Outside with Charlie: Dec. 3, 2010

By From page A11 | December 2, 2010

Charles Ferris

Snow has landed.

November proved to be a very nice month for snow — nothing to quite a lot in a very short time. All the resorts are open and the skiers report pretty nice conditions for this early in the season. We don’t always get to ski at Thanksgiving time.

The resorts are going all out to attract skiers. All summer they put in many hours maintaining the equipment that puts skiers on the slopes, cleaning everything and painting anything that needed painting.

New menus have appeared, new ski packages are available, and the resorts have hired plenty staff people for a great season. The rental gear is the newest technology and the shops are bursting with any gear you might need.

The ski runs are cleared, cleaned and groomed. It’s a great time of year to ski. Of course any time is great for alpine skiers if there’s enough snow.

Two weather phenomenons converging put us in line for all the wet weather. Take full advantage of what’s on the ground now. We’ve all had great expectations in years past for the snow to continue, only to watch the weather patterns change and the snowpacks dwindle.

Ski outings require planning. Check the weather. Storms are great but sometimes you can’t get to the slopes, or if you do get there, you find out that the resort has had to close runs and lifts due to the wind and bad conditions. Your day could be limited to the bunny hill with the black diamond runs closed for the day.

Check to see if the highway is open. It’s not much fun to spend a few hours stuck on the road while you wait to get on the slopes — especially if you have to turn around and head home because it’s so bad.

You’ve done your homework, but before taking off inventory your gear:  Boots, poles, hats, helmets, gloves, goggles — check. Do you have your pass and snacks in your backpack? Is there enough gas to get you there and back and withstand a delay. Truthfully, all you really need in addition to ski pants, gloves and parka is your wallet.

If your gear didn’t make it into the car, your wallet will lessen your disappointment depending on your bank account. Rental shops provide new-this-season skis waxed for the conditions, boots to match and poles just your size.

If you don’t bring a lunch or snacks, resorts have come a long way in the culinary department. Not only does the main lodge offer a big variety of food most resorts have multiple food venues. If Sierra-at-Tahoe is a favorite, the food in the West Bowl and at the top of the mountain is as good and plentiful as it is at the base lodge. The same goes for Squaw, Homewood, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Northstar-at-Tahoe and all the rest. Nobody need ski on an empty stomach.

For now, it looks like the skiing will be very good. Get your gear together and get going. It’s that good.

Charlie Ferris

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