Sugar Bowl, California: Mountain Tour

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With three peaks and a half-dozen bowls to choose from, the happy dilemma of how to attack the mountain depends on which of the two base areas you use as a starting point. For most skiers that will be the new Judah Lodge. Hop on the Jerome Hill Express Quad, and stretch your legs on four intermediate trails that drop off the Pioneer Trail ridgeline, the longest of which is Trailblazer. Intermediates often stay on Judah much of the day because the forested runs are the most sheltered and the snow maintains good consistency. If you're a guest at the Lodge, or if you arrive on the Magic Carpet Gondola, head up the new Mt. Disney lift for your first tracks. A ridge run, Crow's Traverse, allows you to pick some cruising fall-line romps on the northwest side, including Pony Express and Montgomery. The east face of Mt. Disney (elevation 7,953 feet) is a powder stash of black-diamond runs, but it's best skied first thing in the morning before it turns to corn.

Truly hairball stuff is off the highest peak, Mt. Lincoln (elevation 8,383 feet). Board the Silver Belt Quad for a white-knuckle ride past a series of steep chutes called The Palisades (bionic skiers only, please). On the summit you can see Donner Lake before dropping down Fuller's Folly or Sisters, both double-diamond runs. Left of the chair is the easiest way back, on Lake View, but it's a narrow ridgeline trail and it frequently gets bumped up by the afternoon.

Here's a tip: On weekends the fastest way to reach the resort is to park near a shuttle stop and board the bus, since the shuttle takes the seldom-traveled back route up Old Highway 40 from Donner Lake, thus avoiding traffic jams on the front way from Interstate 80.

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