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Visitor reviews for Kirkwood Ski Resort
Ski Resort Rating: Rate Kirkwood
April 30, 2008
Kim from United Kingdom
I skied the spring of 2008. Chad Paeglows review of Kirkwood is very comprehensive so I won't go into much detail except to say:
1. It is phenomenally good value. Spring pass was 99 bucks.
2. Lots of the terrain is terrifying. Kirkwood is the place to sharpen you ski skills and learn to jump if you think you're an advanced skier. There are 100s of jumps ranging from Hollywood Hip, a rollover under lift 6 which pretty much any decent skier could hit, to Hospital, a 100 ft cliff drop that gets hit by a couple of maniacs per year on a big powder day. Most people should be able to find a few jumps of their level.
3. There is virtually zero apres-ski.
4. It's a short mountain.
November 02, 2004
thibaut colar from United States
Kirkwood is y favorite resort in CA, it's a little off the beaten path and there isn't much nightlife but that's not what i'm looking for.
It start by a nice ride from the bay area on scenic and uncroded highway 88, then the resort alwasy gets the very best snow of the tahoe area (it gets lots of it, and since it's colder here, the snow is drier/colder).
This is quite a large resort and not too crowded compared to the main tahoe resorts.
Only drwaback is that it's not a secret anymore so it's changing a bit.
But the bottom line is you won't be disappinted here, espceially if you are an intermediate to expert skier.
August 22, 2003
Chad Paeglow from United States
Kirkwood is an expert skiers/boarders paradise. While the resort has a beautiful beginners area, it is very small. Intermediate terrain is decent, but only going up 1/2 of the mountain on the front and providing only one piste from the top on the backside. Most of the locals go to Kirkwood for its other terrain. While a lot of decent advanced and expert terrain is available right off the lift, if one is willing to take short hikes the mountain really opens up. On the front the Cornice high speed quad (2000' in 4 minutes!) and the Wall triple are bottom to top lifts seperated by 3/4 of a mile of ridge line with only two relatively easy entries - the rest is an asortment of chutes and cornice drops ranging from a few feet to easily over twenty. Right under the Wall lift is the area know as the Wall - wide open vertical skiing. To skiers right of the Cornise lift is another mile of ridge line with no lift access at the top. Depending on how much skating, traversing and hiking you are willing to due you can often still get 15 fresh powder turns the day after the storm. All slopes run down to an beginner/intermediate area with an access lift that will get you back to the main base area.
The backside of the mountain (which has the slowest lift - slated for an upgrade) is 1800' of wide open bowl skiing. Here you can slide right off the lift to a variety of terrain - a massive cornice called the wave, several piste runs and a variety of gullies, chutes and cliffs. Or you can take a number of hikes - straight up at 99 Steps (actually its about 400) which is aheart stopper, but can offer 10 beautiful fresh powder turns several days after a storm, or head over to Fawn Ridge, with its gentle rolling tree pitches with hidden cliff drops and powder stashes.
But the real gems are inbetween the front and backside: Eagle Bowl, Thunder Saddle and Lookout Vista Ridge. Both Eagle Bowl and thunder Saddle can be hit up without any hiking and little traversing. Eagle Bowl is often empty on storm days offering up open snow fields, easy to top notch chutes and plenty of boulder drops - but be careful the bottom is long and flat, so keep up you speed. Thunder Saddle has some of the most consistantly challegeing of the mountain - offering up sigle track chutes, gullies and some great tree skiing. Inbetween these two guys is the permantly closed Cirque - which is permissble after the end of the ski season in good years - this terrain is truely expert only; often requireing a minimum of twenty feet cliff hucks into narrrow chutes to make your way down! Further out along the ridge from Thunder Saddle is Lookout Vista Ridge - not named on the trail map. The ridge requires a bit of hiking, but nothing to intense - you can make your way out there from the top of the backsaide (Emmigrant) chair by following the ridge line and hiking up hill just a bit. From the top of the ridge you can go down to the backside (often unridden until a day or two after the storm) for a short but decent fall line with some minor cliff/chutes at the top and a nice snowfield underneath. The real treat is to dive in toward the front side - this 800-1200 foot pitch offers up a cornicpoea of chutes, spines, gullies, cliffs and trees. The beauty is that there are a few easy in (even a spot where no cornice forms) to full-on extreme skiing entries, and you can get all the way down without ever going through anything to hairy to full on HUGE drops. Its a great place to work up you skill level for survival terrain.
Well, at Kirkwood it is about the skiing. The rest is small time. the pub (yes really only one) is quite by 8PM and full of resort employees only. Condos and lodging are popping up, but it is sleepy here. It only helps you get up and on the slopes first thing in the morning.
Last season saw over 550 inches of snow when they stopped counting in April. Kirkwood received an addditional 4-5 feet after the end of the season and re-opened for on last weekend in May. Still, many called it a bad year; but it went out with a blast receiving a 3 foot dump, followed by a week of 4-6 inches a day and another 3 foot dump, two days before the closure date (yes in April).
Compared to other Tahoe resorts... Kirkwood has smaller slower lifts and offers no lake veiws, but offers up more top notch terrain per capita than even Squaw- and you do not have to deal with the yuppie crowd. Yeah, you have to hike more at Kirkwood, than at KT-22, but you are often skiing all by yourself.