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We curate the best deals such as:

  • Top picks for lift ticket deals and season pass deals
  • Specials on Tahoe area dining, entertainment, lodging
  • Inside travel and money saving tips for those with kids and without
  • Retail ski and snowboard shop sales
  • Resorts’ and local Tahoe area nightlife and apres ski and ride
  • Our picks for ‘absolute must go’ ski and snowboard travel destinations
  • Ski & stay vacation package deals and promotions
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Upcoming SF Bay Area events & outings
  • Tahoe news and weather forecast(will there be fresh POWder on the horizon?)

New to Snowpals? Sign up for Tahoe rideshare, meetups and interact with members near you by joining us or sign up to get event invites.

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Scenic Backcountry skiing in Yosemite National Park

glacier-point-road-cross-country-ski_half-dome

Scenic Backcountry skiing in Yosemite National Park interests you?

Yosemite Winter Club Cross Country Ski Section
Jane Raschuke-Goodman, a representative from the the Yosemite Winter Club Cross Country Ski section( is a non-profit organization founded in 1928 to bring winter sporting opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts in Yosemite), will be presenting information about YWC, as well as, sharing tips on all aspects of back country skiing. Attend one of the two information sessions that are scheduled at Sports Basement:

When and Where:
Thursday, January 19, 2017, from 6pm to 7pm
At the Sports Basement, Presidio of San Francisco, 610 Old Mason Street, San Francisco, Ca. 94129.

and

At the Sports Basement, Berkeley location – 2727 Milvia Street, Berkeley, California 94703 on Thursday, February 23, from 6 pm to 7 pm

For further information, email: or call Jane Raschke-Goodman at (559) 392-1194

Learn about the Yosemite Winter Club Cross Country Ski Section ( YWCXC). This Club arranges hut supported ski trips into the backcountry of Yosemite. These trips are made possible by the XC Section members who volunteer their time for trip planning, meal planning, shopping and packing food caches and placing the caches in the cabins in the fall before the roads close. These are not guided trips, but a trip leader is assigned for the purpose of facilitating decision making and everyone pitches in to cook, clean up after meals and tidy up the cabins before the group leaves.

Looking to buy gear, skis, snowboard or snow sports clothing? REI is having their REI’s Winter Clearance Sale.

Save up to 50% on Cold Weather Clothing and Footwear. Plus Save 50% off or more at REI Garage! Shop early for the best selection. Free U.S. Standard Shipping on all Skis and Snowboards. Earn a $100 REI Gift Card when you apply for an REI Mastercard. Browse clearance sale items.

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September’s first snow in Tahoe

tahoe-snow-kirkwood-2

September 13, 2016 brings fresh snow to Kirkwood ski resort and the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains above 9,000 feet. Winter is coming; get your skis and boards tuned and waxed. We’re hoping this is the start of more powder to come for the 2016-17 Tahoe snow season.

Get the most out of your ski season pass by joining a Tahoe area ski lease or plan a get away with a vacation rental. Connect for Tahoe trips and ride shares. Get the latest news and deals; sign up for Snowpals’ newsletter.

Boreal is typically the first Tahoe resort to open for the season on October 31, 2016. As of today, we are looking at only 47 more days until you can ski/ride down Tahoe’s powdery slopes.


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Cheapest Tahoe Lift Ticket Deal

 

squaw-alpine - pic from Squaw Alpine resort

pic from Squaw Alpine resort

January 2016 brings back to back storms with over 4 feet of new snow in 7 days and more snow in the forecast; it’s the best snow in five years so get to your favorite Tahoe resort and enjoy skiing/riding or learn a fun new snow sport since it’s the most snowfall record in years; gather some family and friends together for a getaway(browse our list of Tahoe vacation rentals). Here are some great lift ticket discounts and deals..

What’s the cheapest Tahoe resort lift ticket deal?

For college students, if you are free to go skiing/riding on Fridays, Boreal offers the cheapest/best lift ticket deal at only $15. Ski and ride from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, enjoying the area’s closest ski resort right off Highway 80. Available for only College students and active duty military at Boreal. Must have valid I.D.

Not a college student? You can still get $25 lift tickets on Feb 5 and March 18, dubbed as FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS

Only $25 for anyone with $5 of that going back to either High Fives Foundation and Truckee Humane Society. Make sure to head to the Boreal Bar for an awesome after party with music, good times, and food specials.

Discounted ski bus trips: If you’re looking for a discounted ski bus from the SF Bay Area to Tahoe ski resorts, check out the discounted one day and overnight ski bus trips with pick-ups around the Bay Area. Sleep on the bus, have a fun day of skiing and snowboarding and watch movies on the return bus ride. You can add a learn to ski or snowboard package or book a round trip bus ride only if you already have a lift ticket or season pass.

free-bear-valley-lift-tickets-hyundai

Tip: SF Bay Area Hyundai is running a promo where you get two free lift tickets to Bear Valley ($140 value) with any test drive.

For our latest scoop on Tahoe discounts and deals on lift tickets and vacation packages, get our newsletter.

Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC) Discount Lift Tickets in the Tahoe Area:

“Purchase a ticket and enjoy a day of skiing or riding all season long, non holidays. All proceeds benefit backcountry avalanche forecasting in the Lake Tahoe Region.

Sierra Avalanche Center has partnered with Tahoe’s top resorts to offer SAC Ski and Ride Days. Each of the participating resorts have donated lift tickets or trail passes to the Non Profit to support educational programs and the avalanche advisory.  When you purchase a lift ticket through SAC your money goes directly toward Know Before You Go avalanche safety education across the Lake Tahoe region.

SAC SKi & Ride Days are a great way to support our mission and enjoy a day of skiing or riding at your favorite Tahoe resort. Look for the yellow ticket button on the home page to learn about participating resorts and details. Once we sell through our supply the link will be inactive for purchase.” – updated on 1/14/16

Discount Lift Tickets to Homewood Mountain Resort

12/09/2015 to 04/24/2016

Support the Sierra Avalanche Center by…

Discount Lift Tickets to Sugar Bowl Resort – SOLD OUT

12/09/2015 to 04/17/2016
Sugar Bowl Tickets have SOLD OUT. Thanks so much for supporting usSupport the Sierra Avalanche Center by purchasing a discounted lift ticket for a day of skiing or riding…
Lift Tickets for Northstar, Heavenly, Kirkwood – TEMPORARLIY SOLD OUT

01/01/2016 to 04/17/2016
Tickets are temporarily Sold Out – Check back for more detailsSupport the Sierra Avalanche Center by purchasing a lift ticket for a day of skiing or riding at Northstar…

 

2016 Skiing for Schools Tahoe

The participating resorts are offering skiers and snowboarders special discounted lift tickets and the opportunity to support education. One hundred percent of the lift ticket proceeds go to the Excellence in Education Foundation, which provides enhanced educational opportunities for our local students. Please see listings below for ticket details.  Updated: 1/14/16

Homewood

$50 lift tickets valid Sunday – Friday, all season, non-holiday (Dec. 19 – Jan. 3; Jan 16-18; Feb. 13-21; Mar. 25-28). Tickets will email instantly.
Click here for tickets

Tahoe Donner Downhill

$30 lift tickets valid Sunday – Friday, all season, non-holiday (Dec. 18 – Jan. 3; Jan. 15 – 18; Feb. 12 – 20).
Tickets on sale here Please allow up to 24 hours for ticket to be mailed. Tickets also available at Tahoe Dave’s

Tahoe Cross Country

$15 trail passes valid Sunday – Friday, all season, non-holiday (Dec. 26 -Jan. 2; Jan. 16-17; Feb 13-14). Passes at Alpenglow in Tahoe City, or email .

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows

$75 lift ticket valid from April 1 to end of season. Tickets go on sale March 1.

Northstar

$106 lift ticket valid all season, no restrictions. Online tickets are sold out. Thank you for your support!

Sugar Bowl

$50 lift ticket valid all season, non-holiday (Dec. 19 – Jan. 3; Jan 16-18; Feb. 13-21). Tickets are no longer available. Thank you for your support.

Royal Gorge

$15 Trail pass valid all season, non-holiday (Dec. 19 – Jan. 3; Jan 16-18; Feb. 13-21). SOLD OUT! Thank you for your support.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country

$15 trail passes valid Sunday – Friday, all season, non-holiday. SOLD OUT! Thank you for your support.

Purchase downhill ski tickets in advance at Tahoe Dave’s (Truckee, Kings Beach, Tahoe City).  Purchase cross-country passes in advance at Paco’s in Truckee and Alpenglow in Tahoe City.  A limited supply of tickets are sold on a first-come, first served basis and will not be available at the resorts.  Tickets are not refundable. All Skiing for Schools proceeds are donated to Excellence in Education through your lift ticket purchase and the generous support of participating ski resorts. The Foundation would also like to acknowledge both Northstar and Squaw /Alpine for their generous $15,000 cash contributions in addition to the discounted lift tickets provided.  

For more information, please call 530-550-7984

 

Special lift ticket deals and promos for Tahoe visitors:

SQUAW VALLEY | ALPINE MEADOWS

Fly & Ski Free at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
Guests arriving by airplane can ski or ride the afternoon for free (and evenings during night operations). Present your same-day commercial airline boarding pass with a matching photo ID at the Guest Services & Sales Center at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows and receive a complimentary afternoon lift ticket valid from 12:30 – 4pm.

SIERRA-AT-TAHOE

Fly in and ski or ride free that same day at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort! Must present same day boarding pass and a valid I.D. to receive complimentary lift ticket. Lift tickets are valid Sunday-Friday, non-holiday* are non-transferable, not for resale and cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.
*Holiday Dates include December 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016; January 16-18, 2016; February 13-20, 2016.

HEAVENLY

Fly & We’ll Buy at Heavenly
Fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and ski that afternoon, for FREE! After all, Heavenly is for those who are up for first chair and are still going strong well after last call. You come here to go all in, and worry about sleep later. Present your boarding pass and photo ID at the Guest Service office to receive your free afternoon lift ticket, valid same-day from 12:30 – 4:00 pm.

KIRKWOOD

From the Plane to Powder!
Flying into Reno to enjoy the legendary snow and terrain at Kirkwood? Don’t throw away your boarding pass, bring it to the guest service office located in the Village Plaza the same day as your flight and we’ll set you up with a FREE half-day lift ticket! Please bring a photo ID with your boarding pass to redeem your half-day ticket which is good from 12:30 – 4:00 pm.

NORTHSTAR CALIFORNIA

Flying? First Runs Are On Us at Northstar California
Flying to Northstar through the Reno-Tahoe International Airport? Show us your boarding pass from the same day and enjoy a half-day lift ticket on us. There’s no better way to shake out your travel legs than with an afternoon on the slopes. To redeem, simply show your boarding pass and photo ID at the Guest Service office to receive your free afternoon lift ticket, valid same-day from 12:30 – 4:00 pm.

MT. ROSE-SKI TAHOE

Ski the Day you Fly for only $37!
Present your boarding pass the day you arrive in Lake Tahoe (the day your flight arrives) and receive a $37 lift ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the Guest Services Office. Offer is valid non-holiday*.
*void holiday periods: December 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016; January 16-18, February 13-14, 2016.

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Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack Deal at under $82 per lift ticket

ski-lake-tahoe-six-pack-lift-tickets

The 2016-17 Lake Tahoe Six-Pack includes(the lift tickets are flexible, allowing you to choose one of two resorts with each ticket):

• 1 lift ticket valid at Heavenly, Kirkwood or Mt. Rose–Ski Tahoe
• 1 lift ticket valid at Heavenly or Sierra-at-Tahoe® Resort
• 1 lift ticket valid at Sierra-at-Tahoe® Resort or Kirkwood
• 1 lift ticket valid at Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows or Mt. Rose–Ski Tahoe
• 1 lift ticket valid at Squaw Valley or Northstar California
• 1 lift ticket valid at Alpine Meadows or Northstar California

Why is it the best all around Tahoe lift ticket package deal?

A combination of variety, flexibility and affordability gives the Tahoe Six-Pack lift ticket deal the best bargain you can buy; here’s why, you get..

1) a variety of mountains/terrains at seven Tahoe resorts so you won’t get bored

2) flexibility: the Six-Pack lift tickets are valid throughout the 2016-17 season (the following holiday blackout dates apply: February 18-19, 2017) and do not have to be used on consecutive days. Given Lake Tahoe’s typically long winter season, this means ticket holders can use one lift ticket as early as November and another as late as the month of April. The lift tickets are also fully transferable to family and friends.

3) affordability/savings: the Tahoe Six-Pack costs $488.95 per adult 6 pack lift tickets; your per lift ticket cost breaks down to $81.50. You save up to $68.50 off regular lift ticket pricing; for example buying a lift ticket at Squaw’s ticket window will cost you $150 while buying the Six-Pack gets you the same lift ticket for $81.50 as part of the promo package deal.

Six-Pack Tickets orders placed Monday through Thursday will be sent to the fulfillment center to ship on a daily basis, though expect 1-2 days for handling before they ship USPS Priority Mail, which takes 3 days, so assume a minimum of 7-10 business days to get your tickets. Orders placed Friday – Sunday will be sent the following Monday..

Only 1 voucher per Six-Pack redeemable per resort, per day.

Lake Tahoe Six-Pack: scroll down the page and click on this image link for details and to purchase..

ski-lake-tahoe-six-pack-deal

Pickup Instructions

Six-Pack Tickets orders placed Monday through Thursday will be sent to the fulfillment center to ship on a daily basis, though expect 1-2 days for handling before they ship USPS Priority Mail, which takes three days, so assume a minimum of 7-10 business days to get your tickets. Orders placed Friday – Sunday will be sent the following Monday. Emails will be sent out with tracking information at that time. We’re no longer offering pick up locations on the North Shore, only South Shore pick up locations, excluding weekends.

If you’re traveling from outside of California tickets can be mailed to your respective hotel.

Lake Tahoe boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, and the region has some of the highest annual snowfall amounts in North America with 2016-17 season setting a new record for snowfall; January 2017 already recorded 400 inches of snow whereas the entire season of 2015-16 only recorded 450 inches of snow total. The nine Tahoe resorts, all offering unparalleled scenic vistas of panoramic mountain and lake views, are conveniently located near the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Plan a Tahoe getaway(check out Tahoe vacation rentals) or those with a season pass, join a ski lease to max your ski/ride days. Check to see when the next snow storm is in the forecast. Browse traffic and road webcams. Check Caltrans live feed. Get the latest news and deals; subscribe to Snowpals’ newsletter or get event invites.

Looking to buy gear, skis, snowboard or snow sports clothing? REI is having their REI’s Winter Clearance Sale.

Save up to 50% on Cold Weather Clothing and Footwear. Plus Save 50% off or more at REI Garage! Shop early for the best selection. Free U.S. Standard Shipping on all Skis and Snowboards. Earn a $100 REI Gift Card when you apply for an REI Mastercard. Browse clearance sale items.

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Fun Rahlves’ Banzai Tour 2016 at Kirkwood & Sugar Bowl

Gather friends and family together to participate or watch this once a season fun Rahlves’ Banzai Race Tour; meet some new friends by ridesharing to the event..

The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour is racing in it’s purest form. Big mountain freeride meets ski / boarder-cross action! Taking place at three Lake Tahoe, CA resorts it’s head to head action four at a time, top to bottom, down a wide open course over natural terrain and snow conditions. This is the ultimate test of ski and riding skills. Open entry for 18 years old and up. Come take part in the fun and find out what you are made of.

Solo timed qualifying run on Saturday ranks the Top 32 men ski / board and Top 16 women ski / board into brackets for Sunday’s finals. The finals match up four competitors at a time with the top two in round advancing until the remaining four battle it out for the Rahlves’ Banzai win.

RBT has more momentum than ever in it’s fifth season. Top skiers and snowboarders from North America will line up against Lake Tahoe area athletes laying it on the line to defend home turf and a cash purse at each event. Points are earned at all events and added up to crown male and female ski and snowboard Overall Banzai Champions for an additional pay out.

Feb 27 – 28, 2016 Kirkwood Wall Banzai

For the first time since 2013, the Rahlves’ Banzai Tour at Kirkwood Mountain Resort will be starting off The Wall. This video gives you a little taste of what’s to come!! Be there.

March 5 – 6, 2016 Sugar Bowl Silver Belt Banzai

This throw back to 2013 Rahlves’ Banzai Tour at Sugar Bowl Resort will be what we are going down in 2016. It’s the prime line of the Silver Belt Gully. This video gives you a little taste of what’s to come!! Be there.

Rahlves’ Banzai Tour(RBT) competitors:

Skiing in Tahoe has been amazing this El Nino year so get ready to Banzai.
We are less than a month out from the first event and conditions are good to go for the original and best routes down Kirkwood’s Wall and Sugar Bowl’s Silver Belt Gully very similar to 2013 race.

At both events we kick it off the Friday prior in South Lake Tahoe and Truckee with music, raffle prizes, food, drink and a chance to hang out with the RBT family.

Rahlves’ Banzai Bar Crawl
Friday Feb 26th South Lake Tahoe, CA
5-7pm Base Camp Pizza
7-10pm CA Burger Co.

Friday March 4th Truckee, CA
4-5pm Tahoe Sports Hub – Drawing 5pm win Sugar Bowl lift tickets, tune / wax jobs
5-8pm Mellow Fellow – Drawing 8pm win Giro helmet & goggles
8pm-close Pastime Club (live music or DJ) – Drawing 10pm win Atomic Ski

Event Registration for Kirkwood is in Red Cliffs Lodge above General Store and the Judah Lodge at Sugar Bowl.
Saturday practice, qualis, round of 32 men and Après party happening at Kirkwood’s Wall Bar and Sugar Bowl’s Sierra Vista Bar.

Check out http://rahlvesbanzai.com for all info including lodging discounts, promo events and registration.

Tell friends and family about the tour; straight from your mouth to your friends, fellow skiers / snowboarders and people you meet is our best promotional tool.

Athletes- As a thank you, if you bring a new competitor to the RBT you get $25 back from your entry fee for each first time registered competitor.

Thanks and see you all soon at the Rahlves Banzai Tour.

Daron Rahlves
Rahlves’ Banzai Tour Founder
http://rahlvesbanzai.com

Daron Rahlves, Banzai Master, World Champion, USA Olympic ski racer, Winter X-Games Skier-X Champ and pro big mountain skier is the event organizer responsible for its growth and success with the help of host resorts, event partnerships and competitors. Daron is involved in the operation of the RBT, assisting competitors and mingling with the fans. At each event he takes a qualifying timed run, but doesn’t compete head to head until the “Super Final” at his home resort, Sugar Bowl. The designated day in March is that day when he puts his title of “Banzai Master” on the line taking on the Men Ski Winners from each stop in a battle for winner takes all of $5,000!!!

 

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South Lake Tahoe Top Picks: Off the Hook Sushi Bar

Photo credit: Crystal Ricotta 

 

OFF THE HOOK – CALIFORNIA SUSHI BAR

By Desiree Holroyde, Snowpals Newsletter Contributor 

Address: 2660 Lake Tahoe Blvd, Building E South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 (530) 544-5599

 


View Larger Map

If you like quality food in a laid-back environment, you’ll love Off the Hook – California Sushi Bar located in South Lake Tahoe. They offer a weekday happy hour with discounted rolls, appetizers, and drink specials Monday through Friday from 4:30-6:00 pm.

Off the Hook is conveniently located in the middle of town and is a great meeting place after catching some runs on the mountain at Heavenly or Sierra-at-Tahoe. They have an extensive and recently revised menu, and feature over forty unique rolls comprised of more than thirty different ingredients.

Off the Hook also boasts an extensive sake list. Locally owned and operated, Off the Hook owners Chi and Elizabeth “Tizzy” Chen opened their doors in 2004. They’ve been popular from the beginning with fresh fish, a casual and warm atmosphere, and excellent friendly service. They are a local’s favorite and attract out of town visitors alike. Open nightly for dinner (only) seven days a week. There is no need to call ahead for reservations unless there are eight or more in your party. Go find out what all the fuss is about and why they are Off the Hook.

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Tahoe Resorts Powder Alert, Snow Totals & Videos

photo source: http://www.squaw.com/the-mountain/photos-and-videos photo source: by Grant Barta of Sugar Bowl

2012-13 Tahoe Resorts Powder Alert, Snow Totals & Videos Straight from Resorts

Tahoe POWder Alert & Current Conditions

Partly Cloudy, 14 F at Truckee-Tahoe, CA. Winds are Calm. The humidity is 93%. Last Updated on Feb 20 2013, 7:50 am PST.

“A fast-moving cold front that dropped out of the Gulf of Alaska Tuesday has moved south of the Tahoe Basin this morning, leaving cold temperatures and scattered snow showers in its wake. The storm dropped about 6 to 10 inches of snow on Tahoe’s peaks as it swept through the region. Low temperatures were in the single digits this morning.

The weather pattern will remain unsettled for the next several days, with cloudy skies likely off and on through Friday before another chance of accumulating snow on Saturday.” – weather-geek

New Powder on Feb 19, 2013 – photos from Squaw Valley USA & Heavenly Ski Resort

feb-19-2013-new-snow-squaw-heavenly

Tahoe Resorts Snow Totals as of Feb 8

tahoetopia_snow_report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: tahoetopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

tahoe-city-weather-forecast 

 

 

 

Heavenly is opened Trail Map | Live Resort Cams

Click on ‘Play’ to watch 

Sierra at Tahoe is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Kirkwood is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

Squaw Valley USA is opened. Night skiing and snowboarding daily until 9pm. Trail Map | Cam

 

Alpine Meadows is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

Northstar-at-Tahoe is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Sugar Bowl is opened  Trail Map | Cam 

 

Boreal is opened; Boreal is typically the first resort to open(opening date was Oct 31, 2012) Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm; night skiing from 3:30pm to 9pm. Trail Map | Cam

 

Homewood is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Diamond Peak is opened Trail Map | Cam

Mt. Rose is opened Trail Map | Cam

Tahoe Donner  is opened Trail Map

Donner Ski Ranch  is opened Trail Map

Bear Valley  is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

China Peak  is opened Trail Map

Dodge Ridge  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Soda Springs  is opened Trail Map

Yosemite’s Badger Pass® Ski Area  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Mt. Shasta Ski Resort  is opened Trail Map | Extended night skiing/riding hours 3:30 PM to 9:00 PM.

 

Granlibakken Resort  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort  is opened Trail Map

Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area  is opened Trail Map

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area  is opened Trail Map

Southern California/Sierra

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is OPENED Trail Map | Cam

 

*All opening dates posted above are based on snowfall and could change. Check with the resort before you go for the most updated information.

Map of Lake Tahoe Area Ski Resorts
 
 
 
For a detailed listing of Tahoe ski resorts, check out our handy guide to all the Lake Tahoe area ski resorts! It’s the fastest way to scan lift ticket prices and compare the resorts to find the perfect one for you.

Question: Will the 2012-13 season be an El Niño or La Nina winter season?

Answer: The probability of an El Niño event is high according to “computer models developed by long-range weather forecasters project a wet winter across most of Northern California with above-average snowfall for Tahoe, the high Sierra and the Rocky Mountains.” – Tom Stienstra of Slope Dope. In addition, the World Meteorological Organization supports this finding with their detailed analysis.
 
You’re invited, join Bay Area skiers and boarders for our annual snow season kickoff parties to connect with skiers and snowboarders near you for ridesharing to your favorite  Tahoe resort. Looking to join a Tahoe ski lease? Browse our listing, or list yours.
 
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SPOTLIGHT: Help skiDUCK.org give disadvantaged kids an opportunity to learn how to ski and snowboard.
 
*If you spot any error on this page or would like to make a suggestion, please email .  Advance thanks!

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt Trip

Classic Hut-to-Hut Ski Mountaineering in the Alps

by Rich Meyer Alpine Guide, Skiing, Climbing, & Avalanche Education

March 25-April 1 2013
Rich Meyer (in partnership with Dave Miller & International Alpine Guides) will be back in the Alps again this winter. Join us for a world class backcountry skiing adventure. Here’s a blog post I created after last seasons trip! If you make it to the bottom there is a link to more photos and to the IAG website. Cheers, Rich

Starting in Chamonix France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland, the Haute Route is often described as the ultimate European ski tour – and for good reason. It does not disappoint. There are a handful of variations of the route and some serious terrain, but it is VERY accessible for experienced backcountry skiers. The Alps are littered with high elevation mountain huts that allow you to travel from hut to hut with a very light pack. This is NOT backpacking on skis.

Ski touring from one glacier to the next, and from one hut to the next makes the Haute Route a unique experience. Most folks are blown away by the remote alpine beauty and massive terrain that does not ever seem to let up. Culminating on the final day with a brilliant ski descent down to town of Zermatt, with views of the Matterhorn the entire way.

While it is possible to ski the route own your own, most skiers elect to do the trip with a guide. The benefits of going guided are plentiful. The serious alpine terrain requires expertise in ski mountaineering, route finding, glacier travel & crevasse rescue, avalanche awareness, whiteout navigation, and a host of logistical hurdles.

Most guided adventures begin in Chamonix with a classic ski of the Valle Blanche. The Aiguilles du Midi Tram can take you from town to over 12,600 feet in 20 minutes! If the stunning views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks are not enough to blow you away, the heavily glaciated ski run back down to Chamonix will. This day is often used to access skills, acclimatize, and prep guests for the next seven days of ski touring.

After another night in Chamonix, most parties begin the Haute route with another tram ride boost up to 10,700 feet at the Grand Montets ski area. Once folks ski out onto the Argentiere Glacier it is a succession of high mountain passes and huts all the way to Zermatt, over 100 miles away.

The Huts all have their own unique character and design. All await your arrival with treats like cold beer and Rosti. This is an excellent choice after day of ski touring. “Rosti” is a Swiss-German dish of potatoes, often served with cheese, onions, bacon/ham, and the occasional fried egg on top!

As you might expect, most days begin early with a basic breakfast and an amazing sunrise, with the goal of moving safely and efficiently thru the day’s objectives. Managing the peaks, passes, glaciers, avalanche hazard, and other dangers requires due diligence.

Some days might cover as much as 10-20 miles and 3000-4000 vertical feet of climbing, others much less. Along the way, you might summit a third or fourth-class peak like the Rosablanche, or rappel down from the Col du Chardonnet. Each has its own character. The high point of the tour is the summit of Pigne d’Arolla (12,455 feet) on the way to the Vignettes Hut.

After arriving at the hut there is typically plenty of time to hang out with new friends, enjoy a cold beverage, go for a little bonus ski tour, take a nap, or just relax on the sunny deck. The final day of the tour takes you (literally) into the town of Zermatt. Where you could easily hang out for days skiing and relaxing under the watchful eye of the Matterhorn. Don’t worry, your guide has arranged for your bags to be waiting for you.

Sound good? Here are some tips for your Haute Route adventure:

Bring the right gear. This alone can make or break your trip. You will enjoy the trip significantly more if you ditch many of those little extras. Think fast and light! Don’t worry: the huts will provide pillows, blankets, hut shoes, and all the food & drink you need. Keep in mind; it’s perfectly acceptable to hang out in smelly ski clothes. That’s what the guys at the table next to you are doing.

Consider skis 85-95 mm under foot and not too long. To quote a long time ski mountaineering friend, “Of course you can turn a longer/fatter ski, the question is whether you need to?” For this year’s trip, I brought a pair of K2 Sideshow Skis that were 92 mm under foot, and only 181 cm – a small ski for me. I also used Dynafit bindings and Dynafit ski crampons, which are very light and very durable. Along with C.A.M.P. light aluminum crampons and ice axe.

Practice your ski touring skills. Good skinning technique is learned with a lot mileage… Especially those kick turns!

Be prepared for all conditions. You will inevitability encounter variable snow and weather. Some days will be epic corn and powder, some will not. Be ready for: cold, wind, sun, firm snow, wet snow, whiteout travel, and all sorts of crusts in between. This year I partnered with Dave Miller (Good friend and fully certified IFMGA guide) and we had to divert into a local town so as to avoid a really nasty storm! Having a well-prepared tour plan and the appropriate gear made it a minor inconvenience, instead of an epic.

Check out this year’s slideshow! 2012 Haute Route Photo Album and Slideshow

March 25 – April 1 2013
Cost: $2475 – remember to say you read about this trip on Snowpals

Contact Rich for details: 

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About Rich Meyer

Rich Meyer Bio PictureAfter graduating from college in 1994 Rich made the move to Tahoe City California, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was there that he began to immerse himself in backcountry adventure. Skiing, hiking, biking or climbing was the daily focus. As things progressed Rich was drawn into guiding and began to immerse himself with courses and organizations like the AMGA, NOLS, WMI, AIARE, PSIA, and others. One of Rich’s first guiding opportunities was leading a 39 day trip to Alaska for a dozen 16 year old kids, that included sea kayaking, backpacking, ice climbing, and rafting. He was hooked. Guiding has taken Rich to places like: Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, Denali, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, France, Switzerland, and throughout the western United States.

Guiding on skis or on foot, Rich strives to make every day educational. Teaching is a large component of every trip. Rich teaches avalanche courses, glacier seminars, backcountry ski skills, climbing courses, and trains aspiring new guides. From the Haute Route in Europe to the Andes of South America, Rich has made an effort to enhance his clients experience with effective communication. Giving folks the information and skills not only to follow, but to become confident backcountry skiers and climbers. After extensive travel and training over the years, Rich has been able to educate hundreds of guests as to the importance of taking care of our natural world. Along with safety (and fun), traveling with respect for the mountains is always a priority. Join Rich on an incredible mountain adventure!

 

Tahoe Snowfest

By Desiree Holroyde, Snowpals Newsletter Contributor 

Snowfest is coming! Get bundled up and ready to kick off Spring!

The Space Cowboys of San Francisco are beginning the festivities with some funky breakbeats on the patio of the KT Olympic Deck at Squaw Valley on March 1st at 1pm. Check out some of their music and djs here https://soundcloud.com/spacecowboys or hit up their main website to see where they’ll be bringing beats to Snowfest with their infamous UNIMOG. (The UNIMOG is fully equipped with sound, lights, and ready to provide a bass pumping party at a moment’s notice.) Don’t fret if you wander off from the party with friends, you can come back for more in the evening. The Space Cowboys will be hosting an after-party at the Olympic Plaza Bar, and you can catch them the following night at Lakeside in Tahoe City.

http://www.spacecowboys.org/

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Then head over to Mamasake in the Squaw Valley Village for the Extreme Food Challenge they are hosting from 4-6pm. Heck, why not enter? Mamasake is also featuring happy hour hand rolls from 3-5pm.

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If you want to keep dancing, Crystal Bay Casino has a free concert in their Crown Room Friday March 1st at 10pm featuring Dehli 2 Dublin, a live electronic band, with an after party featuring Izzy Wise (SF) and local bass music artist Benjah Ninjah. Here is what the BBC had to say about Dehli 2 Dublin: “The Vancouver-based collective combines dhol, fiddle and breakbeats in an Irish/Asian stew that is surprisingly varied, a marvellously wide-ranging and free-thinking concept.”

http://www.delhi2dublin.com/ or https://soundcloud.com/delhi2dublin

https://soundcloud.com/izzywis

https://soundcloud.com/benjah-ninjah

This is just a sample of what is going down for the opening daze of Snowfest! Check out the full calendar of events here and decide for yourself which are most worth catching. Snowfest events are ongoing from March 1st through March 10th.

http://www.tahoesnowfestival.com/#!vstc1=events

Sunday, March 3rd check out the Duncan Golf Dog Pull in Tahoe City, followed by a Luau at Sunnyside on the West Shore. If you would like to register your dog in the dog pull, you’ll need to arrive an hour early and the cost of registration is $10. Show up at 11am to the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park/Tahoe City Golf Course behind Bank of America in Tahoe City. Otherwise, the event is free and starts at noon. Afterwards, head on down to Sunnyside Resort… just a quick jaunt from Tahoe City down Highway 89. Sunnyside features an amazing view of the lake. The luau begins at 4pm, with the buffet starting at 5pm. Sunnyside is a family favorite and this all-you-can-eat event, featuring both cooked and barbequed delights, as well as sashimi and poke, and will run you $32 a head, or $16 for kids. Reservations are recommended.

http://www.sunnysideresort.com/events/view/sunnysides-hawaiian-luau-2013

Don’t miss another free show at the Crystal Bay Club on Friday March 8th showcasing the talent of Polyrhythmics, the funky world-beat band from Seattle.

http://www.polyrhythmics.com/home.cfm

http://polyrhythmics.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/polyrhythmics

The Crystal Bay Club is an excellent venue for live music, and if you just so happen to need a hotel for the night, there are affordable cabins for rent behind the Tahoe Biltmore – just across the street. They are even pet-friendly! Reserve your room ahead of time though, especially on busy weekends with free shows.

http://www.tahoebiltmore.com/

Whatever you choose to enjoy for Snowfest, please do it responsibly and be well! Happy Snowfest!