GTFO of SF 001: Tahoe
Last month, I took the lead for helping plan a ski trip for some friends arriving from NYC:
“So we need to find a cool spot in Tahoe now. It’s 5–6 total?” — Dennis
“Yes, let’s start that search…ill find out shortly if Eric is onboard.” — Rita
“Hey y’all, so Eric is confirmed to join us! Dennis and Lynda — I know you’re away and Ryan you’re slammed with work. Let me know when you want to discuss booking something in Tahoe as we get closer to the date. I was thinking 1–2 days max for skiing since I know lift tickets can be pricey. I’d like to know all your opinions on which mountains/resorts to go to” — Rita
“Holaaa- That’s awesome!! We just got back in last night and need a few days to catch up. Will be in touch soon. ❤” — Lynda
So then me being me sent them this long, detailed list of suggestions…
Where the powder at?
1. Sierra at Tahoe
Sierra at Tahoe is smaller than Heavenly, but similar in terms of facilities. Very solid overall. I skied here much earlier this season (Thanksgiving) right after it opened and it was great for that time of year. BONUS: located a solid half-hour outside of Lake Tahoe on the way home. So it’s a good place to ski if you plan on driving home THAT same day. You cut 30–45 mins of the drive by sheer geography and avoiding South Lake Tahoe traffic.
Northstar is in a similar top tier to Heavenly and Squaw (same corporate conglomerate), ($130/day at peak), ego boost+, nice facilities, sometimes the crowd can feel a bit pretentious. Seems to be popular with affluent families from Sacramento and the Bay Area. Can have long lift lines full of douche snowboards. Nice terrain though when the full mountain is open. I think you can get off piste terrain that other smaller mountains. I last skied here January of 2015 and enjoyed it, but felt jipped because the snow was crap and it was super crowded (it was winter break for schools). The 2016 season should be much better.
Boreal is way less pretentious and expensive (tickets are like $60 sometimes). I think this is the best place for novice skiers because the runs are short and you get a lot of them in). Also, you can easily bail out if you feel overwhelmed. As an intermediate skier, I can repeat runs consistently and work on form in an incremental way. With larger mountains, longer runs, each run is its own experience and sometimes harder to deliberately improve (this is a pretty specific type of value though). I was here Spring of 2014 and enjoyed it; cheap and cheerful.
I’ve never been here. Kirkwood is a favorite of some pragmatic season pass holders I know who like to get a lot of skiing in. It’s also noted for being rocky/technical. My subjective impression is that it’s a bit less posh, but more than makes up for it in price and less crowding (more runs). NEGATIVE: about 30 mins south of S. Lake Tahoe.
Max brand appeal, ego boost +++, on the north side of Lake Tahoe (far from S. Lake Tahoe nightlife & casinos). Squaw was home of the 1960’s Olympics. I have never been here, but I think it’s quite good. Very popular with tourists with $$ due to brand recognition. I rarely see Instagram pics here from the dedicated skiers though. My uninformed judgement is that it’s a lot like Northstar in that it’s large, nice AND crowded. QUIRK: the arrangement of most mountains is that the black diamonds are on the top, so the hardcore technical terrain coincides with the most exposed ridges of the mountain (heavy winds). Squaw is inverted for the most part. Meaning the protection of tree cover isn’t available for the green/blues. Après ski scene is small, but on-point. I could use some Instagram selfies from here to up my dating profiles.
Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn…
Lodging — No idea here. Prices might be more reasonable this late in the season, I haven’t looked. I’m focused on skiing when I go, so I typically stay in an EconoLodge for like $90/night, but I realize that’s very barebones.Houses are available and with so a group this might be the best option. Managing the logistics of bringing food/alcohol can either be a plus or a minus depending on what type of experience you want. Houses are nice because you can chill more comfortably in the evenings. There are plenty of reasonably priced grocery stores and restaurants in S. Lake Tahoe, so it’s not a big deal.
Dollar dollar bills
We’re looking at about $400–550/person for two days of skiing and one night of lodging.
Lift tickets: $80–130
Rentals: $30–100 (depending on where you get it, quality and if you get a bundle with a ticket)
My Tahoe Suggestions
Ryan also likes to GTFO out of NYC too. Scranton, to be specific.