March is here and spring vibes are alive at the Spring Skiing Capital™! The sun is shining and the conditions are prime! We asked Ski Patroller Curtis Crooks to give the lowdown on his favorite way to ski Palisades in the spring. Here’s what he recommends:
Warm up in on Red Dog and Squaw Creek
The key to spring skiing is following the sun. If you arrive at 9am, take Red Dog up and ski down Lake View (take a left at the top of the chair) which will bring you over to the Resort Chair side. This long groomed cruiser starts with a killer view of Lake Tahoe and winds down to the Resort Chair. After you’ve warmed up the legs, you’ll have some decisions to make on where to go next: KT-22 or Headwall?
Views from the top of Red Dog and Resort Chair are some of the best around
East Facing Slopes in KT-22 Zone
Anything East facing on KT-22 is a go early morning on spring days. Curtis recommends going for East Face Gully, which delivers a consistent pitch and soft snow – even in the morning!
Sun Bowl off Headwall
Sun Bowl is the premiere spring skiing run in the Headwall Zone – just look at the name! This south facing slope is gentle and funnels you right into a traverse track that will pop you out at the top of The Bullet. Sun Bowl has some of the best corn snow around – that granular, mushy stuff you always hear about? Yeah, Sun Bowl’s got it. The Bullet is a windy, fun, groomed trail that leads you right to Mountain Run and the bottom of Headwall, so you can head back up and do it all over again!
Sun Bowl is wide open and filled with soft slushy snow
If Curtis has to choose, Tower 16 is THE spring run in all of Palisades. This run is great in the winter months too due to its consistent pitch and steepness, but in the springtime, you’ll find plenty of locals on this southern facing run. It’s a bit of work to get here, but boy is it worth it. Once you’re on the upper mountain head over to Big Blue Express. At the top take the wide open groomer to the left of Big Blue and point your boards to the bottom of Bailey’s Beach and Belmont. Pass the bottom terminals and you’ll see a gated entry point for Tower 16. After the flats there is a bit of an incline to the right – this is the path you want to take. You’ll end up right underneath the Funitel, this is when you know you’ve made it. Take in the views first and then drop in!
Pro Tip: Tower 16 is THE premiere run off Broken Arrow and maybe on the mountain, some locals would say. It should probably be called ‘Tower 7’ nowadays because that is the nearest lift tower which supports the Funitel. This run was originally named after the old gondola Tower #16, which was removed in 1998 when the Funitel was installed. This run faces south/southeast, so it sees a lot of sun, which makes for great corn and spring-snow conditions. After fresh snow falls, the sun often shines and temperatures rise, so hit this run early before the snow gets heavy.
Breathtaking views from the top of Tower 16
Lunch Break: 12-1pm
On Mountain Lunch at Gold Coast Sundeck
Nothing says California skiing like lunch on a massive sundeck. At Gold Coast Complex, located mid-mountain, we have bars serving up craft beers or bloody marys, and a variety of food options including classics like pepperoni pizza and juicy cheeseburgers. Snag a seat on the deck and watch skiers come down from Siberia and Gold Coast while you fuel up for your afternoon turns.
Back to the Headwall
Now that things are softening up, it’s time to make it back to Headwall to hit the north facing slopes! One favorite in the afternoon is North Bowl. “It doesn’t get much better than North Bowl when it smooths out and the bumps clear,” says Curtis. At the top of Headwall, go left on the cat track and stay left to reach the top of North Bowl. Find your entry and drop into silky smooth corn snow!
Pro Tip: Head back down to Headwall and ski the slope in between North Bowl and The Face called “Hogsback”. This slope should be equally as fun as North Bowl, but gives you a bit more variety and longer pitch.
Smooth turns in North Bowl are a favorite in the afternoon!
Back to The Mothership
It’s time to make it back over to KT-22 or “The Mothership” to score some soft west-facing terrain. West Face is arguably the most famous slope off KT-22 due to its long vertical drop. Make your way to Chute 75 for a classic Palisades run that is sure to be filled with soft slushy bumps. The Saddle, also on KT’s west face, is a fun, windy groomer that brings you down to the bottom of Headwall chair if you’re itching to make it back to Headwall. Otherwise, proceed on and take a few more KT laps to end your day.
After a long day of spring corn, reward yourself with some outdoor food and drink! The days get longer in March, and that means more time to soak in the sun while enjoying a cold one. Some of the best outdoor patios in the Village can be found at Rocker, Auld Dubliner, Tremigo, Coffeebar, Fireside Pizza, or Twenty-Two Bistro.