I had my first ski day of the season yesterday at Squaw Valley and it was fantastic. I was surprised to hear that KT was running and even more surprised to hear that it was good. And when I took my first run down West Face I was blown away. Having a nine-week-old baby meant that I wasn’t able to join my friends on the fourth KT chair. But West Face was still great at 11 am when I dropped into it.  The snow was soft, light and dry – a special treat since I’ve learned to love Sierra Cement. West Face was a little bumped out, but the bumps were soft and skiable. Though the parking lot was nearly full, I had the run all to myself. I made my way to the upper mountain for laps in Shirley Bowl where the snow was also soft and dry and way smoother and less bumped out. The sky was clear and sunny and the temperature was warm enough to be comfortable, but cool enough not to bake the snow.

Part of what made the day so great, in addition the snow snow, was that I skiing with a rat-pack of six friends. My three-year old neighbor, Declan Mack, also had a breakthrough day. Free from his harness, he showboated down East Broadway, making turns, catching air and skiing backwards for the crowd.

The big news at Squaw, aside from the four and a half feet of new snow, is a new ticket checking system. The mountain has installed electronic pass readers at all of the lower mountain lifts. Now you don’t have hassle to take your pass out and show it. Just wear it inside your jacket, on the left side, and the machine will scan it and let you pass. The only thing they need to do now is extend those carrals to the lift entrace so you don’t have to worry about sitting on someone’s lap when six people try to get on the KT quad at the same time.