TAHOE CITY, Calif. — When the long-awaited snowstorm finally hit the Sierras last weekend, the California and Nevada ski resorts around Lake Tahoe were more than ready for it.
What happened before that first heavy snowfall is an upbeat story of ski resorts working together to maximize enjoyment of available snow, which until recently was chiefly man-made.
When only 20% of the lifts and slopes were open, ticket sales were curtailed so as not to overcrowd downhill slopes. One resort would recommend another that might not be sold out. Resorts with limited or no cross-country trails would send Nordic skiers up to Royal Gorge on Donner Summit, where higher altitudes had made possible some 147 kilometers of groomed trails. All areas alerted skiers to watch for bare spots, rocks or other possible hazards.
The friendliness and cooperative concern is contagious. Skiers who came from the East and Midwest for the sold-out holiday period quickly learned to enjoy available snow during the day and the restaurants and casino action at night.
Caesars Tahoe, Harrah's, Harvey's, Carson Valley, Del Webb's and all casinos and resorts around the lake provide updates on skiable slopes and trails.
Mark Twain called the 72-mile circle around Lake Tahoe "the fairest picture the whole earth affords." From mountain slopes on a sunlit winter day the view is still as fair as it was when he wrote "Roughing It."
Here's the latest update on the Tahoe slopes and trails:
This is the 25th anniversary season at Alpine Meadows. Each Sunday souvenir gifts are given to every 25th lift ticket buyer. On Jan. 31, a banquet is planned to benefit the Bob Everson Memorial Scholarship and the Alpine Meadows Ski Educational Foundation, honoring the man who did so much for this area. Last Sunday brought 24 inches of new snow.
Heavenly Valley also was powdered with 24 inches of new snow last weekend. The four slopes on which snow had been made had a base of about 30 inches.
Squaw Valley is well into a 10-year, $200-million program to expand this historic resort with its new Olympic Village Inn. With the new snowstorm, the lower slopes have a base of 24 inches, with 36 inches on the upper slopes. There were 21 lifts (out of 26) open last weekend. Ticket sales were not limited, and cross-country skiing was expanded in the Squaw Valley Meadow.
Ski Incline above Incline Village on the Nevada side of the lake reports more than two feet of new powder and the ski school is giving lessons.
Kirkwood spent more than $2.5 million last year on improvements including its 11th lift, a triple chair. New also is the Cornice Cafe restaurant and 108 condominium units.
Last weekend the Kirkwood slopes were covered with up to 40 inches of powder snow, four lifts were open and the ski school was in operation.
Northstar-at-Tahoe received up to 26 inches of new snow and operated six chairlifts on 28 runs last weekend. Sugar Bowl has an average base of 40 to 50 inches, with six lifts open including the Mt. Lincoln gondola.
All Slopes Open
Boreal received three feet of snow and all slopes are open.
Royal Gorge was powdered with more than three feet of new snow and trails are being groomed at this cross-country destination with 62 trails and 255 kilometers of nordic skiing.
Snowfest '87, a "celebration of life in the High Sierra," is set for Feb. 27 to March 8. Entertainment will include a Steve Seskin concert presented by the North Tahoe Fine Arts Council.
Plans for all the major ski events of the season are now in high gear.
The Nevada Special Olympics is set for Ski Incline Feb. 3-6, to be followed the next day by the Celebrity Ski Classic. The Equitable Family Ski Challenge is planned Feb. 7 at Northstar.
Nearly 1,000 participants have registered for the 30-kilometer cross-country competition March 1, and the USSA/Subaru cross-country championships are scheduled for Royal Gorge March 16-22. During these same days, more than 300 California firms are set to compete in the Corporate Ski Challenge at Alpine Meadows, where the regional championships for handicapped skiers are scheduled Feb. 25-March 1.
Double accommodations at Squaw Valley Lodge start at $135 weekends. A one-bedroom condominium suite starts at $175. For a listing of accommodations around Squaw Valley call (916) 583-6985. Doubles in the Lake Tahoe area begin at $60, with many packages available. Weekend one-bedroom apartments at Kirkwood begin at $90 and can accommodate up to four. Telephone Kirkwood Central Reservations at (209) 258-7247.
For lodging and other information, contact Tahoe North Visitors & Convention Bureau, P.O. Box 5598, Tahoe City, Calif. 95730, phone (800) 822-5959. For south shore information, write to the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 7139, Stateline at Lake Tahoe, Nev. 89449, phone (702) 588-4591.