Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lake Tahoe Snowrides

Justin Y and I are the best mismatched snowboarder/skier pair I know of, and we hit up another 3 days of tree dodging, powder swallowing adventure in Tahoe.

Land in Reno at 8, dressed and equipped at Homewood by 10:45. Homewood was where I first learned to board in the trees in 2001 with Pitterle (remember him?...really?). Everytime I go back I remember why.

The snow was heavy but steerable, and 6-12 inches deep where the trees are just dense enough to keep out the scaredycats. The snow fell all day but it was so wet it dripped off the lift chairs onto our heads and legs as we were carried us up the mountain. We had wet jackets and gloves by the end of the afternoon, but it was a small price to pay.

You know what? Never mind. Homewood sucks. You wouldn't like it. Don't go there. I'd rather keep this secret to myself.

Heavenly Day 1

We got to our S Lake resort (above) before a night of wind and snow and power outages set in. It brought 2 ft of new snow but it kept us from getting to the mountain until 9 or 9:30. no matter: we still got to the top in time to line up behind the ski patrol's rope barrier. When they let us under the rope, we and the other 50 people waiting became a mad throng of screaming wild Indians, leaving plumes of powder in the air and streaks in the snow behind us.

After swimming in, and and choking on, the snow on the lower face of Gunbarrel for 3 runs we cleared our windpipes and went further up the hill. After 3 runs there, we heard whispers of another lift opening up nearby, so we rushed over there, and found, yes, another ski patrol rope line just above the base of the Sky Express lift line. After a while they gave the go-ahead, and we again made our Indian massacre of the chairlift.

We got to the top and it was even better, drier snow. It was the perfect run. At one point I had passed everyone, and was all alone. All I could see in front of me was untouched wilderness of white powder approaching me as fast as gravity would allow.

We stayed in the Sky Express for the rest of the afternoon, until we were too tired to do any more. When you push past your limit, you make mistakes. Here I am just a few seconds after I crashed into a tree, contemplating my error, replaying the previous 30 seconds in my head, re-evaluating my place in life, meditating on Newton, etc.
Heavenly Day 2
On the second day, another set of lifts opened up, and it took us into the SkiWays Glades. It was the most surreal riding I have ever done. The whole place was peppered with squat pines, and in the space between them, windblown snow dunes. They were like natural quarterpipes, but you had to think on your feet if you didn't have the speed to get over them.

The snow is nice at Heavenly but what most people don't know is that there is quite a bit of wildlife there. Here I snapped a picture of the native Giant Sasquatch. Click on the image to see him closer. It was amazing.
The most interesting non-ski related thing that happened was the conversation I had with a guy on the lift chair. As soon as I sat down, he started speaking with an unidentified accent and the guy next to me, who was clearly American, would giggle. He asked me, "Where are you from?"

I said, "Arizona."

He said, "Ah, I am from a little country called Iran."

I repeated, to make sure I understood his accent, "Iran?"

"Yes, have you heard of this place" Another giggle from my neighbor.

"Yes. I thought the student protests there were going to be able to kick your president out of office, but no such luck!"

"Ah, you do not like the President of Iran?"

At this point, I think I am either an involuntary cast member of Borat 2, or this guys is just plain joking around, so I just decide to put it all on the line. I say, "No, I think your president is a Dirt-Bag."

The guy next to me laughs histerically, but the Iranian continues, "He doesn't like Israel much. Do you like Isreal?"

I told him. "I like Israel just as much as any other civilized, Westernized society in the Middle East, or in other words, better than all the rest!" More laughter.

He changed the subject said, "What are you doing for New Years Eve?"

"I will be in Las Vegas"

His eyes light up, "Ahh, Las VEGAS!"

"Yep," I say. "Home of the Spearmint Rhino"

He explodes, "AHHHHH! YeeeAAAAHH. Spearmint Rhino!" And followed this up with the craziest maniacal laughter I have ever heard.

"Wow," I said. "Whenever I hear a guy from Iran laugh like that, it scares me a little."

"We don't have Spearmint Rhino in Iran. It is forbidden."

I told him, "That sounds terrible!"

At this point, the lift was reaching it's destination, he made our farewell. He said, "You have a good day, and maybe sometime you and I can open a Spearmint Rhino in Iran! HahahHAHAHA!" More maniacal laughter.

After I got off the chair and told Justin about this exchange I think we both agreed this guy was faking it. After all, if it was real, I'm pretty sure he would have taken out a scimitar and chopped off my head.

The rest of the day we rode the Glades and wore ourselves out suprizingly late in the afternoon, considering it was our third day.

The view of the lake was as good as ever. That damn Sasquatch kept following me.
All in all I'd have to say that whoever thinks Heavenly is a snowboarders hell has not explored the place that well. If you're on blue groomers the whole time, yes, there are a lot of catwalks. But the more wild areas between the manicured runs have a lot of room to explore. We stayed on the California side the whole time for two days in a row.

Thanks to Justin's lady Tara for giving us the S. Lake resort hookup! It was a fun trip.


Laura said...

I have met few people from Iran and my head is still attached. And I also am a lover of Isreal.

cwolfe said...

But you probably didn't tell them that their president was a dirt bag.
What fun. What joy! Life is good. I'm glad I can enjoy your snowy wonderland vicariously. The sun is bright, but the wind is blowing, so I'm enjoying the view from my window.

Mr awsome said...

What is a spearming rhino?