I’m Dreaming of a Big White ‘Ween

Sounds dirty but I really AM dreaming of a white Halloween Ski Fest the likes of which we haven’t seen for a long while…

This storm, (though way too warm for my liking) was a step in the right direction. Looks like next week could bring another storm in mid-week. With typhoons spinning in the Western Pacific, the outlook for more storms this fall for us are pretty good. Cross your skis and hope for more white gold falling from the skies soon enough. And for those of you who thought you got first tracks of the season this storm cycle on NW or elsewhere… hate to disappoint but Eric the White was up there 3 weeks ago skiing the white ditch line on the top of Carson where just enough snow had been blown into the ditch to make for some decent rock bottom wedelling.

And Eric added in South Park fashion… “Ha Ha.”



The Life of a Skier

The Life of a Skier

There comes this special time of year when one morning you wake up and have to find your long pants again. There is a nip in the air serious enough that you dig up some thicker socks. Outside the light is more angled, more golden and there is a rustle in the leaves as the first murmurs of winter’s winds play with the yellowing leaves. The sky is bluer than summer in these first throes of fall and it is absolutely still, as if the earth is pausing in reverie in its increasing tilt away from the sun so that we may enjoy the last heat of the sun. The squirrels are out in force gathering their nuts leaving shredded  seedless piles of cones where they have been furiously working or throwing them down from the tree tops… as if winter will come tomorrow.

Now a frost or two graces the mornings and the Yellowjackets finally relent in their angry flights pissed off enough to sting whatever is moving from their increasingly torturous cold nights. Mosquitos and flies are gone too, leaving the air brilliantly clear and waiting…

As The Seven Sisters and Orion’s Belt come back into the sky the night air requires one dig out a coat or sweater when venturing out…. wood splitting and wood loading rings around the mountain valleys if one is lucky enough to live in the hills. And yet, a butterfly or two can still be seen dancing among the flowers that avoided their ultimate frosty fate enjoying the quiet of the warm afternoons and mirror like waters reflecting all that is good and right about the world.

And the Aspens, spectacular in their turning in family groups into 60 foot flames of yellow, orange and gold, a hologram in each leaf of the entire tree reminding us that for everything there is a season turning, turning and turning. And I and our tribe, catching as many leaves as we can in this children’s game of  catch-a-leaf on a windy day hoping that every leaf caught means an unencumbered powder day, free to fly down the mountains with snow in our mouths when we open to wide to laugh and welcome the dance that dare not speak its name. Better than sex, maybe. More predictable, definitely.

Together, all these harbingers of time share the promise of what is to come. Sometime soon, spinning out of the Gulf of Alaska will come a frisbee of clouds in one of the first storms of the season and will trace its way down the North Pacific Coast to target the Sierra Nevadas, This miracle of temperature, ocean currents and the swirling dervishes of cold moist air lifted by tall mountains will form the delicate art of a snowflake.  And them billions more will follow in this age old dance of magic. Of course this first “storm” will by hyped by every weather nut and TV forecaster for a week or so out adding even more excitement to this first event.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the night when the flakes start to fall, perfectly, dancing in the wind and beginning to collect on the ground forming the first white blanket of the winter with enough force and virility to leave, millions and then billions of delicate snowflakes inches and then feet deep. And as I lay awake watching them falling in the outdoor lights knowing as they have since time began, knowing as deeply as I know my own mortality that I will be putting on boots, skinning up my skis and gliding effortlessly into my first turns of winter the very next morning. Like a little kid on Christmas Eve I drift into dreamland with visions of skis slicing through new virgin snow and a smile of great promise on my face.

Yes, truly, I love fall for what it portents… days out skiing with those I love engaged in one of the most amazing lives I can imagine. The life of a skier.


PS   Storm is still on track for this weekend. For accurate information on this dynamic developing storm please check out our friends forecast over at: www.tahoeweatherblog.comimg_8349

Batten Down the Hatches…

Good morning Snow Fans… definitely have some big news for you. The storm setting up in the Gulf of Alaska is a potent one with typically high cyclonic winds and quite a bit of moisture as it is beginning to look like an atmospheric river event. Unfortunately, most of the precip will fall as rain as the snow level will stay above 9K for the heavy parts of the storm. It comes in two punches, one on Fri/Sat and the next on Sunday. As with most storms headed our direction the snow level will be falling toward the end of the storm but it is anyone’s guess how much the clouds will still hold at that point. Sounds like higher elevations (10K and above) may get a pretty good dump. If nothing else it moistens the ground for the trees and cuts fire danger down to almost nothing for awhile!

And who knows… if the forecasters are off by even a thousand feet on their snow level this could set the higher elevations up for some memorable dumpage!


gfs_pwat_west3_24 gfs_pr6_slp_t850_west2_24


Squawllywood’s World Cup Not Exactly Running Over…

The World Cup will return to Squaw Valley after a hiatus of fifty years or more… exciting news for sure! Unfortunately most of us will not be able to enjoy it. The Grandstand seats have already sold out, but, you can can get some VIP tix for only $1400 apiece. Chump change for billionaires, this pricing structure knocks most of the rest of us rough and tumble middle classers off the table. Just not going to happen.

And unfortunately, this is often what happens when resorts grow bigger and more exclusive. Thinking back to Aspen’s growth and how all the workers ended up moving down valley because they were priced out of the market… the latest push for more development at Squaw is likely to be a similar experience. You can bet Andy Wirth and his buddies will there though… and with fur lined jackets to boot.



Sometimes Less is More

Photographer: Max Rainoldi Location: Squaw Valley Stables, Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Photographer: Max Rainoldi Location: Squaw Valley Stables, Olympic Valley, CA 96146

If you haven’t been following the fight over the suburbanization of Squaw Valley, I’ll fill you in and I promise to be as unbiased as Fox News in the process… Fair and Balanced, Right? Last week the Placer County Planning Department voted to kiss Andy Wirth and KSL Capital Partners on the forehead and recommend the project move forward. It will now go to the County Supervisors for final approval. The project calls for the construction of 850 residential units, a 300,000 square foot commercial space and a 90,000 square foot Adventure Center (oh boy, indoor recreation… that’s why I go to the mountains…) Did I leave out improvement to the ski hill, oh yeah, so did KSL.

Despite over a 3:1 ratio of public comments and hundreds of people against the project, as well as testament from the California Highway Patrol, Sierra Club and the California State Attorney General that the plan, as it stands now, would over tax the existing infrastructure, the development plan was allowed to go forward by a panel that seemed extremely bored while listening to the impassioned speeches from both sides. Word on the street is that Squaw actually bussed employees in for the meeting with promises of a free breakfast and what not, hell, they were probably paid shills as well, development mercenaries,  firing opinions at will. Opinions for dollars… how could you go wrong? As much justice and equity as money can buy…

Any of us that have been skiing at Squaw or Alpine on a Sunday and had to file out with the skier traffic Northbound knows that the existing highway infrastructure is already maxed out. You might sit in traffic for what seems like hours while it crawls toward 80 and the inevitable slog back West to the suburbs of the Grey Area. With that many more people imagine a wildfire like the ones we have seen on TV lately where every auto and building goes up in smoke. In a rapid evacuation scenario, there is just no way those folks are making it out of harms way on Highway 89. Ain’t gunna happen. Might as well sit yourself down in Cushing Pond and hope you can hold your breath for a long time while the fire burns overhead as sit in your mobile BBQ on wheels.

Not to mention the effect on the mountain, the local stores (try grocery shopping in Truckee on a holiday, you need insurance on your cart AND your mental health as it is now). In terms of emergencies… the medical infrastructure is also not up to the task. Getting ambulances and firetrucks up or down Highway 89 in traffic… well, as they say in The Bronx… “Forget about it.”

The meeting for the passage of the development plan (read: Death Star) with the Placer County Supervisors has not been set yet but we will keep you informed. And in terms of KSL’s integrity, let me remind you that not much has been done on the ski hill itself to improve the aging infrastructure despite all the high minded promises Andy Wirth and KSL came to the table with when they first purchased the property. One thing did happen, Alpine Meadows is no longer the layback wonderfully smaller little sister of world famous Squaw Valley. Instead, its become merely KSL’s Cinderella and there are many of us old timers out here hoping Alpine finds her Winter Fairy Godmother sooner than later and that this  whole thing goes up in smoke so that Alpine can once more return to her former glory.

To get more info please check out Andrew Pridgen’s new article in the latest electronic edition of Powder which just arrived in my inbox today at:

OPINION: The Rebels’ Attempt in Squaw

It is well worth it and offers some great new shirt designs.



Summer Wanderings…

Mt. Rose sent out an email today letting everyone know that their passes are in the mail which is not really reason enough to break my summer silence… but the video they sent IS reason enough. If you haven’t seen this yet… its worth checking out:

You will be super glad you did!


powMS March