Winter stoke: What’s new at some of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts

Lake Tahoe Action
Plenty of upgrades are in store this winter for Squaw Valley Ski Resort.
Courtesy Jeff Engerbretson |

Boreal Mountain Resort became the first California ski area to turn its lifts for the public when it opened the weekend of Nov.1, treating anxious snowboarders and skiers to some early season jibbing. The resort includes expanded snowmaking potential this year, which can be key to getting some early season turns. Here’s a look at what other Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts have in store for this year:

Alpine Meadows

This season’s upgrades include expanded snowmaking and state-of-the-art grooming snowcats to improve snow surfaces across the mountain. The Chalet, the resort’s mid-mountain lodge, will also transform into a Bavarian-style beer garden, serving regional brews, sausage plates and raclette, a Swiss dish. The resort will also begin the Snow Rangers program, which offers season-long backcountry touring and avalanche awareness training for ski team kids ages 12-18.

Diamond Peak

This year Diamond Peak, in Incline Village, will feature terrain-based teaching, more dates for its Last Tracks events, improved gladed skiing and riding, a reciprocal pass relationship with Homewood Mountain Resort and increased snowmaking capacity.

Forest thinning during the summer helped reduce fire danger, while also adding new off-piste terrain in the trees between Battleborn and Sunnyside, located off of Crystal Ridge. The resort also added five new fan guns, boosting its snowmaking fleet by 50 percent.

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Heavenly is expanding its Adventure Peak offerings at the top of the gondola to include a four-lane zip line center, a treetop canopy tour, two ropes courses and an additional 3,000-foot-long zip line as part of the resort’s Epic Discovery program, a campaign designed to connect families and non-skiers with national forests. Heavenly will also extend its Unbuckle at Tamarack après ski parties to the outdoor deck at Tamarack Lodge, with special guest DJ performances throughout the season.

Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood has expanded its grooming fleet in order to ease the learning curve for first-time skiers and snowboarders by incorporating man-made berms and gullies as part of the resort’s Smart Slopes beginner terrain. The resort has also teamed up with Pacific Crest Snowcats to offer a new specialty lodging package, The Backcountry Experience. The resort also welcomes new Executive Chef Mike Davis to the West Shore Café and Inn this season, along with a new menu.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Kirkwood will partner with slopestyle legend Bobby Brown and Red Bull to bring twelve of the best riders together for MegaSlope 2.0 to showcase their skills on a custom-built course on the resort’s backside that will be twice the size of the Olympic course in Sochi. This resort’s ski and ride school is also embracing the latest evolution of Vail Resort’s EpicMix technology, EpicMix Academy, which provides an interactive platform for participants in ski and snowboard lessons to earn pins, track their progress and get tips on how to become more proficient on the slopes.

Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe

Mt. Rose has added a few tech-friendly upgrades in the way of expanded Wi-Fi service throughout the base area and the ability to pre-purchase lift tickets and lessons in advance through a streamlined e-commerce site.

Northstar California

This season Northstar is renovating the cabins on its Big Springs Gondola and welcoming the Ripperoo Riglet Park for its first full season of operation. The park features specialized terrain to help 3-6 year olds become comfortable on a snowboard sooner. The resort will also host the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding and Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix Jan. 9-12. The event is one of the last Olympic qualifying events before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Sierra-AT-Tahoe

Sierra-at-Tahoe has invested more than $4.5 million in a new base area facility and adjacent plaza that will add more than 9,000 square feet of retail space, demo centers and restaurant options. As part of the expansion, guests will be able to enjoy a new sun deck, complete with lounge chairs and fire pits. The venue will be the site of a new spring concert series showcasing touring acts from around the region. Sierra is also expanding its highly successful Yoda’s Riglet Park to include a Burton Star Wars Echo Base, which will give kids ages 7-12 the opportunity to learn how to snowboard by incorporating terrain-based teaching.

Squaw Valley

Squaw has unveiled a new Wanderlust Yoga Studio building on the success of its annual Wanderlust Festival. The resort is also welcoming a fleet of Mtn Roots Food Trucks serving an eclectic mix of regionally and sustainably sourced food that can be enjoyed on nearby outdoor tables. On the slopes, families can explore the new Teaching Tykes private lessons instructing parents how to teach their little ones to ski or ride.

Sugar Bowl Resort

Sugar Bowl Resort is installing the $3 million Crow’s Peak chairlift, adding more than 150 acres of advanced/expert terrain, including two new groomed runs, wind-protected glades, steeps and chutes. The resort is also building a new $4.5 million Sport Haus Aquatic and Fitness Center available for use by guests staying within the resort’s snowbound village. Now entering its second year of managing the adjacent Royal Gorge Cross Country Center, Sugar Bowl continues to expand the offerings available at Royal Gorge Cross Country Center to include more than 200 km of trails, snowbike-specific trails and the Sierra Snowkite Center, the first and only resort-based snowkiting center in California.

Sources: Ski Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak Ski Resort

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