California/Nevada -

Lake Tahoe South, CA/NV

Wonderful California and Lake Tahoe’s delightful powder

By Claudine Hébert, Special Contributor and Journalist

Some people associate California with the music of the Beach Boys, for others it is Napa Valley or perhaps the gorgeous sunsets in San Francisco Bay. For expert skiers, though, the Golden State is first and foremost connected with a fabulous ski destination: Lake Tahoe. Split between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is surrounded by 15 or so ski resorts tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains: Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at- Tahoe, Homewood, Heavenly and Kirkwood, not to mention Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadow.

The latter two are neighbour resorts and lift tickets provide access to both, but you will have to drive from one to the other in order to take advantage. As long as El Nina hasn’t stirred up any trouble, Lake Tahoe is always bursting at the seams with winter snow. As such, it’s always a good idea to have (or rent) large powder skis so you can truly enjoy that incredibly light white California gold.

The peak of Squaw Valley, over 2,700 metres high, averages about 11 metres of snowfall per season. This bounty of snowflakes is perfect for fearless skiers and boarders eager to tackle the Palisades—a wall of a dozen or so couloirs with a 65-degree incline, making it one of the five most dangerous sectors among North-American resorts.

For the less daring, the KT-22 sector is equally exciting. On snow days, skiers start lining up three hours before the lift opens so they can be the first to lay down their tracks.

For those of you who aren’t early birds, but still want a taste of Squaw Valley’s fresh powder, there is a way—stay at one of the condos at the Squaw Creek Resort a few steps away from the triple lift that takes you to the summit of the Snow King sector. Reserved for experts only, this colossal playground brimming with giant Ponderosa pines doesn’t attract families staying at the hotel. As such, it is virtually empty on snow mornings. Until the KT-22 gang arrives, that is!

 



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Text from 2015-2016 ski magazine

skiing... lake Tahoe style

By Caroline Samson, Special Contributor and Group Leader

With the bounty of resorts that surrounds Lake Tahoe, it is clear that skiing is a vocation this region does not take lightly. The mountains that circle this beautiful blue jewel provide a tremendous variety of skiing options: while some are more family-oriented, others are truly internationally renowned and others still are favourite local hangouts. What these 16 (or is it 17… or 18?) resorts have in common are the stunning views. From several of the ski resorts, you can take in the incredibly breathtaking vistas of the lake itself—the biggest one in North America.

At Heavenly, the panorama includes snow, spruce trees, sky-high peaks, the lake… and, believe it or not, the desert! It’s pretty extraordinary to see! From Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, you’ll almost feel like you can touch the water—simply amazing! And, at Kirkwood, what you’ll spot most often are the skull and crossbone signs warning you of the terrain’s difficulty. A pretty unique way of getting the message across, I’d say! Of all the places in the Lake Tahoe area, the northern sector is still my favourite. This is where you’ll find two resorts that have truly won me over. Although physically close to one another, these two are worlds apart. The first is Squaw Valley (far more commercial and touristy than my usual choices) which is a sublime mix of glades, inclines and groomed runs. Its huge and incredibly varied terrain, superb network of lifts and great slopeside action are reason alone for a visit to Lake Tahoe. Of course, the KT-22 and Palisades sectors make it all worth the trip too! The second is Alpine Meadows, which has more of a local vibe. This particular resort is a little smaller (if you consider 2,400 acres small!), but still has a nice variety of terrain, wide-open fields and narrow steeps. The trick here is to start the day on the front side to warm up your legs and end the day on the back side.

Recently united by a merger, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will eventually be connected by a lift that will easily get you from one to the other, making it one of the biggest skiable areas in the U.S. In the meantime, you can still enjoy these two fantastic resorts separately—or, better yet, make them part of a road trip around the lake!

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Ski stations Accommodations Snow Conditions
TEMPERATURE (CELSIUS)
Month Min. Max.
January -5 7
February -3 11
March -1 14
April 1 18
May 5 23
June 8 28
July 11 33
August 10 32
September 5 26
October 1 20
November -2 12
December -6 8

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