Tahoe Snow Report: Without all the marketing

By Alex Clark

(File this under absolutely nothing to do with real estate, but everything to do with fun.)

It appears we have quite a few readers that enjoy the the fact that San Francisco is so close to the great skiing destinations of Lake Tahoe, and you’re all likely checking the “snow reports” for your favorite mountains. I thought I’d share some first hand insight with you.

Being that I am originally from Reno, NV, learned to ski when I was two, and grew up skiing/racing all throughout my youth until snowboarding came around, toured the Alps for a whole winter, and generally track the weather like most of you track Real Estate (not saying it’s a bad thing), I know a thing or two about snow and skiing. I also know the resorts up there like the back of my hand.

Truth be told….although the snow and skiing in Tahoe is now good, it is not epic. Tahoe needs more snow! The last storms that hit, all 5-12 feet of it, somehow didn’t seem to land squarely on a lot of the runs. As a friend who went to Kirkwood said, “I was surprised how many rocks I hit in the chutes.” Kirkwood received 12 feet of snow, and they’re still hitting rocks?!

The areas around 6200-6800 feet (all areas except Mt. Rose and Kirkwood) need snow. The beginning of those storms were warm, and snow levels were high. That warm, wet, sloppy snow fell and froze underneath and now acts like a slide. What new snow falls just slides right down the mountain and doesn’t stick (at least in the steeps). Lots of rocks and bushes are still showing. What is more disappointing is that all the previous storms had extremely high winds, which blew a lot of the snow in the higher elevations away. Areas that you’d think would be covered were completely bare (Headwall at Squaw and the back bowls at Alpine accessible from High Traverse).

Avalanche danger yesterday, and likely today was extremely high. Slides were happening everywhere and one person was reported caught in a slide and not found (likely never there) at Alpine Meadows. I caused a few little slides myself and it was not a good feeling.

So if you’re sitting in your office thinking you’re missing the best conditions in 50 years, you’re not. Don’t get me wrong, there is good stuff to be found, you just have to do a bit of searching, because we tracked it all up!! LOL! :-)

All in all, conditions are really good, but not as good as the hype you’re likely hearing.

Go and enjoy. The weather this weekend is supposed to be nice.

16 thoughts on “Tahoe Snow Report: Without all the marketing

  1. hey alex, don’t be hating on snowboarders! that’s the new blood that keeps all resorts viable. plus most surfers have a hard time going back to skiing once they strap a board on..

  2. Who’s hating? I never did, did I? I actually swing both ways. Skied ’til I was 17, then snowboarded for 10 years and completely hung up the skis. Then came fat skis and it changed it all. Now I only pull out the board on powder days. In fact, yesterday I was on my board…and it was really, really fun. About a foot of wind blown powder. Would have been fun on a super fat pair of skis too, but I made the right call with the board.

    And you’re totally right. Without snowboarding, there would be no such thing as fat skis…IMO.

  3. Thanks for the info Alex- I was just thinking how riding in the rain is no fun so skiing was the plan for this weekend. Re-thinking that now.


  4. Don’t get me wrong. The snow is good, just not as you’d expect given all the hype. Weather is supposed to be good too. I can guarantee it will be crowded as all hell though. Plan on a little bump skiing if you go, and if you board, Paco, have fun in the park or go to Alpine and hike to the pow. Chutes everywhere should have some nice grippy snow, which could be fun too.

  5. Here’s a report from Big Sky, MT – it’s GOOOOOOOD! Not as much snow as Tahoe – but so much colder – Snow is light and fluffy – they get a few inches every night and the mountain is a BEAST! Terrain for every level (Truth be told I’m a intermediate boarder – made the change after tearing my ACL at 27 – hey not everyone starts @ 2 like Alex) So much terrain and so few people — it’s the best mountain I’ve been on.

    Here’s my 2.5 year old son tearing it up — perhaps he’s the next Alex Clark!

    Tahoe is dead – Montana is in!

  6. glad to hear it alex! and thanks for the report. kenny, i’ve heard great things ’bout the fish but have yet to get there.

  7. here’s a report from sierra at tahoe in the south shore in response to alex’ post:

    One storm did start a little high but I disagree that only the higher elevations got snow. The Friday storm had initial snow levels between 7000 & 7500 so the sierra parking lot was getting some rain, but that was well before the big moisture moved in. On Jan 2, There was a great need for snow–Dyno had boulders the size of mail trucks on it. On Jan 6, there were 4 to 5+ foot high walls of snow on the Sierra access road and Dyno had a few rocks showing (good luck finding Jaws). I did hit some hidden stuff in the trees off of middle Castle on the 6th so those trees could still use some.

  8. Hi Guys,

    Let me tell you this. I was up there from this past Sunday to Thursday. It was THE BEST skiing I’ve done since the storms of late 2004! Monday was cazy good, and Wednesday was the best! 3-4 feet of powder, nobody there, no wind, sun was out, it was unbelievable! I skiied Squaw of course.

    I think this weekend will just be ok, b/c there are no more fresh powder tracks. The weather should be nice though.

    Good thing about Squaw is, that no matter how busy the weekend, there’s never a line.


  9. RSC loves Squaw so much he/she is blind to all that is negative about it i.e. lines (among other things).

    RSC is usually good for a chuckle with the neverending optimism, but this was a bit better than usual. Gracias.

  10. I was in Squaw as well last week, and it was FANTASTIC and few lines. I think perhaps there are more lines in the Village area. But the Squaw Creek blue lift is always a zero wait.

    I love The Resort at Squaw Creek as well, and am looking to buy a place there this year from some poor speculator.

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