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Squaw Valley 2013

This post will read very similarly to the one from 3 years ago. Even the pictures will look the same! Beginning of March saw us make our once-every-three-years trip to Squaw Valley for our annual snowboarding adventure. This time we stayed at the Red Wolf Lodge via my timeshare points. I was trying for Park City, but did not see what I was looking for. This may change since Hilton added a resort to their collection in Park City. I had never seen availability at Red Wolf before so I jumped on the chance when it showed up several months ago. While classified as a ‘studio’, I would hazard a guess that it was still 500 square feet or so. I would still prefer the 1 bedroom.

View from the room.

Lodging

RWL was pretty good overall and very cheap when using timeshare points, but I think next time may see us back at Squaw Valley Lodge. Probably the biggest drawback to RWL is that the clubhouse (sauna) is not connected to the building. This means a brief, but cold, walk outside. Our TV was still a tube, not an LCD. Didn’t matter much due to the storm that seemed to knock out the cable. Most of the time, almost all the channels were offline. We did lose power several hours one day because of the storm, too. One big advantage RWL has is a gas fireplace that is not dependent upon electricity. This was really handy and might be a must-have feature for future trips. We faced the mountain, which is really great for checking out the weather. But at night, you get to listen to the snowcats groom the slopes. Beepbeepbeep can get pretty annoying.

Snowcat in action. Slowly.

Lift Tickets

Discounts can be hard to find. I remembered running across Liftopia and found tickets for something like 30%. Once we found where the ticket office had moved to in Squaw, I just showed them our receipt, we got our tickets, and off we went. Very fast. Like Vail and Breckenridge, Squaw has moved to RFID tickets. Just stick it in your clothing somewhere away from phones and credit cards. Unlike the other two resorts, Squaw does not use people to scan your ticket, the gates do it automatically. Big step up from having to point where your ticket is located for the person to scan you.

2013-03-04_JD_0017

The Mountain

First day of snowboarding went pretty well. Took a little while to get back in the swing, especially with the mountain undergoing a major renovation and several of the trails have been moved and/or renamed.

Before the storm.

Before the storm.

As I mentioned, we had a giant snow storm while we were there, exactly like last time. In advance, the winds were extremely high on Day 2. As expected, the upper mountain was closed. This was an excellent time to check out Alpine Meadows, Squaw’s new sister resort. It’s a free shuttle ride just a few minutes long. It is literally next door. Our lift ticket was valid there, too. Short version is that it needs work and I don’t plan on going back. Signage was not very good and there were quite a few flat areas, which are really bad for snowboarding as you lose momentum and get stuck. The downloads off the lifts were also much steeper than they should have been. This was a big problem at the top of the Lakeview lift. It’s a steep dropoff so you pick up speed… towards the edge of the mountain. Someone with no brain designed this. However, it is a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe! We spent the rest of the day on the lower half of Squaw doing practice runs.

Lake Tahoe from Alpine Meadows.

Day 3 saw high winds and terrible visibility due to blowing snow. We also had no power. I’ve gone out in poor conditions before and didn’t feel the need to do it again. So we spent the morning building a snowman on the balcony and a “fridge” for the food to say cold. Afterwards, we walked around the village, and checked out the remains of the ice fort. Also inquired about snow tubing, but it looked really dinky, so we passed that by.

During the storm.

During the storm.

Our last day was about as perfect as could be. Clear skies, a light snow, and absolutely no wind. In the morning we did the blues on lower half of the mountain at Squaw Creek, which was great. In the afternoon we did some runs on the upper mountain and then called it a day.

View from Emigrant.

Dining

A few places have come and gone. Thankfully, Wildflour is still there. Our new favorite restaurant by far is Rocker. We ate there twice and the food was excellent both times.

That wraps it up. Check out the gallery for a few more photos, including some panoramas. BTW, you’ll notice the lack of captions on most of the photos. I’ve discovered that no matter the image size, if you specify a caption, WordPress always scales your images. This makes for fuzzy images. I’d rather have sharp images with no captions.

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