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MATT_B

Tahoe Suggestions?

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I'm taking the family to Lake Tahoe in December. The wife and I will have one or two days a way from the kids. I'm looking for suggestions of things to do and things to see with and without the kids in the area. I have been to Alpine Meadows so I was thinking a day at one of the other resorts. What are the other resorts like, Heavenly, Sugar Bowl, others? I was also planning on bringing the XC skis and pulling the kids in a sled. I'm thinking something fairly short and mellow for some touring. Is there any reliable easy ice in the area? Any other suggestions not necessarily outdoor related would be welcome too. Thanx in advanced.

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I was there in early December last year and was in for a rude surprise. Early December is very early season for the Sierra, unlike the coast. There was skiing, but it was marginal. I skied heavenly. it was ok, but zero vis and shitty snow, plus a distate for resort skiing meant it didn't excite me at all.

 

Driving around I found a HUGE XC-ski area near Donner Pass called Royal Gorges, I think. I rented some classics there and did a quick 60KM and never cross my tracks once. Awesome grooming. Altho the weather was too poor to get into the alpine, their trail network goes way high up. It would be a great place with the kids. You can rent it all there. Google them - their website is pretty full.

 

I can't imagine there would be much ice there this early in the season - it just seemed too warm and too dry. But I wasn't really looking, so who knows.

 

Ask at telemarktips.com. there are plenty of Tahoe locals that could help way more.

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Tahoe is a veritable winter paradise (or white blinding hell depending on your perspective).

 

Great place to take the family where the snow is dependable (9k feet elevation) are the meadows at the top of Mount Rose. Very scenic lakeviews. As mellow or dramatic as you can stand. You can pull sleds, telemark, rondonee, snowshoe, crawl, etc. It's one of my personal favorites.

 

Take some sunflower seeds with you. When you get in the trees, put a few in your hand and hold it out. Be patient. Within a few minutes, you'll have little birds landing on your hand to take them.

 

 

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I was there in late season so I don't know if this will help. I also only skied lift serve. Kirkwood was great, lots of cool terrain, and elevation that may be important for early season. It also looked like lots of BC potential on the drive from South Lake Tahoe. We also skied Mt Rose, enjoyable but less terrain -again the high elevation may help with early season.

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There is some ice in near Emerald Bay (I think) on the west side of the Lake. not super reliable, but i've seen in that time of year. Check out the Climbing Lake Tahoe rock book for some beta.

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Since I am a boarder, I despise Heavenly...too much paddling. If you are going to hit the slopes on a weekend and want to avoid the crowds I highly recommend Homewood. Nice terrain, usually no lift lines, good tree skiing, always some untracked snow somewhere, and the most sheltered on windy days.

 

If you want the best skiing/boarding in Tahoe drive a little bit south to Kirkwood, where they always have the most snow. U could also get in some XC in the Round Top area to the East of Kirkwood.

 

I would avoid Mt. Rose unless it is a primo powder day, then hit it for sure and check out a double black area called "The Chutes". Diamond Peak is a little small. Northstar is a great family resort, but there is always a shitload of people. Sugar Bowl is nice, but if you are going to drive that far from the lake head to Kirkwood.

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Others have mentioned Kirkwood, and I'd strongly back that idea. There's a decent amount of XC terrain nearby... not as much as Royal Gorge, but solid.

 

The downside to Kirkwood is that it is ~20-30 minutes from South Lake Tahoe and most lodging.

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early season you will have the best coverage at sugar bowl. It gets the most precip and is at a higher elevation than the others. Mt Disney and Mt Lincoln/silverbelt lifts are all you need to have a serious day

 

Alpine Meadows backside bowls are also worth spending time in.

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Well, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Squaw yet. K-wood is definitely good but for big lines and lots of great steep terrain with plenty of variety, I think Squaw takes the cake. Plus there's an outdoor hot tub with a bar at mid mountain that you can stop by at the end of the day (or the middle of the day if you're taking it easy). Being from the northwest and mostly skiing crystal and whistler, I was generally underwhelmed with most of the Tahoe area offerings. Squaw, Alpine and K-wood are quality resorts. MY general impression (after being a ski/snb instructor and skiing most of the resorts up there) is that the rest of them are fluff or small.

 

If you go to K-wood keep your eyes pealed for some ice on the right side of the road (88).

 

If you have the time, Lee Vining canyon is only ~2.5 hours and it's really pretty great ice climbing. Check this out:

http://www.aboutmyadventure.com/directories/shared_photos/lee_vining/72-75.htm

 

it's definitely worth the drive.

 

Keep in mind that the posters above are reporting on a very VERY dry year. We never got more than 50% of our average snowpack last year and by may we were at 23% of the average may snowpack. Yes, our season does start a little later, but I for one am hoping that the little series of storms we're about to get is going to get us started off on the right foot this year. Realistically, I can't say how great it will be in December but it's a high probability that it will be better than last year (broke the record low for precip from 1889!).

 

have fun!

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Squaw = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I think 80$ last year... and the crowds, oh the crowds. you can get the same terrain in less $ and crowding at Alpine

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Royal Gorge for X country. Kirkwood for downhill and boarding.

Donner summit state park for snowshoeing cheap and it's right next to the PCT where you can snowshoe to Donner peak. Just did that last weekend and it was cold and windy making for some brutal wind chill. Excellent sierra conditions.

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Thank you for all the suggestions. Unfortunetly I cant really write a real TR. We got there too early to bother skiing any of the resorts. Heavenly only had a couple lifts running. We went up to Hope Valley with XC skis. It's really nice up there. 200 yards in my binding broke. Fortunetly there was only 18 inches of snow to walk through back to the car. Spent the rest of the trip mostly being lazy and letting the kidlets play in the snow and still had blast.

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