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Editor’s note: Herein lies a tale told in iPhone photos of Skiing editor Sam Bass’s very first ski trip to California, which took place between March 15 and 20, 2013. Early in his writing career, he was told never to tell what-I-did-on-my-vacation stories. Apparently, he never listened.
After landing in Reno, I picked up a car lent to me by a former coworker. She left a note suggesting that, if hungry, I should hit the Full Belly Deli in Truckee on my way to Squaw Valley to meet some high school buddies. They happened to be serving this sandwich, which consisted of red cabbage, hot corned beef, potatoes, and Guinness mustard. I wanted to nap afterwards, but had to press on.
I pulled into Squaw Valley just in time to catch après with some old pals who flew in for a boys’ ski weekend. It’s the second season we’ve done it, and we’re hoping to establish an annual tradition. From left to right on Squaw‘s KT patio, here’s me, Rogan (who owns The Downtown Grocery restaurant in Ludlow, Vermont), Burns (an assistant attorney general in Washington), Rick (co-star of Dumb and Dumberer), and Lesh (former Skiing art director and founder of Independent Skier Magazine).
I’d only experienced Squaw Valley in the form of emailed press releases and Hot Dog…The Movie. I hoped at some point to meet Dr. Robb Gaffney, skiing icon, psychiatrist, and author of the seminal guidebook to Squaw’s most exposed lines, Squallywood.
The next day, a Saturday, we booted to the top of Granite Peak and skied soft-corn chutes in 60-degree weather under blue skies. Clearly, I was psyched. That’s Hollywood Rick huffing up behind me, sweating out Cristal and daydreaming about the red carpet at the Oscars.
We then met up with local shredhound Andrew Parkhill (right), another high-school classmate who runs Parkhill Paint Decor, a local interior design firm based in Truckee. He showed Lesh (at left; aka Rainbow Brite) and me all of Squaw’s nooks and crannies.
Lesh and I were psyched to have a savvy local like Parkhill showing us around Squaw.
After hours of corn and sun, we repaired to Le Chamois, Squaw’s local-and-legendary watering hole, where we met up with Amelia Richmond, Squaw’s PR manager, for a few beers. Rick (center) does his best to keep white ski pants in style. Rogan? He’s just psyched to get a spell from the restaurant grind for a few days.
The Loft Bar at Le Chamois (or Chammy, as it’s affectionately known) is packed with memorabilia and worth a visit just to browse, if not to drink and eat pizza.
Local Steve-oh Littell displays his Buddy Pass, which gets him 20 pints of Bud at the Chammy.
Quincy Young, local shredder/Start Haus shop rat/pretty face/Skiing Mag ski tester, was kind enough to donate a few punches on her Wildflour Baking Company Fully-Baked Pass to our cause. It’s worth visiting Squaw even just to scarf a couple of these moist-and-chewy gems.
Ran into the Grand Marnier girls at the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub and Restaurant in Squaw Valley’s village.
The next day was all corn and sunshine at nearby Alpine Meadows, the laid-back sister of Squaw. Alpine is known for its systematic harvesting and management of corn snow, a “secret scientific process” it calls “cornology.” Our friend Dan Abrams, founder and co-owner of freeride apparel company Flylow Gear, kindly showed us around Alpine’s frontside and backside. Dan snapped this shot of us hiking the ridge toward Idiot’s Delight and Beaver Bowl on the Frontside and posted it to Flylow’s Instagram account.
Dan Abrams and Greg Steen, co-owners of Flylow Gear, enjoy sunshine and corn at Alpine Meadows, on the ridge between Summit chair and Idiot’s Delight.
Most of Flylow’s business meetings take place on a chairlift at Alpine Meadows or in a van in the parking lot. Here, co-owners Greg and Dan discuss textile sourcing.
The Broccoli tree is a very old and giant juniper tree at Alpine Meadows. It serves as a waypoint for corn-seeking pilgrims.
We spun a lap with this guy, an amped-up Alpine local named Charlie who later offered us tequila in the parking lot.
On Sunday night, after the boys left, I booked a room at Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn. After two nights of sleeping on the floor of the boys’ condo, and after a sumptuous sushi feast at Mamasake, that bed at Plumpjack felt very, very good.
Plumpjack‘s bar and restaurant kept us entertained and well-fed throughout the weekend.
Like I said, that bed at Plumpjack felt like heaven after two nights of floor sleeping.
On Monday afternoon, we met friends from Tecnica boots and Blizzard skis at a trailhead near Truckee, California. The plan was to skin in and stay foir a couple of nights at Lost Trail Lodge, a rustic yet luxurious backcountry cabin situated in the midst of fantastic backcountry skiing terrain.
Joe Cutts crosses a stream during the skin in to Lost Trail Lodge.
Turns out Dynafit binding toepieces hold beers perfectly, but you need to drink quickly, before all of the beer runs out of the two holes the pincers punch into the can’s sides.
Each afternoon, the Lost Trail Lodge‘s kitchen bustled with hungry, thirsty skiers. My iPhone camera had focusing problems—user error an hour into apres had nothing to do with it though.
The broad summit of Mt. Anderson was a nice place to chill before we skied a fun, chalky chute down toward the Sierra Club’s Benson Hut.
Skinning up among the forests surrounding Lost Trail Lodge was just as fun as skiing down through them.
We skied that hook-shaped chute that drops off the left of the summit.
Hard to see in this crappy exposure, but we skinned up to the Sierra Club’s Benson Hut (that dark a-frame structure in the trees), just below the Mt. Anderson summit for lunch. The previous occupants left a log on the fire and a few bags of wine, which made for a nice Euro-style lunch.
A leisurely lunch at the Benson hut with team Tecnica/Blizzard.
Fueled by turkey bagels and wine, we attain the summit.
Clem Smith of Storm Day Sales Agency sneaks away from the group to poach first tracks.
Looking up Mt Anderson’s hook-shaped chute from below.
Joe Cutts somehow ends up with one tangled skin stuck to the bottom of his other ski.
At one point, we played the table game, which involves climbing underneath a table and back on top without touching the ground underneath. This often happens when magazine editor Joe Cutts is present. Here, Robb Gaffney begins his ritual circumnavigation.
We woke up on Tuesday morning to heavy, wet snow falling—and dreams of powder at higher elevations.
More snow at the Lost Trail Lodge.
‘Twas heavy and moist, but still qualified as powder.
Dr. Robb Gaffney (right) was the victim of many photo opps. Robin McElroy (left) was one of our able guides. Her constant smile brightened the whole trip.