing has caught on.

After two days of powder, steeps and trees, it was time to start the journey south.  Our next stop was Bellingham to visit family and ski Mt. Baker.  Having visited Bellingham numerous times over the past 4 years, I had never skied there, so I was super excited.

Coming up: Mt. Baker

No April Fool’s Joke

April powder snow at Lake Tahoe

Best April Fool's day ever.

12-21 inches of powder – the light and dry ‘white room’ kind- fell at Lake Tahoe yesterday, making today a very memorable (if busy) day at the ski resorts. Despite the hoards of hungry powder-seekers, we were able to find fresh tracks most of the day, though admittedly we did spend our afternoon in a secluded backcountry location.

This storm – heck, this week’s storms – have helped make March a true miracle this year. Snow totals for the month are upwards of 100 inches, making up for some of the pain felt here this season. And with a few more weeks to the ski season (first resort closings are April 15), it’s not a bad time to make hay (or ski tracks) while the ski lifts are still running.

Miracle March Delivers

Tree skiing at Heavenly

Miracle March indeed.

It’s not unusual for the Sierra to see some huge storms in March.  After a less than stellar snow season, all eyes were on this month to deliver.  Mother Nature (or the jet stream, depending on your beliefs) did not disappoint.

Powder Skiing Lake Tahoe

N testing his fat skis out during Miracle March.

We saw rain and snow all last week, with the big storm arriving Friday.  By Saturday morning the resorts were reporting between 30-48 inches in a 24 hour period, with another 2-15 inches by Sunday morning. Storm totals for the week were as high as 7 feet.

Light powder snow at Tahoe?

Light powder snow at Tahoe?

This was the storm that many of us had been waiting for, and no doubt there were loud hollers of powder joy at ski resorts throughout the area.  N and I are sporting the tired, silly grins of two people who skied a lot of deep snow this weekend.

Fresh powder even on the last run of the day at Kirkwood.

Fresh powder even on the last run of the day at Kirkwood.

While spring technically begins in a few days,  it feels like winter just arrived.  And as far as I’m concerned, it’s welcome to stay awhile.

Winter finally arrived.

Snow!

You might have heard.  Lake Tahoe finally got snow.  Apparently as much as six feet as of today!  This is great news, and means that the ski resorts are opening lifts and terrain as fast as they can.

No surprise that I got out to product test this weekend.  Real snow, some off-trail excitement and even a few powder turns made for a fun few days.  But it was also a painful reminder that I’m going to be in a world of hurt on our upcoming backcountry ski trip.  Seven days with no training?  Clearly I’m more optimistic than I think.

A day at Heavenly

I had hoped to get some super awesome snow photos over the weekend.  But I didn’t.  Blame the light, my cold hands, my pent up need to simply ski. But you get it.  Snow at lake level isn’t something we’ve seen much of in awhile, and it’s done a lot for morale, even if some of the side roads were a bit of a circus today, and even if it appeared that everyone forgot how to drive in winter conditions.

But still.  Tomorrow we will ski, and even if I don’t stop to take any super awesome – or super mediocre – photos, it will be a terrific day. Winter’s back baby!

Jaw-dropping storm totals

3 days of snow accumulation

The storm, she continues, and with much intensity. Since late Tuesday night (really, Wednesday morning), the Tahoe ski resorts have seen up to 106 inches of snow at the upper elevations.  That’s almost NINE FEET.

And while my local resort, Heavenly, doesn’t typically see as much snow as Kirkwood or Alpine Meadows, it still received five feet of snow as of today.  I’ve done a bit of product testing the past few days, and cannot keep count of the face shots and over the head blower powder turns.  Suffice to say it’s been good – stupid good. My cheeks hurt from my permagrin.

No action pics to share here.  Too busy skiing in the moment to capture the moment.  But there is the latest photo of N’s truck, which I’m using as a snow gauge to show him when he returns this weekend.  Just so he fully understands how much snow me (and the dog) had to clear on our own.

Old Man Winter Returneth…

This week there has been much ado and anticipation about this week’s big storm.  There was a small taste earlier in the week, but not enough to invoke the six-inch rule.

With lots of buzz over its arrival yesterday afternoon, I was beginning to wonder on my drive home from derby practice last night at 10.30.  I saw a few snowflakes, and heard lots of wind, but where was the two inches an hour fury?

Oh little grasshopper.  Your skepticism after all these years in the Tahoe basin?  This is what I woke up to this morning.

Yep.  Over a foot here. I’ve never been so excited about shoveling snow.  There’s another storm expected to hit Thursday night into Friday, which should make for some hilarity with the hordes that are descending upon us for the holiday weekend.

Tahoe storm cycle hilarity

Well, the storm is here, and while many folks wish it were a few degrees cooler, it’s definitely snowing if you’re in the sweet spot elevation, which at this exact moment in time could be anywhere between 7000 – 7500 feet.  Apparently there’s a bit of a battle between air currents, and Alaska’s not kicking Hawaii’s butt with the aggression we need.  This explains the Armageddon like warnings about having sandbags, water and an extra side of beef on hand.

That said, we did go skiing today.  For something different, we headed to Heavenly’s Nevada side.  It’s snow report indicated 20 inches in 24 hours, and we knew that its higher elevation meant a lesser chance of encountering rain-soaked snow.  It didn’t rank up there with the best snow of the season, but it was fast snow, it was fun (it was skiing!), and there were very few people there.  That meant no lift lines and limited areas we could access off the 3 open lifts weren’t tracked out right away.

The snow being what it was, with interesting layers and a crust in places, you had to be on your game on your skis.  The slightest hint of imbalance, and well, you were going down, usually with enough speed to induce whiplash.  On every lift ride up, we saw at least one person on their back feebly moving their skis in the air in an effort to clamber out of the snow.  My giggling tempted karma, as it later happened to me after I went over a small rollover faster than I realized.  Wha-BAM.  Because I never to anything halfway, I found myself with a bleeding lip and a dazed expression when I finally untangled myself.  Luckily, Nils did witness the magic as it happened.  Unfortunately, he had no video camera to capture the incident.

But snow is snow, and stormy days are my favorite days, even if I’m required to dress in a silly amount of layers to keep warm.

The battle of the non-contiguous states is expected to continue through Monday, with the potential for a lot of snow, snain or rain.  I’ve got money that Alaska will win out, though the realist in me is wearing my waterproof jacket the next few days.

May Powder Snow

May 10th snowstorm

It snowed again yesterday.  Just a few inches at the house, but it was enough to encourage me to make lemonade out of lemons.  So last night I packed up my backcountry gear and headed out this morning at dark o’thirty to make some turns before work.  In my haste I forgot my camera, so no photographic evidence is available.

With no other cars at the trailhead (I guess the die-hard powder skiers are over it now?) I was on my own breaking trail, marveling at the cold boot-top snow I was seeing on May 11!  The winds had hammered anything not sheltered, so I chose to descend in the shelter of the trees.   Surprisingly winter-like snow on a firm base meant that it might not have ranked as one of the most epic powder days I’ve had this season, but it was epic for May.

I keep telling myself that this will be the last powder day of the season.  Given that it’s supposed to be 66 degrees & sunny by the weekend, I’m pretty sure that this really *was* my last powder day of the 2009/10 season.  After 7 months of skiing, I’m gonna be gracious & accept that.