For what seemed like a VERY short winter by Tahoe standards, the prospect of getting one more powder day in May was too tantalizing. It seemed that maybe, just maybe, this could become a reality. We watched the weather forecast closely. It pointed towards only an inch or two with highs in the mid 30’s. The likelihood of dust on crust was high, but if it was going to be good, today was going to be the best option. Might as well try to make it two years in a row with a powder day in May! Nothing like a late season powder day in Lake Tahoe.
No Indication of a Powder Day Brewing
In South Lake Tahoe, the snow was long gone and green grass was beginning to sprout. The only indication that it did something last night was the ground was wet. “Did it snow?” Looking quickly at the webcam for Kirkwood, we could tell that it did in fact whiten the ground. The question was “How much?” We had to go for it. Hopping into the truck, we headed towards Luther Pass. Getting into Meyers, the ground was covered in a light coating of snow. It was a good indication. As we drove closer towards Carson Pass, the snow did become a bit deeper but only where there was old snow for it to stick to.
Red Lake Peak is Thin
Descending down into Hope Valley, we look over towards Red Lake Peak and Stevens Peak. The snowpack was unbelievably thin for May 1st. Last winter, there was still snow where you parked through late June. Not this year. Traveling further and making the final switch backs, we’re blown away to see the northerly slopes covered in white. “Will it be dust on crust or deep enough to make it fun?” We’re about to find out.
A Mid-Winter Wind Greets Us
Opening the door, we’re greeted by a sharp cold wind. Slapping our split boards to the ground, we begin the skin up the mountain. Poking the ground with our poles, we can tell the corn snow underneath is still wet. A good sign! The dry powdery snow on top is bonding to the existing snowpack. It also means no dust on crust! As we continue our slow slog up the mountain, the clouds begin to part slightly. The views are amazing. Better yet, the higher we go, the deeper the snow gets.
Wind Devils over the ridge
Taking a break, we look up towards the ridgeline. The biting northeast wind is blowing up the steep headwall to form what look like waterspouts made out of snow. Today is not the day to summit. Instead, we make the decision to reach the last set of trees as protection from the howling gales hitting us in the face.
We quickly remove our skins and put our splitboards together. Looking down the pitch to a blank canvas, we grin ear to ear. It’s May 1st and we’re dropping into some cold powder. Pointing it down the steep slope, I make my first turn and disappear into the white room. “Are you kidding me?!?!” I can’t believe it. The wind transported the few inches of snow making it over a foot deep! I take turn after turn howling with joy.
Did this just happen?!?
As we descend back into the basin, any remnants of the snow have fully disappeared. In town, we see cars strapped with mountain bikes and feel the warm temperatures in the low 60’s. “Did our Powder May – Day really happen or was it a dream?” The only proof we have are a few photos and the grins stuck on our faces.