Tag Archives: skiing

Tahoe Skiing in a Huge Storm

I was skiiing in the Tahoe area from March 24th through the 27th. While I was there the various mountains were inundated with some 100 inches of new snow. To say it was an epic ski adventure is to put it mildly. It was epic on a grand scale.

I arrived on Wednesday night after picking up some buddies in the Sacramento airport. We drove over highway 50 through a constant blizzard. The next morning we headed to Homewood ski area, but we had to take the long way around the lake due to highway 89 being closed just South of south lake Tahoe.

We finally arrived at Homewood and started skiing its 30 plus new inches of light cold snow. I have never skied Tahoe and it was quickly apparent I was in for a treat.

Homewood wasn’t actually steep enough for the amount of snow they had, but we were able to maximize our fun by sticking to the steepest runs we could find. It was a good kickoff to the Tahoe trip.

Many beers later and many lost funds at the casinos led us to Squaw Valley ski resort the following day. Squaw had received a paltry 45 inches of new snow over 24 hours! 45 inches? That’s taller than my 8-year-old son!

We got there bright and early. It was still snowing constantly and the wind was whipping around. The sounds of bombs going off for avalanche control made it seem like we were skiing in a combat zone.

Only about one-third of the mountain was open due to the avalanche danger, but it was such incredible snow it didn’t matter. I was very impressed with the terrain that was open. Steep chutes, perfectly spaced trees, awesome cliffs, this place has it all and I didn’t even see the most extreme stuff.

We mostly skied the Red Dog side of the mountain but we also got some nice turns off of KT22. It was simply an awesome day of powder skiing, a day I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to return to Squaw Valley and explore the rest of the mountain, it looks amazing.

The next day we skied Kirkwood, which had received another 20 inches overnight. Once again only about half the mountain was open but once again it didn’t matter. We skied fresh tracks all day long. It was snowing and blowing so hard that our tracks from the previous run would be gone by the time we returned.

We skied our brains out at Kirkwood. We launched off cliffs with abandon, what was gonna happen? It was all soft landing with that much new snow.

This was our third day of skiing and my legs were feeling it. I love the fatigue that comes over a person after a bunch of great ski days. The body feels worked but happy.

Our final day was at Alpine Meadows. Most of the mountain wasn’t open and the day was actually pretty gnarly. It was extremely windy, and getting warmer. By noon the falling snow was taking on a decidedly wet form. The visibility was crap, we were wet and tired.

We ended up leaving around 1pm. I’ll have to ski Alpine again someday because I really didn’t get to this time. The snow was good, but the conditions were miserable.

My first adventure at Tahoe was an awesome one, but I’d like to come back here when the weather isn’t raging just so I can see the whole mountain.

Believe it or not I only got one glimpse of the lake from the mountains. The classic views you see in photos of the Tahoe area, I never saw.

The ‘keep Tahoe blue’ posters you see? As far as I could tell the lake was slate black and covered with fog and blowing snow.

I love Tahoe and can’t wait to return. All in all an awesome trip during an awesome storm.

Teaching Kids to Ski: 7 Tips

Teaching kids to ski can seem like an impossible task. There’s so much to think about, gear, transportation to and from the mountain, not to mention actually showing them how to ski without killing themselves or you.

My kids are 8 and 10 and have been skiing since they were 4 and 6. They’re pretty darned good skiers now. They still have lots to learn but we feel we’ve done a good job teaching them the basics. They can ski most of the mountain and we don’t have to wait or worry about them.

We were successful because we followed these simple tips:

1. Keep it fun. We never made skiing a chore. We made it fun first and foremost. This meant we didn’t rush to get onto the slopes. All the kids really want to do when they get into a snow zone is play in the snow. We’d let them run around and play for about an hour before we went skiing. Letting them play helps in a lot of ways; it gets their yah-yahs out, and gives the whole day a feeling of fun.

2. Teaching Skiing. The fun continues on the ski slopes. When we first started out we’d take off our skis, and cart them up and down the bunny hill. One of us would be up and one down. The up person would release the mini-skier and they’d ski into the arms of the down person.

Whenever they’d fall we never made a big deal about it. We never coddled them, asking if they were okay…instead we’d laugh and describe how cool the crash looked.

Of course this was when they were little. If they’re a little bigger taking them up the bunny hill chair lift shouldn’t be too hard. Just be sure they know how to move around with their skis on and know what it feels like to slide before getting on the chair.

3. Teach by Example. Whenever possible show the kids what you want them to do. Show them how to stop, show them how to turn, exaggerate things so they can see what you mean. For example, really bend your knees and show them the different pressures you’re putting on your legs that allow you to turn.

Don’t try to explain everything, there’s no need for them to understand the physics involved, just demonstrate and let them figure it out.

4. Keep it Short. The ski teaching sessions shouldn’t be long. When kids are just starting out, don’t go beyond 30 minutes. Take lots of breaks. This is a great time to romp in the snow or head into the lodge and introduce them to the wonders of hot chocolate.

Even the act of taking off and putting on their own skis is a learning process; the more they do it the better they get. Think of these breaks as learning experiences.

Of course the older the kids your teaching to ski, the less breaks they’ll need. Keep your eyes open though, if they look like they’re getting frustrated or bored do something else.

5. Show them you’re Mortal. Once you graduate to the bigger slopes and you’re actually skiing on more than just the bunny hill, show them that it’s okay to fall. Ski in front of them and “accidentally” crash. It does wonders for a kid to see that even their parents who’ve been skiing for years still crash. It makes them feel good about their own crashes and usually gets them to crack up laughing.

6. Don’t constantly Instruct. Even if you see your kid making obvious mistakes, don’t be too quick to correct them. Just ignore it and remember to hit on it some other time, like maybe when you’re riding the lift.

7. Teach without Teaching. Say you notice your kids’ arms are getting behind them and they’re leaning back, play a game with them that makes them reach forward. I’m constantly pretending I’m flying a world war I fighter and I’m holding onto the front machine gun.

I’ll be behind them and “shoot” at them, then pass and allow them to get on my “tail”. They love this game and immediately extend their arms forward and start skiing better. 

This is also a great way to get them to try to follow your turns. It’s amazing watching them suddenly turning like pros trying to stay in my path. When they stop trying to turn they can do it without thinking. With this exercise, I’ve gotten their arms forward gotten them turning and never once “instructed.”

Another great lesson is to have them try to spray you with snow with a quick stop. Do it to them first then tell them to get you back. Ski below them, stop and have them come at you and try to spray. Be careful, they may misjudge and actually careen into you…be ready to move.

Stay Positive and be Patient

The first year or two can be frustrating, but stick with it because the payoff is huge. There’s no doubt that struggling with the kids is hard to do especially when the skiing is really good. Stick with it though; it’s only temporary.

All the struggles were worth it; now we rip around the mountain as a family. Watching them ski and have fun is an awesome experience.

Mt. Ashland: Opening Day of Ski season

On Friday December 3rd Mt. Ashland opened the slopes and cranked up the lifts for the earliest opening since 2002. As luck would have it, I had that day off, so me and my wife headed to the mountain.

The upper chairlift, Ariel, wasn’t open so the lines at Windsor chair lift got kind of long, but since it was Friday they never got horrendous.

The skiing was terrific. We weren’t there until about an hour after opening so there wasn’t much untracked powder to be had, but there are always stashes here and there if you know where to find it. Were locals, we know all the spots.

We skied hard and my legs are still feeling the abuse days later. The snow was light all day with the temperature never rising above 28 degrees. The powder was about a foot deep with a nice solid base beneath. The turns were effortless, truly “hero snow” conditions.

The best run of the day was traversing over towards Ariel and skiing the untracked swaths of powder on Dream. There were many 30 to 40 foot sections of untracked powder; Melyssa and I ate em up.

Once all that was skied out we started staying closer to the Windsor chair lift. Chair-line of Windsor was very good. Darting in and out of the trees on the left made for some spectacular face shots as I’d burst back onto the main run through the trees. It also ended in one epic crash. My ski released and was only a couple of feet above me, but the snow was so deep, it took a lot of effort to travel the short distance.

I ended the day by skiing over to the south side and skiing, “the void”, aka, “the worm hole.” I don’t usually venture into this area this early in the season because there’s a lot of fallen timber and it takes a lot of snow to fully cover the wood. I took it slow, though and stayed out of the deepest parts of the trees and was pleasantly surprised at how much coverage there is. It was deep and very light, a great run to end the day on.

This is the first year in 3 years that my family actually bought season passes to Mt. Ashland. The early season and the great conditions make me happy we did. If things keep going the way they’ve been going, we’ll definitely get our moneys worth.

The upper chairlift, Ariel opened for the weekend, but we didn’t ski. Hopefully we’ll get up there sometime in the next few days and hit the stuff off the upper chair.

Yeeha! ski season is upon us and I’m stoked for a great upcoming year. Mt Ashland Lives!!