Home of the 1960s Olympics, and one HELL of a mountain, Squaw Valley is just awesome. Seriously. Go there as soon as you can.
Our third day did not get off to a good start. Upon arrival, we were informed that 60-70% of the mountain was not accessible because high winds had forced the shut down of the lifts. Always a good start. And the staff informed us that there was a better than 50% chance that they would remain closed for the rest of the day. Better and better. Particularly when you’re staring at an almost $100 ticket. Unless your active duty military, in which case it’s free. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with that, I’m merely jealous. But we rolled the dice and headed up the KT-22 Express.
We were greeted by howling 40-50 mph winds, which were doing a nice job of picking up the frozen granules of snow and flinging them into our faces. Splendid. As fast as we could, we slipped down “Saddle” and onto “Mountain Run”. It was still pretty early in the day, and as they hadn’t received any new snow (sounding familiar?) the trails were pretty hard and fast. About the only good thing about that was it gave my friend a good opportunity to test out his new Garmin watch and see how fast he could get. I’d left my Garmin at home, so I was relying on the Squaw Valley app. Pretty cool app actually. I liked how you can open up your camera and it will put in data about what you’re looking at. But I imagine you’re reading this for the skiing, not the app reviews. In any event, we were getting upwards of 40 mph. Disclaimer: NEVER NEVER NEVER go that fast if there are people on the slope below you. If you want to hurt yourself by crashing at high velocity, that’s your choice. But other’s shouldn’t pay for your choices. Luckily, the high winds and weekday crowds made the slopes almost empty. Having no crowds is awesome.
Not looking for another bout with the horizontally flying icicles, we headed skiers right towards the “Squaw Creek” lift. Not that we had a lot of choice with the lift situation, but there you go.
Here’s a view from the lift looking down the valley. Good naming choice.
The area serviced by that lift is more intermediate, but there’s some fun slopes to be found. We did a few laps here before headed back to the main part of the mountain. We were planning on hopping back in the car to drive to “Aspen Meadows” which is Sqaw Valley’s sister resort a few miles down the road to see if the weather was any better there. But wouldn’t you know it? The winds died down and we got to explore more of the mountain.
And what a mountain it is! It just goes on, and on, and on. And on. Seriously. You just seem to keep linking lifts without end. Because of the conditions, we didn’t explore most of the really steep terrain, but oh boy did it look like fun. We spent most of the afternoon doing long cruisers and hitting mogul patches when they looked to be slightly softer than rock. Squaw had a different feel than the other resorts we visited. Less tree cover and more exposed rock. But I think that just adds to the epic feel of the place. Monoliths of stone jut out around you as you carve down the mountain, and there’s just so much sky above you. And it’s nice to have runs long enough that when you get to the bottom, you’re not too offended that you have to get on the lift again. Again, the lack of crowds really helped us log the miles that day.
Anyway, Squaw is a mountain that could take 3 or 4 days to really explore, and if it had some good snow, I think you could easily spend a week there. I will definitely be back.