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Tahoe Nugget #104:

Tahoe Ski Season Update
February 18, 2007

Rumors that Tahoe's ski season was weak this winter were fairly accurate until last weekend when a series of moist storm systems surged in from the Pacific Ocean. The origin of the moisture was sub-tropical, which meant relatively high snow levels (above 7,000 to 7,500 feet), but all of the major Tahoe ski resorts benefited substantially from the first precipitation in nearly 5 weeks. Most resort and higher elevation backcountry terrain is now open, albeit with obstacles, especially on south-facing slopes.

The recent storm was mild and generated mostly rain at lake level (6,226 ft.) — Squaw Valley has only a meager 16" to 22" snow depth at the 6,200 foot level — but the ski area has a respectable 7 feet at 8,200 feet. Kirkwood Ski Resort (just south of Lake Tahoe) is currently boasting the greatest snowpack of all. With a high base elevation of 7,800 feet (higher than all other Tahoe ski areas with the exception of Mt. Rose), Kirkwood pulled in more than 5 feet of snow last weekend on its upper slopes. The snow near the top of the 9,800 foot ridge line is now nearly 11 feet deep. Check out Kirkwood's Mountain Facts webpage:

Not epic conditions just yet, but still decent for February. Remember, the Sierra snowpack usually peaks in early April so there is plenty of time to recover from the exceptionally dry January we just experienced.

I've included a few vintage shots from the archives to encourage the skiers and riders out there to hit the slopes. The skiers in the photos (my ski buddies circa 1984) were among the first at Lake Tahoe to use free-heel bindings and make telemark turns, a challenging, but dynamic turning style developed by Norwegian Sondre Norheim in the 1860s. We skied in leather boots and had long narrow skis. Today, the sport has morphed into a popular style complete with large plastic boots, bomber free-heel bindings and shorter, wider skis that make Telemarking a great alternative both at the resort or in the backcountry.

Photo #1: Fred Blanco floating through deep Sierra fluff.
Photo #2: Mark Horn blasting out of the trees at Alpine Meadows.
Photo #3: Older brother Mick Horn getting face shots.
Photo #4: Fred poaching an Alpine Meadows' out of bounds powder stash.

Nugget #104 A Fred perfect powder

Nugget #104 B Mark Horn powder

Nugget #104 C Mick Horn powder

Nugget #104 D Fred Blanco powder

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