This report was written by Rene Jerez.
The conditions today were excellent, with great coverage. As the storm came in, the temperatures were dropping, and the lack of crowds meant I could lap the lifts all day.
I decided to do a day trip from the East Bay before the atmospheric river rolls into the Sierra, giving Palisades a good fresh snow dumping. Today was colder than the previous week, with temps in the 30s and strong cloud cover throughout the day with the occasional break in the clouds. It’s finally starting to feel like winter in the Sierras. Winds were very strong today, though, and much of the upper mountain remained on wind hold throughout the day, including the base-to-base gondola. To make up for that, I decided to focus on just doing laps on what terrain was open and working on my form.
I started with a warm-up lap down Mountain Run to get an idea of the snow conditions. It was perfect near the upper mountain, especially on the groomed sections, but it did get a bit variable closer to the base. Upon taking the Funitel back up to Gold Coast, I did many laps of the Gold Coast chair, focusing primarily on Emigrant Gully and Mystery, as I did in my previous report. Mystery has a massive drop in the midsection of the piste that’s steep and absolutely awesome. The snow around Gold Coast was great, and there wasn’t much ice. Unfortunately, the wind was starting to pick up, so I headed over to Shirley Lake because it was more wind-protected.
My laps in Shirley Bowl were great. The snow was in great shape, with zero ice and impeccable coverage. I had a lot of fun hitting the Shirley Bowl and Standteiner’s trails, and Shirley Bowl was in even better shape than last week. As Shirley Bowl is relatively steep and rarely gets closed off, I find it a great place to practice carving and turns for steeper terrain. Even though much of the upper mountain was on wind hold, there were little to no crowds, and I never had to wait down at the Shirley Lake chair return for more than a minute, which was perfect for doing laps. I probably spent 90 minutes in the backside before taking a break for lunch.
After lunch, I headed to the Red Dog lift for laps there. Red Dog offers an excellent alternative for skiing and riding on windy days, and like Shirley Bowl, it is rarely ever put on wind hold. The grooming crew did a fantastic job on that part of the mountain, and it definitely felt like high tide with how few rocks and trees poked out of the snow there. The Red Dog Face piste felt much less steep and more filled-in today than my previous times at the resort this month, and it was also another excellent place for me to further work on my carving skills. After getting my fill of laps down the face, I did one final run down Mountain Run and Morningside, as by this time in the afternoon (2 pm), the wind was seriously starting to pick up with snow showers of light, fine, dry snow with the upper mountain being shut down by ski patrol for safety and the storm that was coming in.
The storm that’s beginning to hit Tahoe should drop about 3-4 feet of snow through Sunday night and completely transform both sides of the resort. This Saturday should be the sweet spot and break in the storm to get in all that sweet and fresh pow!