Lake Tahoe Resorts Retool With Caution; New Chairlift At Sugar Bowl
After a snow-challenged 2012-13 season that came on the heels of an industry slowdown, the 14 resorts that ring Lake Tahoe kept upgrades modest this summer. Still, there are a number of improvements.
“Last season was challenging,” says Bob Roberts, CEO and president of the California Ski Industry Association. “I’d estimate we had a fall-off of about 12 percent (from the previous year’s attendance), for a total of less than 7 million visits to our resorts.
"Yet economic yields were still good, since early season-pass sales now establish a solid base. And new efficiencies in services, as well as expansion into summer operations, increasingly help most resorts to stay profitable,” Roberts said.
Here’s a look at what’s new at the Tahoe resorts:
Boreal. To ensure the resort’s traditional early opening, snowmaking has been expanded, especially for terrain parks.
Soda Springs. This mountain just west of Donner summit has a rebuilt base lodge and lengthened tube runs.
Diamond Peak. Crews put in 50 percent more snowmaking and thinned some forest this summer. Powder hounds get more chances to carve up freshies at 6 p.m. in an expanded Last Tracks program.
Donner Ski Ranch. There’s a new day lodge at the base of Chairs 2 and 5 on the backside.
Kirkwood. A new ski-patrol/snowcat station atop Lift 10 will get The Wall terrain open sooner after a storm. And, there’s the new K-Bar in village and remodeled Cornice Grill at Lift 6.
Northstar. More tree skiing and wider cruising on the backside around the Promised Land Express is what’s new. More eats at The Backyard Bar & BBQ at slopeside Ritz-Carlton.
Homewood. Latest is more outdoor seating at both Big Blue View Bar and North Patio BBQ.
Mount Rose. It’ll be easier to park and eat while enjoying the views this season.
Sierra-at-Tahoe. A new plaza, restaurant, retail core and deck will welcome skiers and riders this season.
Squaw Valley. It’s mostly about food this winter, with the Mtn Roots food trucks, and a transformed mid-mountain with a Bavarian beer garden.
Sugar Bowl. The only new lift at Lake Tahoe resorts is the Crows Peak Lift, a fixed-grip triple chair that gives access to 1,600 acres of terrain.
Tahoe-Donner. Featured improvement is a 700 square-foot warming yurt.
Photo: Views of Lake Tahoe abound from ski resorts (CaliforniaSnow.org)