Dust On Crust = Ripping Skiing @ Squaw Valley | Conditions Report & Photo Tour

Jesse Cassidy | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Andrew Dropping into National
Andrew Dropping into National

With an entire 1/8th of an inch of fresh snow on Wednesday, the conditions at Squaw were most certainly dust on crust. The skiing however was still ripping, variable, but quite fun. The conditions remained firm all day up top with pockets here and there of fresh soft windblown snow. Down near the base the skiing was weird, either slushy or bulletproof, sending most people up high in search of soft turns. And with ski skate week in full swing, Squaw saw much more traffic for a Wednesday than usual, lines however were kept short all day.


National Chute in the Palisades was the go to run, and was skiing great all day. Tower 16 softened up and resulted in soft creamy turns, as did Sun Bowl by the end of the day. Hogs Back had the best pockets of windblown soft with chalky turns in between. The entire mountain is skiing great for the most part, and with a solid base everywhere, it’s nice to have options once again. The Pocket is currently looking prime and untouched, hopefully Emigrant opens soon or Patrol opens the hike up. The forecast is looking at warm temps and sun for the next week out, while some snow would be nice, the base up high is solid and not going anywhere for a while.

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5 thoughts on “Dust On Crust = Ripping Skiing @ Squaw Valley | Conditions Report & Photo Tour

  1. Had a great time on KT today, finally, west face opened, albeit with much hesitation over the past couple of weeks.

    I wish to reach out to the both of you in a positive and intelligent manner about a few things about mountain operations because I realize it is you both that are actually running ops, as the CEO really doesn’t have much practical experience in this department and it is quite obvious.
    To start, okay, slow openings on the showcase areas of Squaw after the last storm event, better late than never, big organization, coordination all that. Not the best opening of these premier areas but it has been a rough go.

    Headwall ramp line took a while to get up to shape, finally someone figured out the snowmaking guns at the bottom of the ramp would actually be an excellent use of that available resource to fill in what mother nature had not.

    Bottom of Mtn run at KT base is ridiculous and atrocious, dangerous and quite frankly stupid how patrol and mtn ops have cordoned off the area with nylon fencing. Guys, for the last 30 years, you still haven’t been able to figure it out yet. C’mon, instead of running nylon fencing perpendicular across a congested area creating more congestion and danger for guests, you really need to rethink this approach and reapply the equipment in a more sound and logical manner as to logical traffic flow.
    Think about highway offramps and how traffic flows smoothly instead of abruptly coming to a screeching halt as witnessed year after year at Squaw. Fencing should be parallel with traffic patterns and signage should be re-worded to have a dedicated lane for “thru traffic”, (a.k.a. back to KT lift line), and another separate dedicated lane for slow traffic, like when snowboarders have to stop at the big tree and unbuckle after coming to a stop, or parents with young kids will no longer have to be in the ‘line of fire’ of riders making it back to KT line. Just visualize this manner of traffic flow akin to highway traffic control and offramps. It makes better sense and is much more logical.

    Secondly, about expert terrain closures being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. This is and has been continually as of the modern era of Squaw, post Mr. Cushing, a major disappointment for most of us truly expert skiers. It all boils down to proper information and signage for the non expert skier. Nobody wants to see anybody get injured while engaging in something so fun as skiing and riding, but c’mon guys, expert means expert only plain and simple, and Squaw needs better advocacy and awareness in it’s operations to keep less experienced ability riders away from terrain that is beyond their ability. Plain and simple, not everybody deserves a trophy because not everyone is exceptional. This should hold true for expert terrain at Squaw. Maybe it’s time we start to see some double black diamonds, or even perhaps triple black. It would only make it better for experts and safer for the non experts. Point being, today was Tuesday, really quiet, locals only, and patrol closed the west face at 3:30, with no rock garden at prime time, yet kept east faces open after that terrain transitioned back to freezing. Seems very illogical from an operations safety standpoint if you ask anyone.

    Speaking of keeping Squaw safe. I have an issue trying to speak of your CEO in a positive manner in light of the recent changes to the trail maps of Squaw’s rated terrain. It seems in the CEO’s efforts to ‘expand’ more intermediate terrain for the family clientele, Granite Chief has become a blue square/intermediate area of Squaw. This is absolutely wrong and can only open Squaw up to injury liability especially in a low snow year such as this. If Shirley Lake is designated as an intermediate area, than how can Granite Chief be accessed safely by intermediate skiers knowing that most people have a inflated sense of their ability that is often above reality? C’mon guys, Squaw’s CEO is not an operations man, never has been, marketing background guy, he only is the public face of Squaw and wants to develop condos. You both are operations men and I would think in prudence of all of your combined experience you would be able to keep things like this from happening in opposition to a purely marketing perspective. Thus the contradiction of expert terrain being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator to keep people from venturing beyond their ability and yet exposing people to the potential of becoming seriously injured due to expert terrain being re-designated to intermediate terrain, exposing people of less capable skills to potential serious injury. Where is the logic in that? Does Squaw’s liability insurers know about this change? Bet they wouldn’t ignore it nor not raise premiums because of it.

    I hope you both get a chance to read this and understand that these are the little but potentially major things that can either keep Squaw continually above the rest in quality and experience for skiers in the Tahoe basin now and in the future or have a major negative backlash in many regards.

    Thanks for all of your dedication and hard work that you and all your employees do that make Squaw great. Let’s look at these issues to keep Squaw great now and in the future.

    1. While the blue designation of those trails off Granite are ridiculous, to be fair at the bottom of the lift they do have a sign (currently) that says experts only. Does seem to be contradictory however.

  2. This report is spot on. Today (Thursday) was dust on crust. Emigrant lift ran and skied well.
    I would not say the mountain skied well. Mostly frozen except groomers and runs in sun.
    Red Dog and KT22 and Granite Chief stayed frozen.

    1. you are so right, so stay away from KT, never, ever go there,,,,,

      Will the U.S. Olympic Committee make a bid for winter games 2022? Mr. Wirth is still spewing his garbage about bringing the games to Tahoe in 8 years. Will cost tens of billions for infrastructure, where will the $$ come from?

      Seriously, think about it, US OC will risk a bid for winter games that is weather dependent in this day and age of climate change and drought conditions, at a California ski area, when the summer games do not have weather issue considerations at all. Dumb.

      More proof that Wirth is an ego maniacal jerk that is serving only his self interests. There is no way this man is a smart, a.k.a. intelligent business person, in any manner.

      Hey Andy Wirth, GOT WATER!!??

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