The Chutes Report: 2/9/21
Fed up with the lines this weekend so... to lose the crowds, stay out of line and get away I spent a few hours exploring the chutes, taking some pics and noting conditions. My first impression was that it was nice, peaceful and quiet in every chute and the ride up was lineless surrounded by empty chairs. This begged another run and another and another. After seven or eight runs I had been just about everywhere picking my way down. Some were pretty nice, others rocked, and not in a good way. Altogether though it made the long waits at Zephyr worthwhile and led to a much nicer ski experience with more skiing and less waiting.
Here is a synopsis:
Beehive: bumped out but fun with mostly good soft snow conditions.
The following were traversed into as the El Cap and Yellowjacket gates are closed (for good reason)
Yellowjacket: Gate closed up high, traverse in yields good snow and smaller bumps than Beehive. There are a few harder icy plates to watch out that appear to be bed surfaces that had friction heated from slide debris, melted and refrozen.
Charge: Watch out for rocks up high, snow is good with harder plates from slide debris. The upper portions appeared almost unskiable due to wind, blasting and slides. Very rocky.
Detonator: Watch out for rocks up high, snow is good with harder plates from slide debris. Very rocky up high which is why gate is closed.
Fuse: Fuse actually appeared skiable top to bottom if there was access but one would have to watch out for rocks and stumps in the choke. Good snow down low.
Saddle Chute: Decent amount of snow but very tight and difficult to get to with gate closers and rocky ridge traverses.
Captivator: A mess of rocks and stumps up high. Virtually unskiable. Good snow down low
El Cap: Gate is closed and Closed signs are posted at Jackpot Gate junction with El Cap and for good reason. Although you could work your way down it would be work, a very narrow slot and lots of rocks in and around the chute itself. Bottom was ok.
Jackpot: Jackpot actually offered up some great snow, small bumps and soft edgable conditions, the caveat here, and what keeps skiers out is a line of rock halfway down on the steepest section that you have to work your way through. If you took a slider in here it could result in a "cheese grater" type of experience.
Cutthroat: Less than good. I would avoid it if possible.
Nightmare: Beware rocks up top. Bumped out down low but still enjoyable.
Miller Time: Great skiing up top until a line of rocks halfway down (which are posted) and then bumped on bottom.
Last Chance Glade (East of Chuter Chair) Still help some fun blown in heavier than normal pow but lots of unbroken fun.
There you go. Overall the chutes hold the best off-piste snow on the mountain due to their lack of sun exposure. Do beware of rocks and stumps. They are plentiful. With the meager snowpack the troublesome stumps left over from trees broken from slides are readily apparent just off the major runs. See pic below. With another 4 feet of snow these guys could be deadly if you hit one at high speed.
More snow is forecast later in the week and into the weekend. Tune into www.tahoeweatherblog.com for more details. And do your snow dance. We need it!