Northstar Weekend Report

Friday, January 4, 2008
By Caroline C.

In order for you to understand my experience, you need to understand where I hail from and what life is like for a skier Downunder. Australia is known for its beaches, its expansive deserts, its drought like climate and its flat topography. It is known for these things for very good reason. We have beaches, deserts and drought in abundance. What we don't have a lot of is snow. Well, we do. It is just widespread, not deep and doesn't last very long. Our winters are short. Our snow is wet (think elephant snot) and when it freezes, your Sierra cement is like powder to us! Powder? What is that exactly? In short, we have none. We have some winters where it doesn't rain let alone snow. Two years ago, the skis didn't hit snow once (and that was not because I was doing jumps!)

So you can imagine my delight and surprise when I was faced with snow falls which locals said was the best in thirty years when I landed in your fair land in January. You can also imagine how difficult a thing powder is for the likes of an ice monkey to master. I was delighted to be told on my arrival in San Francisco by John that a large storm front was descending on Tahoe and that we had to travel up on Thursday or risk Caltrans closing the highway. What I wasn't thrilled about was that I had just finished 21 hours of travel from Australia! BUT snow beckoned and who was I to argue with Mother Nature?

Thank goodness we made the effort to drive up that night. Many of the SAGA North members due to arrive on the weekend didn't make it within cooee of Tahoe (NB substitute "bull's roar" if you don't know what cooee means). What greeted us were several hysterical journalists in Truckee trying to whip our little dump of snow into a major catastrophe. As Rayner Ternick eloquently put it, "They have a Weather Channel. They have to fill the air time with something - it may as well be sensational!" (or words to that effect).

Unfortunately, despite being promised a blizzard from hell, what greeted us was rain and then eventually snow - buckets and buckets of snow.

John, Rayner and Randy were able to make the best of our first day there (no skiing - too wet) by showing me around Truckee and surrounds. The following day was pure bliss. Powder and more powder. It just kept coming down. We skied the day and had a wonderful time. There was not a hint of Sierra cement. It remained fluffy and fabulous.

Unfortunately due to the havoc the storm had wrecked on plane travel, I had to get out of there that evening and get into Reno. The flight delays meant that I missed the connection from Denver to Aspen so I became instant best friends with some fellow travellers and we hired a limousine to drive us. Our driver was competent and fast and we made it in 4 ˝ hours through thick snow which continued to fall for most of the 10 days I was in Aspen. The locals said it was the biggest dump in 30 years and given how much of it they had to truck out of the township of Aspen, I could well believe it. Last year at Steamboat, the snow was a little thin on the ground but this January there was almost too much of the stuff (if such a thing is possible).

We had a few days with clear skies and sunshine. The skiing was fantastic but occasionally I had to get my feet off the slopes and go to lectures at an Australian Lawyers and Accountants conference (one of the main reasons I was there!). Our skiing was enhanced with some day long lessons from a local ski instructor Mike Jacobs who even let John and Rayner tag along for a few runs and gave them some hints.

In all, I couldn't have picked a better season and the travel which was hard and long was well worth it.

I am now back in Australia and experiencing days of 32 degrees Celsius. It is hard to imagine that your wonderful season is drawing to a close. I hope I find the time and money to do it all again next year. In the meantime, I will dream of light as light flakes falling……

(Webmaster's note) Due to the severe winter storms, most of the participants were unable to reach Northstar. Highways were closed most of Friday, and much of Saturday as well. (SAGA North was able to get a partial refund from Northstar and return it those who couldn't make it.)



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