- Ski resort(s)
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!