One of the best parts of working at Liftopia is that we’re headquartered in San Francisco, just a few hour drive from Lake Tahoe and short flight (or road trip) from Mammoth. We, along with a sizeable San Francisco subculture, are constantly yapping about what’s up for the coming season. It already snowed in early October and we’re all incredibly giddy. Here are some highlights of what’s new in California for the 2011/2012 season:
- Squaw/Alpine Merger – Hard to believe, but after years of standing atop KT-22 at Squaw Valley USA and admiring the Alpine Meadows view thinking “what if?”, these two giant and totally awesome mountains are joining forces. The resorts won’t be connected (yet) but a ticket at one works for the other and there will be a shuttle running between bases. These resorts and their skiers/riders definitely have different characteristics. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how one mountain influences the other.
- In other Squaw Valley news, they’ve announced a slew of capital improvements on the mountain. Improved grooming and parks, more on-mountain info for newcomers and tons of enhancements on Food & Beverage (read, more and better après opportunities). More detail on this here.
- Northstar – Old news : Vail Resorts bought Northstar. New news: New Name! They’ve dropped the “at Tahoe” and are going with Northstar Resort. New Terrain! They’ve blown out their ski area boundaries and added 170 skiable acres and are even offering guided tours and cat access. New Pipe! Shaun White is designing a 22ft Halfpipe. A new lift and a new lodge round out their $30M capital improvements. Learn more here
- Kirkwood – Want to learn a little or a lot (me) more about the backcountry? Check out Kirkwood’s $1 million renovation to Expedition: Kirkwood. It’s got everything you’ll need to prep for the side and backcountry including classes, high-end retail and demo gear. They’re expanding their guiding capacity and even offering additional nighttime cat tours and hike in tours. See more here.
- Mt. Rose – This might be Tahoe’s first open mountain this season. It’s got the elevation and now has top to bottom snow making, which means early access to the Slide Bowl. Can’t wait to get in the chutes!
- Mammoth – It’s a long drive to Mammoth from San Francisco and no picnic from other SoCal spots. Good thing they’re continuing to add flight service. Adding to existing flights from San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles, Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) is now offering service from Orange County and San Diego. So many great stashes to choose from once you’re on the hill, but the replacement of Chair 5 to a highspeed will definitely get you more laps. Ride time is cut in half!
- Mt Baldy – We’ve been getting a lot more emails from Mt. Baldy which is likely due to their new website. I haven’t had the chance to ski Baldy, but I’ve heard great things about their steep terrain and it’s only an hour from LA. Maybe this is my year
- Mountain High – They’ve added some very cool features for you jibbers out there. The Bagjump let’s skiers and riders practice they’re jumps and land in a 50 foot, consequence free air-filled cushion. Also, they’re adding “Los Angeles Features,” which are a series of replicas from LA landmarks, the first of which is the “Concert Hall Handrail.” Check out more improvements here.
And last but certainly not least, this season at Liftopia we’re committed to grow skiing and riding throughout California (and the rest of the industry) and will be working our tails off to get you on our resort partners’ slopes. Please let us know if you have other updates for California resort news.