Above compact base area, mountain spreads out. (Kirkwood/Facebook)
Though less than an hour from the glitz and glamor of South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood Mountain Resort couldn’t be a more unlikely neighbor. Stuffed up at the head of a box canyon, the mountain known as “The Wood” retains an old-school, bare-bones flavor that, despite ownership by Vail, emphasizes good skiing and riding over amenities (i.e., cell service is iffy).
Skier slides down Loon in NH where all eyes are on a coastal storm. (Loon/Twitter)
Snow alert! A huge storm slams the West this week with locally up to five feet of snow. The East could be nice and snowy just in time for the weekend.
Trail widening expected to help relieve congestion. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Heavenly Mountain Resort recently got over a critical regulatory hurdle in order to widen trails, remove debris and relocate snowmaking.
Battery storage will help keep lifts running (Squaw Valley/Facebook)
Keeping a steady flow of electricity to ski and snowboard mountains is a major challenge for operators. So a Squaw Valley move to install a storage system is significant.
Build your skills with an affordable and fun lesson. (Alyeska)
Ever have a friend with whom you’d love to hit slopes, but he or she has never skied or ridden before? If so, the annual Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month may just be the ticket.
Lost Valley in Maine rejoicing recent cold and snow along with many others. (Lost Valley/Facebook)
An incredibly-powerful ocean storm will move close to the East coast Thursday and Friday while moisture returns to the Sierra for the first time in several weeks.
Nearly every turn at Heavenly has lake vista. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Heavenly Valley rightfully boasts its best elements: Most skiable terrain (4,800 acres) in Lake Tahoe area. Most vertical feet (3,500) on West Coast. Among highest summit elevations (10,067 feet) in the region.
Skiing and riding underway at Mount Rose. (Mount Rose Ski Tahoe/Facebook)
California has two dozen ski and snowboard resorts, and the bulk of them have minimal lodging and rely upon skiers and riders who drive up for the day.
Crystal Mountain in Washington opened Wednesday. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
A powerful weather system delivers heavy snow across the West through Friday, then leads to lake effect snow during the weekend for the East.
First SoCal high-speed goes up at Snow Valley. (Snow Valley)
Being close to the Los Angeles Basin means the lift lines at Snow Valley can be daunting, even for SoCal skiers and riders used to a crowd.
Good times kept rollin' at Mammoth. (Mammoth Mountain/Facebook)
It will take a record 270 days, but Mammoth Mountain will finally put an end to the 2016-2017 ski and snowboard season Aug. 6.
Zipline-ing at Heavenly includes monster lake view. (Heavenly/Facebook)
One of the most prevalent summer activities at ski and snowboard resorts is the high-flying, high-speed zipline. And California is no exception.
Hittin' the summer ski scene at Squaw. (Squaw Valley/Facebook)
After one of the best snow season in recent times, a quartet of Western mountains will keep the lifts turning well into what should be the season for sun-bathing and surfing.
Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Partners are purchasing four California resorts, including Mammoth Mountain.
Moving quickly after purchasing Intrawest resorts, a new Aspen-based ownership group announced it has bought Mammoth Mountain and three other resorts in the Southern California mountains.
The heretofore unnamed entity, formed by Aspen Skiing Corp. and KSL Capital Partners, said it will close this fall on a sale of a quartet of areas including Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.
The announcement comes on the heels of the group’s industry-rocking purchase of Colorado’s Steamboat and Winter Park, Quebec’s Mont Tremblant, Vermont’s Stratton, Ontario’s Blue Mountain and West Virginia’s Snowshoe. The four Aspen mountains and Squaw Valley-Alpine, a KSL property, will come under the umbrella of the new group but will continue to operate independently.
Because both purchases aren’t expected to be finalized until next fall, resort-specific season tickets will be honored for next season. So will the M.A.X. Pass, Rocky Mountain Super Pass and Mountain Collective that overlap into the partnership’s new portfolio in various ways.
“We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle,” said Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group that owned Mammoth and the other resorts “We know Aspen and KSL have the experience, commitment, and balance sheet to help make our vision a reality.”
No upgrading plans have been announced yet, but indications are that the new entity has the capital to put into improvements at these resorts – for both winter and summer. However, official statements have noted that coordinating e-commerce technology among all the resorts will a high priority in order to expand the marketing capabilities of all the mountains.
The move by Aspen Skiing Corp. to acquire and consolidate some 15 resorts under the Aspen-KSL roof is seen by industry officials as a response to Vail Resort’s two-decade effort to acquire 14 resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
Turns to be had at Snow Summit. (Snow Summit/Facebook)
Mid-winter doldrums gave way to a snow-filled spring that has kept many resort open longer than expected – and cranked up the end-of-season parties.
Deep powder prevails at Heavenly (Heavenly/Facebook)
Plenty of pow at Mammoth. (Mammoth/Facebook)
The sudden turn of fortune for Mammoth Mountain – and the rest of the Sierra – has prompted the California resort to stay open until the Fourth of July.
Officials said a record month in December, another 20 feet in January and more to come made the decision easy. This season’s July 4 closing is the first time since 2010-2011 season when nearly 56 feet – 668 inches -- piled up.
Not only are skiers and snowboarders stoked by the record snowfall, California water officials are too: The snowpack in the Eastern Sierra is 173 percent of normal – with several months of winter to go.
Since Mammoth opened for the 1969-70 season, there have been six seasons with more than 500 inches falling from the sky, according to stats from mammothsnowman.com. The bleakest winter at the California mountain came in 1976-77 when a mere 96 inches came down – with none in December!
Mammoth's mammoth weathers the storm. (Mammoth/Facebook)
After a month of January that put up to 20 feet on the ground in the Sierra, you’d figure things would calm down at bit. But before that happens, there’s a couple of more feet on the way.
OpenSnow.com forecasters say that snow at Tahoe-area resorts should drop between one and two feet this weekend – and storms will stick around for another couple of days beyond that. Up north, Washington and Oregon resorts should benefit as the jet stream shifts to a more northern route in February.
“We should see a break Saturday night into Sunday but with winds picking back up,” said OpenSnow’s Bryan Allegretto about Tahoe. “Then another storm moves in Sunday night into Monday. This storm also has snow levels near lake level until falling later Monday. We could see 3-10 inches at lake level, and 4-15 inches on the mountains by Monday night.”
For example, China Peak was expected to get more than a foot over the weekend, pause on Monday, and then get ready for up to four more feet next week, according to OpenSnow forecasts.
This on top of a month of January that recalled years gone by when double-digit snowfalls were standard. At Mammoth Mountain, the month included one-day dumps of 42 inches (Jan. 4) and 91 inches total in the week of Jan. 7-13. Total for the month topped 200 inches.
California water officials say that the month’s moist largesse helped replenish a third of the state’s “water deficit,” refilled reservoirs and setting up for a spring melt that would refurbish some of the state’s groundwater supply. But they warned that without consistent precipitation, the benefits of the winter’s snow bonanza will diminish fairly soon.
Snow everywhere you look around Lake Tahoe these days. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Ah, just like the old days … The trio of Pacific storms that recently slammed into the Sierra left behind record snow depths and wind speeds as high as 100 mph and forced nearly a dozen Lake Tahoe resorts to shut down their lifts.
Early-morning fire consumed South Lodge at Homewood. (North Lake Tahoe Fire District/Facebook)
UPDATE 12/19/16: Homewood lifts will be opening Thursday with top-to-bottom skiing starting at 9:00 a.m. Guests can access the upper mountain via Madden Chair, which is located at the North Lodge.
The South Lodge at Homewood Mountain Resort was engulfed in flames early in the morning of Dec. 28, forcing the California mountain to close temporarily.
North Lake Tahoe firefighters responded at 3 a.m. to the day-trip mountain on the shores of Lake Tahoe, finding one of two base lodges at the resort “heavily involved” in flames.
“No injuries have been reported, and fire suppression efforts managed to keep the fire isolated to a single structure,” fire officials said on the district’s Facebook page.
Mountain officials shut off the lifts and barred any visitors for the day, as firefighters remained to keep the fire isolated and to clean up on location. The building was a total loss.
Statements later in the day indicated that officials hope to get the 1,260-acre ski and snowboard mountain on the west shore of the lake up and running for Dec. 29.
The South Lodge is located at the base of the Quail Chair and housed a restaurant and administration offices. The larger North Lodge, just up the road with the bulk of visitor parking, was not damaged.
Updates will be forthcoming on SnoCountry.com as to when Homewood will reopen.