Category Archives: News

The Glass is Half Full

Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley on December 13, 2014.

Many Tahopians were thoroughly disappointed that last week’s storm did not live up to to the hype generated by the media machine. Snowfall totals did not even scratch the low end of the forecast and virtually no snow fell at lake level. That said, there is still plenty to be grateful for. Most of drought stricken California received multiple inches of much needed rain. Higher elevations in Tahoe received a couple of feet of wet snow followed by cold nights and days which made for perfect velvety powder conditions.

The Funnel and the Roof at Squaw Valley.

The Funnel and the Roof at Squaw Valley.

Idiot's Delight at Alpine Meadows.

Idiot’s Delight at Alpine Meadows.

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Squaw’s winter prep includes enhanced tree skiing

A Shinook Helicopter hauls trees down from the Red Dog / Heidi's area of Squaw Valley.

A Shinook Helicopter hauls trees down from the Red Dog / Heidi’s area of Squaw Valley.

Several projects have kept Squaw Valley and KSL busy this fall. Earlier this month a helicopter placed huge burlap and mesh foil mats over ski runs on Red Dog and Resort Chair terrain. The mats are designed to help with vegetation seeding and erosion control. One might also think they could help the resort open groomers with a minimal amount of snow since the mats basically create a glorified carpet over select ski runs.

Squaw is also undertaking an aggressive forest health management plan which will remove 5,000 dead or diseased trees from the Red Dog region of the lower mountain. Lower level vegetation that could serve as fire fuel will also be removed from Red Dog Face to Poulsens Gully. Although the primary intention of the project is to improve the natural habitat and reduce the risk of wildfire, skiers will be delighted in over 100 acres of new tree skiing access. This should be especially noteworthy on storm days when Squaw struggles to get the upper mountain open.

Lumber from the tree thinning project ready to be driven out of Squaw.

Lumber from the tree thinning project ready to be driven out of Squaw.

Burlap and mesh sheets in the Squaw parking lot await placement by helicopter onto lower mountain ski runs.

Burlap and mesh sheets in the Squaw parking lot await placement by helicopter onto lower mountain ski runs.

Crews work on the hanger of the Squaw tram during annual fall maintenance.

Crews work on the hanger of the Squaw tram during annual fall maintenance.

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High Country Dusting

A few inches of snow fell above 7,000 on Saturday. More precipitation is forecast for the weekend.

New snow at Boreal on Saturday.

New snow at Boreal on Saturday.

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Truckee River Day

Volunteers remove milfoil from the Truckee River.

Volunteers remove milfoil from the Truckee River.

The 19th Annual Truckee River Day was held Sunday. 400 volunteers completed restoration work at 14 different sites including Prosser Creek, Martis Valley and of course the Truckee River. The three year drought has reduced water levels enough to access and remove large amounts of Eurasion milfoil, an invasive weed which has flourished on the upper portions of the Truckee River.

Truckee River is merely a trickle just past the dam in Tahoe City.

Drought has reduced the Truckee River to a trickle just past the dam in Tahoe City.

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JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson killed in avalanche

JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson died in an avalanche on Mount Cochrane in southern Patagonia Monday.  JP Auclair was one of the founding fathers of the New Canadian Airforce freestyle movement nearly 20 years ago and has been an innovator, leader and mentor in the sport of skiing ever since.  In recent year’s Auclair gravitated toward bigger ski mountaineering objectives.  Andreas Fransson had a passion for extremely bold and unforgiving descents, including the first and only descent of the South Face of Denali.

Powder Coverage Auclair and Fransson

ESPN Coverage of Incident

Backcountry Magazine Profile on Andreas Fransson

Reaching My Limit Eisode 2 from Bjarne Salén on Vimeo.

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

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Heavy Precip Drowns King Fire

Drenching rains have doused the King Fire and brought much needed relief to the Lake Tahoe Region. The fire, which has been burning since September 13, is now 87% contained. Higher elevations around Tahoe also received their first snowfall of the year with 4 inches reported at Squaw Valley.

rain in squaw

The first round of rain hit Squaw Valley on Thursday, September 25.

Fresh snow on Saturday morning.

Fresh snow on Saturday morning.

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King Fire threatens Tahoe Basin

King Fire as seen from Kings Beach on September 18, 2014.

King Fire as seen from Kings Beach.

Thursday, September 18, 2014
The King Fire, which began over the weekend near Pollock Pines, CA has now exceeded 70,000 acres in size and entered into Placer County. Boosted by strong southwest winds, the fire more than doubled in size overnight Wednesday and is now reportedly only 12 miles from Tahoe City. Heavy smoke and ash poured into Squaw Valley by noon today. The fire is 5% contained and has nearly 4,000 firefighters on the scene. East winds are predicted for Friday which should help reverse the current track of the fire.

Squaw Valley at 1pm Thursday, September 18.

Squaw Valley at 1pm Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on Thursday, September 18.

KT 22 on September 7.

KT 22 on September 7.

Smoke from King Fire on Wednesday, September 17.

Smoke from King Fire on Wednesday, September 17.

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RIP C2

Cornice II zone in fairly low snow.

Cornice II zone in fairly low snow. Photo: Scott Gaffney

The Cornice II Chair at Squaw Valley was officially retired when the lift was dismantled and hauled away last week. The chair rarely spun in the last decade since the Headwall Express serves the same terrain and more, making C2 virtually obsolete. Practicality aside, C2 epitomized the slow, spectator friendly lifts that helped define Squaw’s reputation for rowdy terrain. The lift crept up the right side of C2 Bowl which is littered with cliff hucks, steeps and protected north facing powder stashes. C2 unloaded skiers at the bottom of the Light Towers ridge which could also be easily viewed from the chair. C2 allowed you to study your line before skiing it and look for zones that were still untracked. Cornice II Bowl will probably look better aesthetically without the decrepit chairline but we won’t forget the lift that was almost as fun to ride as it was to ski.

Sikorsky pulls C2 on May 23, 2014 from Nut Hut Studios on Vimeo.

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A blast from the past…Hot Dog 30th Anniversary Party

David Naughton and John Patrick Reger stand off in a classic scene from Hot Dog.

David Naughton and John Patrick Reger stand off in a classic scene from Hot Dog.


Matt Reardon and The Squaw Valley Institute hosted a festive evening celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic ski film Hot Dog, which was filmed at Squaw Valley during the winter of 1983. Many cast members from the movie were in attendance including David Naughton, Frank Koppala, James Saito, John Reger, Lynne Wieland and director Mike Marvin. Tahoe based cast members and stunt skiers Debbie Dutton, Robbie Huntoon, Mark Vance and George Theobald were also on hand. The night began with a Q & A session with the cast followed by a screening of the film and then an 80’s dance party. Audience participation during the movie felt like the Rocky Horror Picture Show with people chanting classic one liners in unison and boisterously booing antagonist Rudy and the Rudettes. The cast reflected on what it was like to be a part of the movie and delighted the audience by quoting lines from the movie. It was a truly memorable reunion for a film that has meant so much to so many who live here.

Hot Dog cast members answer questions from the audience at the 30th anniversary party.

Hot Dog cast members answer questions from the audience at the 30th anniversary party.


Actors Frank Koppala, David Naughton and director Mike Marvin.

Lynne Wieland, Frank Koppala, David Naughton and director Mike Marvin.


Uncle E auctions off one of the original story boards from the movie.

Uncle E auctions off one of the original storyboards from the movie.


Alpine Meadows resident George Theobald was one of the few cast members who both acted and skied in the movie.

Alpine Meadows resident George Theobald was one of the few cast members who both acted and skied in the movie.


Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser - blue jacket) gets introduced to Slasher (George Theobald - blue/yellow jacket) and the Rat Pack.

Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser – blue jacket) gets introduced to Slasher (George Theobald – blue/yellow jacket) and the Rat Pack.

Hometown heroes Robbie Huntoon and Debbie Dutton.  Robbie was the stunt skier for Harkin Banks and Debbie was the stunt skier for Sylvia.

Hometown heroes Robbie Huntoon and Debbie Dutton. Robbie was the stunt skier for Harkin Banks and Debbie was the stunt skier for Sylvia.

David Naughton and John Reger at Hot Dog Anniversary Party from Nut Hut Studios on Vimeo.

Powder Magazine coverage of Hot Dog 30th Anniversary including link to the movie

SBDC Hot Dog Film Review from April 2011

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Mt. Shasta sets up early

Mt. Shasta on April 12, 2014.

Mt. Shasta on April 11, 2014.


Ski mountaineers often head to Mt. Shasta in June and July for great weather and long ski descents. After this season’s far below average snowfall and early onset of warm weather, there is no better time to head up to Mt. Shasta than right now. We visited Shasta the weekend of April 12 and were not disappointed. It’s easy to see how many consider Mt. Shasta a spiritual epicenter of the planet. With it’s massive vertical relief and limitless ski lines, Mt. Shasta may just be the epicenter of the backcountry ski world as well.

Kyle O'Neal, Robb Gaffney and his 13 year old son Noah bridge the gap between Red Banks and Misery Hill.

Kyle O’Neal, Robb Gaffney and Noah Gaffney bridge the gap between Red Banks and Misery Hill on the upper flanks of Mt. Shasta.


Whitney Glacier as seen from the top of Misery Hill.

Whitney Glacier as seen from the top of Misery Hill.


The summit plateau.

The summit plateau.


Kyle O'Neal slays April corn on Mt. Shasta.

Kyle O’Neal slays April corn on Mt. Shasta.


The West Face of Mt. Shasta as seen from Hidden Valley.

The West Face of Mt. Shasta as seen from Hidden Valley.


The alluring yet mysterious southeast face of Mt. Shasta as seen from McLoud.

The alluring yet mysterious southeast face of Mt. Shasta as seen from McCloud.

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