Alpine Meadows, CA Report: Sleeper Pow Day to End 2020

Galen Carrico | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

This report is from December 31st, 2020, at Alpine Meadows, California. 

Brought to you by Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows.

Alpine Meadows reported 4 inches of light, dry powder on the morning of New Year’s Eve, and the Sierra winds created some deeper stashes in the higher bowls and North facing terrain that make this resort so unique. I expected “a dust on crust day,” but everything was filled in really nicely to end 2020. Alpine Meadows has seemingly endless North-facing terrain, so the skiing was good almost everywhere. Most of the mountain was packed powder and “chunder,” but there were also fresh tracks to be found late into the afternoon since most people left early due to the holiday.

A foggy ride up to the summit. Photo: Galen Carrico

The day started foggy at the Summit, and the Roundhouse lift opened at first but then had maintenance issues until just before noon. Yellow had other issues and shut down around 10:15 am. Fortunately, those issues appear to have been resolved before the weekend. 

The steep and deep. Photo Credit: Jesse Thurber and Galen Carrico

Although it was not really crowded, it was a day that required patience in the Summit line and Treeline Cirque, but the snow and gorgeous weather more than made up for any delays. In general, this year has required more patience in the lift lines, and everyone seems to be embracing that because we are lucky to have the mountain open and great snow to ski. With that said, I want to point out that the SVAM crew, from the lifties and parking lot crew to SVAM COO Ron Cohen, who has been seen handling stop sign duties on Summit, are doing a great job under the circumstances and have set things up for skiers and riders to enjoy the mountain safely. Fortunately, most of the mountain is now open, and I’m optimistic that maybe after a few more storms, they might be able to open Lakeview and/or Sherwood in the coming weeks.

Alpine Meadows’ upper bowls provide seemingly endless options from the Summit lift. Photo: GC

The sun came out in full force just before mid-day, and we took some long runs near Wolverine and Beaver Bowls to get as many fresh turns as we could find on the way back to Summit. We would take about 4 or 5 turns down and then traverse to find more fresh powder. Although Kangaroo (the Roo!) was not spinning, it held some nice snow on the way back down to the lifts.

Alpine has incredible tree skiing. Photo: Galen Carrico

It was honestly a magical day on the slopes, and we laughed and shredded until the sun started to creep below the higher peaks. It seems like we have had fresh snow nearly every week, and the forecast looks promising once again. Not to get greedy, but we ideally need 2-3 big storms to cover up many larger rocks and downed trees. I would caution you to be careful out there. My friend Jesse got a nice core shot after I scraped all the snow off of a small drop off near Yellow Chair.

Hitting some small drops near Yellow Chair. You can see the culprit… Photo: GC
Core shot! It’s still a bit shallow out there. Photo: GC

During the last few years, I have really experienced how incredible skiing can be at Alpine Meadows. There is something for everyone, but my favorite part of this ski area is how many lines you can access via a quick hike or a little exploration. Summit Six accesses a mind-boggling amount of terrain, but the fun really starts when the full mountain is open.

It is important to have avalanche safety training and carry the necessary gear (shovel, beacon, probe, backpack). You must also be able to understand and read the avalanche hazards/report on any given day if you are going to journey out to the serious lines Alpine Meadows offers. It is important to always ski with a partner and let someone know where you are going if something happens.

Today, on January 3, 2020, Alpine Meadows reported 2 inches of snow, so today should be an epic bluebird day just like the afternoon on this report. Pray for snow, and keep your eye on the forecast!




Tim the Wolfman!
Terrain park: Credit: GC

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