Ski season in Lake Tahoe


The Catalyst / Ashley Turner

The Funitel and ticket booth at Palisades Tahoe’s base camp.

While the Bay Area has been facing downpours over the recent month, Lake Tahoe has benefitted from the snowfall. Many ski resorts are reporting to have great snow outcomes and have even broken records. While prices have been running rather high, resorts provide access to various terrains to suit the experience, offer ski and snowboard rentals and even lessons.

California’s drought has had consequences in Lake Tahoe. The last few years have been recorded as the driest years in history and there had been a tragic fire that touched much of south shores’ forest. The lake levels have declined and the water filtered into the Truckee river has not been high in years. The recent rainfall has brought heavy snow to high elevations. While it had been flooding in local cities, Lake Tahoe was receiving as much as 7.5 inches per hour. Fresh snow results in perfect snowboarding conditions.

Originally, skiing was very exclusive to certain families who owned their own cabins that had been in the family for generations. Now, purchasing a cabin is expensive and with the intention of preserving the trees, constructing new communities is not ideal. Many resorts have lodges to provide easy access to the lifts, which shortens the work that many face when hauling their gear to the car. While some avid skiers may have their own cabin to head home to, those who don’t can avoid the single-day trips by making a reservation for a weekend or even a week.

Not only has the accessibility of staying at the lake improved, but snow gear can now be rented at a more affordable price. Many sports stores have begun offering gear for rental, allowing customers to rent and bring the gear up to the mountains. Resorts can also offer this service. Renting from the resort takes away the hassle of bringing the board or skis up to the Lake or home with you. Owning your own gear is no longer a hurdle for the hopeful skier to figure out.

Years ago, skiing was a skill learned if you had a family member or friend to teach you. Families with no experience would be unsure of taking the risk and learning themselves. Now, ski instructors are available to teach any and all levels of skiing. They will teach the proper technique without allowing the student to grow the wrong habits. New skiers can now confidently attempt the sport with the assurance that an experienced ski instructor would be there to assist them.

Along with the instructors to assist beginners, the runs are rated to measure the difficulty. The easiest are greens which are beginner-level, the next is blues for intermediates and the hardest are blacks or double blacks, which target professional skiers. Resorts provide maps with a key to discern which runs are which. The signs on the runs are straightforward and assist in identifying when a run will get harder and the areas that beginners must not surpass.

Skiing and snowboarding have been making great progress in becoming more accessible to many newcomers.