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Conditions: Groomed, bluebird
We arrived at Kirkwood at 7:35 AM. That is the earliest I have ever been to the mountain on Bay Area Ski Bus. We were meeting two friends from Oakland; what's up Samantha and Guhan?!? They were a bit behind us so I had delusions of hitting sentinel bowl prior to hooking up with them. All hopes were dashed when the stoned-out Kirkwood lifties arrived.
Demetri: Waiting patiently in line before the lift lines are even set up at 8:15 AM.
SOKL: Dude, it's going to be another hour at least before this lift opens
D: Want me to help drill some holes or run some lines
D: Ok, no prob, I'll wait
L: Chair 5 is opening at 8:30, duuuuuude
L: Yea, but only for the comp, what do I know
After waiting patiently for nearly 45 minutes we took the first chair along with our Ski Bus host David. As I shred the sweet corduroy all the way down the bunny slopes I imagined the poor people stuck on the lift watching as I slayed the mountain. After a few SMS messages, we hooked up with Samantha and Guhan and took another few laps in the Timber Creek area. I hit up the terrain park and made my best attempt to not look like an idiot on the half pipe and small features.
Warmed up, we headed to chair 5 to get started for the day. After a quick break, our border buddies were ready to tackle the line down past the water tank a few times before heading in for lunch.
I lead the pack out towards chair 10 for some early afternoon Buckboard basics. Jodi loves Buckboard and I was unable to coax her into the drain which runs parallel. I had a few nice drops into the gully off of 5 before we moved over to chair 1 for some beginner laps.
As we headed up chair 2, Caples crest, the mountain revealed its backside slopes. There were cliffs, and awesome lines as skiers and riders took the newly opened and running Outlook Vista to the ridge separating the two halves of the mountain.
We took it easy and came down to chair 3 for a return to the mid-mountain. By this point, it was time to start heading all the way across the mountain for our bus departure at 4:30 sharp.
I ran into Brandon from Flowskipix and said hello. As I raced down the route to the frontside, I lost Jodi and Samantha for a while and caught up with Guhan. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on a perfect bluebird day.
A few chairs and traverses later and we were back in Timber Creek where warm buses and cold beer waited for us. I loaded my pockets with free beer and had the chance to bust out my 686 snow tool belt for the second time this season. A quick stop in Jackson lead to more beer and a sandwich allowing me to sleep off my day on the slopes with friends. Day 16 will go down as one of the most fun of the season!
Saturday, February 28, 2009
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
For the first time in history, the legendary Tram Face will be officially open for pro riders since the resort was opened in 1949. The competition face is clear visible from the resort and the cable car system. Squaw Valley USA, host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is one of Americas largest and high tech resorts attracting over 600,000 visitors every year.
Weather could still rule out a shot, but you better believe the competitors are licking their chops for a shot at this technical piece of skiing and riding.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Location: Sugar Bowl
Conditions: 12+ of Sierra Cement
We skied Sugar Bowl yesterday on the Bay Area Ski Bus. When we arrived at the resort at around 9:30 AM, there was about 4" of fresh in the parking lot. This was a relief as most of the other resorts were reporting rain.
We hit a few warm up laps on Judah lift. There was fresh cement to cut up and it was fun. The Judah lift serves the terrain parks and noone was going for the fresh so I had it all to myself.
We then headed to the Jerome Hill lift for some more. The snow there was more tracked out but still fun. We took Sidewinder to the Lincoln side of the mountain and went directly to Mount Disney. The runs back there were very heavy with new snow. Some of the best skiing of the day was in a little gully off Mt Disney.
We came back to the front side to pick up a friend around 11:30. From there, we took a few laps then went back to Sidewinder. The trees off of sidewinder were untouched. We did a few laps on Christmas Tree and I found some great snow below the lift line.
Mount Lincoln was very windy up top. By this point, we were all soaked. I could literally wring water out of my gloves. Otherwise, I was dry as a bone.
There were some awesome lines to be had off of Lincoln. Very few people were there and the snow was coming down at about 2" per hour.
A true Sierra Cement day will test your legs and your gear to the fullest. Get out there and enjoy it, and bring a pair of spare gloves.
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Location: Squaw Valley
Conditions: Groomed, moguls, bluebird
Saturday, we hit Squaw on the Bay Area Ski Bus for the first day of a two day trip. My Volkl Mantra 184's needed some tuning so I dropped them off at the base ski shop for some welds, wax, and edge. I took the funitel to Gold Coast and hit up the demo shop for some boards for the day.
I was going to get the 2009 Manras in a 191 if they had them. I talked to the demo shop guy about what to chose for the day:
Demetri: Hey, my skis are at the base getting repaired and I need to demo something for today.
Shop Guy: Sounds like a great idea
D: Do you have the Mantras?
SG: Yup, sure
D: What size?
SG: 170, 177, 184
D: No 191s?
D: I actually have the Mantras, is there anything else I should try?
SG: Head Mojos, they are the Mantra killer
D: Seriously considers punching the shop guy in the face for dissing his Mantras. Okay, I'll give them a shot. We'll see. I'll take the 187s.
I liked the skis. They were heavy pigs though. I found myself tightening down the boot buckles to get a bit more control over the monsters. I liked the 187 length. The Mojos were great in anything tracked up.
We hit the whole mountain that day. We started out on taking Red Dog over to Squaw Creek for a few laps. We did Shirley Lake, Granite Chief, Gold Coast Express and a few rides on the funitel. Conditions were pretty good all around the mountain with lots of moguls especially in Siberia Bowl.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Conditions: Variable, windbuff, skier tracked, powder, heavy powder, chowder
Today was an awesome day at Kirkwood. I know yesterday will go down in the history books as one of the great all time days at Kirkwood. I was able to make one day after the real pow-fest and i was not sure how things would turn out.
The morning started out on Cornice and a quick hit into the Sentinel Bowl. I didn't quite have my legs ready and it was hard work slogging through all that chopped up snow but still fun.
I made my way to the backside and discovered that 15 was running. It was my first crack at the new surface lift off 4 and it opened up some incredible terrain. Fawn Ridge was definitely the place to ski today. I figured the pow-hounds wouldn't bother going to all the trouble of getting up there yesterday when the front side of the mountain had so much to offer. There was a ton of snow, especially down in the trees below the ridge. Big props to the Cat crew for grinding out some cord in needed places!
I also took the opportunity today to check out Thunder Saddle, see pic. Again, there was a ton of snow and not too much traffic. A quick run out led me back down to 2 for laps to the backside. Great way to spend the morning.
I hit a few more runs off Cornice as well as the Wall in the afternoon. I will say that there was powder to be had, in one way or another, on each of my 20+ runs for the day. It was certainly fun exploring Kirkwood on a slow day and getting great snow to boot.
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Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Location: Alpine Meadows
Conditions: Epic Powder, 28" overnight, 6" more during the day
Saturday marked the Bay Area Ski Bus's first trip to Alpine Meadows for the 2009 season. The conditions were epic: a whopping 29" of snow in the morning report, and another 6" during the day on top a huge storm total for the week. We were waist deep in powder by the first run.
Early that morning word came that legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller was filming at Alpine. You know you're skiing the place to be when Warren Miller shows up! Also in the house were Jonny Moseley, Erol Kerr, and other Tahoe locals.
We hit Hot Wheels Gully for some fresh and went to the backside for some more.
What a day! Definitely the most snow I've skied at Tahoe and the most ever since Alaska.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Conditions: Skier tracked powder, powder
Late last week I started to get word there was a big storm coming to Tahoe. I put in paperwork to take the day off and signed up for a free trip on the Bay Area Ski Bus.
Yea, free. Every six trips earns you a free day on the mountain.
We had skied powder Saturday at kirkwood so Sunday was a rest day. Sunday night, I watched the storm pelt Tahoe.
I knew Tuesday was shaping up to be a great day.
We got to Northstar by 8:00 AM, the earliest I've ever been to the Mountain, short of staying right there. I took the gondola up and headed to powder paradise. I was so early, in fact, that ski patrol wouldn't let me take the Lookout Link. No matter, I made it a quarter way up the Pommel and dropped off into a field of bottomless powder. Not bad for the first run of the day.
I made it to Lookout by 9 AM. I checked out the new glade area and wound up skiing both through trees as well as *on* them. They needed to do a better job clearing out the chopped trees because the fallen logs were a constant hazard. As I was skiing alone, I decided to abort on my glade adventures and head back to the on trail and near trail pow.
The best snow of the day was actually to be found on the front side. Northstar is not exactly known as an advanced mountain and I gather than many of the skiers were not comfortable dealing with mad powder. No problem for me though, other than my legs were absolutely beat. I had to take a lunch break and refuel.
The afternoon was spent searching for and finding mad powder all over the mountain. Some of the best spots were below the Rendezvous lift, which was not running, and in between the terrain parks. All the steep stuff was skied out so I had to venture into the trees to get the goods.
As I wound down the day I ran into two boarders pleading with strangers for help. The one boarder could not get out of his binding and was stuck at the base of the mountain searching for tools. He asked other boarders if they could help. I overheard and offered a tool. I told them they wouldn't believe it is as proceeded to whip off my belt, remove my belt buckle, revealing a phillips head and standard screw driver hidden in the pins. The boarder unscrewed his stuck binding and marched off after a cold one. Too bad he didn't have a bottle of brew right there. The belt buckle also features a bottle opener.
Powder day and blue skies make for a perfect day on the mountain. Today, my legs feel like jello but I'm resting up and scouring the weather reports in search of more powpow.
For more info on the conditions at Northstar, check out Northstar Snow Blog.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
First two runs of the day were pure powder pleasure. Lots of fresh on the front side to be had. Avy control in full effect from 9 AM till about 10.
At 10, after hearing a lull of the big 75mm Howitzer, we headed to the backside. Big mistake. The top of sunrise was a whirlwind. Snow pelted our faces. We couldn't tell if it was new snow or stuff getting blown around. Visibility was near zero.
We bailed on the backside and headed over to Cornice. More trouble at the top there, but not as bad.
Lots of fresh in the trees even late in the day. By 3, the sun started to peak out.
Pretty darn good day out there.