Starting gate opens for the cross country ski season at Royal Gorge

Royal Gorge Cross Country, North America’s largest cross country resort, will open for the season today.

The resort will offer about 40 kilometers of groomed cross country trails for skiers after more than 20 inches of new snow fell on the resort over the weekend.

When fully open, Royal Gorge has more than 200 kilometers of trails on 6,000 acres of terrain that stretches from the open expanse of Van Norden Meadow to the foot of majestic Devil’s Peak. It is connected to Sugar Bowl Resort by an “interconnect trail” that leads skiers through Van Norden Meadows.

Tickets, rentals and other guest services will be offered at the Summit Station Lodge. All-day, adult lift tickets are $28. Skiers can receive a $5 discount on a Royal Gorge trail passes every day throughout the season by purchasing a $21 CORE pass.

Information: www.royalgorge.com

Flaming Lips, Jurassic 5 to take over Squaw’s Last Chair Festival

Back for its second year, the Last Chair Festival returns to Squaw Valley Jan. 9-11 with a new format, huge headlining acts and new cultural seminars. A celebration of music, culture and community, the Last Chair Festival welcomes an eclectic mix of world-renowned music acts including The Flaming Lips, Jurassic 5 and Matisyahu.

“The inaugural Last Chair Music Festival last January was a great success, but this year we really wanted to blow it out of the water,” said Sean Kristl, marketing manager for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “For 2014, we’ve brought in bigger acts and added a lineup of cultural seminars, workshops, and after-parties, as well as incredible lift ticket packages.”

Last Chair’s 2014 lineup features:
• The Flaming Lips
• Matisyahu
• Jurassic 5
• Mayer Hawthorne
• Fitz & the Tantrums
• Random Rab
• Chali 2na (and the House of Vibe)
• Ben Rector
• Tennis
• West Water Outlaws

Beyond the slopes and stage, the Last Chair Festival also includes cultural seminars and after-party events.

Last Chair Festival offers various ticket packages, including a Music + Lift Ticket Combo Pass for three days on the slopes and two nights of music for $250. Additional concert and lift ticket packages are available; details and purchase options can be found at www.Squaw.com/LastChairFestival.

Being a college student has its benefits at Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley

College students will have unrestricted access to the slopes at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley all season with the 2013-14 College Tahoe Super Pass. The cost is $419.

The College Pass has no holiday blackout dates, and also includes six discounted tickets for friends and family, free night skiing and discounted lift tickets to Sierra-at-Tahoe. For a list of all the benefits visit www.TahoeSuperPass.com.

Squaw and Alpine are home to some of the most diverse terrain in North America and host some of Tahoe’s most legendary events. This season, the resorts will once again be home to epic pool parties at Squaw’s mountain-top pool and hot tub, the Last Chair Festival, Mardi Squaw, Pain McShlonkey and the Cushing Crossing over at Alpine Meadows. Students also can soak up the sun at Ice Bar, located off Sherwood Chair at Alpine Meadows, or come out for the Saturday music series starting in the spring.

To qualify for the College Tahoe Super Pass, students must be registered as full-time college students (taking 12 credits or more) for the 2013-14 winter season. Students must bring a valid government issued photo ID and copy of course registration or transcripts showing full-time status at an accredited college.

Heavenly, Northstar get the winter excitement rolling

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California, both in the Lake Tahoe area, opened Saturday with limited operations. Heavenly had been scheduled to start its winter season on Friday, but high winds prompted the resort to postpone the debut.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is scheduled to open this morning at 9, and Mount Rose-Ski Tahoe and Squaw Valley are expecting to follow suit on Wednesday – just in time for skiers and boarders to work off those extra Thanksgiving dinner calories.

Boreal and Mammoth Mountain opened in early November, giving California’s ski and snowboard season a pre-Veterans Day launch, and Mountain High joined them on Sunday.

Back at Heavenly, here’s what it looked like on opening day. >>>

Fresh powder piling up at Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley has received 10 inches of snow at upper elevations thanks to a snow storm that moved through the region through Thursday morning. Across the ridgeline, Alpine Meadows received 6 inches at upper elevations. The storm comes about a week before Squaw Valley’s planned opening date of Nov. 27.

Overnight, Squaw Valley received 6 inches of new snow in the upper elevations, and 1 inch at the base of Squaw Valley. Alpine Meadows received 3 inches of new snow overnight in the upper elevations and 1 inch at the base.

“The 10 inches of snow and the following cold temperatures are setting us up for a great winter season,” said Mike Livak, executive VP of operations at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “Leading up to opening day, our state-of-the-art snowmaking system will be working fulltime to add to the snow that Mother Nature has brought us.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling for overnight lows in the upper teens and low 20s throughout the next week, which provides ideal temperatures for continued snowmaking at both resorts.

B-roll footage from the resort’s Youtube page has everything coated in white. >>>

Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Resort opens Friday at 9 a.m.

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Skiers and riders can make some turns at Lake Tahoe this weekend as Heavenly Mountain Resort officially opens for the 2013-2014 season on Friday at 9 a.m. Heavenly will operate the Gondola and Tamarack Express, accessing 14 acres and 1.5 miles of skiable terrain on California Trail to Tamarack Return. Heavenly will offer free shuttle buses for guests from the California Main Lodge parking area to the Gondola.

Heavenly kicks off opening day with the first Unbuckle at Tamarack après party of the season at 3:30 p.m. Unbuckle takes place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with a live DJ, half-priced drinks, giveaways, food specials, lots of dancing and the lovely Heavenly Angels. The party continues past opening day with Winter Ignite, featuring Unbuckle après parties, the Heavenly Angels and a special performance by DJ Porter Robinson at MontBleu on November 30.

“Thanks to early season snowfall and the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system, skiers and riders can rely on Heavenly to provide some of the best early season conditions in the region,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and chief operating officer of Heavenly. “Our team will continue to take advantage of the cold temperatures in the forecast and make snow at every opportunity, so we can continue to open additional terrain as conditions permit.”

The shops and restaurants in the Village at Northstar will also open Friday, along with the 9,000-square-foot ice rink, which will be open from Noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Northstar California Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are continuing to make snow when conditions permit in an effort to open the two resorts as soon as possible, weather permitting.

Squaw’s $5 yoga classes benefit body, mind and the High Fives Foundation

The Wanderlust Yoga Studio at Squaw Valley will offer community yoga classes this winter with proceeds to benefit the High Fives Foundation. (Squaw Valley photo)

Wanderlust Yoga Studio at Squaw Valley will offer community yoga classes this winter, with proceeds to benefit the High Fives Foundation. (Squaw Valley photo)

Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust Yoga Studio is bringing back weekly Yoga Squaw’d community classes this winter.

Classes will be held by a different instructor each week and will feature music spun by a DJ. Classes have a requested donation of $5 with all proceeds benefiting the High Fives Foundation. The community yoga classes will be held 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday through April 30 in the Wanderlust Yoga Studio, located in The Village at Squaw Valley.

“We are thrilled with this opportunity to help the community get healthy while supporting a local nonprofit,” said Jamie Ebert, manager of the Wanderlust Yoga Studio. “Because the community classes will continue throughout the entire ski season, we are striving to have a significant impact in helping The High Fives Foundation further their great work in the community.”

The High Fives Foundation is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for athletes who have experienced a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in winter action sports. To date, the organization has helped 51 athletes since its inception in 2009.

The suggested donation to participate in the community yoga class is $5, but participants can donate more if desired.

Squaw Valley takes Thanksgiving dinner to new heights

Thanksgiving dinner with a view is on the menu at Squaw Valley. (Squaw Valley photo)

Thanksgiving dinner with a view is on the menu at The Terrace, one of Squaw Valley’s mountaintop restaurants. (Squaw Valley photo)

Turkey all the trimmings will be part of Squaw Valley’s Thanksgiving dinner at High Camp on Nov. 28. Guests can ride the resort’s scenic aerial tram up 2,000 vertical feet to feast at The Terrace, one of High Camp’s mountaintop restaurants, while taking in panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The buffet-style dinner will include traditional dishes such as sage roasted turkey, honey roasted ham, garlic mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, homemade cranberries and sweet potato casserole. The Thanksgiving dinner consists of two seatings, the first at 1 p.m., the second at 4 p.m. Seating is still available for the 1 p.m. dinner.

Reservations for the Thanksgiving buffet are $39 for adults and $29 for kids 12 and younger. Prices do not include aerial tram tickets for the ride up to High Camp, which can be purchased for $32 for adults and $10 for kids. Those with a season pass or lift ticket for the day can ride the tram for free.

To work up an appetite, there’s skiing and snowboarding on Squaw’s legendary slopes, along with ice skating at the resort’s mountaintop skating rink.

Squaw Valley opens for the 2013-14 winter season on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Information: www.squaw.com 

Heavenly making snow for opening day on Nov. 22

In anticipation of a Nov. 22 opening day, Heavenly Mountain Resort has fired up the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system and has begun making snow at the top of the Gondola and on California Trail.

“We’ve enjoyed a long fall season, but with the drop in temperature, it’s time to focus on preparing for winter and begin making snow, ensuring we have the quality early season conditions our guests have come to expect from us,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and chief operating officer of Heavenly.

Heavenly’s extensive snowmaking system is capable, under optimum conditions, of producing three-and-a-half feet of snow across one acre in an hour and can cover 73 percent of the resort’s 97 trails in machine-made snow.

“The inconsistency of natural snowfall during the last two seasons has really proven how valuable snowmaking can be for the overall experience on the mountain, and at Heavenly, our focus really is on providing reliable snow conditions that our skiers and riders can have confidence in. You don’t need to bring out your old, rock skis or boards at Heavenly during the early season,” said Sonntag.

Heavenly kicks off the party on Nov. 22, with opening day and the first Unbuckle at Tamarack après party of the season. Unbuckle takes place daily from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with a live DJ, half-priced drinks, giveaways, food specials, lots of dancing and, exclusively on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the lovely Heavenly Angels.

The party continues past opening day with Winter Ignite, featuring Unbuckle après parties, the Heavenly Angels and a special performance by DJ Porter Robinson at Mont Bleu on Nov. 30.

Royal Gorge gives its website a boost

Royal Gorge, North America’s largest cross country resort, has launched a new and improved website at www.royalgorge.com.

Features include improved navigation, video and image gallery, dedicated webcam page, and a more detailed grooming and weather report. Visitors also will enjoy an enhanced trail map, detailed information on trail and season passes, a calendar of special events and clinics, and other timely and relevant information from the resort.

With 200km of groomed trails spanning 6,000 acres of land atop Donner Summit, complete with six distinct track systems and eight warming huts, there’s lots of winter adventure for skiers, skaters, striders, snowshoers, snowkiters and even fat tire snowbikers.

Sugar Bowl Resort is in its second year as owner/operator of Royal Gorge.