Sunday, March 04, 2007

Northstar at Tahoe

Just want to give a rave review to Northstar, which so far rates as my favorite Tahoe ski resort.
It is like a little tiny Vail, from the low-key but snazzy wooden buildings in the village, on up to the variety of runs. And it's the quality of service that really shines in a small operation like this. I've been to some small outfits, from New York's itty bitty Scotch Valley to California's Sugar Bowl, but neither of them have the attention to detail of Northstar.

Not to knock all the nice kids from Argentina, Johannesburg, and New Zealand, who do the seasonal drudge work in ski resorts from Mammoth to Killington, but Northstar's local personnel show a real sense of esprit de corps, of proprietorship, and service. I felt cared for, every turn of the way, from the basket check dude right on up to Bob, my ski instructor.

Thanks to the Bay Area Ski Bus, I got a good deal on transport, lift ticket, ski rental, and my Intermediate Skills Improvement lesson.

The hard part is waking up at 4 am to get up and drive to the bus pickup location, but once on the bus, it was not too bad. The driver plies his way up to the Sierras, loaded to the brim with skiiers trying to get a little more sleep. We are served bagels, cream cheese, yogurt and juices as we summit highway 80 somewhere on the way THERE.

The easy part is getting handed my voucher by the hostess as we file off the bus. I get my lift ticket and skis. I go up to the top of the mountain and fly down blue runs called Sodergrens, Upper Jiboom, Christmas Tree, Pinball (also a terrain park, though I take no big jumps). There are many of them, and they're covered with crisp powder. And, midweek, many of the runs seem to be mine alone.

I don't stop for lunch, even though I hear other skiiers raving about the taco salad and burritos. I munch on a stale Balance Bar found in my jacket pocket and ski right up to the moment when my group lesson will start. In the end, I am assigned my own instructor, as we "improvers" number only as many as on-duty ski instructors.

Bob Hill is a fit 72 year old, and an excellent teacher. He identifies me as a "functional skiier," able to zoom down a hill intact, but not really doing it right. He corrects my feet, my knees, my poles, even my gosh darned chin. In a few minutes, I am completely in control, totally relaxed, and flying downhill without threat of wiping out or straining my muscles. I am amazed at the change.

So, stoked on powder at nearly 4 pm, I turn in my equipment and make my way to the bus. It's been a great day. Thanks, Bay Area Ski Bus, and Northstar!


Don said...

Ooh, that sounds wonderful. We never got to the snow this year. This despite not having to get up at 4am to do so. I went to Northstar once back in the 70s. Truth to tell, though I ski competently, a lesson such as yours would do me no harm. I just don't go often enough.

Swimmer of Seraya said...

You and my husband can take the improver lesson next season, and I'll see you guys at the top of Flying Squirrel, the easiest of the black diamond runs.

Is it a date?

Anonymous said...

you used to ski at scotch valley?
i am the current caretaker there, it's been closed for 9 years but it looks just like it did when they closed the doors in '99.