Nov 8, 2022 - Current Ski Conditions North Lake Tahoe
Conditions near Donner Summit on November 8, 2022. Pretty nice for November!
The season has started off with a bang! With storms dropping well over 3 feet of snow on the crest (we're seeing snow settled to 95cm near ridges) we've been getting out to gauge the conditions.
What we've found has been AWESOME. Surprisingly deep and cold snow has plastered the Tahoe area with enough coverage to make skiing the backcountry not just possible, but pretty darn fun.
Near the Sierra Crest in the North Lake Tahoe Backcountry near Alpine Meadows Ski resort. Photo: Zeb Blais.
Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves - ITS STILL EARLY SEASON! The snowpack is great for November, but as this is really only our second significant storm of the season, there are still a ton of rocks, logs, branches and other hazards lurking below the surface.
Rocks uncovered by a rider who took their chances on a steep rollover. Steep features like this are not recommended right now!
Steep terrain, rollovers and rocky terrain are definitely not recommended. Any steep terrain has made it easy to uncover rocks that will potentially destroy bases, break edges or injure people. We've definitely seen some scratches on the bases over the last few days with carelessly placed turns, but if you're mindful of thin spots and ski lightly, it's not too hard to avoid major damage.
The surface of the snow has changed a lot since Friday. With warmer temps and direct sun, the snow that was once powder is now crusted in many areas. In low lying areas in dense trees, where cold air has been sitting and sun is unable to penetrate, the skiing has remained incredible and has actually improved a bit with some settlement. Anywhere the sun has touched has created thin crusts that probably wouldn't concern most split boarders but are certainly noticeable for skiers.
West Shore cold smoke in its natural habitat.
Temperatures have been cold and snow sheltered from the sun has stayed soft, while settlement has helped by making the base more supportable. Rubicon Peak, Castle Peak and Grouse Rock have all been holding excellent quality snow and surprisingly solid base. Again, don't be surprised to hear that disconcerting scraping sound if you're powering your turns like a downhill racer. But if you're "skiing light", maintaining a consistent speed, and watching for the thin spots in the snowpack, there are some incredible turns to be had!
A healthy D1 Avalanche in the North Lake Tahoe Backcountry Nov 9, 2022. Photo: Sam Kiekhiefer.
What's the avalanche danger in Tahoe right now? Since the Sierra Avalanche Ceneter has not started forecasting for the season, it's a bit wild and woolly out there right now for most recreationalists. On November 9th, the snowpack above tree line was touchy and I would have to say that I would have pegged the avalanche danger rating at moderate. A 2-foot-thick, 300' wide wind slab was triggered by skiers near a ridgeline in the Alpine Meadows backcountry on Nov 9th, creating a D1 avalanche that definitely could have injured or killed a backcountry skier in combination with a terrain trap (the debris alone was not enough to bury, injure or kill a person).