How to Ski Alpine Meadows

In Alpine Meadows' Pacific Crest North Bowls, a little bit of effort leads to unlimited—and untracked—rewards.
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How to Ski Alpine Meadows skier
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TERRAIN » The renamed Pacific Crest North Bowls are the same inbounds hike-to steeps, powder, and corn stashes Tahoe diehards crave. Visible from the bottom of the mountain and to looker’s right from the Summit Express lift, this area seems inaccessible to the uninitiated. But from the top of the lift, it’s a short downhill run across the top of Wolverine Bowl and then a relatively mellow hike to Beaver, then Estelle, and finally Bernie’s bowls, all stretched along the crest of the High Sierra. When the lift-served runs are all tracked out, this is where savvy skiers go to find all the fresh lines hardy legs can devour.

HOW TO SKI IT » You’re following the ridgeline north toward Squaw, and all the skiing is to the right. The first entry into Beaver Bowl is often a cornice drop, but if you continue to the north side there is usually a ski-in option. Or keep hiking to Estelle and drop in toward the lake below. Serious air enthusiasts can continue along the left-hand boundary line at Bernie’s to access the Buttress, with cliff drops and technical steep lines.

APRÈS » The River Ranch Lodge is at the bottom of Alpine Meadows Road, perched on the banks of the Truckee River. On Wild Winter Wednesdays—with all-night happy hour and half-price apps—you’re likely to be drinking elbow- to-elbow with the patrollers who did avy control on the bowls you just skied. Order a California blend off the wine list and try the candied- bacon-crusted pork belly from the small-plates menu.

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BETA » Alpine skiers are friendly and knowledgeable, so chat up a local on the Summit lift and she may offer to show you the way and point out a good line or two. Or just follow the parade of ants marching toward the horizon.

» LOCATION Alpine Meadows, Calif.

» GETTING THERE Summit Express

» VERTICAL FEET 1,802

» SCARE FACTOR Expert terrain. In deep powder with cornice drops: Yikes! On buttery spring corn: Aaahhh...

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Alpine Meadows' Estelle Bowl

Anatomy: Alpine Meadows' Estelle Bowl

While technically inbounds, Estelle Bowl feels as close to backcountry as you can get at a ski resort. Ride the Summit Six chair, then take the ridgeline traverse to the north past two other bowls to reach Estelle, which offers sheltered north-facing trees, wide-open powder shots, and 45-degree spines.