Summer Skiing: Alpine Meadows, Calif.


When the Easter eggs have all been found, the party line at Alpine Meadows is the “ski season isn’t over, it’s just warming up.” Indeed, this unassuming Tahoe resort hits its stride when the heat is on. Alpine’s relatively high base (6,840 feet) assures an everlasting snowpack, and because it is, in ski area-ese, a “one-stage mountain,” you will never suffer the indignity of walking through mud to access a snowfield or have to download at day’s end. If it’s open, it’s open top to bottom.

The Summit sixpack speeds you to 8,600 feet, where the air is refreshing and the snow stays firm well into the afternoon. Turn left for a short hike across the summit ridge to the south-facing High Traverse, where the corn is typically cooked to perfection by the time you take your first run. Pick a ridgeline and settle into autopilot Nirvana, arcing to the bottom of the Sherwood Forest lift. When the High Traverse overheats (patrol typically closes it late morning), return to the summit and hang a right. Wolverine Bowl, Beaver Bowl and Estelle Bowl are a quick traverse¿or a short hike with skis on. Each drops steeply from the amphitheater ridge and empties into gladed terrain that begs for exploration.

If the bump hero in you has been waiting all season to make an exhibitionist run under a lift, now is your chance. Head to the Scott chair. The forbidding minefield of winter is now a skier-friendly, slow-motion course of soft bumps and softer troughs. For airing it out on groomers, Alpine creates incomparable ballroom surfaces on Alpine Bowl chair, a favorite haunt for masters racers, carve-aholics and those just out for a cruise.

When refreshment beckons you’ll appreciate Alpine’s retro base facilities, which consist almost entirely of an enormous sundeck. For a more intimate setting, the Chalet, at the bottom of Yellow Chair, serves up Euro and American picnic fare. Here, fun is the raison d’etre of spring skiing, and that means that creative events are as much a tradition as a deep snowpack. The Seventies freestyle king returns to host the Wayne Wong World Hot Dog Skiing Festival April 15-16, now in its fifth year. If that Austin Powers flashback is not evil enough, snowboarders can try to out-trick each other at the Tom Burt Pig Fest Classic April 29-30. For a real taste of Tahoe, try the Ski Nautique Gates and Wakes: Ski or ride in the morning, then water ski or wakeboard in the afternoon at Sunnyside Resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe. While you’re there, grab a couple of fish tacos on the deck, listen to live music while the sun sets and try to remember what your problems were.

Hot Facts
1999 Closing Date June 13
Summer Terrain Approximately 50 percent of the 2,000 skiable acres.
Lift Ticket Cost varies according to conditions and terrain.
Don’t Miss An early morning run on the High Traverse.
Contact (800) 441-4423; www.skialpine.com