Improvements Around Tahoe Resorts Focus Mainly On Conveniences

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After a flurry of spending in recent years, the 2023-2024 headlines for "what's new" at Lake Tahoe-area ski and snowboard resorts do not include any new lifts or new terrain.

Rather, resorts turned to sprucing up on-mountain lodges, streamlining ticketing, pumping up snowmaking and grooming, and adding non-skiing activities.

Starting up around Truckee, regulars at Boreal can reduce the cost of their lift ticket by choosing a later start time than 9 a.m. Arrive at noon or later and the online cost is nearly cut in half.

At Tahoe Donner, seniors (50-plus) can enroll in a season-long race training program. From 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and Friday, older skiers get technical and tactical instruction through drills and an occasional race. For kids 3-6 years old, the resort has three age-group programs -- from beginners three days a week, more experenced on Thursdays, and "speedsters" on Saturdays. Parking is free, so are shuttles.

It's been a nearly a decade since Sugar Bowl put up a new lift, but California's oldest ski and snowboard mountain continues to upgrade. Money has gone into new grooming equipment and new warming hut, and there's a new speed-racing venue that can be booked.

In its 75th year, Palisades Tahoe paused after finally getting base-to-base finished a major remodel of Gold Coast mid-mountain lodge. The resort added five snowcats to its nation's largest fleet, and also winch picks to upgrade steep grooming.

Over in Nevada, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe upped its snowmaking game, then went for creature comforts. There's a new deck atop the Lakeview Express, a remodel in the Lodgepole Cafe, and a heated ramp from parking lot to ticket windows.

Along the north lakeshore, Diamond Peak got a new winch cat for grooming steeps, while the base food courts got remodeled for better flow.

West-shore Homewood returns to the public arena after a plan to go private stalled. New real estate development ownership has enhanced menus and tweaked mountain operations.

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The Snow Is Melting, Just In Time For Summer At North Lake Tahoe

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After record-smashing winter snowfall, it's taken a moment for ski and snowboard resorts on the north end of Lake Tahoe to dig out and get summer activities rolling.

But now four of the resorts have shifted into warm-weather gears, and here is what they have to offer to the general public.

Palisades Tahoe will keep open for skiing and riding until July 4. At the base, a treetop ropes course swings into action. On the famed rock face above the base, the via ferrata is open to challenge participants who are clipped into anchors and cables up the granite wall.

The mountain's aerial tramway welcomes sightseers, thrill-seekers and hikers and bikers to ride up to 8,200 feet at High Camp. There, you'll find roller skating, disc golf (opening delayed by snow), and geocaching. As snow melts, naturalist and guided hikes begin, but there may still be some snowbanks to jump into. All activities, including tram ride, are free to Ikon Pass holders. Otherwise, a daily fee is charged.

At Diamond Peak in Incline Village on the lake, the resort opens up a moderate 1.2-mile hike to Snowflake Lodge. From there, the view of Lake Tahoe bursts out to the south. The lodge deck will be open for lunch and relaxing. And there's golf nearby, too.

Once again, Sugar Bowl will run Kids Camp on the mountain east of Truckee off I-80. Three four-day sessions in July breaks out children ages 4 to 15 onto age groups for a shot at outdoor activities and challenges -- from unstructured playtime for the youngest to mountain biking for young teens.

Home to the region's only Woodward adventure facility, Boreal offers a full menu of camps for skateboarding, mountain biking, BMX, scooter and parkour (indoor spring floors, trampolines and blocks to outdoor parks designed specifically for tricking). Camps run week-long, daily and micro camps.

On the shores of Lake Tahoe, Granlibakken transforms its winter ski and sled hill into a wider summertime experience. Prime is the treetop zipline, with 97 platforms, 27 ziplines and 60 bridges. Head to the water for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Or hit the Rim Trail that runs right through Granlibakken's 74 acres.

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Winter's Largesse Means More Choices For Late-Spring Skiing, Riding In The West

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With record snowfalls in the West this winter, we are now going to see just how late into the year the Jones for skiing and riding can last.

Skiers and riders should expect limited terrain, fewer lifts and variable conditions if they head into the hills this spring. "Playing the mountain" is a well-established spring tradition, meaning following the sun as it runs across the trails to find the soft -- but not too soft -- snow.

Springtime brings out the quirky in managers of skiing and riding mountains. For instance, Brighton plans to go until May 29 but because it will only spin the Milly chair, crews will move the rails and boxes over there for a top-to-bottom terrain park. Willamette Pass will be open for weekends until May 14 and has a $19 ticket for sale.

But some things don't change. Timberline Lodge will once again have no closing date for its alpine slopes on the shoulder of Mt. Hood, as snow typically stays year-round on the highest Palmer Snowfield terrain. The mountain usually closes late summer or early fall to take a breath before reopening for the next winter.

Another old favorite resurfaces this summer. Beartooth Basin, America’s only summer-only ski area (on account of its location on the Beartooth Highway connecting Wyoming and Montana, which closes in winter), will open this summer after sitting out 2022 for lack of snow. The season is expected to go from Memorial Day into July.

The king of summer skiing is once again Mammoth Mountain. Some 800 inches of snow fell this winter, and the California resort plans to stay open to July 31 -- with a teaser for days beyond that. Compadre Palisades Tahoe says Memorial Day is the earliest they'll close.

Colorado's perennial champion, Arapahoe Basin, has targets June 4 as a temporary closing date. But up there on the Continental Divide, nothing is certain. Keep track via Al's Blog. http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/

Breckenridge has declined to be specific, saying "TBA May." Winter Park plans to stay open until May 14, or until "ALAP" -- a new acronym created by the resort's PR staff.

Elsewhere, tentative closings dates have been set for Mt. Bachelor (May 28) and Crystal Mountain (May 21) in the Northwest. In Utah Snowbird will run daily to May 14 and on weekends until Memorial Day ("at least"), and Solitude says it will stay open until May 21.

Bringing up the rear are Copper (May 7), Loveland (May 7), and Bogus Basin (May 6).

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California's Ski, Snowboard Season Just Keeps Going And Going And Going ...

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Snowfall for the 2022-2023 ski and snowboard season has bordered on the absurd, but the 700-plus inches that fell on California resorts is enough of a reality for at least 10 to extend their seasons beyond scheduled closing.

Nowhere did snow seem to fall more often than the resorts in and around the Lake Tahoe area and Mammoth Mountain. Photos of chairs buried in snow up to the tower tops kept coming and coming this winter. As the end approached, the month of May became the "new April" with a number of mountains keeping lifts spinning into the seventh month of their season.

Here's a look at what SnoCountry has as of March 28, but be sure to check websites because this season has been anything but predictable.

Starting at the top, Mammoth Mountain has announced it will stay open until "at least the end of July" -- perhaps taking a shot at its latest ever on August 6, 2017. Touting the state's highest summit elevation (11,050 feet), the central Sierra resort recently reported more than 800 inches of snow had fallen since the season began in November.

Next would be Palisades Tahoe on the north end of Lake Tahoe. Touting nearly 700 inches of snowfall so far, the mountain formerly known as Squaw Valley will run daily until the end of May, and then fire up the lifts on weekends through July 4.

The list of California resorts extending into May begins with a surprise: Southern California's Mt. Baldy has gotten so much snow that mountain officials say they have enough to keep going through May 21. But they also said they'd like to break their all-time record of June 6, weather permitting. Mt. Rose will run to April 30.

Also pushing their season into May are Kirkwood (May 14, more than 675 inches), and Heavenly (May 7, nearly 600 inches). Diamond Peak will also sneak into May, planning close on May 1 -- the second longest season since 1966.

A bunch of California mountains will push their closure dates deep into April. SoCal's park-ers' haven Big Bear will run until the end of the month, and so will Tahoe's Northstar. April 23 is the extended finish for Sugar Bowl, which seemed to catch every flake of every storm this season to ring up a total of 732 inches -- and counting. Recovering from the Caldor Fire, Sierra-at-Tahoe will  nonetheless extend to April 16.

While Boreal and Soda Springs officially say they'll finish on April 16, stay tuned as they are unofficially considering another week of operations. Tahoe Donner Downhill looks to add another weekend on April 14-16.

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SnoCast: Big Snowstorm Targets the Northeast

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At last, it’s the Northeast’s turn for snow! A coastal storm will deliver more than a foot of freshies for parts of New England and New York by the weekend, while the West gets a chance to dig out. Let’s dive into this week's SnoCast.

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SnoCast: Stormy Pattern Continues Out West

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A busy weather week continues nation-wide with a fast storm pattern. We'll see multiple waves of snow out West, and changeable conditions in the East heading into the first weekend of December. Let's dig into this week's SnoCast.

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SnoCast: More Snow Targets the West

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This week, the weather pattern continues to favor the Western U.S. for new snow and the right conditions to kick start ski season. In this week’s SnoCast, we’ll detail where back-to-back storms will deliver fresh snow.

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Game-Changing Lifts Set To Go At Palisades Tahoe, Mt. Rose

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A pair of high-speed chairlifts went in this summer at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and Palisades Tahoe, giving California skiers and snowboarders faster trips up the mountain and more terrain to explore.

At Palisades Tahoe, the much-anticipated base-to-base gondola will open this season. Long a dream of resort owners, the 2.4-mile-long eight-seat gondola will take skiers and riders from the former Squaw Valley base area to what was once Alpine Meadows base.

Alterra Mountain Co., the parent company for the resorts and Ikon Pass purveyor, says the new lift will cut down on traffic in the area by eliminating the need to drive or take a shuttle on the six miles of roadway between the resorts.

The gondola runs from the base of the newly upgraded Red Dog chair at the main Olympic Valley base area up and over the ridge to the backside base area. The ride takes about 16 minutes depending upon length of stops at the top of the KT-22 Express on the front side. Lift capacity would approximately be 1,400 people per hour in both directions.

Since taking over the two California ski and snowboard areas in 2018, Alterra has begun to spend the $17 million it pledged to upgrade and link the two distinctly different mountains -- the Olympic Valley front side with its cliffy steeps and glades, and the back side with expansive powder bowls.

The merging of the two areas will expand Palisades Tahoe's skiable terrain to about 6,000 acres, making it the second largest U.S. resort behind Park City Mountain (also a combination of two mountains).

At Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, the focus this summer has been on the Lakeview zone of the mountain (skier's left). Replacing the fixed-grip Lakeview chair, the replacement high-speed chairlift will deliver skiers and riders to the resort's high ground in less than half the time -- unloading higher up than the previous top terminal.

The new detachable quad will bring novice skiers and 'boarders to some of Mt. Rose's best blues and green runs, including its longest Around the World at 2.5 miles. Also, as the name suggests, the new chairlift will afford skiers and 'boarders a classic view of Lake Tahoe.

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'Iron Paths' Climb Some Of Most Iconic Walls In The West

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Via ferratas require rock-face, cliff-y terrain, so it's no surprise that "iron paths" in the West can be found on ski and snowboard mountains known for their steeps.

Fixed “protection” on the rock, such as cables, steps, pegs and ladders allow inexperienced climbers to hook in and safely ascend on rock faces. Some via ferratas even incorporate hanging bridges. Reservations required for guided tours from 90 minutes to four hours. Here's a look at the "iron roads" within the trail-map boundaries of five resorts in the West.

The highest elevation for a via ferrata sits in Arapaho Basin's East Wall. A chairlift ride to mid-mountain, then an OHV ride gets to the base of the climb at 11,800 feet elevation. The full-day climb ascends 1,200 feet to the 13,000-foot top ridge of A-Basin. A shorter version goes to an abandoned mine shaft for a history lesson.

In the northern Rockies, Jackson Hole built the most extensive via ferrata in the West. A gondola ride delivers climbers to extensive route layout in upper-mountain Casper Bowl. A dozen routes – from introductory to most difficult – and a 120-foot suspension bridge await. Rates include two-hour practice climb, half-day option or six-hour full day on the rock, all spread across rock face with 500 feet of vertical drop.

In the southern Rockies, Taos Ski Valley has open a via ferrata complex on the famous cliffs of Kachina Bowl. At 11,500 feet above sea level, beginner and intermediate routes criss-cross the Kachina face and include a 100-foot-long bridge suspended 50 feet in the air. More advanced climbers move over to the infamous K Chutes that has a 50-foot cable walk.

In California, Mammoth Mammoth is one of two resorts in the state with a via ferrata. A gondola ride to mid-mountain McCoy Station arrives below the Caldera Overlook. Six routes await: three beginner, two moderate with a suspension bridge between, and one expert. Climbs are 180 feet long for three-hour private and 90-minute group tours.

The other is Palisades Tahoe, where the lower mountain's iconic Tram Face is ideal for fixed-route climbing. A 4x4 ride and short hike gets climbers to four routes of varying difficulty that ascend some 800 feet of rock wall. Routes were designed with kids in mind, and 4x4 await at the top for return ride to the Olympic Village.

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Lake Tahoe Mountains Turn Up The Heat With Summer Activities

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Warm-weather brings Lake Tahoe into its off-season bloom, and the mountain resorts that ring the largest lake in the Sierra put on their summertime best for visitors near and far.

Gondolas and chairlifts run all summer to open up vistas from ridgelines surrounding the lake. The usual fare of ziplines, hiking and biking, coasters and alpine slides, and adventure park challenges await. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

There's a new via ferrata on the Tram Face of Palisades TahoeGuides take climbers up two routes of permanent iron anchors and cables. Group or individual tours go 2, 3 or 4 hours daily. A tram ride ends at the popular High Camp at 8,200-foot elevation, where you can roller-skate, hike, disc golf and geo-cache.

Anchoring the south end of the lake, Heavenly's main gondola takes folks up to mid-mountain for the resort's summertime fare. There, thrill-seekers will find the Ridge Rider Coaster with 90-second slide down 3,400 feet of loops, twists and turns; lift-served Hot Shot zipline; tubing; and, adventure park. Or jump on the Tamarack Express chair to get higher.

Few downhill MTB systems can match Northstar's network of black-expert trails. A gondola ride to mid-mountain gets biker to two high-speed chairs equipped to bring rider and bike to dozens of single-track, cross-country and downhill runs.

Down south, Kirkwood boasts one of the most challenging disc golf courses around -- and one that is in its 23rd year. The course climbs out of the Timber Creek base area and winds through forests up and down the front. And it's all free.

On the west side of the lake, Homewood takes advantage of its lakefront location to promote its marina and water activities. Home to the High Sierra Water Ski School, visitors can purchase lessons in waterskiing, wakeboarding, waterskating and wakesurfing. Rentals of all sorts of water craft available.

Just off Donner Pass, Boreal is home to California's only Woodward youth active sports campus. Woodward Tahoe has two skate parks, BMX park and MTB trails on the lower mountain, plus base-area Wrecktangle and Woodward headquarters.

 

 

 

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Five Affordable Ski Resorts To Visit In The West This Season

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Skiing and snowboarding are one of the best aspects of the winter months, and the West Coast, including the coastal areas, has numerous world-class resorts to choose from.

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SnoCast: New Year, New Snow. Bring It!

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As we close the book on 2021, we’ll get off to a busy snow start for the new year. A storm treks from coast to coast delivering new snow from the Southwest to Quebec. Details in this week’s SnoCast.

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SnoCast: New Snow from Coast to Coast

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This week brought more wild swings in the weather country-wide. The West has benefited greatly with building snow cover, and the East eyes the next weekend wintry wallop. Here’s the forecast in this week’s SnoCast.

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California's Trio Of Ikon Pass Resorts Rarin' To Go

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Things are expected to get closer to "normal" at California ski and snowboard resorts this season, as do the four mountain resorts in the Golden Bear State that honor the Ikon Pass.

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Resorts To Loosen Covid Restrictions

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Last season, Covid gave a jolt to the time-honored habits of skiers and riders, but the 2021-2022 season promises to be a bit less restrictive -- with exceptions.

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Big Snow = Early Openings in California For Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe

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Thanks to more than three feet of snow, California's Mammoth Mountain and Palisades Tahoe will open for the season on Friday, Oct. 29.

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SnoCast: Tricks and Treats in the Forecast

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It was an active week with an atmospheric river event in the West and a fall nor'easter in the East. Flipping the calendar from October to November, find out who will get forecast tricks or treats.

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What's New at California Resorts This Season

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As temperatures begin to shift, Ski California resorts are gearing up for the 2021-22 winter season with investments in infrastructure, facilities improvements, and technology that will continue to allow for fast, contactless lift access, reservations and payment, and high-quality experiences.

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Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows Renamed Palisades Tahoe

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Palisades Tahoe, formally, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows introduced its new name and logo that honor the resort’s history as a land of legends—home to freeskiing pioneers, Winter Olympians and cultural icons across more than seven decades of ski history.

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