Mountain sports started off nicely on Friday last week with snow a bit scanty but deep enough for skiing and boarding.
At Mt. Rose on Friday Rusty Crook held his usual seniors' clinic ("without profanity," he said later). Both the Slide Mountain side and Mt. Rose side were well covered.
Saturday was Heavenly's 50th anniversary celebration with plenty of snow, the Face open but a bit rocky in places. This was media weekend, a good time to try demo skis. With the old 187-cm. Volants running slow, it was time to try something new. Wound up with a pair of Rossignal Bandit 2s at 160 cm., shorter by 27 cm. That's about 10 inches.
The Rossis were easy turning (at 160 cm. they should be) but in hard turns had to really edge, resulting in a small berm of snow sending the skis off their edges. Figure 170 or 175 would be a better transition ski but want to try the Atomic Medtronics which have been getting fine local reviews (I don't pay a lot of attention to ski magazine reports on skis; they are so far from average skier reactions as to be misleading.).
Saturday was fine, including the dinner party, but Sunday was a wipeout with the heavy snow at Heavenly not a lot of fun.
One nice thing at Heavenly: There's a lot of courtesy in the air there. Free snacks at the Gondola base, cheerful greetings from lifties and everyone else wearing a Heavenly uniform. Makes the mountain seem warmer.
About all the mountain resorts are open now, with varying conditions. Homewood, for instance, had four of eight lifts opened on Thursday, with rain at the base and a mix of rain and snow at the top. Ought to be about the same throughout the Sierra Nevada.
HIGH TIMES AT SQUAW
Rising above every other Tahoe party at 8,200 feet, the New Year's Eve bash at HIgh Camp is one way to start the New Year off right. Music will be from Mission Players. Mission Players have recently shared co-bills with Irvin Mayfield Quintet, Fareed Haque Group, Tea Leaf Green, Robert Walter and members of Galactic.
The Cable Car will begin transporting party-goers at 9 p.m. and Mission Players will be jamming straight through the New Year. Log on to www.squaw.com to reserve your spot. Tickets are also available at Special Tickets in Squaw at $20 for Squaw Season Pass holders and $27 for non-pass holders.
TIPS FOR ENJOYING SIERRA-AT-TAHOE
• Purchase Sierra-at-Tahoe's three-pak and ski for $39 per day. Sierra's three-pak of tickets is $117.
• Use the preferred parking lots just steps from the slopes and avoid having to carry gear from outer Siberia for $15 per day or $99 for the season.
• Enjoy Happy Hour specials in the Pub and wait out the traffic with big beers and appetizers beginning at 4 p.m.
Log on to www.SierraAtTahoe.com or call (530) 659-7453.
• Enjoy free ice skating on Northstar's New Ice Rink. Ice skating will be free, however, there is a charge to rent skates. Remember how to do an axel?
• Ride the Village Express to mid-mountain and avoid the traffic bottleneck at the Gondola that tends to occur during the holidays. This high-speed quad whisks guests to mid-mountain in minutes.
• Park in lots A-G and at day's end ski down Homerun. The run is located off the Pioneer lift and guests who choose this route end up right back at their cars, avoiding the walk through the Village.
• Test out different gear all season long at both Sierra and Northstar for just $109 or take it up a notch with Northstar's demo four-pak that allows guests to try out top-of-the-line gear from leading brands such as K2, Dynastar, Salomon, Rossignol, Burton and Capita four times throughout the season for just $129.
Call (800) GO-NORTH or visit NorthstarAtTahoe.com.
DIAMOND PEAK OPENS UP
Diamond Peak Ski Resort has received more snow and was able to open more terrain. Diamond Peak now has most of the upper mountain open along with some beginner and intermediate terrain on the lower part of the mountain. The Lakeview lift is now running.
With the opening of additional terrain, Diamond Peak will discontinue its early season rates. Diamond Peak ticket regular season prices are in effect. A full day adult ticket is $46, youth (13-17) $36, and child and senior (6-12 and 60-79) $17. Children under 5 and seniors over 80 ski for free at Diamond Peak. With the Mini Pass you can ski for less than $31 per day. Parents can purchase an interchangeable parent pass for $46 so they can take turns with the little ones. There's even a Family Package that starts at $60 for one adult and one child. A family of four can ski for $114.
Call 832-1177 or visit diamondpeak.com.
Boreal Mountain Resort snow pack is now 25 inches at the base lodge and 56 inches at the upper-mountain level. Boreal will expand its all mountain terrain park. The Boreal Olympic-spec superpipe is expected to open this weekend.
Check daily conditions at www.rideboreal.com.