Although you might not feel it, the weather is starting to change in North Lake Tahoe. Days are still warm, with temperatures averaging in the 60s, but nights are dropping to approximately 35 degrees. It’s the time of year that the region’s upper elevations start seeing a dusting of snow.
We’ve been reviewing all the long-range forecasts, and if Mother Nature keeps up her end, we should have above-average snowfall this winter.
That’s music to the ears of North Lake Tahoe ski resorts, many of which have been pumping millions of dollars into their ski and non-ski products to enhance the winter enthusiast’s experience.
This season marks year two of Squaw Valley’s $50 million renaissance. The improvements, unveiled for winter 2012-2013, will greatly enhance the first-time and beginner experience, the terrain park and improve the overall flow of the upper mountain.
The resort will install Big Blue Express, a new, high-speed six-pack chairlift, to replace the High Camp chairlift. The base terminal of Big Blue Express will start where the base of the High Camp lift was formerly located and will extend to the top of the ridge, providing easy access to the Shirley Lake, Solitude and Granite Chief chairlifts. The Links double chairlift will be removed and replaced with a triple chairlift call Mountain Meadow, which will be realigned to bring skiers and riders up to the ridgeline near the top of the terminals of the Solitude and Silverado lifts. Additional changes include Squaw’s three million snowmaking improvements and grooming initiatives.
Building on the $30 million recently invested at Northstar California, the resort celebrates this winter and its 40th anniversary with more glade skiing on The Backside, first-ever snow cat and backcountry tours on Sawtooth Ridge, a new Burton Riglet Park that introduces snowboarding to 3-6 year olds and EpicMix Racing that has participants comparing their race times against accomplished Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn. Also new this season is Tavern 6330’ in the Village at Northstar with seating for up to 200. The new restaurant features American grill dishes inspired by California farm fresh ingredients served up in a cozy, tavern-esque atmosphere suitable for the whole family.
Making headlines around the country is Northstar’s new CMO, canine marketing officer, “Marsh Mellow.” The lovable three-month-old pup was abandoned at the resort last August. After a long search in which no owner was found, the resort’s marketing team adopted him. Over the last few months, Marsh Mellow has developed a following of guests who keep up to speed with his activities via the resort’s social media channels and who regularly visit the Village at Northstar to see him.
On Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort signed an agreement October 1 to operate Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, America’s largest cross-country operation, which is being purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust of Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership. The resorts are already connected by an “interconnect” trail that allows skiers to ski back and forth between the two, with plans in the works to further enhance the connection with two additional beginner-friendly routes. Sugar Bowl, who plans to invest $500,000 in Royal Gorge this season, is now offering a season pass that allows holders to downhill at Sugar Bowl and cross-country ski at Royal Gorge. Sugar Bowl pass holders can add on an unrestricted Royal Gorge pass for $149 (adult price), and can purchase an unrestricted, standalone Royal Gorge pass for $299.
Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe, just outside of Incline Village on Highway 431, has continued to work on a multi-year forest management project in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Forestry. The project stretches from the Galena trail to the Mt. Rose Highway and involves concentrated efforts for selected thinning and the removal of dead, damaged and diseased trees with the goal of a healthier forest. Other resort projects include the realignment of the Little Mule conveyor lift and improvements to the Rosebuds teaching terrain. Decorative rock walls were added around the Main Lodge with the added perk of aiding in erosion control.
Woodward Tahoe, a world-class action sports training center and youth camp which originally opened in June, will be open seven days/week for public access and daily drop-in sessions through the winter until April 14, 2013. The 33,000-square foot indoor facility at the base of Boreal Mountain Resort on Donner Summit, offers multi-level Olympic trampolines, a Super Tramp, a concrete skate park for skateboarding and BMX biking, a pump track and skatelite ramps to foam pits for aerial ski, snowboard, BMX and skateboard training. A season pass, called the “Bunker Pass,” is available for $279 and includes eight months of access, seven days/week for two-hour sessions.