This time of year the best chances for good early skiing are either off the Mt. Rose Highway or Carson Pass. A few skiers sessioned Sugar Bowl’s Mt. Lincoln this week and reported a quality 14 inch or so run, while many snow sliders left tracks in the Hourglass zone or inbounds terrain off Rose. Reports confirmed about 12 to 18 inches was the tops for snowfall around the northern reaches of the Lake, while the southern tip offered up to a foot more in select spots above 8500’.
Rocks, tree stumps, and generally shallow early season conditions are in charge right now, but there are also some great stashes of fresh snow out there ready to see tracks. The highest quality skiing I found this week was in terrain that stretches from Carson Pass down to Kirkwood. The shallow snowpack obstacles are alive and well, but a few shots of 2 feet of fresh sufficed for a couple of quality early November powder days.
While Carson Pass as a whole still needs a bit more coverage, the east bowl of Elephant’s Back is holding just enough to qualify for a few hundred vertical feet of great turns. Rock skis are probably a good idea. Not so much for the bowl as for the ski out down to Red Lake. But it’s worthy, and there’s even a few technical lines that are borderline doable after these first few storms. There are some great lines that have a high difficulty factor in low snow conditions off the East face of Elephants’ Back. They are kind of reminiscent of some early season lines at Squaw, like in the Pocket, or how the Palisades ski in December as opposed to April.
A bit further south, Kirkwood reported they received anywhere from 28-32 inches and thankfully they were not lying. It’s definitely challenging terrain to ski early season due to the plethora of sharp lava rocks that make up a good portion of the terrain down there, and it’s quite a ride if you’re up in Truckee, but right now there are several runs that are holding great skiing and worth the trip. A couple of friends and I lapped several different aspects on the mountain and were able to ski really good snow everywhere we went.
We don’t have too much action if our local forecast for the next week or so, but if you’re looking to get out in the snow and make some turns it might be worth the trip down south. Otherwise, it looks like Rose will have to do till maybe the 19th or so when we hopefully get a dump that’ll open up more options. Till then, and before the east winds strip everything we got, why not bust out the rock sticks and get a couple of laps in? If anything it’ll get you motivated to take care of all those little checklist items you need to dial before the season sets in, and you’ll get that taste back of how good it feels to slide through fresh snow.