Day 30 Tue Feb 17. Squaw Valley 2000 m vertical (85700 total)

Once more into the boots.

A nice novelty of temps around freezing as I headed out this morning for the drive back around to the north end of the lake – and by now it almost goes without saying that it was fine and sunny. I’m actually staying in walking distance from the Heavenly Gondola but it would cost money to ski here, whereas I can do a day or two at Squaw for nothing courtesy of the Mountain Collective pass, so Squaw it is.  A bit less stuffing around than usual for the pass pick up and only a couple of minutes wait for my second tram ride of the trip.  Virtually no snow at the base of the lifts other than a few strips of largely man made, and KT-22 – the lift that serves the classic steeps here – was closed.  However the tram drops you at a bowl 2/3 of the way up the mountain with plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain radiating out from here.

Had approached today with very low expectations but once again found plenty of fun.  Had purposely started a little late to let things soften and they had done just that.  Once again skiing right at the top was very good but snow deteriorated as you descended.  And there were LOTS of bare patches, rocks little shrubberies etc.  Makes me realise just how good I actually had it at Whitefish last week.  After a couple of runs down the front of the bowl and first lunch, I dropped over into the Shirley Express side.  Thought it might have been a bit softer with the more northerly aspect but no such luck.  Still, worth checking out for future reference – this place has a well earned reputation for its steeps, but there is a LOT of terrain that could keep me happy for hours with a decent snowpack – lots of natural rollers, widely spaced trees, varied groomers – the works.

After returning to the front side did a couple of runs off Emigrant – slow chair but spectacular views from the top with varied and enjoyable terrain.  Decided that was a good point to call it a day – had only skied a bit over three hours but it was getting quite sticky.  There was actually a groomed run down to the base but if it was slow going up here I shudder to think what it was like at the bottom – so downloaded on the gondola which provided a great trip down.  15C at the base – no wonder things were getting sticky.

Decided to complete the circuit of the lake and drove north to Kings Beach where I had stayed on previous trips.  Disappointed to find The Java Hut already shut for the day, so grabbed a very ordinary replacement coffee and did one more spectacular drive down the east side of the lake.  Really need to spend a few days here one day just wandering around and doing some walks – deserves more than these cursory visits.

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