Spot Check: Squaw Valley, California

Spot Check

Squaw Valley, California

Perfection isn't such a bad thing.

By Annie Fast

If you're a jibtastic snowboarder filming your next 411 park segment–you'll be stoked at Squaw. If you're a duct tape and Gore-tex first-chair freerider, you'll be stoked at Squaw. And with the new village, even soccer moms will be happy. Squaw is just four hours from San Francisco, and it's the second biggest resort in Tahoe.

Last season, Squaw was overrun with Robots and Neoprotans sessioning the park and shralping the pow for the camera. When it snows at Squaw, it's usually in big servings. KT-22 is the first chair to open and is immune to the debilitating effects of wind that the rest of the mountain's chairlifts sometime succumb to. The West Face is where Jeremy Jones heads first thing–which chair opens next is a gamble, just follow the loud packs of skier dudes (they seem to know).

Across the four peaks of Squaw, there're a lot of cliffs, chutes, hikes, backsides, frontsides, cornices–pretty much everything. Silverado on the backside and Granite Chief are good freeriding chairs. No trip to Squaw is complete without hucking off Palisades, accessed by the Siberia Chair.

Link up some freeride lines, then head down to the base area and grab a sandwich at Dave's Deli and take five on the sundeck with everyone else. Even if it's been a powder day, by noon, it's probably not anymore–but at least the park is groomed daily.

There are three parks at Squaw. The Belmont Park is elementary school where you learn the ABCs of snowboarding. Graduates move up The Funitel (gondola) to access the Riviera Park. The dual takeoff tabletop, boxes, rails, and the standard halfpipe define the Riviera. This season a hip will be thrown into the mix. The Riviera Park is open day and night. It closes for grooming at 3:00 p.m. and reopens at 5:00 p.m. with a fresh pipe and corduroy jumps. Your shreducation could end here.

Only gifted riders enter the Mainline Park. Located between the Gold Coast Chair and Siberia, the Mainline Park is complete with a 400-foot-long Superpipe, challenging jumps, two rows of tabletops, new rails, spines, hips, and a huge quarterpipe. This is also where Squaw's most difficult and creative rails are, including the rainbow rails and boxes and the Corkscrew rail–good luck getting all the way around. The Mainline class of 2003 includes Travis Parker, Sean Tedore, Scotty Wittlake, Robbie Sell, and the infamous Alkasquawliks.

Off-hill is as good as on-hill at Squaw. Lodging and nightlife is right at Squaw, or down the road in Truckee and Tahoe City. The Best Western in Truckee is one of the most popular and reasonable places to stay. In Squaw, go to Bar One and Balboa's Café for live music. We're betting Starbucks and Mamasake Sushi in the new village will be popular, too. In Truckee, check out the nightlife at Bar Of America, Tourist Club Bar, and Pastime Club in the old town strip. Java Sushi and Tacos Jalisco will fill your stomach. Wild Cherries is great for a quick breakfast, or try The Squeeze Inn. In Tahoe City, late-night fun can be had at Pete And Peter's or the Naughty Dog–the Pierce Street Annex is the most popular spot to undo your single status. Totally Board in Truckee and Out of Bounds in Reno will hook you up with shred gear.

Squaw was ranked in the “top-ten best” in our annual Resort Guide in the following categories: snow, terrain, vibe, lodging, nightlife, and food. So fly into Reno, or grab some tire chains, jump on I-80 and stay for a while–only boring people will get bored at Squaw.

(pull quote if needed)

“There's a reason why they call it Squallywood.”Robbie Sell

(porttrait at squaw)

Squaw Valley is a lot more than just a park–it doesn't get any better than this place.”–Josh “Fletch” Feliciano

Photo: Nick Hamilton


If Josh Feliciano drank an ounce of Malt liquor for each foot he jumped–that'd be almost two forty's folks…glug, glug.

Photo: Ryan Hughes


In German you might exclaim accchhh Massig, Riesengroß, or Enorm at the size of this cliff. Frederik Kalbermatten puts words into motion with a Cab 540 at Squaw.

Photo: I.J. Valezuela


Average annual snowfall: 450 INCHES

Summit elevation: 9,050 FT.

Vertical drop: 2,850 FT.

Number of lifts: 33

Shreddable acres: 4,000

Pipe: One

Superpipe: One

Parks: Three

Snowskate park: No

Lights: Yes

Local shop: Totally Board (530) 582-1584

Ticket price: $59

Web site: