I have to watch what I say, as I watch the snow fall steady through the window of my cottage. I have to watch what I say, not because Tamarack is the most idyllic resort in the United States (which is true), but because this is where I like to get away to-with my family or with friends, to read a book or to write one. And, of course, to shred lonely powder in a forest of deciduous pines.
U.S. Snowboarding wrapped its Grand Prix season and named National Champions in the Tamarack superpipe and on the SBX course. Skies were contest gray, and Tommy Czeschin-who also won this year’s Breckenridge G.P.-went Cab seven, frontside air, backside, front nine, back five, to front seven, to beat out the field. “The Machine” faced Steve Fisher, the only rider who could really have challenged him for the win, the National title, and the Chevy Sonoma.
Gretchen Bleiler strode to the podium’s top spot in the women’s pipe event. Her trademark crippler to a back five, front five, backside air, and front seven were enough to beat the field without a close contest. Kelly Clark, who was at the Nippon Open with most of the top riders in the world, had the women’s National pipe title and the Chevy won after the first two Grand Prix events of the season.
Riders called Tamarack’s pipe the best of the season, but the highpoint of the weekend wasn’t until after the awards ceremony. Lifts were still running, and snow had been piling up in the untracked trees to each side of every run … since Thursday.
Pros emerged, covered in snow, from gladed boulder fields. Small features that were best when connected into gaps, transfers, and double lines made up the terrain at Tamarack-but pitch wasn’t necessarily on the menu.
The scene at Tamarack is on the rise. Treasure Valley shreds have found a place to ride park and pipe. Midweek slopes (and weekend trees) are ridiculously uncrowded, and the village is an escape, even while under construction. Most resort developers have the required capital, but few have the taste and vision that make Tamarack what it is-a worthwhile week on the busiest winter calendar. Professional snowboarders now agree.
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Still snowing. My internal divining rod kept saying, “North, about fifteen miles.” I made a call-flight changed to Wednesday-and waved goodbye to the po-po that had been camped along Tamarack’s icy access road all weekend.
A two-day nirvana ensued. I was off the grid-“delayed because of bad weather”-and exactly where I wanted to be. I checked into the Whitetail Club in McCall, where they know my name-and they know the names of my wife and my daughter. From the window of my room at Whitetail (once the Shore Lodge), Payette Lake unfolds, iced-over and covered in snow. Brundage Mountain rises through the clouds on the lake’s far shore.
Six or seven people made up the weekday-a powder day-crowd in the base lodge at Brundage. If Tamarack was uncrowded, Brundage was desolate. Perfect. I made my way around the two main lifts and ended up on a hike to a place the locals know.
A lap through the chutes-not steep, but steeper than what I’d found at Tamarack-in Tuesday’s more than two feet of powder, and 23 years of riding paid off. Features were everywhere. I was alone. At the chairlift, I bumped into Scotty Lago. His story was different than mine: Brundage had called to me. Scotty, on the other hand, had been “asked to leave” Tamarack after “falling” from the chairlift (while Fuel TV’s Brian Oliver was filming).
We rode until ski patrol put a “closed” sign on the hiking trail and the chairs stopped running. And then we hiked for a couple more. I retreated to Whitewater-more home-like than my permanent residence-and Scotty made the trip to Boise’s airport.
Reality (although I don’t like to admit it) pulled my chain, and the sojourn to my secret spot was forced to a conclusion. Wheels touched down in the City oof Angels, and as I drove to the TransWorld office, one thought kept circling in my head: A season pass at Brundage is only 219 dollars. Why am I driving to work?
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