Ski Club 2.0 Home
Snow Reports
FAQFAQ

Mail for help.Help!!

Log in to snowHeads to make it MUCH better! Registration's totally free, of course, and makes snowHeads easier to use and to understand, gives better searching, filtering etc. as well as access to 'members only' forums, discounts and deals that U don't even know exist as a 'guest' user. (btw. 50,000+ snowHeads already know all this, making snowHeads the biggest, most active community of snow-heads in the UK, so you'll be in good company)..... When you register, you get our free weekly(-ish) snow report by email. It's rather good and not made up by tourist offices (or people that love the tourist office and want to marry it either)... We don't share your email address with anyone and we never send out any of those cheesy 'message from our partners' emails either. Anyway, snowHeads really is MUCH better when you're logged in - not least because you get to post your own messages complaining about things that annoy you like perhaps this banner which, incidentally, disappears when you log in :-)
Username:-
 Password:
Remember me:
durr, I forgot...
Or: Register
(to be a proper snow-head, all official-like!)

TR - California's Best Dreaming: Squaw and Mammoth

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Last week of MY season. I opted to use the remaining of my annual vacation to ski California. Colorado or Utah would be just as good in terms of condition, but I happened to have free lodging in the Tahoe area this week, thought I might as well take advantage of it. Another reason for California being, I was in the mood for some steep skiing. Having lived in California for a few years, I knew the Sierra mountains with its maritime snow pack, has tons of heart stopping steeps! Especially in Squaw and Mammoth.

Flight out to Reno (from New York's JFK airport) with a stopover at SLC is always a bit strange. Everyone disappeared out the terminal while I and a few wait for our onward flight to Reno. But not this time. The previous flight were late coming into JFK. We hurry to get onboard, only to end up sitting on the runway for an hour waiting for our turn to get off the ground due to (air) traffic. So we were late into SLC and had to literally run to the gate where the Reno flight was.

I thought with the tight connection, my skis might not make the same flight. I was resigned to have to wait for it to arrive the next morning. So imagine my surprise to see my skis sliding out from the bulk luggage chute!!!

Good start to the week!

(but, don’t stay at the Nugget! It’s a 5 minute extra driving, which is no biggie. But the poor service was a total turn off. Long line at check-in, at 1am! Still, huge room for $100 just to lay one's head on)



Part I — Squaw Valley (4/13-15)


Day 1 (4/13, Saturday), Squaw Valley USA — 50-60 degrees + sunshine, day of corn harvest


Having arrived late the night before, I was slow to get going. Didn’t make it to Squaw till well past 10am. But lucked out in hooking up with my local gang the moment I hit the slope. So was shown the mountain nice and easy.

By “nice and easy”, it meant we first skied the Silverado chair, which is a first for me. Although I've skied Squaw Valley a couple times in the past, there's always the problem of poor visibility as Squaw is largely above tree line. So I haven't really seen all of Squaw yet. Silverado is mostly advanced territory so in the past I probably wouldn't go near it either. But the past couple years, I got more bold and my friends saw that. So they now take me to what they called "pucker lines". (or sometimes call "puker" line)

There’s a race going so some of the more challenging gates were off-limit. So we watch the daredevils come down for a while. It was sponsored by Red Bull so naturally there's Red Bull to be had. I decided I don't need all that much energy so gave mine to my mates who likes it. It was a beautiful sector. But my mates were in a hurry to lap up the runs. I didn't want to hold them back by stopping for pictures. I figured I'd come back on another day by myself and can take all the picture I want. Well, I was wrong. But I'll get to that later.

Silerado was followed by the Headwall face and Classic Chute. 2 pretty notorious steep runs. Snow was nice and soft, fairly deep, albeit a bit on the heavy side except on the steepest slopes. I guess that explained why my local buddies took me straight to Silverado and the Headwall. I wouldn't want to ski those runs when it's even remotely icy. Saw a fellow right above the steepest part of the Headwall Face, out of his skis, trying to slide down on his butt. Very bad idea. We debated whether we want to hang around to watch the carnage (the steep part eventually turns into a flat run out, so we don't expect much damage except the entertainment value). Decided we'd rather go skiing.

After a few lapse of the Headwall, we finished the day with a few more lapse on KT22 chair, on the easy part. By then, I had enough steep for my first day.

I managed to drop my phone into the sink full of water! So while the gang went into the hot tub, I sat on the hot seat with my carrier to get a replacement phone overnight to me. Surprised later to found the waterlogged phone came back with SOME life, the phone function still works. But the touch screen was VERY erratic. On the plus side, the voice command still works! As a casualty of the wet phone, photo was out of the question till the replacement phone arrives. Though that's not much of an issue for the next few days. For we'd lose the sun because a storm was coming! Yeehaa!!!


Day 2 (4/14, Sunday), Squaw Valley again, cloudy, very warm, and quite windy


I had less perfect luck hooking up with my friends who had to run errands in the morning. We each ended up skiing alone for half the day.

Today, I lapped Granit Chief chair several times. A run called Smoothie was open. It's a long round about run near the perimeter of the ski area boundary and ends up in the Silverado chair. But with flat light and no one to show me the route, I thought it’s not the best day to do it. Little did I know it was the last day of the season for the Silverado chair. So no more Smoothie after Sunday, which I only knew 1/2 hr before they close the chair due to strong wind. By then, the entire upper mountain were like one giant wind tunnel. I could barely standstill. So back down to KT22 again. No complains there. KT was soft, smooth and steep enough to keep on going. Since my local friends weren't around to show me, I managed to stumbled on some rather steep runs that I only barely able to see the bottom. It was great fun!

Early ending as even the top of KT retreat into the clouds.


Day 3 (4/15, Monday), Squaw again. Very windy and the peaks are all in the cloud.


We knew for forecast this will be a difficult day weather-wise. On my way up the gondola towards Granit Chief, we got words GC was closed due to wind. So, back down below to KT one more time!

Not that I need to complain about “having to” ski “only” KT. Condition were quite good. Just for a change, I hop over to Red Dog chair, which serves a lot of glades. Loved it! Had great fun skiing the widely spaced trees. Snow were cream cheese like smooth. Ended up skiing that chair for a good bit, with even a quick foray to the Far East chair just for kicks. (there's actually a good lake Tahoe view off the top of Far East, but the low storm cloud of today partially obscured it).

Then it’s time to hit the road...to Mammoth!!!



Part II — Mammoth (4/16-18 )


Day 4 (4/16, Tuesday) Mammoth, POWDER DAY!


Mammoth reported 4”. We suspect the upper mountain probably got more. But we had to wait to find out as none of the upper mountain chairs were open for much of the day.

So we lapped the lower + mid mountain chairs, which had plenty of slightly wet’ish powder. Big mountain + sparse skier traffic = first track over and over!

As more and more chairs got open, we tried our best to be where the chair started to spin. So got first track more than once. By 3, MY legs were toast. Decided to call it a day. Two of my gang later reported they got more fresh track when mid-mountain runs started to open. But me and another buddy of mine were ready to quit by 3.

Also, knowing the top chairs weren’t running this day, there’s a cheesy justification of “saving” our legs for tomorrow’s charge to the top! (Not sure even I myself believe in that justification. But I was really dog tired at that point)


Day 5 (4/17, Wednesday) Mammoth, 2nd helping of fresh powder!


Since the top chairs never open the previous day post storm, we targeted chair 23 first thing!

No, we didn’t actually planned that. We got off the Broadway chair and saw chair 23 just started loading! Needless to say, we beeline for it. The snow did NOT disappoint! Dry and fluffy! We did 3-4 laps without repeating our lines.

Terrain off that chair is rather steep. There's one line I didn't ski. Some years ago, I watched a friend of mine had a slide of his life at pretty high speed for a good 50 yards. Even though I'm a better skier now and, even back then, I skied it twice without problem prior to his slide. Though he wasn't hurt, the image and the anguish haunted me to this day. I stayed away from that particular line. But skied other lines just as steep. wink

Naturally, we need to go up top via the gondola. But the snow wasn’t as good as chair 23. So we didn’t linger on too long.

Then, just by chance, we found ourselves at the Cloud Nine chair! Because this sector faces east, it’s just reaching perfect corn consistency. Needless to say, we went straight back up and repeat it again, and again, and again!!!

Cloud Nine chair is in a no-mans-land. I mean, no food land! So we thought we’ll hit the Canyon lodge for lunch. Well, we made the mistake (actually, yours truly was the lead scout, so fully guilty for the result) of dropping down chair 22, which was terribly heavy, manky giant moguls!

So, our legs demanded a long and restful lunch break.

After lunch, we split up as each of us wanted something different. I went back up to the top, over to the back side. Snow was surprisingly good on the back side. Until it was time to come back to the front side. Scotty, the run down from chair 14, hadn’t been groomed for a few days. So it grew into giant moguls, complete with manky snow!

I just have this uncanny ability to find terribly heavy & manky snow at the end of some long string of good runs, right when our legs were toast. So that was enough to call it a day.


Day 6 (4/18, Thursday). Going from corn to mashed potato in a matter of minutes! (OK, maybe only 1/2 hours)


I had to work in the morning (price for having the rest of the week off). It took longer than I hoped. So by the time I hit the slope, it was already 10:30’ish. 1 run down to the Canyon base was enough to verify the snow was no good any more. So I head over to Cloud Nine again, hoping to hit that perfect corn harvest window like the day before. Somewhere along that very flat traverse, one of my ski tip caught some snow, spun me around and slammed me to the ground, landing my ribs on my pole handle. Ouch! Who would have known plastic pole handles can be so hard and so painful!

Anyway, Cloud Nine was past prime. So headed further up to the top. Surprisingly, the upper part of the back side was still in good shape. The only price to pay was the flat runout back to chair 14 was a slow slog. Around 2, it was getting so heavy it’s more work than fun.

It's a blue bird day. The scenery make it up if one doesn't like the snow (not that I'm complaining, I LOVE soft corn'ish snow)







Just when I was about to call it a day or at least move back to the front side, I noticed I lost a pole basket in the wet cement like snow! Thinking I NEED to find the basket, I retrace my last run looking for it, but never found. By then, it’s getting close to 3, decided I called it a day. My ribs were still hurting, and I had no basket in one ski, which sank into the snow on each pole plant. And I had a 3-4 hr drive back to Truckee...


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 1-05-19 17:25; edited 7 times in total
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
On my drive back to Tahoe, I had just enough daylight to squeeze in a short hike at Mono Lake, a moonscape of a place with its strange looking "Tufas" jutting out of the salty water.







snow conditions     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Part III — Alpine Meadows (4/19-21)

Back to Tahoe. I had the choice to go back to Squaw Valley, which still has large amount of terrain I haven't explored yet. But my friends talked me into going to Alpine Meadow. As it's Good Friday - Easter Sunday, it would be much quieter than Squaw Valley. Every morning, I pulled into the parking lot at 10am and still found myself parked very closed to the lodge. There's really not much in the way of lift queues. If I had to wait for 2 chairs, it's a "wait". Most times, it's ski right onto the chair. (granted, this late spring, mid-winter I imagine it'd be a bit more lively)

Day 7: Alpine Meadows — some sun, some clouds, between corn and mashed potatoes!


I had to get some "work" done in the morning again. So didn't get to the mountain till 10. It's warm and the sun is strong. So snow got soft super fast.

I haven't been to Alpine for quite some years, though I've been there more often in the past. So the lifts and runs look kind of vaguely familiar. I had to stop by the host desk and had a quick chat with a host to get my memory refreshed as to what is where and how to get from here to there etc.

The suggestion from the host was I get to the back before it completely turn to mashed potato! But to get there involves multiple chairs, and quite a few sections one has to keep the speed up! If you know ahead of time that is. So instead, I ended up with a fair bit of poling and skating. My sore ribs from the day before did NOT appreciate the extra workout.

But regardless, I made it to the back side, only to find it's already borderline too soft. So moving UP, it means Lake View sector. Now, THAT is quite a nice section, with sufficient pitch even on a warm day. So I lapped that for a bit before moving back to Scot chair. Top of Lake View, naturally has Lake Tahoe view! Unfortunately, the clouds got in the way. Still...



Moving back to Scot chair, Scott Face was full of heavy snow that got piled into something resembling moguls. My buddy showed up just in time to show me a couple of lines. It was fun but nothing special. Then he's gone to pack for his flight back to the east. And I'm left to find my way around what's left of Alpine that I haven't been.

That means Summit and the Alpine chair, which access the upper part of the front side. The bowl had been skied and chopped up well. So after a couple runs of again nothing special, I move to the last chair I haven't tried. As I was the ONLY ONE boarding the chair, with not a soul in sight, I asked the lift attendant: "where's everybody?". "Oh, too slushy for some people", replied the lonely (and bored) attendant.

On the chair ride up, I spied a few people dropping off the wide "chute" on looker's left of the chair. And it looked like their skis kicked up some dry fluffy snow. So I decided to give it a try. Viola! The dry snow must have been deposited by the wind. Just an inch or so of the top layer. But it was fun. So I went back up and had a few more go at it.

I called it a day after that. I still have 2 more days. No need to over-do it. Giving my rib a chance to heal up too.
ski holidays     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Day 8 (4/20): Alpine Meadows — Cold & rainy, but the snow was creamy!

Woke up to gray sky outside and temperature barely reaching 30! Oops! It's going to be hard and fast. So I wasn't in much of a hurry. The forecast also called for scatter showers. Yuck!

Got there around 9:30. Figure the back side might be a little softer. Started my "journey" of RoundHouse->Scott->Lake View towards the back side. Barely a minute on the Round House, a drop of water landed on my goggle. I was determined to ignore it. But more drops, and in no time, lots of drops. It was a drizzle.

Well, that's why I paid $400 for my waterproof jacket! I soldiered on, up Scott, over Lake View and down to Sherwood. The snow had soften just right. It was a pleasure to slide on. But the moment I got on the Sherwood chair, the wind was pretty brutal! Driving horizontal rain too. Still, the snow was enjoyable enough. And I wasn't cold, just not exactly warm nor comfortable either.

After a couple runs, I gave in and decided to go hunt for something a little more sheltered from the wind. But oddly enough, I got blasted in my face by the wind going from Lake View to Sherwood. Somehow I got blasted by wind at my face going from Sherwood back to Lake View! How does that happen???

Anyway, Lake View was barely soften up just yet. And the combination of wind and rain was starting to get to me. I decided I'm going to sit out this particular batch of "scattered" of rain by having some hot chocolate and/or soup. The Chalet (the hut by Scott chair, the only mid-mountain restaurant) was crowded. There's no seat, and the food choice were also very limited. So I decided to ski all the way down to the bottom and have a longer and more relaxing lunch. (I had my bag in the lodge, so was able to get out of my boot for a bit, also much less crowded)

After lunch, I was dismayed to find the wind picked up even more. To get away from the wind, I stayed in Lake View and Scott. But soon, the Scott chair had been put on wind hold. That left Round house, and oddly, Lake View and Sherwood. Though with Scott on hold, it's a slog to get from Roundhouse to Lake View, or back, which I wasn't going to bother. Instead, I just stayed on the front side and lapping Roundhouse.

To be fair, the snow was actually quite good. And the occasional drizzle didn't penetrate my waterproof armor. So the skiing was enjoyable to a degree. Except the wind, which found its way into every little crack of my layers and started to chill my core after a while.

Another day of late start and early finish. (not that I'm complaining, the skiing was good during those few short hours)


Day 9 (4/21): Alpine Meadows — Cloud and sun, and nice corn to wrap up my 2019 season

Today, I'll be getting on a plane in early evening. So however many hours I can fit in before my flight will be my last, of the season!

But the day dawn gray and cold again. So I took my time to get my things together to best prepare for the flight later. I debated the night before on Squaw vs Alpine. Squaw would be 5-10 minutes shorter drive, but I might have to walk an extra 5 minutes from where I'm parked so it's really just a wash. And with the weather situation, it's pretty easy to choose, the slightly lower elevation of Alpine will be the first to soften up over Squaw.

Then, on my drive to Alpine, the Sun suddenly came blasting out of the cloud! It all look like a brilliant day! I hurried to get suited up and jumped on the Roundhouse again, then onto Scott to Lake View then Sherwood. The snow was a perfect cream cheese, or corn. I lapped Sherwood over and over, a new line each time as very few people were skiing there, even though it's Easter Sunday. (or because it's Easter Sunday?)

BTW, there's a shorter way to get to the backside Sherwood chair, by hiking 50' up above the top of the Summit chair. But as I (correctly) guessed, the top part of the mountain were slow to soften up from the overnight freeze. So going the roundabout way avoids the icy upper part.

Then, just as I felt the snow at Sherwood was a tad too mushy, I knew that signals Lake View would be in perfect condition (as it's a few hundred feet higher). Indeed it was. And with even fewer people skiing it, I had fresh lines on the soften-up groomer each run! Unfortunately for the photographer in me, the cloud didn't completely lift, so the lake Tahoe view were still no better than the one I got on Friday.

Time flies when one is having fun. The clock was showing 1pm. And I had in my mind a quitting time of 3 at the latest. I thought if I want to do Our Father or its neighbors, this maybe my last window. So a quick blast from lake View back to Sherwood, this time getting off the Sherwood chair I went left instead of right. ("Our Father" is a run that's peppered with rocks, and reasonably steep. Some say that's what came out of their mouth when they got their first view down coming over the lip Toofy Grin )

Two other groups of people were ahead of me, pausing on the edge of the traverse/drop-in. I can hear the scrapping noise their boards were making on the snow, and the unsteady lines as they traverse along. It's not quite the condition I was hoping for to tackle Our Father. So I opted to drop in at the relatively unintimidating Counterweight Chute instead. A bit of scrapping and side-slipping got me to the bottom of the chute. The snow improved considerably.

As the condition were nowhere near pleasant to tackle the steeper part of the upper mountain, I cruised about on the bowl for a couple more runs. Then I blast to the bottom and kicked out of my bindings to call it THE END of my 2019 season!


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Wed 1-05-19 11:43; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Top notch
latest report     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Great stuff. You always remember your first fondly and Mammoth was where I learned to snowboard. Maybe it's nostalgia clouded but it's my benchmark mountain and nothing compares to soft snow, blue skies and an empty canvas to make your mark on.
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Fabulous report. Thanks.
ski holidays     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@abc, great reports, thank you.
latest report     
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Richard_Sideways wrote:
Maybe it's nostalgia clouded but it's my benchmark mountain and nothing compares to soft snow, blue skies and an empty canvas to make your mark on.
There’s no clouds over Mammoth in your nostalgic mind, nor over the real mountain. Blue sky and soft snow indeed, except when it’s snowing dry powder, even in April!

Mammoth is one of my late season favorite. I’m sure it’s good other times too. But in April and May, the crowd from Southern California are nowhere to be seen. The mountain is EMPTY! Yeah, empty canvas to lay your own track after a powder day, over and over! Toofy Grin Very Happy snowHead
ski holidays     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Great trip report. I turned down the opportunity for a ski trip around Tahoe in favour of seeing the dessert super bloom (health issues made it the more sensible choice) but the locals were all saying that even though the snow was good enough at some resorts to stay open till June they won`t because the only clients would be those with a season pass ie no further income. Seemed a bit tough on season pass holders though because heavy snow fall had blocked the roads up from the Bay area so frequently that many a pass had had much less use than most years!
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I’m not sure I buy the “less use than most year” part. My local buddies seemed to have gotten through when they wanted and had skied as many days as they liked. whenever a storm hits. And they’re still coming up to ski late in the season. At least in Squaw Valley, this year seems to be busier than the past couple time I went (also in spring).

Though I understand many California locals have spring time plans for non-ski activities (mtn biking, for example). So those probably aren’t coming up to ski in late April or May.

On the other hand, it’s a favorite pass time for the locals to complain about road blockages and lift stoppage. Squaw sitting at the crest of the ridge are particularly affected by wind

Both Squaw and Mammoth plan to stay open till July this year!
snow report     
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
abc wrote:
I’m not sure I buy the “less use than most year” part. !


I don`t know Puzzled It was just the feeling amongst my family`s friends, most of whom live close to the coast, the 'Bay' area? All I can say is that in the couple of months I spent in the coastal area this spring, it rained as much as it normally does in my part of East Anglia, and I arrived after the heaviest rains! And apparently that fell as snow in the mountains!
snow report     
 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Yes, what falls as rain in the coast falls as snow up in the Sierra! ("Donner Party" comes to mind)

It's "normal" the roads to Tahoe closes when there's heavy snow. And even during minor storm, the chain control rules goes into effect, turning a normally 4-5 hr drive into 6-8 hr ordeal. That's just part and parcel of skiing for the San Francisco Bay area based skier publics. (I lived there for a few years, had to learn that the hard way a few times, stuck in unmoving traffic for up to an hour at a time).

Eventually, an experienced skier/ski families learn to work around the storm related road closures. Go up BEFORE the storm, or well after, but not DURING the storm! And one just have to resigned to getting stuck due to accidents (fools who haven't learned YET), mud slides etc.

But the skiing is well worth it. I'd do it again if I live there again (and had a skiing spouse, which I didn't then)


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Wed 1-05-19 17:54; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
BTW, I think you did the right thing to prioritize desert spring wild flower bloom over skiing! Toofy Grin

I've seen it, it's a rare treat.

I don't blame the Californians for NOT coming up to ski in the spring time as they had so much spring time activities that are equally fun. Desert spring is short and fleeting. When it come, it comes at a big furry! It's amazing!
latest report     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
abc wrote:
BTW, I think you did the right thing to prioritize desert spring wild flower bloom over skiing! Toofy Grin

I've seen it, it's a rare treat.

I don't blame the Californians for NOT coming up to ski in the spring time as they had so much spring time activities that are equally fun. Desert spring is short and fleeting. When it come, it comes at a big furry! It's amazing!


It really was. Both the Colorado and Mojave Desserts were so vibrant. You could even see the the patchwork of colours from the plane! Well worth the visit.
ski holidays     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
One year, I combined a week of skiing in Mammoth with a week in Death Valley. Very enjoyable.
snow report     



Terms and conditions  Privacy Policy