By Susan Schnier
The freeheeler Mecca on North Lake Tahoe, Alpine Meadows is smaller than neighboring Squaw Valley USA, but it’s the hands down winner for hike-to terrain. Alpine also enjoys a more mellow vibe that appeals to lower key locals and families.
The High Traverse leaves the crowds behind, accesses many of Alpine’s best off-piste runs and winds up at the bar – what more could you ask for? Check out the views of Lake Tahoe and the peaks in Granite Chief Wilderness and
D8 chute is the obvious, 100-foot wide, 45-degree slope underneath the Summit Six Chair, about three towers before the top. D8 Chute gets hammered, but the trees to its right are often overlooked. Duck into the trees to find fresh powder. Even if the snow has been skied, it stays light and dry because it’s protected by the trees and north-facing.
The Buttress is a haul, but its well worth it. Go right off the Summit Six chair and traverse past Idiot’s Delight, Beaver Bowl, Estelle Bowl and Bernie’s Bowl. It takes about 20 minutes, but you’re rewarded with lots of vertical and continuous powder turns that will be the envy of all the onlookers in the parking lot. The top section is steep and technical and the bottom mellows out into a huge powder field. Rock drops from five to 35 feet challenging the aspiring hucker and the pro. The area is south-facing so it’s best to hit it in the morning before the
Three Days Later
Keyhole’s 1200 vertical feet can be intimidating, but the snow stays cold and dry because of its north-facing aspect and high-elevation. It’s steep, but since the snow is usually soft and chalky, it’s highly edgeble.
Park and Pipe
Alpine has three parks (small, medium and large) just above the base area. There’s a halfpipe in the large park, accessible from Kangaroo Chair. A poma services the small park for speedy access, and the medium park is serviced by the Roundhouse lift. The TK area is lit and open at night.
Advanced park riders should head to Kangaroo Run and Nick’s Run (accessible via Kangaroo Chair) and solid intermediate jibbers should make for Kangaroo Ridge. The Ridge is about 15 degrees, and has a top-to-bottom flow of roller jumps, 20-foot table top jumps, rails, and boxes. There’s just enough space between features to regain control, or stop, and then jump right back into the flow of the features.
Turn left at the top of the Scott triple chair, and traverse out toward the Promised Land. Pass by the Broccoli Tree (very old Juniper tree and a common pit stop for local crowd) and “Lower 40” slope, and you’re in Gentian Gully! It’s fairly steep, faces west, and is sprinkled with interesting lava rock formations. The lower half is a beautiful tree run through huge pine trees. Pop out at the Subway Double Chair/Tahoe Adaptive Ski School. Take the chair back to the main lodge or walk up the parking lot.
If the weather is nice, the Main Lodge Sundeck has beer on tap at the outside bar and one weekends, starting in March, there’s usually a live band playing. Unwind there before driving down the road to the River Ranch, for has heaping nachos, every kind of après drink imaginable, a roaring fire place, and a warm, welcoming group of employees and locals. In the spring, their deck provides a great place to kick back and watch the
River Ranch on the Truckee River has a surprising selection of game and rich meals on their menu: elk, bison burgers, lamb, filet mignon… as a vegetarian, I order their portabella mushroom steak with sweet potatoes that are mashed. Also served with asparagus.
Up All Night
Just across the state line in
There’s no lodging at Alpine, but Sunnyside on Lake Tahoe’s west short is a five minute drive from