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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.

Wildflour Baking Company

The best cookies in Squaw Valley

Wildflour Bakery hosts Peet’s coffee, fresh-made bagels, blue-ribbon sandwiches, and the best damn cookies anywhere. All for just about the cheapest prices in Squaw. There’s one at High Camp at the top of the tram and one in the base lodge. Buy a Cookie Pass to get the best deals.; (530) 583-1963

Squaw Valley Wild Wild West Weekend

Squaw Valley Wild Wild West Weekend
squaw wild west
Test your paintball skills during a western-themed weekend with live music, a petting zoo, and more.

Back for it’s third year, the highlight for the 2010 Wild Wild West Weekend at High Camp Corral is a shootout at the brand new mountaintop paintball corral. Challenge your friends and family to a match at 8,000 feet.

Another new addition this year is live music on both days of the event. The music will be country-inspired folk performed by Pete Charles and Son on Saturday, and Uncle Rico on Sunday.

Wild Cherries

Wild Cherries
coffee shop
Wild Cherries, located on Donner Pass Road, is where Truckee locals go for morning coffee en route to the mountains.

Wild Cherries, located on Donner Pass Road, is where Truckee locals go for morning coffee en route to the mountains. And it’s no wonder why: Former Olympic skier Kristin Krone, who competed in the 1988 Calgary Winter Games and the 1992 Albertville Winter Games in downhill and super G, has owned the coffee shop since 1999. The café is usually bustling from 6 a.m. until it closes at 6 p.m. For breakfast, order a smoothie, breakfast sandwich, or a mug of their signature coffee.

Red Wolf Lodge

Red Wolf Lodge
Red Wolf Lodge
With two locations: On the north shore of Lake Tahoe or at the base of Squaw Valley.

The Red Wolf Lodge is a timeshare-style condo hotel that offers studios and two-bedroom condos that sleep up to six. There are two locations: One at the base of Squaw Valley (stay here if you’re skiing Squaw or Alpine Meadows) and one lakeside in Kings Beach (stay here if you’re skiing Northstar, Diamond Peak, or Homewood). Every room comes with a small kitchen and there’s a gym and hot tub on site. [from $169;]

Resort at Squaw Creek

Resort at Squaw Creek
Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Hike It: Granite Chief Trail. Wending uphill through Shirley Canyon in Tahoe National Forest, Granite Chief treats hikers to waterfalls, creeks, wildflower fields and mountain lakes en route to 9,0006-foot Granite Chief Peak.
Stats: Moderate; 10.2 miles, but it can be shortened
Après-hike: The Spa at Squaw Creek's Tahoe Hot Stone Massage uses heated basalt and cold marble stones in a rhythmic massage to get deep into the muscle and improve circulation; $115-$170.
Info: $25 per hike; 800-327-3353;
PHOTO: Resort at Squaw Creek
Thanks to a recent renovation, the Resort at Squaw Creek is one of Tahoe's nicest hotels.

A recent $53 million renovation now makes the Resort at Squaw Creek one of the nicest luxury hotels in the Tahoe area. You can book anything from a suite with a fireplace to a two-level penthouse, all of which come with bathtubs, kitchens, dining rooms, flat-screen televisions, and comfy pillow-top beds. You’ll pick the Resort at Squaw Creek for its private chairlift access to the terrain at Squaw. But you’ll love it even more for the sprawling outdoor hot tubs, the heated swimming pools, the spa treatments, steam rooms, and state-of-the-art fitness center.

PlumpJack Squaw

PlumpJack Squaw

The Squaw Valley incarnation of the San Francisco, Calif–based restaurant is known for its delicious blend of Californian and Mediterreanean cuisine;

Innovative seasonal menus with farm-to-table recipes that fuse California and Mediterranean cuisines.

At PlumpJack, the mountain incarnation of this venerable San Francisco restaurant, executive chef Rick Edge creates innovative seasonal menus with farm-to-table recipes that fuse California and Mediterranean cuisines. Every Thursday, featured vintners offer pairing suggestions and tastes by the sip or by the glass (Winter Winemaker series; no reservations required). In Squaw’s base village;

Sunnyside Lodge

Sunnyside Lodge
Sunnyside Lodge’s cozy cabin ambience befits its lakeside location.
Feels more like summer camp than a winter palace.

Although it feels more like summer camp than a winter palace, The Sunnyside Lodge is comfortable and charming. The lobby’s wood-paneled walls and timber rafters are adorned with elkhorn chandeliers, antique canoes and wooden snowshoes to set the mood, but the 23 rooms and suites, each with a private balcony, are modern and understated. Ski and stay packages are available ($155–$270;

[ Tue, 2010-04-13 15:42 ]
ski patrol olympics
Squaw Valley hosts the first ever Ski Patrol Olympics April 16-18.

Ski patrol performs some pretty gnarly tasks: transporting injured skiers down the mountain at high speeds, detonating explosives to prevent avalanches and leading search and rescue missions on formidable terrain. This weekend at California’s Squaw Valley, patrollers from across North America will showcase their skills in the first ever Professional Ski Patrol Olympics. Contenders will compete for prizes and a $1,500 cash purse, courtesy of Helly Hansen.

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