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White stuff on the hills

Column by Sam Bauman

In case you didn’t notice, the snow cross on Mount Tallac was evident for a day or so this week. And earlier Gunbarrel Run at Heavenly looked all-white, at least from U.S. Highway 50. It didn’t last, of course, but keep the thought of snow uppermost. Remember, Heavenly opened for a couple of days in October last season.

One further hint of things to come: the snow patches at the higher elevations have stopped shrinking. Hiking at Mount Rose this week showed that the snow is at least holding its own and in some places spreading out.

SQUAW STILL RUNNING

The cable car at Squaw will continue operations until Oct. 18, when it will close for maintenance and the replacement of the cabins with new, high-tech cabins built by CWA of Switzerland.

The new cars will offer windows down to the floor level and skylights for better viewing. Capacity will be the same, 135, but Squaw limits the load to 95 usually. A nice feature will be a unique air heating system working in the floor. Squaw’s cars remain the largest in North America.

Meanwhile, work on the $20 million Funitel continues at Squaw. One more tower and finishing touches on the upper terminal need to be finished before the cables are strung.

The Funitel is part of a $30 million project spanning two seasons at Squaw with a six-pack detachable lift scheduled to replace the Papoose lift next season. And that doesn’t include the massive commercial condo/shopping center development to be built in the parking lot area.

The Pulse Gondola linking High Camp and Gold Coast is completed and while that may not be a major boon to skiers and boarders, it will help move beginners to the green runs from the Funitel discharge area.

Next time you contemplate the cost of a lift ticket, probably around $49 at Squaw this coming season, divide that cost into $30 million and you’ll be surprised at how many lift tickets Squaw has to sell to pay for the improvements!

YOUR ‘FAVORITE,’ PLEASE

Ski Times won’t be on the stands until November, but we’re asking Tribune readers to come up with their “favorite” winter outdoor venue. Such as, “My favorite bumps run,” and why. Here’s an example of what we’re looking for:

“My favorite blue cruiser run is from the top of Heavenly’s Olympic Downhill run, cutting off at 075 trail and ending at the top of the Edgewood Bowl lift.

“I enjoy it because it offers a variety of challenges, starting with the short steep pitch at the beginning, then taming down as you go under the Olympic chair, speeding up as you get near the base of the Olympic chair. There’s a slow patch then where you can do some short radius turns before getting to 075.

“You hit the lip of 075 at speed and there are two nice, steep pitches. And of late, Heavenly has been grooming 075 so that you can skip out into the trees and then back on the trail.

“The last several hundred yards are just nice, smooth running. And if Heavenly ever replaced the North Bowl three-seater with a high speed quad I’d never run any other place.”

“Favorites” can be anything from a snowboarder park to double black-diamond killers. Tubing, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, backcountry … if it’s done in the winter and outdoors, that’s good enough.

You can send your entries to the Tahoe Daily Tribune or e-mail them to me at sambauman@aol.com. You’ll get bragging rights for sure,plus your name in Ski Times.

LAST MOON HIKE AT SQUAW

If you want to get one last look at the new full moon over the Sierra head for Squaw Valley, get there by 4 p.m. as Friday moonrise is 4:02 p.m and Saturday at 4:31. Cable car tickets are $5 and you’ll need to sign a release.

And if you’re someplace away from city lights on a hike next Thursday night, you might want to watch for the Draconids, slow shooting stars (12 mph) that may burst through the skies. You never can be sure about these, but this could be a good year for nature’s fireworks.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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