Tag Archives: skiing

Return to Mammoth Mountain

I haven’t been skiing at Mammoth since the early nineties, after college, but it’s where I learned to ski in high school from nearby Bishop.  And I had forgotten what a great big and diverse ski mountain it is – though I’m sure I also wasn’t skiing as much of any mountain’s terrain back then either.  Anyway, driving to Mammoth from Santa Cruz/San Jose in the winter isn’t very convenient (given all the Sierra passes are closed) and  you have to essentially drive by many other great ski resorts to do it.  However, with an extended stay at our new place in Tahoe last week, it was easy to hop down to Mammoth for a couple of days (just a three hour drive) and make use of our Mountain Collective passes.

We got some nice, typical spring skiing conditions: overnight frozen snow, following the sun as the slopes softened up from east to west to north.  Plus Mammoth is so high (peaking at 11,000 ft), it was easy to avoid any sticky slush that would develop lower down.

Click through for the full gallery:

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And Then a Lot More Snow

March really came through for snow in Tahoe!  We got one storm after another including some nice cold ones for some great light powder days.  I also closed on the purchase of a house in Tahoe Vista and with the help of Darlene, Resi, Troy and Aiden, we were able to put it to great use right away!  Troy’s brother Rick and his son Grayson also joined us for a few days at the… “Moose Haus”? “Moose Lodge”?  Even Pan and Hera came up for a couple of weeks.

Click through for the full gallery of pictures from our five various days of skiing at Homewood over a couple of weeks in mid- to late-March:

     

 

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A Little More Snow in Tahoe

Darlene and I joined Resi, Troy and Aiden at Homewood this past weekend to play in the much needed new snow.  Click through for the gallery:

  

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Long Awaited Snow in Tahoe

  

Finally got some snow to ski in Tahoe this past week.  Chased the storm up with Troy on Thursday night.  We had eighteen inches of powder to play with at Homewood, which was nice, but there wasn’t much of a base (like 25″), so still tons of obstacles to watch out for everywhere.  Creeks and rocks and trees and those sneaky, ski- and board-eating shrubberies!  As a result, lots of terrain wasn’t really accessible and you had to be pretty careful where you went, but there was still plenty of room for fun.

Here’s some pictures and a little video – though I really should’ve recorded some of the obstacle-dodging craziness and the digging of ourselves out of heavy, sun-saturated powder traps!

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More Fresh Powder in Tahoe

I joined Resi, Troy and Aiden for a ski weekend in Tahoe (at Homewood) in early April and we lucked out with lots of fresh powder both days.  Click through for pictures and video.

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Little Tikes in the Snow

    

Darlene and I spent the weekend with Resi and Aiden, and Greg, Erin and Merritt as their kids made their first visits to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley – on the road to their future Olympic Winter Games!  We also met up with Colin, Richard and Jennifer at Squaw.

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Ski Utah!

      

Here are the pictures and video from our annual week of skiing and tabletop gaming, this year back at the Cottonwood Canyons in Utah with a full house: Jon, Jim, Stan, Lewis, Tom, Bill, Kat, Darlene and myself. We were fortunate to get quite a heap of fresh snow early in the week and sunshine for the rest as we visited Alta, Snowbird and Solitude over five days.

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Tahoe Ski Season

This is a handful of pictures and a couple of videos from this season of skiing (and an afternoon of sledding).  Featuring… Darlene, Mike, Nanci, Rick, Maxine, Greg, Erin, Jon, Bill, Kat, Jim and myself.

Click through for the gallery:

  

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Skiing/Gaming Week in Tahoe

Here’s the pictures and video from our annual week of skiing and tabletop gaming, this year back in Tahoe again with Jon, Jim, Bill, Kat and Brin. We were unfortunately in a bit of a very warm and dry spell for California at the end of February. This kept us to the freshly groomed runs, rather firm in the morning, soft in the afternoon and refrozen over night, but we hit up Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Sugarbowl and Northstar over the course of the week.

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Birthday in Banff

For Darlene’s birthday last week (mid-April), I took her on a ski trip to a surprise destination: Banff, in the Canadian Rockies!  We stayed for five nights and skied at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. We also spent a little time exploring the national park: hiking in Johnston Canyon to see the ice falls, up to Lake Louise to walk out on the mostly frozen lake and out to Lake Minnewanka.  We were super lucky to decide to go revisit Lake Minnewanka after dinner on our first night because not only were the skies clear but the aurora borealis made a pretty good showing that night.  It also happened to be the first time either of us had ever seen an aurora in person!

Aurora Borealis over Lake Minnewanka, near Banff, Canada.

Click through to see the full gallery and video montage:

  

I was worried about the snow conditions when we arrived because there was no hint of snow in the valley around Banff (and the previous times I was there in the winter there was tons of snow everywhere). There wasn’t even any snow on the drive up to Sunshine on our first day. However, Sunshine is actually up pretty high and you take a gondola to get to the runs from the parking area. And, even before the weekend snow, it was great conditions and good coverage.

We went to the lower elevation resort at Lake Louise after the storm came through and I’m glad we waited because there were plenty of clues of how nasty and frozen the snow was on some parts of the mountain underneath the new snow. It definitely gets warmer there than in Sunshine. This was mid-April of course.

Compared to Whistler/Blackcomb, Sunshine (Banff) and Lake Louise certainly have a better chance of snow and cold weather, but they’re not as convenient. Sunshine is like 15 minutes from Banff and Lake Louise like 40 minutes or so. You don’t have to drive as there are free shuttles (with resort passes) to/from Banff and the drives are very pleasant. And there are other things to see and do if people want to take a day or two off from skiing.

Short video montage of our trip.

Sunshine and Lake Louise are both fairly large resorts, with plenty of terrain to explore. Their trail ranking is pretty strange at both resorts: lots of green runs and black diamond runs which would be rated blues in Tahoe. At times it seemed pretty arbitrary how the runs were ranked. You had to just go and check it out. You couldn’t trust the ranking at all. (Didn’t try any of the double-blacks: just assumed they were super steep chutes.)

One negative is that Sunshine has a few large portions (maybe a third) of completely open terrain above the tree line. Not only are these areas open to a storm but they also don’t let you feel like you have anything to explore in those areas. It’s just one big open expanse that feels the same all over, rather than many runs to check out. This certainly isn’t true all over the park, it’s just a couple chunks of it. Also a couple of sections of their acreage are special, restricted areas where you have to partner up and carry avalanche gear.

Similarly, as big as Lake Louise is, most of the backside terrain is double-black diamond: presumably chutes which Darlene and I didn’t try. But there are lots of other fun blue and black runs. Unfortunately, we found our favorite run after lifts closed on our last day!! D’oh!

I think it would be easy to enjoy five days skiing between the two resorts. There’s also little Mt. Norquay but we didn’t bother. It looks much smaller than Sugar Bowl (here in California) and I like Sugar Bowl.

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