Tahoe Backcountry Breakdown: Dust on Crust and The Heaviest Pow You’ll Ever Ski

Keegan Kliman | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report
There's still snow to be found high on the crest
There’s still snow to be found high on the crest

It’s no secret that the skiing conditions in the Tahoe area have been sub-par the past few weeks. That being said, however, if you have a strong sense of adventure and keep your expectations low, there is still fun to be had.

Sasha Zebb making the best of marginal conditions
Sasha Zebb making the best of marginal conditions

Coming off a perfectly timed knee injury and with no end to the high pressure in sight, I figured what better time to get back on the skin track than in prime dust on crust conditions. Not the best decision I’ve ever made. We decided to ski a southeast facing aspect on the west shore last week after a small storm dropped a couple of inches up high and it sucked. We found typical dust on crust conditions with more crust than dust. The skinning conditions were all time though.

 

More crust than dust
More crust than dust; looks can be deceiving

After hearing reports that the east side of the basin had received more snow, we spent some time checking out the Mt. Rose area, which provided surprisingly soft turns on north to northwest aspects. The snow surface primarily consisted of 4-5 inches of recycled powder sitting on top of a nice crunchy crust. Given the ridiculously long dry spell that had been looming over the basin before this weekend’s storm, the turns were awesome.

This is as good as slashes get after a month of high pressure
This is as good as slashes get after a month of high pressure in Tahoe

This seems to be a make it or break it point of the season for us here in Tahoe. The current storm has dropped anywhere from 10-28 inches up high with a few inches of rain mixed in. Forecasters are calling for another foot or so of new snow by Monday night, with snow levels dropping through the rest of tonight (Sunday). If this pans out and the rain gives way to snow, then we will come out of this storm looking pretty good up high. There’s still weak to non-existent coverage below 7500 feet or even higher in spots so keep your elevations high.

The snow (and rain) is stacking up near Donner Pass
The snow (and rain) is stacking up near Donner Pass

The long range forecast models are hinting at a series of cold and strong storms rolling through the Tahoe basin starting around the 17th. For now all we can do is ski some dense and wet powder and cross our fingers in hope that the season in Tahoe finishes with a bang over the next few months. It’s happened before. Just keep sacrificing your pets and locking your girlfriends in the closet; whatever it takes to get mother nature on our side.


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