Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homewood Resort renovation Master Plan

For those of you that haven't heard, Homewood Resort (West Shore) wants to make major upgrades to their Base and Mid-Mountain areas.  Their most recent master plan submission (Oct. 2011) includes Base improvements of a new lodge, hotel, condos, restaurant, parking structure, grocery store, hardware store and ice rink.  Mid-Mountain upgrades include a new lodge, gondola terminal, ski lift, outdoor pool and maintenance facilities.

This is an ambitious plan that will totally change the look of Homewood and the surrounding neighborhood.  The next meeting to voice your concerns or support is scheduled for December 14th, at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board at 9:30am, Granlibakken, Tahoe City.

Homewood is currently closed (lack of snow) with lift prices "TBD".


Tahoe Reginal Planning Agency

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ritz-Carlton at NorthStar makes Top 10

The Ritz-Carlton Highlands Lake Tahoe, sited at NorthStar California (previously NorthStar at Tahoe) was opened in 2009.  It sits mid mountain with ski-in,ski-out access.  It boosts 153 rooms, 16 suites and 4 other larger suites.  Amenities include a pool, spa, fitness center, meeting rooms and valet parking.  Pet friendly rooms are available upon request.

The Conde Naste Traveler ranks the Ritz as the number 10 top resort in the US.  I have never heard of Conde Naste, but it is apparently known to the "discriminating" traveler.  Conde says guests are "coddled by the stellar service, kicking off their skis at the ski concierge area, ordering cocktails from the poolside hot tub, heated pool, fire pits", etc.  I have visited the Ritz a number of times for drinks apres ski.  Maybe it was just me and my friends, but each time we came away with the opinion:  We payed how much for what service?  Maybe the service is better at the poolside hot tub.

See for yourself:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tahoe bikeway plan moving forward

For those of you who didn't know, there's a plan to build a 75 mile bike path around Lake Tahoe.  The bikeway is promoted by the "Tahoe Fund".  Their estimated cost to complete the project is $82.9 million dollars.  The fund's goal is to collect $68.1 million dollars.  The Tahoe Fund has been taking private donations and government funds for a number of years.  Most recently, they received $5 million in bond money from Washoe, Douglass and Carson counties. 

Construction is set to begin on a section along Hwy 50 from the casinos going North, past the Safeway to Round Hill Pines.  Round Hill Pines is just South of Zephyr Cove.  

Tahoe Fund:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Truckee: Paddling Prosser

The perfect thing to do on these limited ski days is to go for a paddle.  I was on Prosser yesterday and I had the whole lake to myself.  The lake was like glass and the views were spectacular.  The snow is right down to water's edge (in the shadows).  I came across several ice flows.  Surprisingly, the ice was too thick to crack with the boat or paddle.

Ice flow on Prosser 11/24/2011
Before you go this winter, remember to dress warm.  Long pants and shirt with gloves is a must.  The lake levels (Donner, Bocca, and Prosser) are very low right now for storage next spring.  Therefore, many of your favorite launch points may be high and dry.  I find the ramp before the dam on Prosser Dam Road to be convenient because you can still drive down nearly to the water.  The GPS coordinates are:  N39 22.496 by W120 09.248 

I can't wait to try it when the snow is falling!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Historic Truckee in the snow

                     Video shot 11/20/11
If you haven't been through Truckee in a while, it's time.  The snow has fallen and the shops are open.  Take a walk around.  It's fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Road Construction on Hwy 80 to Tahoe

The construction projects are no longer an issue.  The 71 million dollar Donner Summit to Donner Lake project is "complete"  The 167 million dollar Emigrant Gap project will continue through 2013.  However, all lanes are open and there is no longer a traffic split with the 55 mph speed limit.

The rest areas at Donner Summit will finally be open.  The prior 1966 rest areas that were torn down have been replaced with new larger and warmer facilities.  The West bound rest area has just opened.   The East bound rest area is set to open around the first of December.  The reported cost of the two rest stops is $12.5 million dollars.

Truckee Weather

CalTrans traffic camera link

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sugar Bowl set to open

Sugar Bowl's opening day is set for Thursday, November 24th.  They are reporting a 20 inch base at the top with 16 inches at the bottom.  This is a very limited opening with only two lifts running, Jerome Hill and White Pines.  There is no access to the upper peaks.  Special pricing for this one day only is set at $52 for adults, $45 for young adults, and $20 for children.  Pricing is "to be determined" for the following days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Donner Lake in winter

Nov.21st Donner Lake

I had a little time in the morning before skiing, so I decided to take a short hike.  I arrived at the East end of Donner lake at 7:30am.  It was 19 degrees!  Just as the sun rose, fog developed on the water, producing an eerie, mystical scene filled with bird life.  Within the span of 15 minutes I saw, ducks, geese, gulls, and Egrets.  The real reward was to witness a low pass from a Bald Eagle.  The eagles are regular inhabitants of Donner Lake, but I've never seen one fly silently out of the mist. 

If you have a little time to spend, try walking to the East end of the lake for a little bird watching. You can park on Donner Pass Road near the East Beach day use area to avoid the State Park fee.  It's only a 100 yard walk through the trees to the beach.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skiing NorthStar

Well, I made it to the slopes today.  The snow was very good, maybe 6-8 inches of fresh powder.  They opened the lifts (all three) early today so I was skiing by 8:15am.  Not much to ski really, essentially just 4 runs.  However, the snow was great and there were very few people. 

The temps were in the  high 20's with constant snow until 11:00am.  I quit about then (the lines were forming) and got a cold one at mid mountain.  I took the gondola down because the runs down to the Village are still closed. 

Was it worth it?  Sure, if you have a pass.  Oherwise, we need another storm or two.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

High winds yesterday at Tahoe

There were high winds in the Sierra yesterday, blowing snow sideways, fanning the flames at the Reno Pinehaven fire and causing huge waves on Tahoe.   I hope everyone got their boats out of the water and their patio furniture stored.  The winds were reported to be gusting to 55 mph in Truckee.  View the waves (Tahoe Vista) at the following KCRA link:

Tahoe Huge Waves 11-18-2011 via

Friday, November 18, 2011

Annual Truckee Turkey Trot Run cancelled by Town.

Three days before the annual Turkey Trot, scheduled to be run Nov. 13th, I got an email of cancellation.  Reason:  Due to safety concerns of slippery roads.  I really enjoy this low key race with pumpkin pie for awards.  This event has been an annual fund raiser for the Auburn Ski Club for 34 years.   

This year was a little different.  The Ski Club had to take out a permit from the Town of Truckee.  This caused another layer of oversight that had never existed in the past.  The Town Manager, Tony Lashbrook, said it was the Truckee Police Department that made the decision to cancel the race due to safety concerns.  Apparently a little snow on the road is unsafe for pedestrians.  I guess Chief Sensley must use the drive-up windows.

According to the Auburn Ski Club's website, several participants showed up anyway and ran the event.  No one got hurt and 12 of the participants (self timed of course) have their times listed on the Club's website.  That's what I call a fun run!

Auburn Ski Club website:

Pinehaven fire burning in Southwest Reno

An early morning fire in Southwest Reno has consumed some 400 acres.  The fire is in the Caughlin Ranch area off South McCrarran Blvd. near Skyline Blvd. and Lakeside Drive.  The fire is still burning out of control, hampered by very high winds in the area.

Most Washoe County Schools (except in the Incline area) have been closed.  Two evacuation centers have been set up at local Reno High Schools.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Resorts are opening and snow is falling.

Weeks ago Heavenly and NorthStar announced their opening day of November 18th.  At the time, this seemed very optimistic .  Now it sounds like a good idea.  Boreal has been open (on a limited basis) for several days.  Currently they have a full top to bottom run open.

The low overnight temperatures have allowed the resorts to make snow for several days now.  A storm is slated to drop ten inches of snow this weekend.  Perfect for Heavenly and NorthStar's opening.

I checked with other resorts to determine their opening day.  Squaw Valley (now part of Alpine Meadows, though I hear escrow hasn't closed) is scheduled to open November 23rd.  Alpine Meadows is not reporting an opening day.  Sugar Bowl hasn't set a date, but they are "closely following conditions and updating everyone with opening day plans".  Homewood has no opening  day set.  In fact, Homewood has an employment Job Fair scheduled for November 19th.  Mount Rose and Kirkwood are not reporting an opening day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2009 downtown Truckee snowstorm.

This is an older video I made of a good snowstorm in downtown Truckee.  After the storm the area was awash in fresh powder and sunshine.  I shot additional video along the Truckee River south of town on the Truckee Legacy Trail.

Extreme skier Jamie Pierre dies in avalanche.

An expert backcountry extreme skier died in the area of Snowbird Utah last Sunday afternoon. Pierre appeared in videos from Waren Miller, Matchstick Productions, and Gravity Research.  He was well know for his 2006 record breaking cliff drop of 255 feet.

Pierre died at the age of 38 in an avalanche.  He left behind his wife and two children.

Fall is making way for winter.

With Boreal already open and NorthStar slated for opening this weekend, it seems like winter is almost here.  There is still some snow on the ground from the last storm and another storm is headed our way this weekend.  It's time to dig out your ski gear and get ready to hit the slopes.