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21 things you can only do at Alpine Meadows

1 Comment 31 January 2011

There’s a depth to Alpine Meadows. A wealth of hidden gems that take more than a day to unearth. From iconic lines and hike-worthy bowls to sun-drenched hangout spots and cozy chalets. We don’t just have something for everybody – we’ve got lots. Talk to locals with decades under their belts at Alpine Meadows, and they’ll tell you better than we can. But this list should get you started.

How many of these have you experienced at Alpine already? What’s left on your to-do list?

And feel free to add your recommendations to this list, if you are willing to share your secrets.

Classic Lines

Hot Wheels Gully: Located looker’s right of Hot Wheel’s triple chair approximately two-thirds the way to the top, Hot Wheel’s gully is a favorite among pint-sized skiers and riders, but has a way to make adults feel like they’re 10 again. The meandering, undulating snow maze leads skiers through huge, enshrouded snow walls dotted with towering western white pines. Much to everyone’s delight, this natural half pipe feels as much like a magical mystery tour as it does a fun descent.

Wolverine, Beaver and Estelle Bowls: Peering at the Alpine Meadows Trail Map, you’ll see a whole lot of advanced terrain in-bounds off to looker’s right of the Summit Express Chair. When the weather is favorable, the hike/traverse from the top of the Summit chair out to Alpine’s three premier powder bowls rewards skiers and snowboarders with huge open bowls, technical tree lines, and classic “extreme” terrain such as Idiot’s Delight and the Poma Rocks. Be sure to obey all closure signs in this area, and if you don’t know where you are planning to drop in, go with a friend who knows the area well.

North Beaver Bowl

Beaver Bowl

Bernie’s Bowl and Buttress Slope: Beyond Estelle Bowl, expert skiers and riders discover what seems to be an entirely additional ski resort at Bernie’s Bowl and The Buttress slope. Bernies’s Bowl offers wide-open powder slopes on south facing aspects and pillow-hop descents at its north and west facing locations. The Buttress offers the truly adventurous experts a bevy of options ranging from steep, ski-length wide chutes, myriad air-time opportunity, as well as classic, open-slope powder turns.

The Buttress @ Alpine Meadows

Buttress Slope

Lakeview: Work your way from the front side of the mountain around to the Lakeview Chair, and prepare to have your breath taken away. A camera becomes mandatory equipment for this beautiful view of Big Blue (aka Lake Tahoe). Once you’re ready to tear your eyes away from the lake and point it downhill, choices range from wide-open groomers to exhilarating tree stashes. Many a skier and snowboarder working their way to the Sherwood side seem to get waylaid for a few extra laps in this perfect little corner of Alpine.

High Traverse to Sherwood Bowls (aka High-T): Accessed from either the Summit Express or the Alpine Bowl Chair, the High Traverse rewards those willing to hike a short ways in spades with beautiful views and incredible riding down to the backside of Alpine Meadows and the Sherwood chairlift. The 360-degree panorama of Lake Tahoe, Twin Peaks and the rest of the Sierra Crest won’t help that spinning sensation you feel after the walk up, but catch your breath, strap back in and pick from infinite lines in the wide-open Sherwood Bowls.

The View

The view from High-T

Key Hole: Located looker’s left of the Alpine Bowl, Keyhole offers up extremely technical lines – steeps, shoots and drops – for expert skiers and snowboarders only. Top telemark skiers gather here for the Keyhole Classic as part of the Big Mountain Telemark Festival every year. Scope out the lines from Alpine Bowl Chair on the way up, or watch others tackle the gnarly terrain if you’re not up to the challenge yourself.

Corn Snow Schralping

Key Hole

Open Boundary Policy: Alpine Meadows maintains an open boundary policy which opens our boundaries to an untracked world for experienced skiers and riders with proper backcountry equipment in the Lake Tahoe area. But be warned; know before you go. Travel in the backcountry can be exhilarating, but it can also present risks and dangers. The area beyond the ski area boundary is in its natural state and entering the backcountry involves risks including those risks posed by deep snow, avalanches, steep terrain, cliffs and other terrain variations. Alpine Meadows does not perform avalanche control or patrol beyond its boundaries, and takes no additional measures to mitigate the hazards to which skiers/boarders might be exposed. Persons skiing or riding beyond the ski area boundary assume all risks inherent in the backcountry.


Ice Bar: So you’ve hiked High Traverse and have earned a little R&R. Or you’ve been lapping the Sherwood Face and your stomach is starting to rumble. Or maybe you’ve beelined it from the front side because you’re on a mission for sun, music and fun. The legendary Ice Bar offers up thirst-quenching drinks, hot barbecue, and a unique setting to relax on the snow. Odds are a snowball or two will fly by, and dancing has been known to spontaneously break out. And once you’re fortified, Sherwood Express is only feet away to start back up the mountain.

Springtime: Sure, mid-winter powder is what we all dream about as summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter, our skies and snowboards calling from the hall closet. But whereas the locals say “there are no friends on powder days,” spring offers a fun, laid-back social vibe for cruising perfect corn snow and soaking up the warm sun. Springtime at Alpine means music on the deck, parties at the Ice Bar, and building up that perfect goggle tan. Ask any local, springtime is when life gets really good.

Spring has Sprung @ Skialpine

Springtime at Alpine Meadows

Alpine Chalet Experience: Travel in a snowcat to the secluded Mid-Mountain Chalet for a private dinner or apres-ski party with friends and gourmet house-made fare. Groups of 10 to 30 are welcome to experience the old-Tahoe hospitality and charm of the Alpine Chalet – a cozy lodge tucked into a valley upslope of the day lodge, encircled by towering Sierra peaks and pine trees. Inside the Chalet, the warm tones of pine craftsmanship – and the even warmer fireplace – invite guests to lounge and chat with friends, enjoy the stars overhead, or simply gaze out the windows at the view of snow adrift. Individual trips are also scheduled on select days. Learn more here.

Treats Cafe: Want to grab something great on the way to or from the mountain? Located right in the breezeway, Treats Café serves gourmet deli items made from scratch, chocolate chip cookies that would make your grandma jealous, and other tongue-tickling desserts. Find more dining options here.


Treats Cafe

Take the Lake Competition: Alpine Meadows hosts some of the best skiers and snowboarders from across the country in the hottest new open jumpline competition to impress some of the industry’s top X Games and Dew Tour judges. The competition goes off March 18-20, 2011, right in the heart of College week for all you spring breakers, which means lift ticket savings, lodging options and on-snow DJ parties for college students.

Take the Lake

Take The Lake

Disabled Sports: Disabled Sports USA Far West leads the way in adaptive sports and recreation for people with disabilities. With over 40 years experience, their trained staff and volunteers guide people with disabilities in discovering life without limits. They are a PSIA Member Ski School (Professional Ski Instructors of America), and their PSIA certified instructors and trained volunteers make skiing or snowboarding possible for anyone with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities.

Band Wagon: Elevating on-snow music to uncharted heights, the new entertainment system looks like a fusion of science fiction straight from the imagination of Optimus Prime; and mechanical ingenuity resulting in an over-the-top, unabashedly excessive mountain entertainment venue found only at Alpine Meadows. The Alpine Meadows vehicle maintenance team collaborated under lock-and-key to modify an eight-ton Bombardier BR 275 snow grooming machine into a 20-foot wide, 13-foot long rolling stage. Its ability to navigate to any location on the mountain, over-the-top sound system, and ability to automatically fold out a custom-made stage make this tricked out snowcat unstoppable and unmatched. Find out where it’s going to be parked next here.

Beach Bash @ the Ice Bar!

The Band Wagon

Mad Cow Downhill: Alpine Meadows has saved the best event of the season for spring: an annual cult favorite, the Mad Cow Downhill beckons all speed lovin’ skiers and snowboarders to wax up their downhill gear for this annual top-to-bottom race. A mass start for one ski division and one snowboard division will be heard by all when the Alpine Meadows ski patrol detonates an avalanche charge to signify the start! The Mad Cow Downhill is a spectator’s favorite from the base lodge. Binoculars are recommended for optimal viewing.

Mad Cow

The Mad Cow Downhill

Spring music series: The Alpine Spring Music Series features live music every weekend throughout the spring ski and snowboard season. Well known bands play at the Alpine Meadows sundeck, in the Last Chair Bar & Grill, the Ice Bar, or on the legendary Alpine Bandwagon. All Spring Music Series concerts are free and family friendly.

Easter fun: Make room in that Easter basket to fit a season pass to Alpine Meadows Ski Resort! Guests will have the chance to comb the mountain for a golden egg containing a Midweek + Sunday Season Pass in the free Adult Easter Egg Hunt. Hundreds of eggs will be hidden across all of Alpine’s 2400 acres, but only one will be gold. Arrive early, as this all-day hunt will commence when the lifts start moving at 9 a.m., and last until 4 p.m. Also on Easter, our famous Beacon & Eggs Beacon Search Contest combines a classic Easter Egg hunt with an avalanche beacon drill. Winners take home an Alpine Meadows Midweek Pass.


Magnestick: Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is North America’s first ski resort to partner with Magnestick. The technology incorporates an electromagnetic seatback on Alpine Meadows’ Meadow and Subway chair lifts and a Magnestick vest for children learning to ski or snowboard, allowing for safe rides up the lift and seamless release at the top. Every child enrolled in the children’s ski or snowboard programs will receive a Magnestick vest for the day. And parents interested in renting a Magnestick vest for their child can do so at the Kids Camp check-in desk.

Flaik: Flaik is a GPS tracking device the size of a cell phone that fits into a neoprene pouch which is secured around the skier’s or rider’s leg above the boot. Once the Flaik device has been activated, GPS tracking begins, allowing skiers and snowboarders review their runs, speed and other stats on the mountain. Alpine Meadows’ Ski & Snowboard School uses the Flaik device for all children enrolled in Kids Camp programs, allowing parents to see how their child’s lesson is going – in real time. Learn more here.

The Beasts: Skiers and riders who love carving turns on freshly laid corduroy will be excited to hear about Alpine’s investment in two new grooming machines known in the industry as “The Beast.” Aptly named, each new grooming machine grooms a 22-foot swath (vs. 17 feet for a standard grooming machine), leading to a more consistent snow surface for smooth carving bliss. Each 560-horsepower Beast includes the latest technological advances, meaning Alpine’s two Beast groomers are the cleanest, most fuel-efficient groomers in the world. Finally, larger tracks allow them to “climb circles around older grooming machines” according to Alpine’s General Manager Kent Hoopingarner.

Alpine Club with FastTrax: Sign up for Alpine’s signature mountain club and join a tight-knit community of skiers and riders who get exclusive lift ticket savings, party invites and more. Better yet, sign up for our FastTrax ticketing program by assigning a credit card to your Alpine Club profile and walk straight to the lifts on any day you want to ski – you’re guaranteed the lowest ticket price and your credit card will be charged as you go through the gate the first time. Learn more.



Greyson - who has written 24 posts on Ski Alpine Meadows.
As the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for Alpine Meadows, a good day means hours on the hill shooting photos, then hours back at my desk fixing them up and posting them to the blog for all of you.

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1 comment

  1. trevor says:

    That is not a picture of the Buttress it is Keyhole.

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