Report from 18-19 April 2022, and brought to you by Palisades Tahoe
Following a huge weekend of festivities capped off with the annual Cushing Crossing and after-party on the KT sundeck, Monday morning was supposed to mellow. We were expecting another break in the weather patterns before the high winds preceding the next storm arrived later that afternoon.
Acting in her own way Mother Nature changed her plans and instead introduced high winds shortly after 9 am. Only those lucky few riders who were up the hill at the start got their one to two laps in on Siberia, Shirley, or Granite Chief lifts. When yours truly arrived at the top near 9:45 am ski patrol was already announcing all lifts had been placed on wind hold and the Mountain Run was going to it for the day.
Readjusting our morning stoke, we looked ahead to see what we could find on the Mountain Run. Despite the strong winds, temperatures were warm in the mid-40s and the snow was already soft at the top. The snow skied well with some corn farming happening on the upper elevations earlier in the day.
After lunch, however, the snowpack finally hit its peak at the bottom and started to get sticky and slushy. About 2 pm and after nonstop laps, we decided to be safe out there and call it a day.
Overnight the winds seemed to die down and the next storm moved in. Freezing rain and sleet greeted us at dawn then accelerated to snowing heavily near start time. Despite low visibility, our expectations were again high thinking that the upper mountain had received some more snow. Yet at 9 am, ski patrol again cited high winds and announced the Funitel would be the only lift running.
As we exited the Gold Coast station at the top of the Funitel it was obvious that the upper mountain had received 2-3” of heavy, wet powder. This made for some especially fun turns below the Siberia lift on the skier’s far-right. The day was mostly stormy with low visibility which made it hard for charging. But those faithful who stayed all day (myself included) were rewarded with about 1.5 hours of sunshine to close out Tuesday afternoon. Each one of us who stuck it out was smiling ear to ear as we found what we had been looking for… clear skies and soft snow!
The skiing, however, was really only half the story. The wind may have blown in and closed the lifts, but they also seemed to help us bring out the stories as we got cozy on the Funitel rides back up the mountain. Some of the most interesting conversations I overheard or participated in include:
- Austrian couple who had been skiing together for over 62 years!
- Professional ski and kiteboarder.
- Mountain guide who had climbed Everest twice telling his harrowing stories!
- The ski school instructor and her group of 2.5-year-olds were pretty good skiers!
- A local claimed he had skied the mountain for over 35 years.
- A French couple who had broken their goggles and would switch between English and French when they wanted to use profanity to describe their situation!
We also witnessed the aftermath of two natural avalanches on the West Face of KT. As astutely pointed out by our “Everest” guide, the top of Chute 75 slid about a third of the slope and then 5th Alternate also slid almost the entire slope. This avalanche even crossed the Mountain Run where it had since been groomed over. Pretty interesting observation given that KT had been closed now for almost two weeks!
All in all, we accomplished two days of good skiing across a wide range of weather and conditions only to be rewarded in the end with some sun laps and great stories!