After the refresh from last week high elevation spring skiing has been stellar in the Tahoe Backcountry! STATE OF THE TAHOE BACKCOUNTRY 2012: X | SPONSORED BY CLOUDVEIL | Unofficial Networks






A wind event, 6-8″ inches of powder, and some of the best spring snow of the season-it must be May. Although the Sierra snowpack is low and dwindling fast there is some great skiing to be done in Tahoe right now, the Eastern Sierra is looking good at high elevations, and our Cascade neighbors to the north are about to go off. It’s painfully obvious that a vast majority of people are over the 2011-2012 season. That’s totally understandable, but for those of you stoked to get out there’s still  plenty of good skiing and riding to be done.

This past week was a clear sign of the times. A solid wind event brought quality waves to the NE Shore of Tahoe right before the weekend with just enough precipitation behind it to reset high elevation backcountry terrain. This was actually one of those quality wind events where the waves were legit and the session was  more about locking into a good ride rather than if you could catch one. I didn’t have the patience to keep the camera out for long, but check out this wave and line it up with the rocks on the loooker’s right for scale.

I was lucky to link up with a couple of friends for the session. Pat got more than a few good ones as did his brother who was shredding the  swell on a little potato-chip board, making drops, and patiently waiting to smack the lip with style.

While the surf went off for a while, and when I got out no fewer than ten people had all caught waves, just like that the energy started to back off and it was time to head up to Rose and see what kind of snow was falling.

Not bad. About 3-4″ inches new, all wind-pressed, making for a really nice smooth ski and a great local ski-surf linkup.

The next day, however, was the real surprise as there seemed to be no one out in the local backcountry even though it was bluebird with 6-8″ of fresh snow above 8k feet. I say this as the “Hourglass” zone on Mt. Rose is one of the more popular areas to backcountry ski in Tahoe, and we saw exactly five people out there and were not on dawn patrol. Here Katie,

and Aaron show off how good it was. Look at Aaron’s cloud coming out of a mundane turn-it was really good up there!

That afternoon I jumped in with another crew of friends to head south to the Eastside, but upon returning to Tahoe it was clear that in just a few days of strong sun the snowpack was feeling the brunt. Overall, there’s still great skiing to be had in Tahoe, but for the most part you’ll have to stay high. The Mt. Rose area in the north, and Carson Pass in the south will be your best bets. Of course if you’re willing to walk on dirt a bit there’s some truly smooth turns to sniff out after last week’s refresh and solar radiation. Actually, the south side of Tallac offered some of the better spring turns I’ve had all season this past week.

The Crystal Range is still looking good and has been reportedly skiing well,

and if you look closely at the chute Toby and I skied you can see how smooth the surface appears.

It’s definitely even smoother, showcased here by Toby throwing a nice, fast surf turn on the rider’s right wall.

A little more wind and a bunch of sun is forecasted for the next week. Our limited supply of snow will be vanishing fast, but staying high, or heading deep into Desolation will serve you well if you’re looking for some quality local turns this week. Remember that SAC has stopped issuing their daily advisories and to keep spring season safely protocol in mind when traveling in the backcountry. Their last report is linked here, and a piece highlighting the work they do for our backcountry community is linked here. Whether you’re shifting to biking or climbing mode, or are still backcountry skiing, enjoy the solitude as Memorial Day is fast approaching and this is one of the nicer times of the year to be out enjoying all that Tahoe has to offer.


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