Perched above Lake Tahoe's northeastern shore, 655-acre Diamond Peak Ski Resort is a community-based mountain that the world gets to share. Originally dubbed Ski Incline, Diamond Peak was established in 1966 as the premier recreation amenity of Incline Village, Nev., a master-planned community. Upon ski area consultant Luggi Foeger's insistence, the west-facing ski area became one of the first Western resorts to install snowmaking equipment, which today covers 75 percent of the mountain.
In 1987, Diamond Peak doubled its skiable terrain when it added the Crystal quad chairlift to the 8,540-foot summit of the mountain. From this peak, skiers cruise down the 2 1/2-mile intermediate Crystal Ridge run, which seems to head right into "Big Blue" (Lake Tahoe). Diamond Peak's martini-glass design-all runs funnel into the compact base area-makes it easy for families and groups of differing abilities to meet up.
Its moderate terrain caters to beginners and intermediates, but don't be surprised to see Olympic-class racers here, too. During the week, Diamond Peak revs up the chairlifts early so racers from the Incline Village-based Sierra Nevada College ski team can get in a couple of hours of training before attending classes.
The upscale community of Incline Village considers Diamond Peak just another wonderful perk of living in this Pebble Beach of the Sierra. Wealthy retired financiers and telecommuting entrepreneurs get in their daily tracks, but so do kids who are bused in after school from Incline Village and nearby Reno and Carson City. Incline's growing young-family population regards Diamond Peak as a safe haven for low-key winter fun. Besides dedicated Incline Village locals, Diamond Peak also attracts plenty of skiers from Reno and San Francisco.
Locals and visitors alike are drawn by Diamond Peak's "Last Tracks" program ($20), in which skiers are invited to linger over wine, appetizers and a Lake Tahoe sunset at the Snowflake Lodge, which sits atop the summit. Before the sun dips too low, skiers depart down a freshly groomed run. If only every day could end so well.
[250AD LEFT]Diamond Peak, Nev. Essentials
VITAL STATS Vertical drop: 1,840 feet; skiable acres: 655; trails: 30; chairlifts: six; average annual inches: 350.
LIFT TICKETS Day: $41; season pass: $535.
A GOOD DEAL Two-for-one lift tickets: Email email@example.com, and mention SKI Magazine in your message to receive a voucher; one per household.
INFORMATION 775-832-1177; www.diamondpeak.com