Ski Report

Generous snowfall means springtime skiing in the Sierra

Diamond Peak, whose ski runs offer some of the best views of Lake Tahoe, is among several Sierra Nevada resorts that are still operating their lifts.
Diamond Peak, whose ski runs offer some of the best views of Lake Tahoe, is among several Sierra Nevada resorts that are still operating their lifts.

Diamond Peak might not be Tahoe’s largest or highest resort. Can’t claim the deepest snowpack, either. However, it does boast some of the most stellar views that the whole 72-mile-long lake perimeter affords. And now, to celebrate an approaching 50th anniversary, Diamond hopes to end the ski season with a flourish – unveiling an array of spring deals.

“These past weeks offer a perfect sample of the greatness of Tahoe’s spring skiing,” says Paul Raymore, Diamond’s marketing manager. “A few cold storms sweep in to refresh the pack with new powder, followed by days of bluebird skies, 55-degree temperatures, and lots of people able to ski or ride the hill wearing just T-shirts.”

Raymore rates this 2015-16 season as one of the resort’s best, prompting it to renew an offer it has not made in years: Buy a season pass for 2016-17 and use it to ski every day the resort stays open this spring. Diamond had planned to close Sunday, April 10, but now projected closing is Sunday, April 17 – and could continue beyond that if excellent conditions hold, and if customers keep coming. This cheerful policy is being echoed around the lake at many other resorts.

Hence, this big tip to skiers and snowboard riders: Right now, check the websites of your favorite resorts to find out when they really plan to close. Catch up on all the parties, music fests and slush-pond extravaganzas planned for the last days of the season, and figure out what sort of deals you can score on passes and equipment.

For Diamond Peak, the latter category includes early-bird season pass prices of $369 (adult, unrestricted) or $264 (midweek); the full pass comes with 40 bonus lift tickets for Homewood, June Mountain and eight other resorts in the West, as well as four discounted bring-a-friend tickets ($50 each, non-holiday). It also includes invitations to special resort events, as well as substantial discounts on gear, clothing, food and beverages.

In alphabetical order, spring specials at other resorts are presented below, with planned closing dates – when known.

But first, a few more tips. To make the most of spring skiing, arrive as soon as the lifts operate and hit the slopes while they’re kissed by sunlight. Then follow the sun around the hill; you’ll be able to tell when the snow is first softening by the sound of ski and snowboard edges. Hear a skritch, and it’s still hard; a shhhhh, and you’re good to go. (A weather pattern that produces smooth, silky “corn” snow is an extended string of warm days and freezing nights.)

Badger Pass – Closed April 3, and the cross-country route out to Glacier Point is no longer being groomed.

Bear Valley – Planned closing date is Sunday, April 10. Also celebrating a 50th anniversary, Bear now introduces a Bear Valley Peaks Club Season Pass: adults (ages 23-64), $599; young adults (14-22), $449; children (6-13), $329; kinder (5 and under), $89; seniors (65-69) and super seniors (70-plus), $89. These passes include skiing this spring, four free buddy tickets, a number of free rentals and lessons, and discounts on goods and services including summer activities. Prices are good until April 30.

Boreal – Planned closing date is Sunday, April 17. Two-day spring tickets available online for $74-$84 (depending on days selected). 2016-17 season passes can be used for current spring skiing.

Dodge Ridge – Resort is now closed. Early bird season pass sale prices for the next season are available until April 15: adults and teens (ages 13-64), $299; youths (6-12), $99; seniors (65-81), $179.

Donner Ski Ranch – Closing date to be determined by conditions, plus customer demand. Donner commonly switches to staying open on weekends only and shutting down some lifts before closing entirely. Until then, weekday tickets are “old school” prices: adults, $35; children, $20; ticket and gear rental, $50.

Granlibakken – Ski and snowboard hill now closed. Sledding hill remains open until April 15.

Heavenly/Kirkwood/Northstar – This trio of Vail Resort operations planned to shut their lifts together April 17. That is, unless any of them chooses to stay open longer! (Heavenly, for example, recently extended the season until April 24.) The 2016-17 season passes cannot be used this spring, but the price of a daily lift ticket at any of the resorts can be deducted from the cost of a pass if you purchase it on the same day. Current adult season pass prices: Epic (unlimited access to the California resorts and 10 others), $809; Epic Local (similar to Epic, with restrictions), $609; Tahoe Local (more restricted), $529; and Tahoe Value (seven days/week at Heavenly, six days/week at Northstar and Kirkwood), $449. A convenient extra move: Pay $49 down on a season pass before April 10 to preserve these prices, then pay the remainder in September.

Homewood – Tentative closing date is Sunday, April 10. But a 2016-17 season pass can be used for the rest of this spring: adults (ages 19-61), $399; teens (13-18), $349; children (5-12), $149; seniors (62-69), $269; super seniors (70-plus), $239; family (two adults plus two teens), $999; heritage (two adults plus two teens/children plus two seniors/super seniors), $1,399. Season passes include four non-holiday lift tickets at Diamond Peak and four at Red Lodge in Montana with no blackouts, as well as: five “buddy day passes” per season (30 percent off), and 10 percent off rentals, food, and retail goods.

Mammoth/June Mountain – June Mountain family resort and the Tamarack cross-country facility both close on Sunday, April 10, but Mammoth plans to remain open at least through Memorial Day. Special events include the Pond Skim at Canyon Lodge on April 17. The first 50 competitors wearing superhero costumes who show up at 11 a.m. can skim two ice-cold slush ponds, one with a jump. On April 23 at 7 p.m. comes the Ezakimak Challenge, a 2,000-vertical-foot uphill race on foot, skis, snow-shoes or fat-tired bike; online entry is $40; on-site entry starts at 3 p.m., costs $50; the race is followed by a Pink Moon Summit Party (spectators can ride the gondola up, $25). All 2016-17 season passes allow skiing this spring, starting Monday, April 11. The “Cali4nia” Pass, with unlimited access to Mammoth, June, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain: adults (ages 23-64), $749; youths (13-22), $579; children (5-12), $219; senior s(65-79), $449.

Mount Rose – Planned closing date is May 8. Special event: Sunday, April 10 is Burner Ski Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., all you playa “playas” put on your most flamboyant Burning-Man-style outfits and score $54 lift tickets, rock to DJs for two hours until noon, then join a mass ski-down and fashion show. The 2016/2017 season passes will allow skiing this spring: Adult premier (ages 24 and up, no blackouts), $577; young adult premier (16-23), $377; child premier (6-15), $277; midweek pass (all ages, good for seniors), $477; spring beginner pass (11 and older), $199.

Mount Shasta Ski Park – Night skiing is now closed, and day skiing ends Sunday, April 10. The 2016-17 season passes go on sale in July, for $299. Those with a season pass from 2015/2016 will be able to renew for $199.

Sierra-at-Tahoe – No closing date announced yet. The 2016-17 season passes do permit unlimited skiing this spring. Unlimited season passes: adults (ages 23-69), $309; young adults (13-22 and/or college students), $269; children (5-12), $129; super seniors (70-plus), $129; these passes also provide four (non-holiday) tickets for Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, plus three tickets (Sunday-Friday) at 13 western resorts in the Powder Alliance. Live music on April 9-10.

Squaw Valley – Resort will stay open into May; no firm closure date announced. Ski through spring and get a full season next year, as well as discounted friends and family tickets with purchase of 2016-17 season tickets: Tahoe Super Pass, Gold, $829 (no blackout dates at Squaw or Alpine, includes two days at Zermatt, four days at Sierra-at-Tahoe and four at Sugar Bowl, as well as 50 percent off at the 15 resorts in the Mountain Collective); Silver, $589 (has 10 blackout dates, includes two days at Sierra-at-Tahoe and two at Sugar Bowl); Bronze is $469 (17 blackout dates); College is $429 (no blackouts); prices good through April 19. Special event: the 26th Annual Cushing Crossing slush pond contest, April 16. Register ($20) at KT Base Bar (first 50 participants accepted) at 9 a.m.; event begins at 1 p.m.

Sugar Bowl – No closing date yet announced. Buy 2016-17 passes now and ski rest of spring and all of next season. Midweek season passes go on sale May 1. Unrestricted adult pass for Sugar Bowl only, $639; unrestricted for both Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge, $789; these include four tickets to Squaw/Alpine and one pass/lesson/rental package at Royal Gorge. Restricted (non-holiday) pass for Sugar Bowl only, $449; plus unrestricted for Royal Gorge, $599; these include three non-holiday tickets to Squaw/Alpine, and one pass/lesson/rental package at Royal Gorge. Royal Gorge unrestricted is $299, and includes one pass/lesson/rental package at Sugar Bowl. Royal Gorge holds its sunscreen tour and barbecue at Summit Station on Friday, April 8.

Tahoe-Donner Cross-Country and Downhill – Last day of season is Sunday, April 10, but 2016-17 season passes are on sale until April 30. Cross-country pass only, adults, $304, or combo (includes downhill), $404; juniors (ages 13-17), $264, or combo, $309; children (7-12), $70, or combo, $204; seniors (60-69), $264, or combo $309; $74 for super seniors (70-plus) or combo passes.