by Curtis Fong “the Guy from Tahoe”
Well. . . . I know, a pretty deep subject. And, waiting for those Tahoe Deep Powder Days . . . January weather is going to be hit and miss. The first week of 2019 will stay warm and dry with high pressure building in. After that, we are hoping that the weather pattern changes with a Winter Storm Warning that might open the storm door.
We got through the Christmas & New Year Holidays with a couple of ample refresh storms coming through with enough snow to freshen up the slopes and get a few more lifts & terrain open for the holiday crowds.
Most Tahoe resorts are 90% to near 100% open with lifts and terrain available but with snow packs that are below 60” (5 feet) in their upper elevations. Resorts are doing an incredible job in managing their snow pack with machine grooming and cold temps continue to allow them to make snow. We’ll take it, but nothing replaces real snow and a good 3-foot storm or series of storms that can drop more than 10 feet in a week’s time is desired.
Everyone knows that my passion for downhill alpine skiing is what I live for (as well as riding bicycles) but, unfortunately, I have not been able to ski or ride and am still in final stages of recovery from my recent series of surgeries.
Physical therapy has been going well, but my legs, since my veins and arteries have been replumbed, so to speak, still get fatigued walking long distances. Like from the parking lot to the lifts, knowing that I will have to rest several times before getting to the lift. I just have to suck it up and get as strong as I can until all returns to normal. I am hoping to be on the mountain in January and to enjoy my annual road trip at end of January. Stayed tuned for my 2019 road trip adventures! Update: I was able to get out on the slopes of Heavenly just after the New Year and made several runs (see photo above). All is good!
January 11 is National Learn to Ski or Snowboard Day, and there are many resorts across the U.S. that will offer first time beginner learn to ski or ride packages at discount prices… January is the perfect time to learn as slopes are uncrowded, during mid-week and can’t beat the special prices offered at the resorts. Click here for more information.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe has got a good snowpack and they are open on both the Rose and Slide sides with all lifts turning, with the exception of needing more snow to open the legendary Chutes…
Mt. Rose offers their First Time Ski & Snowboard Group Lesson Package (Ages 10+), season long, that includes beginner lift ticket, rental gear (ski or snowboard). 2-hour first time lesson starting at $135. You can get $10 off by reserving a package in advance online and deeper discounts during midweek, non-holiday periods. For more information and to book your First Time packages in advance for discounts, click the link above.
Also, on the Mt. Rose Highway is Sky Tavern with its Junior Ski & Snowboard program, a non-profit community organization offering a season long program to get your kids involved in winter.
Diamond Peak is also in great shape with all lifts turning and over 90% of their runs open. They offer their Beginner Group Lesson (ages 13+) that includes beginner lift ticket, equipment rentals and 1 hour 45-minute lesson for $109. ($139 peak season).
In Southern Nevada, Lee Canyon Resort is open with all lifts turning and about 90% of their trails open. They also offer Snow Shoeing and Snow Tubing for other winter activities.
They have a Single Day Snow Experience package that includes unlimited lift ticket, full equipment rentals and complimentary ski coaching starting at $119.
Ely will host its annual Fire & Ice Winter Festival, January 19 & 20 with a variety of events for the entire family. They have marked XC Trails up Ward Mountain and on Saturday, January 19, the longest running event in Nevada will take place — the Bristlecone Birkenbeiner XC Race. There are categories for kids, XC Skiing, Snow Shoeing & a new Fat Tire Biking course.
This, followed by a variety of events from water volleyball, darts tournament, Locomotive 93 – 110th Birthday Ride with fireworks, Art Elk Bonfire and more, including on Sunday, January 20, Ice Skating, Sledding, Ice Horseshoes, Ice Bowling and fireworks at Cave Lake.
Other winter activities offered out of Ely include Ice Fishing at Cave Lake or Snowmobiling on the Success Loop.
Eastern Nevada’s premier ski area, the Elko Snobowl is open on weekends. This local gem is operated by the City of Elko Parks & Recreation Department and offers their Junior Ski & Snowboard program. This $125 program includes five two-hour Saturday lessons for ages 6-16 and included lift tickets and gear rentals.
Helicopter skiing makes for lifelong memories, and Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience is kicking off its 42nd season from their Ruby 360 Lodge out of Lamoille. They do have some early season discounts offered in late January with spots through their season still available.
If the snow doesn’t fly, some other winter activities that one should consider is cross country skiing, snow shoeing and fat tire biking. You don’t need a 120” snow pack to do this, although you do need some snow coverage. Cross Country skiing is still invigorating and challenging, at times, and it’s a great way to enjoy being in snow country and it’s good to change it up once in a while.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Doesn’t take much more than 6-8” of snow to snowshoe, and you can use your winter or hiking style boots.
Once you figure out how to attach them to your boots, take three steps and you are snow shoeing. You can rent them at a variety of Cross Centers or you can purchase a pair for under $150. You can also use your ski poles to steady yourself on your hike.
Winter is for Fat Tire biking. Several XC Areas rent and allow FT Biking on their trails and it’s also a great way to change it up and spend time outside on the snow. With all the open trails and gravel roads throughout Nevada, every roadway is an adventure waiting to be experienced on a Fat Tire Bike. I plan to do some Fat Tire Biking this winter as I have invested in one, plus an Ebike pedal assisted mid-fat tire bike.
Have you tried riding an EBike? It will bring a smile to your face and your next question, undoubtedly will be, How much is this Bike? A whole new experience like this can and will revive your enthusiasm to ride more.
Another winter activity that can also kick your winter into high gear, is snow mobile or snow machine riding. Just like Fat Tire Biking. Nevada has miles of roadways and open meadows in snow country to enjoy this activity… This throttle sport can get kind of pricey, but would recommend testing to see if you can handle one with one of the various snow mobile rental / tour companies. You don’t need much more than about a foot of snow to ride. Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Tours can set you up with a guided group experience including clothing, helmets and all the gear.
So, keep your Fingers Crossed. Do your Snow Dance and Pray for Snow. Whether it gets here or not, and you know it will. But, in case it doesn’t, there are plenty of outdoor winter activities for you to continue to enjoy you Nevada Winter. Get After It!
For current conditions at all Lake Tahoe Resorts including Cross Country Resorts please check my Lake Tahoe Mountain Resort Report.
Looking forward to seeing everyone out on the mountain!
Curtis Fong, the Guy from Tahoe