Location: Truckee, CA
Resorts: 8 out of 50
Finally. After all our waiting and planning and drooling over the ski reports to other mountains, we hit the big time. A four hour grueling drive up Interstate 80 from Sacramento (that’s about 45 miles) brought us to Lake Tahoe and the storm of the year.
Our destination was Northstar-At-Tahoe. Why? Because we heard if you like riding trees and don’t like waiting around for wind lift holds and avalanche control, then this is the mountain to check out. We weren’t disappointed. With a pocket full of Shell 2 for 1 vouchers, we posted up in Truckee and rode Northstar for the next four days.
Six feet of fresh snow later, we couldn’t have been happier. This is a very mellow, very cool mountain. While the hardcore kids are lining up at Squaw, Northstar’s trees are loading up with tons of untracked snow. During our 96 hour powder binge, we never lacked for deep, deep turns. Our game plan was the same every day. Get there by 8:30 am. Tear up as much marked terrain as we could. Then when the snow began to get cut up, head into the trees which never failed to please.
We mostly skipped the crowds and the flatter terrain on the frontside of the mountain in favor of the two sweet spots of Northstar. The first is right off the backside of Mt. Pluto. There’s a bunch of groomed/ungroomed expert only runs off of here, but our favorite stashes were the trees off of Promised Land and Iron Horse. Another area that stayed relatively untouched was right along the boundary line off Challenger while waist deep turns (not kidding) could be found near the bottom of that trail.
The other part of Northstar that brought big smiles to our faces was Lookout Mountain. The steepest runs at Northstar are here and even more glades. The Camp Glades was the favorite over here. It seemed like every time I dove into the woods, the only tracks I crossed into were from my last run. The Sugar Pine Glades held plenty of small hits, and the trees at the edge of Prosser held good snow.
I don’t know if this is characteristic of the other resorts in the Tahoe area, but Northstar has the friendliest locals we’ve ever come across. Our first lift ride up, two employees took us straight to all the best areas of the ski resort. Skiers frequently lent a pole whenever I got stuck on my snowboard and folks were excited to show us some of the Northstar stashes.
With all this snow during the week, Tahoe is going to be a zoo on the weekend. So we’re off to Reno to rest up for our next big Tahoe adventure. We hear that it’s going to start snowing again on Sunday…