There's been great skiing in the local Tahoe backcountry this past week. From spring snow to winter snow there was a little bit of everything out there. State of the Tahoe Backcountry 2012: IV | Sponsored by Cloudveil | Unofficial Networks

State of the Tahoe Backcountry 2012: IV | Sponsored by Cloudveil

State of the Tahoe Backcountry 2012: IV | Sponsored by Cloudveil

ALL

State of the Tahoe Backcountry 2012: IV | Sponsored by Cloudveil

By

There’s been great skiing in the local Tahoe backcountry this past week. From spring snow to winter snow there was a little bit of everything out there. 

As you can see in the shot above, taken while skinning up the south side of Castle Peak, coverage isn’t looking all that bad for an area surviving off of one major storm. As the sun came out at the start of last week chasing corn was the name of the game. In that light my buddy Jeff and I figured we’d head out to the Frog Lake Cliffs and see what we could get into. The east facing aspect held the promise of soft snow and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. Of course the greater zone is relatively thin, but the main chute splitting the cliff was just wide enough for a few nice turns at the top,

and a little tight negotiating in the middle.

The terrain on the way out was what got us the most excited, however, as anyone that’s skied in the area knows the billygoating and other complex line potential is through the roof. Plaster is necessary-maybe by spring?

As we skinned out of the zone we took in some great views to the north and made our way back to Castle Peak

where the north side is holding a good grip of snow.

One of the most prominent observations I made while out in our local backcountry this week was testing and noticing the slow breakdown of the crust that had formed on most north aspects. Couple this with the trend of the warm temperatures changing to cold, and a lot of the moisture in our snowpack started to slowly get sucked out. Little by little north aspects started going from a thin crust, to a zipper crust, to the eventually recrystallized powder now found on a lot of sheltered north facing aspects in our forecast area. The tour I was able to do with Tahoe badass Todd Offenbacher was the best of both worlds since we found a little bit of sweet corn, and a little bit of nice winter snow as well. 

The plan was to ski from Carson Pass to Kirkwood. We started with the regular tour out towards Round Top and the Sisters after shuttling our cars,

and even though we walked casually it took a fair amount of time before we could ski the multi-thousand foot shot of corn off the backside of Sister 1.

The SW aspect which is a more direct fall line wasn’t even soft enough at midday, but thankfully the S-SE shot was.

We continued touring and passed by several other bowls, peaks, and worthy ski objectives en route to Kirkwood. Hopefully people have either had the fortune of meeting Todd, or have at least attended the Tahoe Adventure Film Festival he puts on each year. Needless to say he’s an amazing climber, and knows this section of our backcountry ski zone well. With coverage above 8500′ exceptionally better in Tahoe this season than lake level, based on our one big storm, this is definitely a good spot to earn some turns if you’re looking for diverse ski terrain not too far from home.

As we crested our last up for the day we stopped on the shoulder of Emigrant Peak, an area Kirkwood locals can easily get to from Chair 4. There are some really nice chutes and other fun terrain to ski in this area, and going on Todd’s gut, we skied a north facing chute that held great winter snow with a high quality apron to the lake below.

We had succeeded in our mission of going on a truly scenic, 5-Star local backcountry tour, skied some powder and corn, and even got an extra bonus lap in at Kirkwood before heading to the car for some cold beers. This is a tour I’d highly recommend for anyone out there looking for a good walk, great skiing, with some exceptional views. It’s really not that big of a day, taking into account the car shuttle between Carson Pass and Kirkwood, and it’ll really open up your eyes to great ski terrain heading south from the Carson Pass area.

By the turn of the weekend and on into this week the spring snow has been a bit more elusive to catch, but as I mentioned above the north facing terrain came back into play. In fact, while searching for some corn on Rose Knob my partner and I actually bailed en route to ski the relatively small swath of north trees  because it was just too cold for the snow to really soften. It was a good call. The last few days have been similar in terms of stretches on the West Shore and other areas around Tahoe supporting soft winter snow in the right north-facing sheltered locations.

Looking at the rest of the week temps will jump a bit to the high 40’s, then fall below 40 as a high by next week. Normal caution is advised regarding avalanche danger, which remains low. There’s a little dusting going on right now, Tuesday evening, after temps really warmed up during the day when the forecast had initially called for colder air to be in place.  No other precipitation is forecasted, but you already know that. Just don’t succumb to the low snow totals and see what you can find out there. You’ll be happy you did.

 

More Unofficial Networks