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Squaw Valley — Mountain layout

Mountain Layout—Skiing

Heres a larger, more detailed trail map.

Expert and Advanced: Squaw Valley has some of the most challenging terrain in the world. Serious skiers and riders visit from all parts of the globe to ride this amazing mountain—a must on any experts check list. On a good powder day spectators can watch a number of California’s best riders ski off 100- foot cliffs and ride down lines that seem inconceivable. If you don wish to try it yourself, stop often and look for the caution signs.
At the base of the mountain, the KT-22 quad climbs 2,000 vertical feet up some of the toughest pistes within the resort. Steeps-focused locals claim to ride this lift exclusively. If a look at the northside makes your throat tighten in fear, head to the saddle between KT-22 and Squaw Peak. Its not a gentle route, but its not vertical either.

Half way up the mountain, the Cornice 2 and Headwall lifts lead up to Squaw Peak. Here giant cornices form from the high winds and the open bowls fill up with 15 feet of snow. On the average powder day, the ridge line off the lifts turns into a huck-fest with hundreds of riders throwing themselves off the massive cornices into the powdery bowls below.

The Siberian quad is the lift that comes closest to Squaw Peak. From this lift the ridge line is hiked to the world famous Palisades. The Palisades are essentially sheer cliff bands that range between 10 and 120 feet, and they are doable, theoretically. On epic powder days, pro skiers and riders come out of the woodwork to throw themselves off these rocks in view of photographers who are there to document it all.

On the northern end of the resort, the Silverado triple leads to another expert area that is slightly different. The rolling terrain features a mix of glades, rock drops and small chutes. To find the areas hidden treasures, make friends with a local and be prepared to ski like one.

The Granite Chief triple lies on the far northern boundary of the resort and is a veritable playground of chutes, boulders and trees. Traverse far rider’s right for an amazing granite boulder field where giant rocks are randomly scattered down a steep pitch. With a little creativity, double, triple and even quadruple cliff drops can be lined up. Watch out for the trees and rocks in the landings.

Intermediate: Intermediate terrain has challenge and variety—perhaps more challenge than most might expect or, perhaps, want. Just because a lift is colored blue doesn mean that all terrain serviced by it is blue. Siberia Express accesses the largest intermediate bowl, advanced levels turn left getting off the lift, intermediates traverse to the right, which feeds into the Gold Coast terrain and other wide-open slopes. Newport, Gold Coast and Emigrant lifts offer acres of open-bowl intermediate terrain. The Shirley Lake Expressis a six-pack. Shirley Lake gets high traffic; adjacent Solitude is much quieter. Careful though: Wander off the groomed runs in Solitude, and cliff signs are numerous.For tougher runs, take the Headwall Express Lift, then opt for Chicken Bowl or drop over the back of the ridge to Sun Bowl, a beauty if conditions are right. Or, ride the KT-22 chair, head west on the Saddle Traverse, then drop into the Saddle, which is groomed. The runs off the Red Dog and Squaw Creek chairs, on the Snow King peak, are seldom crowded.

The Mountain Run is a crowded end-of-the-day cruise: Top to bottom, its a well-populated three-mile run. If you’re tired or don like rush-hour traffic, consider downloading on the tram or gondola.  Another great cruise is Home Run. Or give the Olympic High ski run a try. It follows the route of the original 1960 Olympic men’s downhill. It begins above the bottom shack of Headwall and heads to the base, bypassing the Mountain Run entirely.

Beginner and First-timer: Though Squaw Valleys well publicized steep terrain has given it a menacing reputation, it has a little-known surprise: This is a great spot for beginners. Squaw has a wide, gentle bowl at the top of the High Camp cable car and the Gold Coast Funitel known as Baileys Beach, served by two slow-moving lifts. Best advice for beginners: Travel across the bowl from the top of the cable car or the Funitel from lift to lift – from Baileys Beach, to Belmont to Riviera to East Broadway (or the reverse) and then head back for lunch at either Gold Coast or High Camp. Though Baileys Beach is not physically separated from the other terrain, advanced skiers rarely use it. Beginners can ride all the way to the High Camp summit at Squaw for the views, the gentle (always) groomed slopes, the great snow and lunch with fabulous views. They just hop the cable car or Funitel up to High Camp and Gold Coast (where theyll also find restaurants, shelter and an outdoor ice rink), and at the end of the day, ride the cable car or the Funitel back down. Its a friendly, well-groomed and easy beginners area with spectacular views for those who are just starting their skiing careers. New this season is the Big Blue Express, replacing the High Camp Chairlift.

The Papoose Learning Area is tucked away at the base area next to the tubing area on the lower mountain near the Far East lift and has two surface lifts for first-timers.