Lake Tahoe, CA, Backcountry Report: Big Mountain Skiing in Perfect Powder Above an Azure Lake Tahoe

Miles Clark | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from March 8, 2023

Yesterday, we awoke to a blizzard.

Swirling winds, blasting snow, unplowed roads.

All the snow came starting about an hour before dawn and it was already 8″ deep in town.

Palisades Tahoe announced they’d be closed for the day due to extreme weather.

The last time this happened (last Tuesday), but played it safe and stayed home and stayed mellow.

We weren’t about to do that again…

We hoped in the car, ripped through the blower powder in the unplowed streets and headed to the best backcountry zone we could think of.

The driving was rowdy…

Only a few brave souls made it all the way to the spot.

We flowed uphill not knowing what to expect.

We knew it was blower powder, but how deep?

Would we hit bottom?

Colors. image: snowbrains

Would it be good?

We soon found out.

We dropped in with low expectations and ended up having a life experience…

Fox’s face after Run #1 (Chris Pratt meme)

Fox and I looked at each other like that Chris Pratt happy meme.

We were speechless.

We’d planned on 1 run and out but Fox said:  “Oh, were doin’ another”

Fox. image: snowbrains

This time, we decided to go to the top and try a new zone.

With renewed energy, we made the top quickly.

Miraculously, the sun came out.

Lakeview. image: snowbrains

A group was digging a pit where I initially wanted to drop in so we bumped over.

Then, unexpectedly, another group dropped in right where we’d planned on going.

That just pushed us deeper into avalanche terrain.

Headed home. image: snowbrains

We dug, we tested, we jumped, we ski cut.


We knew it was aggressive, but we felt confident in the tests, ski cuts, and previous tracks we’d observed.

“Yell avalanche on the radio if you see anything move, OK?”

Having a look. image: snowbrains

I dropped first.

I decided to point it over the initial convexity in an attempt not to trigger anything.

It was so deep and a touch punchy that my tips dove deep and I almost fell forward at speed.

Fox putting it the work. image: snowbrains

I pulled my tips out of the snow and bashed a left turn that sent dry snow exploding into the air.

I knew right then that it was gonna be good.

From there I kept as much speed as possible and only looked over my shoulder (avalanche check) twice.

California is gorgeous. image: snowbrains

The snow billowed and frothed from under my skis before the wind grabbed it and dashed it into the rocks.

I curled around Big Rock and tucked in to assure an end to my exposure to avalanche terrain.

The snow was sublime.

Fox going to the sun. image: snowbrains

I turned until I ran out of angle then drifted to a stop.

I told Fox that he should punch it down the middle but avoid the wind spines on the skier’s right.

He skied it like a boss.

Fox down. image: snowbrains

We were pretty freaked out at the bottom.

It was a lot to take in.

We chilled, ate, drank, and talked through the experience.

Texture. image: snowbrains

Once settled, we skinned back up for one more lower lap in the blower pow.

Run #3 was exquisite.

We drove home happy and continued our apres ski tour at Front Street Pizza (again).

Front Street Pizza. image: snowbrains

I got the Thai Chicken Pizza (again) and a carne asada burrito (again).

Both were delicious and I didn’t have to eat again that day.

Yesterday was the official end of the blower powder cycle in Lake Tahoe.

Frozen. image: snowbrains

It lasted about 2 weeks and we did all we could to ski as much of it as humanly possible.

We’re exhausted…

Rain is forecast tonight and tomorrow and we couldn’t be happier.

Ode to Garret C. image: snowbrains

We need a rest day and it looks like we’ll finally get a big old rainy rest day tomorrow.

From here on out, it’s gonna be the usual wet and warm California storms that we know and love.

Thanks, California!


image: sierra avalanche cetner, 3/10/23


image: noaa, 3/9/23


Fox in the deep skinner. image: snowbrains
Miles skiing above Lake Tahoe, CA. image: snowbrains
Skinner. image: snowbrains
Fox inspection. image: snowbrains
It’s going blue… image: snowbrains
Fox up. image: snowbrains
There’s big blue! image: snowbrains
Frozen. image: snowbrains
Fox and lake. image: snowbrains
Miles skiing above lake tahoe, california. image: snowbrains
Fox. image: snowbrains
Fox. image: snowbrains
Fox and friends. image: snowbrains

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