The Spring corn harvest has been juicing lately, but when a snowflake popped into the forecast last night, I didn’t mind– though, as my friend said, I might be the only person in Tahoe who feels that way. Sun or snow, it’s a treat at this point, and this morning’s report dialed in the forecasted 6” received at Olympic Valley.
This report was written by Jason Dobbs.
It was a 10a show-up for me, and the mountain glistened in a fresh coat of lily white as I came up the road, a nice fascia over the weathered surface we’d been skiing. It’s been 20 days since 14” fell on March 29, ironically making this the longest stretch without a good dumping since Christmas week. Again, locals are rejoicing in the long, sunny days.
Today was unmistakably cold, and as I booted, I chatted with a friend about what to expect. Would the new snow bond? Would it be dust on crust? We might find just about anything, and (spoiler alert!) we did! I opted to start off on KT, though I felt confident the best snow awaited higher up. I looked (er, listened) for clues from the skiers making their way down GS Bowl, and there was a boisterous surface underneath the soft top layer. This persuaded me to seek out a run that was both 1) lower angle pitch and 2) lower traffic, for the final afternoon turns in Sunday’s soft snow were preserved in frozen trenches and berms. Far Enchanted Forest was the call.
It was quiet and appealing out there all alone, and the mostly-cloudy sky whipped by, offering few windows. I stopped waiting for one and skied on guard, as there were some nice, fluffy patches intermixed with rough spots that fought back their share. For the most part, this undulating terrain up top was nice and floaty (if scratchy with much pressure), but the lower bowl was more challenging, especially as thick clouds dropped the light, and I couldn’t predict what sort of pressure to engage with each new turn. Higher up would be better: I headed for Headwall.
Headwall Face looked pretty good, but as I got closer, the tracks were not silent. I saw my friend Kush, and he made it look pretty good, but I could see ski tips flapping up with some resistance to unannounced frozen bumps. It was right around this time I wished I’d added that mid-layer: It was legitimately cold, not just for April but among the 5% coldest days of the year up there. I tucked my chin into my collar and reverted toward the Slot, where I got a wild hair and lined up for Light Towers, knowing they were probably icy no matter how they might appear from atop.
Indeed, they looked pretty good, but my pole whack a couple feet down pinged right off the crust, so I knew these wouldn’t be glory turns. I decided to mitigate that by not turning at all, which is always a fun gamble (at least it has been so far). I figured the runout would be smooth, even if not soft, so I could take it down to the flats if needed. Indeed, I came screaming off the top ridge at highway speeds, pointed toward the dogleg of ungroomed CII run, but I had no float. At those speeds, quads need active engagement, meaning my style was not relaxed, and my suspension ran stiff. Just as I had time to think about how much a fall would hurt, I hit a couple successive bumps underneath my Ripsticks, and the jarring sent my GoPro flying off in front of me. I didn’t want to react too suddenly, so I swept across the fall line twice to come to a stop, hiking up to retrieve the buried camera successfully! My friends saw me streak from Headwall and told me I was insane, but you know what? They’re insane! You can check out that run on today’s @SnoopDobbs Instagram reel.
Anyway, I returned to KT, where they’d be meeting me in a lap, but instead, I ran into Eric and Emily. We bagged a fun run down 2nd Alternate. I was skeptical at first, but there were a lot of good turns in there. We all agreed overall, it was highly variable today: Some terrific, some terrible, and sometimes all within the same turn! The word of the day was Terriblific! The key move was having visibility. When you couldn’t see enough to tell, the difference is when it became treacherous.
I tapped over and connected with Kush, waiting at Wa-She-Shu en route to Big Blue and Broken Arrow, figuring if we punched way out through Deadman’s to Skateboard Alley, we’d find that lower-angle, low-traffic combination. I always love this route: the unique decomposing granite of Thunder Mountain and the nooks and crannies of the hike-to-traverse itself have a primal feel, interrupted only by the up-close passing of a Tram Car every 15 minutes. Deadman’s itself was surprisingly edgeable and is still ridiculously filled in. We dropped down to play in the natural halfpipe, and the wind-loaded side was deep, meaning every other turn was almost a dream, but once past the Funi cables, the dreams were not the kind worth sleeping in for.
Kush bounced, and I headed back up to check out one spot I hadn’t been to yet: Siberia. Looking at the Palisades straight put me back in a dream, but the virgin canvas indicated they were certainly closed. I imagine they would rip, even if you had to get some turns in. Maybe tomorrow?
Instead, I headed down the ridge to where the downhill training course was left open, drawing in tracks. So, I went just past the rope line and found what I’d call the most dependable snow of the day. Although I didn’t fully trust it, you could really lay into the turns. I’d had my share after that, but as I was about to pass Sibo to Mountain Run, I saw my friend, Andy Hays, so I jumped back on Siberia with him to say what’s up (and give him some cheese, of course).
Andy loves skiing Palisades, not just the resort, but the actual Palisades (at Palisades Tahoe at Olympic Valley), so we verbalized to each other the what-ifs as we climbed on our six-person sofa in the sky. We recounted the mixed day that provided all spectrums of snow, and it sounded like the one recommendation I missed was the skier’s left of North Bowl. Not the Center, which had an unedgeable sheen that’s been taking people out for weeks. Indeed, the iconic escarpment was still closed, and Andy regrouped himself after some weeping, and we enjoyed a fun and playful top-to-bottom under the cables, full of carved turns and mini-jibs down mountain run.
Last night’s storm freshened things up, postponing the corn cycle but bringing another 6” to this memorable season. Crowds were minimal today, so there is a lot of undisturbed snow out there, which should improve as it compresses and consolidates overnight, and a little warmth should also help the bonding. With Granite not opening today, early risers would be well-suited to head yonder tomorrow. Enjoy!