Storms open up new terrain at Tahoe resorts
February 13, 2015
Winter made its presence known at Lake Tahoe this weekend.
Area ski resorts reported anywhere from 1 foot to nearly 4 feet of new snow following a pair of storms that slammed into Northern California.
While snow levels fluctuated during the storm systems, bringing rain rather than snow to the mountains at times, the storms did allow Lake Tahoe resorts that had temporarily closed due to poor snow conditions to reopen. The systems also allowed several open ski resorts to expand their terrain offerings.
Donner Ski Ranch, near Lake Tahoe's North Shore, closed in late January due to a lack of snow. The resort reopened Wednesday with four chairlifts, a moving carpet and tubing hill set for operation.
Homewood Mountain Resort, which also shut down temporarily, will reopen Friday after receiving a reported 15 inches of snow on its upper mountain.
"Terrain is limited and includes intermediate to advance level runs serviced by the Old Homewood Express and the Madden Triple Chair," according to an announcement from the resort. "The Madden Triple Chair will be spinning to transport skiers and riders to and from the upper mountain. The North Lodge Happy Platter lift and the Magic Carpet will also be running, with beginner terrain, and Homewood will offer ski and board lessons at the base."
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Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski area has not announced a reopening date after closing at the end of last month.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, near Lake Tahoe's northeast corner, was able to open an area of steep, inbounds terrain known as The Chutes on Tuesday after receiving a reported 45 inches of snow over the weekend.
Squaw Valley reopened the Granite Chief chairlift, as well as Palisades and hiking to Headwall, said resort spokeswoman Melissa Matheny.
The spokeswoman said she was out on the hill Tuesday and conditions were likely to put a smile on peoples' faces.
"It's a lot of fun," Matheny said. "The snow really is skiing great."
Alpine Meadows was also able to reopen Scott Chair following the storms, while Diamond Peak was able to open eight more trails.
At the South Shore, Heavenly Mountain Resort opened more than 20 new runs after receiving 14-16 inches of new snow, according to their snow report. On the California side Waterfall, Mombo Meadows, Ridge Bowl, Ridgeway, Double Down, High Five, lower Liz's, Woods Trail and High Roller were among the runs that opened, while Orion's Belt, Jack's and Upper and Lower Dipper Return were included among the new runs on the Nevada side.
For those looking to get into the backcountry, the storm did increase the avalanche risk around Lake Tahoe. At least one avalanche was reported in the vicinity of Relay Peak, near Mount Rose, according to information form the Sierra Avalanche Center. Although the center rated the avalanche risk in the Lake Tahoe area as moderate on Wednesday morning, the possibility of big slides still exists from the new snow, according to Wednesday's avalanche advisory.
"A low probability, high consequence scenario has formed with difficult to trigger large avalanches remaining possible in specific areas," according to the advisory. "Thoughtful deliberate terrain selection is the key to hazard avoidance."