Day 19 Fri Feb 10. Winnemucca – Northstar – Carson City 1600m vertical (50600 total)

New day, new challenges.

Up very early ready for a quick dash to Tahoe so I could be skiing mid morning.  Just a few problems with that.  Multiple road closures with snow, mudslides, rockslides, floods.  2 foot of snow overnight.  Multiple resorts shut due to avalanche risk unable to cope etc.  So took a slightly more relaxed approach and after finding a quite acceptable coffee headed of on I-80 back toward Tahoe.  Much more pleasant driving today with wind way better than yesterday.  Rain got serious again on the last stretch toward Reno as I followed the brown surging torrent that had once been the Truckee River upstream.

Got to Reno and diverted off the highway to grab a coffee and check road and snow reports.  Still mass confusion and looked like a bit of procrastination might pay off – thankfully something I excel at.  But eventually bit the bullet and headed toward Northstar.  Not my first choice – would have preferred Heavenly or Kirkwood but getting to either of them was somewhat problematic and they were struggling to any operations going.  So back to I-80 and up the hill.  Fairly major accident in the foothills that took a while to get through then another go-slow at the stateline where they were stopping all trucks – well the ones that hadn’t already stopped at any available rest area in the previous 20 miles – due to the minor issue of I-80 being closed in BOTH directions up near Donner Summit due to a mudslide.  Down to one lane for a few km half way up where multiple small mudslides.  But eventually made it to the Northstar turnoff.

Temps had dropped earlier than predicted yesterday so even lower areas like Northstar had ended up picking up substantial falls – they were claiming about 60 cm!  Figured it would be pretty wet stuff but beggars can’t be choosy.  But started to get concerned as the closer I got the rain still struggled to turn to snow. And still not impressed when got out of the car into deep puddles.  Snowing steadily mid mountain and figured might be OK right at the top.  Headed off down West Ridge – surrounded by about half of California – and tried heading off into some untracked.

Now when snow is COMPLETELY untracked I should finally maybe learn that there MAY be something less than perfect about it!  It was deep OK – was up to my knees in wet cement with a slab on top – the only thing that was going to happen in this stuff with any certainty was an injury.  Back out onto the runs and rejoin the hordes.  Got back to the base of the upper chair and couldn’t face the crowd so back to mid mountain for some lunch.   Then headed back out into heavy snow and tried again.  But it just wasn’t cutting it.  Classic Sierra cement that sets up hard and lumpy very quickly.  You’d find a section that skied nice enough but it wouldn’t last.

So after one more run up to the top then a top to bottom run and called it quits.  And right on queue the sun came out. Pretty quick trip down to and around the lake with the hillsides looking stunning (from a distance) with such a heavy coating of new snow.  South Tahoe is prohibatively expensive on weekends – and besides I couldn’t actually get there at the moment!  So it was over the range and drop down into Carson City and my last motel check in for the trip

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