Search and Ye Shall Receive @ Kirkwood

Casey Cane | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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For the fourth year in a row, the snowpack in Tahoe is lackluster for this time of year. Thankfully, Kirkwood received just enough snow to open 100% of their mountain from the storms to date. Unfortunately, we received some mixed precipitation and heavy Eastern winds during the last two weeks. The conclusion? Well, the entire Sierra now encompasses everything from blue ice, rain crusts, rain-runneled faces, wind scraped ridgelines BUT ALSO some miraculous wind-buff, protected powder, and perfect corn.

On January 4th, I scattered around and traversed every aspect of Kirkwood to see what I could find. Not stoked by the heavy cloud cover and flat-light, I was however, impressed to find great winter snow in Oops and Chamoix off Chair 6. There was even more consistent wintery snow in and around Thunder Saddle. However, everywhere else in between was a bit hit or miss depending on aspect and if completely sheltered.

Eventually, I ventured out in the backcountry to do some recon in the West Shore area to see firsthand whether the various lines out there were in play. As I traversed into Boulevard Chute, I noticed a nasty rain crust on the skiers right side from the summit so I decided to retreat. On the traverse out, however, I noticed the skiers left hand side had corned up nicely and felt very supportable. Figuring that if I skied safely and used the whole slope in a slow and cautious manner, Iā€™d be down out of harms way in only a few turns. As it turned out, the upper slope skied better with releasable snow while the crux of the chute turned into near bulletproof. My guess is that the whole chute slid earlier in the year because the rocks that are usually showing in the crux were completely buried.

Bottom line ā€“ I had a blast skiing those classic January conditions in Tahoe!

…but I wouldn’t mind a few more storms – just sayin’

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In the Early AM, the day was looking quite nice…

Lake Tahoe – January 4th, 2015

But when a grabbed the camera to head to the beach, the dark clouds meant that I wasn’t going to get that much needed January tan…

Doom and gloom

As I got closer to Kirkwood, it was apparent that my bluebird expectations would be shut down…

Caples Lake


I did manage a few early fast laps down my favorite steep groomer before heading into the woods…

Upper Zachary


I was surprised to find that my usual stomping grounds were still holding some wintery fun…

Lower Oops and Poops


Hell, I even found a pow slash…

Soft and fluffy

Sadly, the snow was too firm on The Wall for patrol to open it up for the day…

Terrain at Kirkwood Mountain

Oops Face yielded a sketchy traverse above exposure…

The Oops ‘extreme traverse’


However, around the corner, I found wintery snow and some air…

Wintery fun


As I headed to the backside, the sun popped out for a wee bit…

Kirkwood Cirque – January 4th, 2015


I really wanted to get a good luck at the coverage of the West Shore sidecountry, so I traversed out beyond Fawn Ridge…

Peak 9795 & California Chutes

I peered down Boulevard and it looked tasty but the snow on the right was rain crusted garbage, so I decided to back out until…

Boulevard – West Shore

…I noticed that the left side was more corn-like, so I gave it a go.

Conditions = not ideal


On the way out, I peeked up at Broadway Chute but the snow and the middle cliff looked nasty…

Broadway – West Shore


The Fin Zone and Corner Zone looked even worse…

Fin Zone – West Shore

Boulevard is the chute in the middle that ‘goes’…

West Shore steeps – January 4th, 2014

Back at the resort, I found some fun turns in Thunder Saddle…

Thunder Saddle – Kirkwood


For some odd reason The Handrail was calling my name, so I went for it…

Handrail – Kirkwood


Definitely the lowest tide I’ve skied it, but it wasn’t terribly bad…

Handrail fun at Kirkwood

Back on Chair 6, I decided to ski some more dramatic lines…that were close to being frozen solid.

Ski School Chute


The groomers actually skied extremely well for carvin’…

Piste warrior


Monte Wolf on the other hand was a bit firm…

Ice bumps for days

The Fingers are aesthetic lines…but not terribly fun when frozen.

The Fingers – Kirkwood


But that rock wall on the right is so damn cool…

Helmets are a skier’s best friend


On the way to Rabbits and Lightning, I snapped a pic of the Jim’s area…

Jim’s ridge – Kirkwood


Lightning is located past Rabbit Runs and has a few more features to get your extreme on…

Lightning run – Kirkwood

Reports that I have read indicate that the last few days have been extremely warm and certain aspects have corned nicely. I would not be surprised, however, if some of that winter snow can still be found lurking in the deepest realms of Kirkwood.

ZE END


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4 thoughts on “Search and Ye Shall Receive @ Kirkwood

  1. Way to get after it dude. The conditioning look nothing short of heinous but you don’t give a s!@$

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