Chris Baus

South Tahoe Ski Conditions, part 2

When I left Heavenly on Monday it was still snowing lightly which set us up for yet another powder day on Tuesday.

On Monday night, I stopped by Shoreline Snowboards to see if they had any alternative lenses to solve the goggle fogging problem I had that day, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking: you need a longer board.

Last year I bought a new snowboard, and ended up with a Lib Tech TRS 159, but I’ve been disappointed with the performance of the board in powder. It floats ok, but it really doesn’t cut it in Sierra Cement or deep powder. At the time I took a close look at the 1986 Snow Mullet. First off it has a awesome name. Secondly you can get them LOOONG – I ended buying a 172. The only board Lib Tech makes longer than the Snow Mullet is the Skunk Ape (which is available in an amazing 180).

If you ride in the Sierra, buy a longer board, you won’t regret it. If you spend time at the Tahoe resorts, you will be riding crud, and when it comes to riding crud, the longer the board the better.

So Tuesday, the day after a powder day, I wasn’t expecting much, except that the Canyons were due to open for the first time after the storm. As soon as the lifts opened I high tailed up to the Dipper lift, only to find out that the Mott lift was still being dug out. I asked the ski patrol what the opening time was for the canyon: 10AM. I headed down to Dipper where I ran into an old friend and colleague.

We took a couple runs and headed back to the Mott gates. It was a freakin’ zoo of people waiting for the gates to drop, but most folks were lined up to head out the ridge between Mott and Killabrew where the ultra-steep runs like the Y and Snakepit are located. We planned to head back down to Dipper, but the we noticed there were fewer people at the lower gates, the lift was running, and the ski patrol was there ready to lift the ropes, so we waited for a few minutes.

The patrol let a few people through. It turns out they were shooting this video. Most of time when I watch these videos, I think, “that’s BS, it never looks like that.” But a couple minutes latter the ropes dropped, and we followed them into Mott, and it was no BS.

When the gates went down, the ski patrol was yelling at people jumping the ropes. I was trying to strap up. Some skiers went into the gates, but then acted like they didn’t know what to do. I finally got my board on and gunned it through the gate, and dove past some folks yelling back at their friends – what they were doing, I have no idea, but when I got past them it was wide open powder. I was one of the first people down the front of the canyon. It was the best run of the season, and one of the best of my career.

The brand new 172 Snow Mullet was flying. I barely leaned back and I was maching down the front face of Mott Canyon. The board was built for this run. I flew over a rock and held on, and blasting down to the lift in what was the fastest run I’d ever taken through Mott. It has been a long time since I’ve had that much adrenaline snowboarding.

And we lined up on the lift and eked out another untracked run before the crowds made the best powder and swamped the lift line.

And that’s what living in Tahoe is about. You have to be here for those few seconds of perfect, untracked bliss. By the time the crowds arrived on Friday, the bliss was gone.

Merry Christmas all.