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Dec 06 2012

Current conditions in Lake Tahoe

Wringing moisture from the sky. One minute it’s snow, the next it’s rain.

It’s been an interesting beginning to the Twelve-13 season. We have snow, but not the fluff of dreams. Went out with a buddy on a short tour above Incline Village the other day. It was a great hike under heavy clouds that continued to wring moisture down. There was snow on the summit and rain at the bottom. The sweat up was great. So were the turns back down.

There’s a lot of glum faces even though there is snow. Nobody wants the karmic curse of being ungrateful for what we do have but oh if that rain had been snow, wouldn’t that be a harvest worth exploiting with a few sick days. ;)

The reality is there is great skiing to be had, but as usual, it is not to be found in-bounds. Oh sure, there is snow worth skiing under the lifts, but it is either corduroy or so cut up and funky it really magnifies the value of a hike. That’s especially true when you can get a lifetime pass for so little. A pair of climbing skins, a free heel and gumption gives you access to just about anywhere you want to go.

James enjoys the hike in new Lange XT’s and Dukes. Skins glopped up a bit, but wax saved the day.

The simple fact of all this rain recently is that there is a ton of snow available, you just have to go high enough. The higher you go, the deeper it is. There is four dense feet of snow at Bunny Flat on Mt. Shasta. Above 10,000 feet estimates put the depth at over 18 feet (5 m), and there is more on the way.

That’s the best news of all – there is more on the way. Not for the moment, but it’s only early December. If you need to tune up your turns, Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Northstar, and Mt. Rose are all open around Tahoe. Mammoth is completely open, with reports of their famous wind buff that edges like corn snow and explodes like powder at the top.

And of course, there is the backcountry which is in good shape all over the Sierra as long as you’re above 7,000-feet elevation. Two days ago it was soft and mushy, like cream cheese with a thin veneer of easily breakable crust on top. The forecast for the next few days indicates clear skies, so look for a week of corn snow this December and be safe out there.

© 2012