Fresh tracks: What’s new at Lake Tahoe-Truckee ski resorts this winter
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in 2015-16 winter edition of Tahoe Magazine, a product of the Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine is available now on newsstands throughout the greater Reno-Truckee-Tahoe region.
A new ski season is here, and with it comes a host of new developments at Lake Tahoe-Truckee’s ski areas.
Here’s a look at some of what’s new on the slopes for 2015-16:
Boreal Mountain Resort
Boreal upgraded its snowmaking system over the summer and will offer a new dining option this winter with the ski-in, ski-out Waffle Cabin. A new 13-foot half pipe, new bag jump, improved tubing area, a new learning area and magic carpet will also be part of the resort’s 2015-16 offerings.
Forest thinning during the summer helped reduce fire danger and improved gladed skiing at this Incline Village ski resort. New off-piste terrain will be available between the Diamondback and Spillway runs, located off Crystal Ridge. Wild Bill’s BBQ, located on Diamond Peak’s Base Lodge deck, will also offer authentic barbecue fare, while Diamond Peak’s Loft Bar, located on the top floor of the Base Lodge, will increase the number of beers on tap to 12.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Heavenly will host special retro-themed Unbuckle at Tamarack après parties, free concerts and more this year. The resort also added two Prinoth Bison X snowcats to its grooming fleet and four new snowmaking guns. A new alpine coaster at the resort is under construction and slated to open next summer. The coaster will allow guests to descend on a raised track through the forest, utilizing gravity for the descent while still giving riders full control of their speed. The coaster will be located northwest of the existing tubing hill.
Homewood Mountain Resort
Homewood Mountain Resort has partnered with Cape Productions to provide a new type of video service for action sports that will allow athletes to strap on an armband and film their entire run via drone camera. Homewood Snowcat Adventures is also scheduled to operate for the first time during the 2015-16 winter season. Running on backcountry terrain positioned on the flanks of Ellis Peak, groups of up to 10 skiers and riders will have access to a wide variety of terrain options, including tree runs, steeps, bowls and intermediate-level glades via the snowcat service.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Kirkwood Mountain Resort will have several new offerings through its Expedition:Kirkwood program designed to take intermediates and expert skiers and riders to the next level. Three-session series are aimed at improving skills in the steeps, navigating the chutes of the resort and exploring off the top of Kirkwood’s cornices. All sessions include lunch and use of GoPro cameras for skier/rider analysis.
Mt. Rose SKi Tahoe
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe relocated and renamed its Ponderosa chairlift and added four new beginner trails to the mountain this summer. The new positioning of the Wizard lift, meanwhile, will expand and enhance the beginner skiing and snowboarding experience. Nine new Polecat tower-mounted snow machines have been installed in locations around the mountain, with four specifically positioned at the base of Slide Bowl. The resort also made renovations to its Timbers Bar and improved the Main Lodge basket/ski check-in.
Northstar’s Big Springs Express Gondola is undergoing a makeover and mechanical update. Located at the base of the mountain in The Village at Northstar, both portals of the Gondola are being renovated to enhance the guests’ experience in regards to both style and efficiency of travel time to and from mid-mountain.
In anticipation of an El Niño winter, Sierra-at-Tahoe made improvements for the 2015-16 season in increased connectivity, guest benefits technology, culture, and celebration of local talent.
It diversified its fleet of snowcats to include a new Prinoth Bison X and increased Wi-Fi connectivity at its base area. The resort has also teamed up with local High Fives Foundation to add to Sierra’s current safety initiatives such as Lids on Kids, Know the Code and Smart Style in terrain parks.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
Squaw Valley saw the replacement of the Siberia Express lift in the offseason. Formerly a four-person chair, the new six-passenger lift is primarily used by intermediate and advanced skiers and gives riders to access Siberia Bowl, Mainline and the Mainline Terrain Park, as well as the Gold Coast area. Squaw Valley also added snowmaking guns at the Big Blue, Siberia and Headwall lifts.
At Alpine Meadows, two PistenBully 600 winch cats will join the grooming fleet. The resort has also added five new high-efficiency snowmaking guns, allowing the resort to expand snowmaking on the lower portion of the Summit run. Both Squaw and Alpine expect to have new features designed for families and intermediate terrain park users. Additions may include features such as gently banked turns and small rollers and jumps in areas like the Belmont learning park at Squaw or the Loop Road at Alpine.
Sugar Bowl Resort will open a new terrain park designed Snow Park Technologies this season. The new terrain park will be located below the Mt. Lincoln Express Chairlift and will be accessible from both Mt. Lincoln Express and the Christmas Tree Express chairlifts. Sugar Bowl has also upgraded its snowmaking capabilities to include Rahlves’ Run on Mount Lincoln. Sugar Bowl will open a new cross-country rental, lesson and gear room for cross-country skiers in the Sugar Bowl Village near the Mt. Disney Express chairlift called Village Station. The Village Station is another example of the increasing connection between the downhill ski runs of Sugar Bowl and the cross-country trails of nearby Royal Gorge, North America’s largest cross-country ski resort.
Tahoe Donner Downhill SKi Area
Tahoe Donner will introduce snowmaking to its ski area this season. The new system includes seven machines, a pump station building and 12 hydrants and electrical pedestals. A cooling tower, which lowers the water temperature quickly and allows for shorter operating times, will also be installed. Tahoe Donner will also celebrate a new Cross Country Ski Area facility this winter season. The new building, known as the Alder Creek Adventure Center, will serve as the base area for Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area in the winter and Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center and Tahoe Donner Bikeworks in the spring and summer.
“We did a lot of very, very difficult evaluation over a very, very short amount of time and just concluded that this was the right thing for the company at large.”