This report is from December 4th and 5th, 2020 at Alpine Meadows, California.
According to rumors heard throughout the week, Alpine Meadows currently has the best lift-accessed skiing in the Sierra and that has been confirmed. After spending the first few days on the other side of the resort following the holiday, Friday and Saturday were spent at Alpine Meadows where the majority of the lower mountain is open. There is plenty of room to spread out and make some turns to get the legs ready for winter. The runs were fast and the snow was cold and shred-able on most of the mountain this weekend. The chairlifts were loading quickly and the lift crews have things running smoothly.
Alpine Meadows usually has more of a local vibe than the other side of the resort but both sides of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows (SVAM) have options for every skier and rider. Squaw Valley is closer to 89 and has been the marquee name since the heyday of extreme skiing. However, over the last few days, I noticed skiers and riders speaking different languages or riding as a family so it seems the secret is out about the need to check out the Alpine side. Since it’s finally December there were far more people than I noticed during Thanksgiving break but once you get up to Roundhouse and to the midway station of Treeline Cirque there is plenty of room to make some wide turns or find side hits on the outer edges of the groomers.
It was about 48ºF when we parked and the sun was shining. There was only a light breeze and I was comfortable in only a softshell and base layers. I still felt ok with a reusable mask tucked under my goggles and helmet. I had a buff on around my neck that I actually used for most of the afternoon…I’m all about belt/suspenders when I get to the lift line.
Roundhouse, Yellow and Treeline Cirque (to the midway point) were spinning today at Alpine Meadows. The park was open and I caught a few shots while on my way to Treeline Cirque. According to the Mountain Dashboard that you can access online and on the app, Squaw Valley is only allowing access to the lower mountain but that is sure to change after the next storm hits the Sierra. It is definitely helpful to check out the app, the website and/or social media for the latest openings.
It has been nice to BYOB and pack some meat and cheese for the chairlift this season. Although I noticed a larger crowd at Alpine, there was more room to spread out on the mountain. Looking up at Alpine Bowl and the area underneath Summit, you can tell we need at least one more storm to be able to open the majority of the upper mountain.
Although this season will certainly be like no other, everyone seems to be enjoying outdoor dining, bringing lunch, and a little BYOB après on the tailgate while taking in the Sierra sun. Both sides of the mountain have enough terrain to get out there with the crew or the family and get those legs ready for the deeper days on the way.
During the last run I took on Saturday afternoon the sun was shining and the snow was fast and easy to carve if you chose the right lines. People were audibly laughing and it echoed through the peaks. I heard families hooting and hollering through Alpine Meadows’ moss-covered trees that layer the rocky amphitheaters surrounding Scott Chair and most of the other lifts that access the higher parts of the resort. Scott Chair always holds snow but needs a Sierra storm or two before it is skiable.
Alpine Meadows also had the terrain park open and groms to moms, dads and even the little ones were sending it for the camera. I caught a few looks at the upper mountain and although I was optimistic there was enough snow up top to open, I got a closer look at the bowl underneath Summit which is currently too rocky to safely open. In the meantime, we will have to wash the truck, take off the snow tires, and do the snow dance because more snow means more terrain opening. If you get out this week please let me know in the comments and I will be back next week for more updates from SVAM.