Feels like a miracle has happened in the Tahoe backcountry. Photo by Grant Kaye.
Mother Nature continued to save the soul and spirits of Tahoe riders with another massive one-two punch snowstorm over the course of four days. By the time it stopped snowing ski areas were digging out from 100 inches of new snow. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows received over 40 inches in 24 hours. People were claiming Saturday to be one of the deepest days of their lives. What started as one of the worst seasons on record seems poised for a dramatic comeback. With over 150 inches of new snow this month we can start officially calling it a Miracle March. More snow is forecast for later this week so it seems the gift will keep on giving. Enjoy!
Stairway to heaven.
Alpine Meadows on Friday afternoon, March 16, 2018.
Grant Kaye floats through nearly 100 inches of new snow on Donner Summit.
Skier: Rob McCormick. Photo by Grant Kaye.
Deeeeeeep. Skier: Grant Kaye
Winter has finally arrived in Tahoe. Skier: Mark Durgin
Tahoe riders are celebrating five to seven feet of snow that fell in the last week. The multi day storm cycle started with wet, dense snow and transitioned to ultra light fluff with snowfall rates approaching four inches an hour on Friday night. Valley floors received over three feet of snow finally bringing lower elevation trailheads into play. Conditions have been spectacular though not without hazards that frequently accompany tremendous snowfall in a short time frame. A snowboarder was reported missing at Squaw Valley on Thursday night and found dead Friday morning (cause of death still undetermined). Friday afternoon an in-bounds avalanche below the Olympic Lady chairlift at Squaw Valley overtook five skiers. Some sustained injuries but no-one died in the incident. Backcountry skiers should be aware of a deep slab avalanche problem throughout the region. Large destructive avalanches have occurred over the past several days.
Check out more on this concern the Sierra Avalanche Center: https://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/advisory
Deep slab avalanche crown visible on top of Schallenberger Ridge.
Donner Summit on March 4, 2018.
The Palisades at Sugar Bowl.
82 inches of new snow has Squaw Valley looking like it’s normal winter self.
Elevation 7,400 feet was still dirt just a few weeks ago.
Fifteen inches of new snow at Squaw Valley on Monday.
Small storms last Thursday and Monday combined with cold temps have finally made it feel like winter here in Tahoe. More terrain is coming into play and the skiing has been quite good. Forecasters are calling for the first big time snow event of the season later this week. This one looks to be measured in feet, not inches. Locals and business owners are hoping for a mega March to salvage what has been an extremely disappointing season so far.
The Pacific Crest looks about one good storm away from game time.
Geoff Forcier hoping for a miracle March in the Donner Summit backcountry.
The gremlins are starting to leave their marks in the high country.
South facing terrain as seen from Mountain Run at Squaw Valley on February 10, 2018
The tremendous ski seasons of 2016 and 2017 seem like a distant memory now that Tahoe is in the throes of another horrifically lean winter. How bad it is it? Historical snowfall data has us trending with the three least snowiest of all time. If we don’t receive substantial snow by the end of February we could end up with the least snow in history up to that point. It’s hard to fathom that we are already grasping for a miracle March as our best and only hope. Although a strong finish is possible, a look outside is more likely to induce flashbacks to the not so distant drought cycle of 2012 through 2015. While mid mountain base depths are adequate, there is virtually no snow at elevation 6,000 feet.
Great ice skating was the silver lining to an extremely dry December.
Despite the somber season thus far there is still plenty to be grateful for. Modest snow events have kept ski areas in the game and groomers and off piste (at times) have skied remarkably well given the circumstances. Temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s have inspired some people to ride bikes, go for a hike or paddle on the lake. Sometimes you just have to find a nice patio to drink beer in the warm winter sunshine and remember that after all it’s still sunny California. Life could be worse. But for reals can we please get a late season miracle?!?
Those looking to hit the road in search of powder should consider Montana which is having a splendid season. Lone Peak at Big Sky on January 21, 2018.
Mt. Warren serving up heaps of good corn!
The Eastern Sierra is in prime corn cycle right now. Lower elevations and approaches are melted out but above 9,000 feet is stacked!
Chris Stewart ascends South Peak with Lundy Canyon and Mono Lake in the background.
Pick your poison.
Harvesting a perfect crop in Lundy Canyon.
South Peak in Virginia Lakes.
Red Lake Bowl looking like Tuckerman Ravine’s distant cousin.
Steph Brodi and Robb Gaffney step it up on Black Mountain.
Kyle O’Neal gets squeezed.
Hot springs near Bridgeport.
Camping in the Eastern Sierra.
Donner Summit backcountry.
Awesome skiing has continued into April with small storms buffing out great conditions for those who get out before it cooks.
Slide debris on Donner Peak.
After you ski you get to apres-ski!
Mother Nature finally took her foot off the gas pedal in March and we have transitioned into smaller snowfall events followed by warm weather. A deep snowpack and plenty of sun equals California skiing at it’s best.
Morning glory on March 23.
Sixteen year old Noah Gaffney skis the Eagles Nest at Squaw Valley on Saturday, March 25.