Conditions in the Tahoe area are epic and the Ten-Eleven season is off to a rip roaring start. The last time I can remember such a strong start was 82/83, or maybe 97/98. One can only hope this season is as good as either.
Here in Truckee we received a solid four feet of snow in the series of storms leading up to Thanksgiving. At higher elevations that translates into eight feet, and I mean 8-feet of solid, base building snow, not that airy fluff they get in the Rockies that compresses to half inch per foot of snowfall with time, our Sierra cement is still deep after settling. Getting out in the midst of storms in Truckee is only possible if you don’t have serious deadlines for work looming and you don’t have to remove the snow from your driveway. Here at the Dostie household, we had both – in spades. Our roof is designed to shed snow right back on the driveway and sidewalk several times after it has been cleared. I’m betting the architect was from SmelLA. So it took until Thanksgiving to break away and make some turns for the second official day of the season.
For a warm up I met with my buddy John and we did some mellow laps at Sunrise Bowl. John’s fighting cancer and after three bouts with ‘chemo’ he’s ready to focus on maximizing quality through natural means. Time is already a premium, but the medical establishment hasn’t proven they can either extend his time on earth, or enhance it. We’re backing John all the way on the natural approach and the skin track up was a great place and time to talk about that.
It was amazing how many tracks were in the bowl, and how many people were there. I probably saw at least 20 other people in the two hours I was there, including a guy who apparently didn’t get the full story on what it takes to earn your turns. Guess the guy who sold him those Dukes forgot to tell him he also needs climbing skins to complete the package. Hope he figures that out.
The base at Sunrise was windpacked with a six-inch layer of pow. Super easy skiing conditions, but hardly deep or steep. Sunrise had just whet my appetite for more so I headed for Prossor Hill, a small 800-vertical-foot bump overlooking Prossor Lake a few miles north from I-80 on Hwy. 89. It’s not a destination worth driving to, but as a backyard slope it has value to skiers in Truckee’s Prossor neighborhood. As I pulled up to the trailhead I noticed it was a completely blank canvas and I was in position to make the first tracks up and down it for the season.
Unlike Sunrise Bowl, this slope is not as close to the crest of the Sierra, so the snow was light and fluffy all the way to the ground. That meant trenching all the way, but it wasn’t too bad and I loved every sweaty moment, looking forward to having the whole hill to myself. After taking my skins off and tightening the buckles on my boots I looked up and lo, there was my next-door-neighbor Brian arriving just as I was about to head down. If I couldn’t have the hill to myself, sharing it with a neighbor is just as good, maybe better.
The turns were sublime; fluffy, untracked, and deep. A rerun was obligatory and then we both headed home for Thanksgiving dinner.