Mar 25 2011

Tahoe gets buried!

Wow! We’ve had a lot of snow this ten-11 season, more than I’ve ever experienced since moving to the Tahoe area, but yesterday took the prize with a cold, fluffy layer of icing on an already phat cake of snow.

This shows the snowfall for the last week - MINUS the 3-6 feet that fell in the last 24 hours. click to enlarge

The snowfall backed off around midnight, but the winds remain high so there is lots of drifting snow, high avalanche danger on all passes, and low visibility. The area is pretty much shut down. I-80 was closed both ways yesterday and remains so this morning. Same for Hwy. 50 coming up from Carson City, Nevada, then running through South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento. Hwy. 88 is closed going over Carson Pass to Kirkwood. Can’t seem to find any beta on Hwy. 431 running by Mt. Rose ski resort but I can’t imagine it is open either. Or the Kingsbury Grade from South Lake Tahoe down to Nevada. Hwy. 89 which runs along the west shore of Lake Tahoe, by Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley then through Truckee is closed as well. And here in the Prossor neighborhood the roads haven’t been plowed in 24 hours. Caltrans has all hands on deck for the main roads and side streets will just have to wait.

According to my sources (Tahoe Weather Discussion & Snow-Forecast) we’ve received over seven feet at the upper elevations in the past few days. Down in the valley behind Prossor hill we received over three feet in the last 24 hours. The snow in our front yard is now above the lower roof line of the house. On the backside the snow pile from avalanche debris has met the roofline where the height is about 16 feet. Keep in mind we live at about 6,000 feet and we typically receive half what drops above 7,500 feet.

We’d love to go skiing but we can’t get there. Last Saturday Tim Dobbins and I decided to go backcountry skiing. Again, keep in mind this is before this weeks storms. We took three hours to trench 1500 vertical feet. The depth of the trench with fat skis ranged between knee deep at the least, to mid-torso. The average was waist deep. Downhill sliding was a challenge to maintain momentum even just straightlining.

It is deep. I dare not say too deep, but to be practical, there isn’t much to do except marvel at the conditions and wait for things to settle a bit before venturing out. Be safe out there, and don’t forget your AvaLung…you might need it just for a cross-country tour.


Managed to get skis on today, but just my touring rig (Karhu Guides + Switchbacks with blue T2s) to get some deskercize for me and the dog. The first tour was a circumnavigation of the house from Hell that is sinking beneath the snow.

Second jaunt was venturing forth into the open fields among the trees. We were thankful for a brave snowmobiler who set some easy to follow trenches in the snow. But the driver didn’t venture far and we followed his wild tracks back and forth in the snow field. I’ve noticed as the snow has gotten deeper, the snow mobile tracks have become more scarce. You need to be a good driver to keep from getting stuck and it appears only one in our neighborhood had the skill to keep moving and even at that, he didn’t press his luck, staying close to the road.

Tomorrow, it’s time to ‘test’ the Voile Switchback X2 on a pair of Vectors and see what the storm hath wrought up high.


Storm Stories:
Report from OnTheSnow.com March 21, 2011
Report from MtShastaNews.com March 25, 2011


  • http://kimkircher.com kimkircher


    Too bad you can’t get up to the skiing. I hear you on the “how much is too much?” theory. I suppose, if you were staying at a ski resort, you might just say “bring it on!” But for those that want to drive up there, all that snow can make it impossible. Right now, the back windows on my house are snow-filled to the top. I dug one out last week, just to get a little light, and it’s gone again. Here in the PNW we haven’t gotten nearly the snow that you have in Tahoe, but still. It’s deep.

    Stay safe!

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Actually, today we could get to the lifts, but other duties took precedence. The road conditions portrayed were more representative of the 24 hours up to 10am and prior to that being posted. Nonetheless, Friday evening (as this is written) Caltrans is still holding trucks westbound on I-80 at the Nevada border.

    Sugar Bowl ski resort was closed yesterday, partly due to the road closures so neither customers or employees could make it there, and most runs were closed anyway for avalanche control. Pretty crazy.

    As was described, unless you were headed some place steep, the backcountry wasn’t worth the trenching effort unless all you wanted was a good sweat going up AND down hill. If it was steep enough to make turns, you have to wonder about the avalanche danger and how lucky you think you are.

    It was a good day to invoke the 24 hour rule and let gravity work alone.

  • Dude Man

    The most snow since 1959 (using the Donner Summit snow record system). Makes me wish I was there to partake in the days to come. Hope the bluebird day helps the enjoyment of fresh bottomless blowers all day and through the week, If you know where to look. Have you had any trips to the “Carson Range shot” wink-wink. Cory’s pitch! Glad to see you still breaking trail in the industry Craig. Keep It up.