Saturday, January 14, 2017

Snowboarding at Kirkwood

With wonderful, fresh snow in Lake Tahoe (and 48" of new snow at Kirkwood), I was eager to make my own fresh tracks at Kirkwood - one of my favorite Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

Since the drive to Kirkwood is long and tedious, I decided to try using the Bay Area Ski Bus, a shuttle service that provides transportation to one of many Lake Tahoe Ski resorts. I don't especially relish driving for 4+ hours to Lake Tahoe and 4+ additional hours back,so I was eager to try this out.

The price for Bay Area Ski Bus varies, depending on current offers available. Normally, the Ski Bus charges $179 per adult for a single day trip to Kirkwood, but I did manage to pay $173 for the bus ride and lift ticket (using the $6 coupon at Snowpals). Kirkwood  charges $99 online at $114 at the resort for one adult lift ticket. Sometimes, Groupon has deals for $55 for the ski bus, but I could not find deals like that.

Being a resident of San Jose, my closest ski bus pickup location was the Milpitas Park and Ride at 4:00am. When I arrived at Milpitas Park & Ride at 3:52am, the ski bus was loaded and mostly full. Before heading to Kirkwood, the bus made a couple of stops to pick up additional passenger in Foster City and Pleasanton (and to pick up fresh bagels). The drive to Kirkwood was fairly uneventful (taking about 5.5 hours). I did manage to sleep a little (or at least doze off using my night shades). I had my old Ipod Nano playing some music to block the sound of the road. On sunrise, I started listening to the Godfather audio book. At around 8:00am. we were offered fresh bagels and some pastries for breakfast. I ate a raisin bagel with cream cheese.

On approaching Kirkwood, the bus pulled over to put on chains. There was snow and ice on the road and it was deemed unsafe to proceed otherwise.

We arrived in Kirkwood at around 9:30am (a bit later than I would have liked) but the bus driver picked up all of the lift tickets for us, so we did not have to wait in the long ticket line. I had my Ride 162 snowboard and K2 Clicker boots stowed in my Dakine Tour snowboard bag which was needed to prevent the board from getting scratched (while on the bus).

Kirkwood looked very busy with almost no free car parking. I was relieved that I did drive there by myself, but was somewhat apprehensive about the large crowds. My worries were unfounded - the main chairlift that I used - Cornice Express - was never busy. The weather was fantastic, sunny, 32F with no wind - almost a picture perfect day.

I took fast quad chair - Cornice Express - to the top at around 10:00am. to begin my day. My first run was down the black diamond Zachary trail. The snow felt soft, but with a bit of snap and crackle - not quite fresh powder and not quite packed powder. The trail was already broken up by Friday's skiing and there were plenty of moguls. I was hoping for freshly fallen powder but only found unmolested powder in the trees, where I ventured quite often.

Here is a GoPro4 Silver video of my snowboarding session:

I mostly snowboarded black diamond and some double black diamond trails such as Zachary, Lookout Janek, and Olympic. The fresh snow was pleasant to ride through (but Friday would have been much better). In the morning, the backside was closed, so I mostly stayed on black diamond runs.

I also tried the famous double black diamond run - The Wall. It was much icier than I expected, so I did not enjoy it.

For some odd reason I got very hungry at Kirkwood, so after a few runs, I rode back to the resort and purchased some soup at Monte Wolfe. Since I was there early, it was not yet very crowded. Finishing soup, I also purchased a hot dog and fries, which helped to relieve my hunger. The food was tolerable (but it's not remotely in the same league as Whistler's Roundhouse Lodge ).

My AT&T iPhone had no coverage at Kirkwood but I did manage to get WiFi working at Monte Wolfe. When coming to Kirkwood with friends, it's probably necessary to have a walkie-talkie.

I continued snowboarding until 3:30pm, after which I get a couple of snacks at Monte Wolfe and headed back to the Ski Bus. There were some snacks, wine, and beer ready for us to much on. The ride back to Milpitas was pleasant and we got to watch two movies: War Dogs and The Core. War Dogs was enjoyable but The Core was terrible.

I returned back at around 9:30pm, a bit tired and sore. It was a fun day of snowboarding.