Pulling into the parking lot next to 20 or so other cars, we quickly dress, get on the lift and move onto the back side of the mountain. Smiling, we keep making first tracks through the trees and open bowls, run after run after run. Once off the lift, it appears you're in the backcountry - no people in sight in any direction. Enough already - you must be wondering, when and where!? Alta, Utah on Tuesday morning of Joseph Smith's birthday in January seems like the logical answer - but it's not. It's the closing day of the season at the Mt Rose ski resort north of Tahoe, California, and date is May 3, 2009.
Some background to the story: Karen and I had planned to go to Yosemite Valley for the weekend to climb, but the whole state was submerged in rain for the day prior to the weekend, with a wet forecast for the weekend itself. We initially changed plans and thought of going up to Mt Lassen to ski the peak and scramble in the Castle Crags area if it didn't rain too hard... but suddenly it became clear that it was going to rain hard - it was no longer a "chance of showers", but "periods of rain". So we changed plans once again on Friday, and headed to Tahoe for some turns! (Like we joked, "We are changing plans as often as teenage girls!")
One thing to note here, we were at first quite disappointed we couldn't climb. Being mostly limited to weekends, there are only so many of them in the year (never enough), and being shut down by weather is always a bummer. However, there is never any point to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, and there is often a way to brighten up a situation and make the best of it. That's what this weekend was about - quite amazing overall, given the limited options we had, and we had huge grins!
On Saturday, we went to our favourite high elevation spot around South Lake and found what we were hoping for: over a foot of fresh snow about 8000'. This new snow was sitting on top of the old crust and provided some great powder skiing. We stayed in the trees as the snow hadn't bonded to the crust at all, so it was peeling off in huge sluffs and some care was needed to manage it. The way up was a great little workout as usual - about 2,500' of gain.
On Sunday night, we were in Tahoe City with a hot tub and some amazing food. It rained all evening and we woke up to heavy rain. The question was, how high was the snow line? It warmed up from Saturday so we were worried it would be raining higher up too. We headed to Mt Rose ski resort, to catch the last day they were open. We drove around the lake and up the road, and wow - it was no longer raining hard, but snowing hard! You know the rest of the story. :)
Not quite perfect fingerlocks in warm & sunny granite cracks, but still a great weekend!!!
|The parking lot
|Smiling with the prospect of fresh powder in May (in California!)
|There were a couple of guys right in front of us
|Ready to earn my turns
|Fresh snow: over one foot (halfway up the peak)
|Even deeper snow!
|The mandatory posing shot
|Sunday morning, Tahoe City: it's dumping H2O. It's all about the temperature!
|May 3 - enough said.
|Mt Rose ski resort: it's dumping! (yes, I realize I'm repeating myself)
|This person probably kayaked and skied in the same day. But where's the mountain bike?
|December or May?
|Nice tree runs (especially the ones out of view)
|Bundled up on the lift with a local from Reno
|Where are the goods?