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Major ski area expansion at Sierra-at-Tahoe

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Major ski area expansion at Sierra-at-Tahoe

Postby ERIC » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:31 pm

Major ski area expansion at Sierra-at-Tahoe

By Bob Goligoski
for the Mercury News
Posted: 02/20/2009 04:00:00 PM PST ... ck_check=1

Spectacular Huckleberry Canyon, one of the largest new chunks of ski-snowboard terrain added in the Sierra Nevada in many years, has just been opened at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort near South Lake Tahoe.

But it's not for everyone.

The long canyon, which starts at the top of Sierra's slopes, is about a half-mile wide and is rated double diamond — for experts only — all the way to the bottom.

Doug Schwartz, a senior member of the ski patrol who has often ventured into the canyon for thrilling descents, said Huckleberry offers some 100-foot-plus jumps off the top plus terrific tree skiing through strands of red fir and white pine.

Only expert skiers and riders, those knowledgeable about difficult skiing and weather conditions, should attempt this "extremely challenging terrain," said Kirstin Cattell, communications manager at the resort. The resort's 2,000 acres of skiable terrain grew by 320 acres with the addition of this canyon, and the move was approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

Access into the cliff-laced canyon is via the existing Grandview chairlift. Even those lacking the ability to ski the new terrain can get a good look into the scenic gorge from the top of the lift near the 360-degree Smokehouse BBQ.

A few skiers and riders — at their own risk — have been going into the canyon for many years. With the canyon now inside the resort's boundaries, the ski patrol will be on duty in the bowl and can do avalanche control work to keep visitors safe.

Starting this weekend, Sierra is offering two new programs to guests to help them get acquainted with its new expert playground. The adult ski and snowboard school will offer group and private lessons in the canyon, and has also scheduled 21/2-hour backcountry awareness courses introducing guests to out-of-bounds skiing, avalanche beacon training, terrain training and route finding.
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