Last year I skied Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows for the first time and we blown away. I went back this year and skied Alpine Meadows two days in February. I was there just in time for a Sierra Cement dump that caused a partial shutdown of the resort on a Friday and Saturday.
Driving my sister’s Hyundai with no snow tires, I made it up the slightly inclined road leading to Alpine Meadows, begging the cars in front of me to not slow down too much, or I wouldn’t be able to start going again. I crested a hill and found a line of unmoving traffic. I crept forward as cars bailed from the queue, hearing the snowpatrol blasting for avalanches above us. Finally, the line started moving and I found a parking spot. My early start didn’t pay off, I arrived after opening chair. Walking to the ticket office, I saw the main chair wasn’t spinning yet. I called my friend Kelsey who’s a coach for the free ride comp that supposed to be going on. The ski area hadn’t cleared the lifts yet…so everyone is just chilling in the lodge. I end up sleeping on the lodge floor till the lifts finally start spinning around 1pm. I saw another friend, Riley Bathurst, waiting in line and end up jumping on the lift with him. He invited me to ride with him.
The foot of fresh snow was heavier than anything I’ve ever skied. It’s called Sierra Cement for a reason. But it was a fun couple hours of skiing one lift (the management, KSL, couldn’t get the rest of the mountain open).
I spent the night on Kelsey’s couch and got to Alpine early Saturday. The line of traffic from San Francisco had already started, but was much worse at Squaw. Again, the lifts were not running when I got there. Lifts were supposed to open at 8:30, but this was the Roundhouse Express line around 9:30am…no one moving.
The Hot Wheels lift was spinning, but it only accessed a flat flat green run, so I didn’t give it any thought. Finally, around 9:45 Roundhouse started loading. I was close-ish to the front of the line and immediately made my way to the Scott Chair, which accessed the best terrain that would be open. The line was already HUGE! I made the (wrong) decision to not get in the singles line, and wait amongst the groups. Finally, the Scott Chair started loading. I watched the first few skiers get to enjoy surprisingly light, deep snow. Despite not getting any new snow, the cement must have had frozen over night and gotten lighter. I then spend 45 minutes watching the beautiful face get all-but-completely skied out. It was even more painful because I watched the guy from Chair 2 make 3 laps through the singles line before I made it onto the chair. Painful.
I found an unskied line through some cliff bands and made it back to Scott Chair. Now the singles line started about 100 yards away from the the lane dividers, giving me another 45 minute wait. I skied a few more lines, waiting 45 minutes each time, and decided I’d had enough queuing.
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but resort skiing on a weekend sucks. It was made worse by terrible management not knowing how to deal with actual snowfall. They had advertised like crazy around California for how much snow they were getting, but when everyone came for said snow, they couldn’t open more than 2 lifts? We were told they couldn’t open Summit Express because of wind gusts of….wait for it….35 MPH!!! No resort in Colorado would have any lifts running if they had to shut down because of 35mph winds.
I took one more run down a different side and called it quits. In two days of skiing, I got maybe 5 hours of actual ride time in. I love the terrain at Squaw/Alpine, but they’ve got to figure their operations out if they want people to keep coming back.
Some of that sticky Sierra Cement.
Sorry for the complaining, just needed to get that out.