Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows open for 2017-18 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows open for 2017-18

Justin Scacco | jscacco@sierrasun.com

Coming off the shortest offseason in its history at four months and one day, Squaw Valley welcomed the season’s first riders to the upper mountain on Friday, Nov. 17 after a fresh dumping of snow gave skiers and snowboarders the chance to hop on the Gold Coast lift for hours of untouched lines and beautiful conditions.

The resort reported 7 inches of snow in the 24 hours preceding the start to the 2017-18 season, which resulted in fresh tracks and good coverage in the trees for the hundreds of skiers and snowboarders that hit the mountain for the opener.

“It was better than I expected. Obviously it would be nice to have more of the mountain open, but I’ll take it. I’m pretty impressed,” said Chris Butz, who was up from the Bay Area with his wife.

“Usually you expect on opening day, you’re going to get some scrapes on the bottom of the board. I hit maybe one tree branch, but I didn’t see any rocks at all.”

Butz and his wife Carrie escaped with their three boys and headed to Squaw to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. The opening day was the first the two had participated in together.

The couple said they usually snowboard, but started the day on skis — something neither had done in roughly two decades. However, a short time on the mountain and some spills were enough to convince them to switch back to snowboards.

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“I hadn’t snowboarded in 10 years either,” said Carrie Butz. “But once I got the board, it was much better.”

The mountain featured several open trails off Gold Coast for opening day, along with a handful of terrain park features to ease riders into the upcoming season.

The best runs, however, went to those who were willing to unstrap and hike a little, as an ice-packed stairway led to the top of the mountain for routes around Mainline and Siberia Ridge.

A portion of every lift ticket sold on opening day benefited the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Foundation (SAF), dedicated to supporting young amateur athletes interested in developing skills in snow sports through their participation in a Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski or snowboard team. This year the resort raised $8,100, according to Public Relations Director Liesl Hepburn.

The resort’s other property, Alpine Meadows, opened the following day under blue skies with skiers and snowboarders taking the Kangaroo lift up for the first action of the season.

Squaw Valley would open up much more of the mountain on Sunday, Nov. 19, with the Palisades and the Main and National Chutes opening up.

“We were able to open up a bunch – Immigrant and Siberia, which have access to intermediate and expert terrain,” said Hepburn on Tuesday.

Squaw Valley is operating eight lifts as of Tuesday, Nov. 21, according to information from the resort, which give skiers and snowboarders access to 34 open trails and 15 groomed runs. Alpine Meadows has two lifts open as of Tuesday, and one open trail. Squaw reported a 29-inch base at the upper mountain on Tuesday, while Alpine came in at 28 inches.

For more information and the latest on lift and trail openings, visit SquawAlpine.com.

Soda Springs Mountain Resort

Just west of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, sits the longest running ski resort in California, Soda Springs Mountain Resort.

The resort has yet to begin spinning lifts for the 2017-18 season, but has opened its Planet Kids snow playground, which features tubing carousels, snow-tubing lanes, snow volcanoes to climb and ski and snowboard specific learning areas.

For more information and the latest on lift tickets, season passes, and trail openings, visit SkiSodaSprings.com.