Written by Rene Jerez
After potentially the best two days of the season so far, big snow in the forecast should set up a memorable holiday weekend.
Monday was definitely one of the best days so far this season to be skiing or boarding at Palisades! The temps in the parking lot, when I arrived, were in the mid-20s with little to no wind and partly cloudy conditions, and there was plenty of fresh snow available thanks to the storms over the weekend. I started my day off with some laps down the Red Dog instead of my usual Mountain Run warmup. The snowmaking crew were hard at work in the lower mountain blowing more snow to supplement what the resort had already received the past week. It definitely looked like winter on the mountain finally, and the low temps really helped keep the snow in peak condition.
After my Red Dog laps, I rode the Funitel up and then headed to the Gold Coast chair and did a quick lap back to the Funitel return. I then rode the Siberia chair up, but as Siberia Bowl looked a bit too mogul-y for my tastes I rode Ridge Road down and hit some of the terrain down near Siberia Ridge. Siberia Ridge was steep but had some great snow with little to no ice, and that area should get better with this week’s storms coming in. I did some more laps down Gold Coast, mostly focusing on Gold Coast Face and Mystery. It was a far cry in that area of the mountain from the end of last month when the slow start of winter felt like spring skiing.
After I had my fill of lapping Gold Coast, I decided to ride Emigrant, which had just opened up a few days earlier. I decided to challenge myself and rode my board down Emigrant Face, which had okay-ish coverage. Thankfully the upcoming snow should help fill that area out more and improve coverage. After Emigrant Face, I did some runs down into Shirley Lake via Shirley Bowl, which was steep and starting to get filled in more with snow. I always love how long-lasting the snow in Shirley Lake can get and how the backside of Palisades Tahoe is so wind-protected! After coming out of Shirley Lake, I did one park lap through Belmont, and it was great to see the park crew have started to add in more features since the last time I was up on the mountain.
After taking a crepe break at Euro Crepe (I love the Belgian!), I rode the base-to-base gondola to scope out the Alpine side of the resort for the first time this season. I rode up Roundhouse for some laps and was pleasantly surprised at how well the snow was on that side of the resort. It felt really great to ride the Summit chair up again this season but as a heads up, coverage in Alpine Bowl wasn’t the best yet, but as with the upcoming storms this will probably change soon. I wrapped my afternoon with laps down Roundhouse and Treeline Cirque. The Alpine Meadows park crew also did a fantastic job of setting their park up with a lot of great features.
On Tuesday, I was stuck only on the Palisades side due to the B2B being closed due to high winds. The day was a bit warmer than on Monday, but the wind was much stronger and was affecting operations throughout the mountain with wind holds. Thankfully, though, there was a light, steady snowfall throughout the day, and even better, the snow was super powdery and dry! I started my day off doing some laps down Mountain Run. Visibility on the upper mountain was a bit impaired due to the snowfall, but it wasn’t bad enough where there were total whiteout conditions. After I felt sufficiently warmed up after two rides down Mountain Run, I rode the Exhibition chair for the first time of the season. One plus about it being super windy on Tuesday is the wind was definitely moving around freshly fallen snow, creating wind buff, which should be great to ski or ride on later in the week.
Exhibition Chair was absolutely awesome! Julia’s Gold was super steep, and I was glad that my edges were super sharp to grab onto the snow. As my last trip up to the resort was heavier on park riding, it was great to be working on my carving and overall snowboarding skills. After doing two laps, I rode the Funitel back up and then rode Gold Coast up and snowboarded back down off-piste around Mystery. Gold Coast was getting tons of fresh and wind-buffed pow, and it felt like, in some areas, there was enough of a natural half-pipe effect going on. It made it perfect for trying to tackle side hits. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to the Gold Coast chair base, the lift was on wind hold (And with good reason), so I spent the rest of my day cruising down Mountain Run, interspersed with some runs down Exhibition to give myself some variety. What made it really special, though, was each time I got back down to the base, it felt like the weather was changing, going from powdery snow showers to sunny skies and back again for the entire afternoon. Some of the photos I took in the afternoon came out absolutely stunning, and it was really cool how the upper mountain was in its own microclimate compared to the base.
This week should be a storm chaser and pow hunter’s absolute dream, as Palisades Tahoe is going to get hit with up to 14 inches of the goods in the next few days. Despite the slow start to the winter, the January snow storms have definitely delivered, and now it’s shaping up to be a great ski season in Tahoe and a fantastic MLK Jr. weekend for the mountain!