The pitter patter of raindrops hitting the roof slowly woke me from my sleep. It’s Saturday, so I was eager to get out of bed to go ride. With so many spots to ride in the Tahoe Basin, making a decision which to choose is the only dilemma. Today it was decided to try something new…well, it felt new anyway. It had been over ten years since I’d visited Mt. Rose. Today seemed like the day to head back. With a base elevation of 8,260’ and the snow levels for this weekend’s storm being forecasted over 8,000’, it gave us the best chance for good snow. Making a quick breakfast and brewing a cup of coffee, we scanned the weather report. Last night’s prediction were dead wrong. Current conditions showed rain to almost 9,500’, which meant almost all the mountains including Mt. Rose, would be getting rain. After looking at their snow report, it seemed they were dodging the rain at the moment. We grabbed our gear and headed out the door.
The rain continues
Pulling out the driveway the random drizzle became more of a steady torrent of showers. On our journey northwards, beautiful Lake Tahoe to the west was eerily calm on this gloomy day. It appeared that everyone around the lake decided to sleep in as the rain continued to fall and the roads were empty. Approaching Incline Village we began to worry that it would be raining at Mt. Rose, as it continued to fall out of the sky at a steady pace. With no snow to be found on the ground we make the final turn onto US-Highway 431. Climbing from the dark, gloomy weather that is engulfing the lake we tread higher up towards our final destination. Huge snowstakes alongside the road loom larger than anywhere else in the Tahoe Basin. They indicate just how much more snow this part of the Sierra Nevada’s receives. Suddenly patches of snow begin to appear. The snow transitions into fully covering the ground. On the side of the highway, huge walls of snow began to pile up as we gained elevation. In turn the rain disappears and is replaced by a thick fog. Arriving at the main lodge the parking lot is rather empty. We also noticed the ground was dry and it didn’t seem as if the wet weather hadn’t made it here yet.
Looking up from the car, the Chutes loom steep and beautiful. We wondered if these trails would be skiable today? Doubtful, but they look amazing to say the least. Lacing up our snowboard boots and grabbing our decks we head up to the mountain. The snow has softened nicely and even at the bottom it’s a perfect corn consistency. With no one in line for the lift we are whisked quickly from the base and ascend into the deep fog. Arriving at the summit the fog is as thick as pea soup. Barely seeing thirty feet in front of our faces we decide to check out the backside of the mountain. It seemed that no one was going there and we thought it would be the perfect place to get some warm up runs in. Bad choice…even though the snow is awesome the fog was horrible which lead to almost zero visibility. We decide to head back to the front and see if it was better.
For anyone that knows spring skiing, typically you will feel like you are skiing on glue if your skis or snowboard aren’t tuned correctly for these conditions. I’ve been under impressed by all the waxes that we’ve tried the past couple of weeks for “Spring Snow.” Going through all the major brands, the performance just wasn’t there. Today we gave another brand a shot. We finally found a winner! It’s called Haul Ass Wax. Snowboarder magazine voted this the best wax out there and we wanted to know if it was really that good. It’s by far the best spring skiing wax I’ve ever ridden. Immediately stepping onto the snow we felt a major difference. The base of the board felt like it was coated in RainX with no stickiness at all! I don’t know the exact formula or science behind it, but it’s official. This is my new pick for spring.
After the first few turns from the top of the lift the fog disappears and we can finally see again. Turn after turn comes easily as we ride down to the main lift. The weather begins to cooperate a little more as the mist dissipates revealing Mt. Rose and the other peaks in the distance. Interesting fact is that Mt. Rose ski resort isn’t on Mt. Rose. It’s actually located on Slide Mountain. With great visibility and awesome snow quality we lap the mountain enjoying the window of weather that we have. Seeing that the back of the mountain now has visibility we go back over. What seems like a short run from the top, is actually larger and steeper than it seems. Taking huge carves down the run we slap high-fives at the bottom pumped we are having an awesome day. We are stoked by our decision while everyone else chose to sit a home on their couches. As quickly as the fog disappeared earlier in the day the rain shows up. At the summit the rain has changed into snow, but not enough to accumulate. After four solid hours lapping the joint, we call it a day. We were starving so it was south to Incline to get some lunch at our go to joint on the north shore, Mountain High Sandwich, which is owned by our friends John and Ashely. If you’ve yet to discover this place, make sure to stop when you have a chance.
What surprised me the most about Mt. Rose ski resort is the amount of steep fall line skiing. From top to bottom nearly every run has a consistent pitch that goes the entire length of the trail. Most resorts in the Tahoe region start out steep, but quickly go into a shallow run out leaving you wanting more. The second thing that impressed me was the views. Directly across the highway you got a clear shot of the true Mt. Rose and the backcountry surrounding it. These steep craggy peaks around the resort have very little vegetation making them look more like mountains above treeline in Colorado than the Sierra Nevada’s. Third, is the laid back vibe of the resort. From what I hear Mt. Rose can get crowded on a powder day since it’s closest to Reno but, like all the resorts in the region. In the end, it is definitely worth checking out. Due to their elevation the closing date will be May 8th. There’s a ton of snow left and you’ll have it all to yourself. We will definitely head back. After all we still need to ride the Chutes!