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Squaw Valley

Every time I ski Squaw, I bump into the same people on the KT Express chair. I never have to wait long to find diehard ski buddies who begin, spend and end each winter day lapping this one lift and its expert terrain. But a good day at Squaw for CEO emeritus Nancy Wendt Cushing—who just passed the reins of this brawny and historic mountain to someone outside the Cushing clan—involves covering a lot more ground on skis. It’s an easy thing to do: While this California classic may be best known for its signature steeps, Squaw’s six summits offer abundant options for literally all levels of skiers.

“Follow the sun,” Cushing advises with a knowing smile. She likes to start by zooming up the Funitel (a key component in a lift network capable of moving more bodies uphill per hour than any other ski area in the U.S.), then warming up on the easy, open meadow at the summit. From there she heads to the broad, rolling boulevards of forested Shirley Lake—a sunny day favorite with intermediates and families.

Back at the top, breeze down the sinuous folds of Silverado, a favorite hidden stash for Squaw skiers in the know. Each run gets more challenging. Next, angle down Headwall’s steeps then swing through the bumps of Sun Bowl. Nancy does it all wearing a ball cap, sunglasses and a happy look. With Squaw’s new efforts to improve the on- and off-hill customer experience, you and your family will have the same happy grin—even if you don’t meet your buddies at the KT chair. —S.R.

What’s New: Finally: Olympic House gets a renovation; new family features include a kids’ fun zone and trail map, and upgrades at the Children’s Center; new lighting will keep the terrain park open at night.

Mandatory Run: Did we mention KT Express? Easy way down: The Saddle.

Don’t Miss: High Camp, and its grab bag of non-ski diversions with lake views.

On Skiing: Long-Range Forecast

Snow, then sunny skies in Tahoe, followed by periods of high frustration and scattered melancholy.

It’s snowing in Tahoe as I write this. Which is great if you live in Tahoe. Unfortunately, I no longer do. I’m about as far from the crown jewel of the Sierras as possible while still living within the borders of the continental United States.

I know it’s snowing there because from November through April, I check the weather at Lake Tahoe at least once a week. I go to my favorite weather website and punch in the zip code for California’s Olympic Valley. It has been nearly a decade since I lived there, but I haven’t forgotten it: 96146.

On Skiing: A Vanishing Sport

A parent’s most valuable gift might be bridging the past to the future. What if that bridge melts away?

In April of 1983, with my buddy Stan Tener of the Snowmass ski patrol and photographer Del Mulkey, I skied the Haute Route from Chamonix toward Zermatt. For five days, we climbed steep couloirs, traversed high cols, and skinned up and cruised down long, undulating glaciers—60 miles of frozen highway. We did it on “pins.” In those days, this meant three-pin bindings, narrow “norpine” skis and leather telemark boots.

Alexander's

Alexander's
Photo Courtesy of Squaw Valley USA
North Tahoe’s Only Mountaintop Restaurant Overlooking the Lake at 8200 feet.

 It's no secret that there are many fantastic restaurants on and around Lake Tahoe, but Alexander's atop Squaw Valley USA is the only restaurant above Lake Tahoe, where guests are afforded unmatched views of the Lake from a mountaintop location. The late sunset in summer makes the mountaintop dining especially exquisite, as dinnertime coincides with the vibrant display of reds and purples – the prelude to the sun disappearing in the Sierra sky.

http://www.squaw.com/alexanders-cafe-bar

The Essential Tahoe

The Essential Tahoe

A secret sliver of the past, Homewood Mountain Resort has the folksy charm of a 1960s ski hill with vertigo-inducing views of Lake Tahoe. Locals are nostalgic about the place, and for good reason. Homewood sells lift tickets for the throwback price of $29 on 29 days throughout the season. Though the lodges need some updating and the lifts remain old-school slow—there is only one high-speed quad—Homewood offers varied and excellent terrain. You can cruise groomers nearly two miles from the top to the lake shore, but venture off the corduroy and you’ll find some of the best treeskiing in the Tahoe Basin. Hobbit Land is a secluded tree stand, your turns deep and silent through a canyon. Dutch Treat and White Lightning are steep mogul runs that weave in and out of glades, but hit these early—they’re south-facing and can get crusty. Quail Face is a monster that’s hike-in/hike-out, experts only. You’ll see families skiing together all day, doing laps on the Old Homewood Express, which serves fast and fun intermediate slopes. On sunny days, enjoy lunch outside the warming hut on Rainbow Ridge, spectacularly perched over the lake. Not surprisingly, given Homewood’s intimate feel, it’s almost always possible to find untracked lines among the trees. One drawback? The resort’s lower elevation can lead to less snow coverage and a shorter season. If you’re keen on nostalgia, you want to get to Homewood soon because changes are in store here in the next few years. Bought in 2006 by JMA ventures, a development company best known for rebuilding Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, Homewood is scheduled for a major makeover, starting at the end of this season.

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MUST DO Take a breather at the top of Glory Hole and admire the glorious lake view.

MUST SKI The Glades. There is nothing like it in Tahoe. A moderate yet testy run, it narrows nicely and serves up yet another stunning lake view.

APRÈS The Ridge Pub at Homewood hops with a local vibe. Sunnyside, just down the road, serves superb fish tacos.

DINING Bridgetender, in Tahoe City, is the spot to go for burgers and beers. The West Shore Cafe is upscale, delectable and across the street from Homewood’s North Lodge. For breakfast, the Fire Sign Cafe makes a mean smoked salmon omelet. Head to Tahoma Market for massive sandwiches.

LODGING Sunnyside has beautiful lakefront options; sunnysideresort.com. The suites at West Shore Inn are a bit pricier; westshorecafe.com. Rustic B&Bs, such as The Chaney House, offer reasonable rates, or rent your own cabin; tahoeaccommodations.com.

INFO skihomewood.com

A first visit to Tahoe can be overwhelming. Case the joint first and you'll come off like a regular.

A first visit to Tahoe can be overwhelming. Case the joint first and you'll come off like a regular.

What's terrific about skiing here is that at nearly every hour, there's a different local lifestyle to try on. During your first Tahoe visit, you'll quickly learn that you run out of time before you run out of options.

 

Heavenly, Tahoe's largest resort, rises out of the heart of South Lake's casino district.

Next Best Places: Truckee, Calif.

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Real people. Real skiing. The Sierras' working-class community grows into a starring role.

NASTC Summer News

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Check out what the North American Ski Training Center (NASTC) has to offer.

"Rookies" Capture Crowns in Telluride

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Drew Neilson and Lindsey Jacobellis win World Professional Champion crowns at Jeep King of the Mountain Grand Finale in Telluride, Colorado.

Jacobellis, Wescott Earn Repeat Titles

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Lindsey Jacobellis and Seth Wescott maintained torrid paces in capturing repeat titles at the Jeep® King of the Mountain Skiing and Snowboarding World Professional Championships.

Legacy: 1972

Travel

With a massive lodge and even bigger ambitions, Tony Wise improbably put Mt. Telemark, Wis., on the national ski map. His enduring gift to skiing, in fact, is 51 kilometers long.

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