Besides an injury, a mistake made at the bars the night before, or forgetting your skis there's really only thing that can taint a foot of fresh, early ups morning at Squaw Valley. That thing is clouds.



The Line of the Week !! - Early Ups on Granite

The Line of the Week

Squaw Valley USA

Granite Peak

Besides an injury, a mistake made at the bars the night before or forgetting your skis, there’s really only one thing that can taint a foot of fresh, early ups morning at Squaw Valley. That thing is clouds.

I got the call the night before and it was nuking out. A crew was assembled and we met at the cable car at 7am.  In Tahoe City the sky was variable. At Squaw Valley it was socked in. Planning a photo shoot with the aim being bluebird skies and deep snow is tough when it’s gray out.

We decided to scrap the early ups as who wants to ski pow alone at Squaw?… Yeah Right!

We went up anyway. The weather changes by the second here and what else were we going to do at this hour? Get in line at KT?

Along with a load of kegs to be delivered to High Camp, we loaded the cable car and headed for Silverado. The light was rough and the snow had a wind layer, but we stopped and shot some frames regardless. It was an unbelievable feeling to have access to Squaw terrain without the pressure of bro’s dropping in on your line.

Early morning Tram up to High Camp - stocked with beer

On our way back up the lift we noticed Granite Peak glowing in the glory of the morning sun. It was audible time. Along with Squaw skier Ben Paciotti, Rylan Cordova and myself broke trail up the Peak in howling winds. At the top we set up some shots and tried to nail down a few things Squaw needed for marketing.  Rylan and Ben laid down some one turn wonders and slashed some spines as we schemed the perfect shot.

The issue we were having was that the snow wasn’t really moving and there was still a grayish hue in the sky. It was a bit too wind affected to have that perfect result. I turned to Ben and asked, “Anything you want to send?” Ben said, “I’ll send anything. How about that?” What was most amusing (from my perspective) was that we had just skied a chute off the top of the Peak and were below the air Ben wanted. “Should I hike back up?”, Ben said. “Sure, if you want to”, I replied.

Ben and Rylan huffed it back to the summit, but the traditional way. They boot packed up the center of the Peak, as it seemed shorter.

Ben Paciotti

While Ben checked out the air, I scoped an angle to shoot. I was a little worried about where he would land. I didn’t want to get landed on. The howling winds made communication difficult. I saw a wave of a pole and a 3-2-1 and saw Ben soar through the air. “When I came off the line to the skiers left earlier, I saw a sick shot opportunity off smooth air right in front of a tree. The lake was situated perfectly in the background. When I hit the take off, I realized the landing was a lot farther out than I thought so I started generating lift the best way I know how… rollin’ up them windows.”Ben Paciotti

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The Line of the Week is a weekly photo piece by Ryan Salm featuring some of Tahoe’s finest athletes doing whatever we deem rad. We will be using the term “Line” loosely to describe anything resembling chutes, big airs, pointers or any general madness. All images are the property and copyright of Ryan Salm Photography. All images are only to be used in conjunction with the Line of the Week. Any other usage must be cleared in writing by Ryan Salm.