Tips, Deals and Insider Advice for Squaw, Alpine and Northstar
This North Tahoe resort is nicknamed Squallywood for a reason: Many ski films have been shot here, and the place has a bustling, party vibe. In November, the resort was sold to a private equity firm that plans to invest $50 million in on-site improvements, so expect the glam level to increase. 800-403-0206.
YouTube Your Trip
The Squaw Valley Sports Shop in the village rents out ContourHD helmet cameras for day use, which means you can shoot up to two hours of high-definition point-of-view footage of you speeding your way down the trails and braving jumps. Once you're back at your computer, upload the video to the envy of all your Facebook friends. 530-583-3356.
Save On Sweets
Squaw Valley pro skier Michelle Parker lives on Wildflour Bakery’s homemade cookies each winter. Her tip? Buy a Half-Baked cookie pass, which gets you 50 punches for $85 and more than $20 worth of savings at the bakery’s two locations (one at High Camp and one in the village). Plus, check out the secret menu listed only on their website. 530-583-1963.
Of course, not all terrain parks are created equal: Some are more advanced and dangerous than others. This year, Squaw Valley is going to transform its Belmont terrain park into a kid-friendly zone with a cool snow fort and mellow jumps and rollers.
Squaw’s low-key neighbor, Alpine Meadows, has no slopeside hotels and a sleepy après-ski scene. But what it lacks in social elements, it more than makes up for in terrain. Steep hike-to bowls retain powder days after a storm, and backcountry access is some of the best in the region. 800-441-4423.
Go Spring Skiing
Alpine ski patrollers call the process for creating perfect springtime corn snow (the slushy powder that comes with rising temperatures) “corneology.” Head up in March for the kickoff of the Spring Music Series, where you can hear free live music blasting from a grooming machine that has been transformed into a stage.
Save Cash on Lift Tickets
Join the Alpine Club, a frequent skier program. You'll avoid the ticket window and save $10 on day tickets, which will be charged to your credit card when you push through the radio frequency ID gates in the lift line.
Find Untracked Powder
The best hidden stashes of fresh powder are off Scott Chair, in Promised Land or Gentian Gully. From the top of the lift, head far skier’s right, following the grooved path past the patrol shack. Traverse into the trees, and drop downhill wherever it looks good. At the bottom, cut a hard left to make it back to the base lodge.
The closest ski area to Truckee, Northstar got a major upgrade last year with its new base village, which boasts 35 shops and restaurants and a 9,000-square-foot ice skating rink. The family-friendly resort offers everything from buffed groomers to steep, one-mile-long runs off the backside. 800-466-6784.
Catch A Flick
Looking for an après-ski option that doesn’t involve overpriced cocktails and beer? This year, two new movie theaters are scheduled to open in the village. They’ll be Truckee’s only big screens.
Become A Better Snowboarder
For tips on off-trail riding or throwing tricks in the halfpipe, sign up for Northstar’s Burton Snowboard Academy for semi-private lessons, a lift ticket, and a Burton board rental starting at $179. Programs are available for kids and adults.
Bring Your Dog
The year-old Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe might look fancy, and it is. But it also welcomes snow-loving pets. Rates start at $349, and you’ll have to pay an additional $125 fee for your furry friends each visit. It's worth it though. The mid-mountain hotel is the essence of winter luxe, and you can ski in and out from the back patio. 530-562-3000.
* Published in the February 2011 issue of 7x7. Subscribe to 7x7 magazine here.