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NEMS Article - Sugar Bowl, CA - A Pictorial

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Sugar Bowl, CA - A Pictorial

By: Jamesj
Posted 10/14/13  Last updated 10/14/13  1,135 views  0 comments


Sugar Bowl, CA – A Pictorial


By Jim Kenney, aka JamesJ

EpicSki Travel Correspondent


My son and I skied Sugar Bowl for the first time ever in early January 2013 during a two week safari to seven different ski areas in Northern California and Oregon.  We thought it was one of the coolest discoveries of the trip and an absolute Tahoe classic.  It’s big enough (1650 skiable acres) and bold enough to provide extremely robust terrain, yet not so huge (1500’ vertical drop) that you can’t get a fun taste of it in one visit. 


Besides the varied and easily navigable layout, Sugar Bowl is a bit closer to the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento than many other ski areas in the Lake Tahoe region with a convenient location only three miles off Interstate 80.  It has a reputation for some of the deepest annual snowfall totals in the area and a strong racing tradition including construction of a new slopeside campus for the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy.  Its fascinating operational history began with California’s first chairlift in 1939.  Walt Disney was an early backer and the resort was highly favored as a vacation getaway for a host of Hollywood glitterati back in the day. 


With installation of the new Crow’s Peak chair over the summer of 2013 Sugar Bowl now features four different lift served mountains.  Looking up at the layout from the base area they are from left to right:  Mt. Judah (el 8238’), Mt. Lincoln (el 8383’), Mt. Disney (el 7953’), and Crow’s Nest Peak (el 7954’).  Sugar Bowl has a great, unpretentious vibe.  If you are in the Bay area and can only sneak away for a day or two of skiing it’s a fine choice.  However, if you’re a bada$$ and want to explore seriously sick terrain for a few years it will work for that too – just ask mountain ambassador Daron Rahlves.


Please click on the photos for expanded views.  All photos are by Jim Kenney.



This view of Sugar Bowl’s highest lift served peak, Mt. Lincoln (el 8383’), is from the Mt Judah Summit Chair.  Sugar Bowl has a total of 103 trails and 13 lifts.



Paralleling the upper half of the Mt. Lincoln Express lift line, the gulch in the upper center of this photo is Silver Belt trail.  It's a distinctive black diamond run and frequent venue for racing events at Sugar Bowl for many years.



The great terrain beneath the summit of Mt. Lincoln draws a fun and eclectic mix of locals, weekenders, and destination visitors.



It doesn’t get much better than dropping into Silver Belt trail with blue sky above and good snow below.



The Palisades, a half mile of ridgeline between Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Disney features cliffs and chutes that 4x Olympian and pro free skier Daron Rahlves calls, “my training ground for big lines in AK.”



Mt. Disney (el 7953’) has some of the earliest lift served runs in America including steep, fun groomers like East Face (center) and Disney Nose (right).  The new Crow’s Peak chair will serve advanced glades from the ridgeline angling behind Disney Nose.



The East Face of Mt. Disney is ideal for carving-up nearly 1000 unbroken vertical feet of steep groom. 



For 75 years skiers have enjoyed this view of the historic Village Lodge from Disney Nose.



These days the nicely appointed Judah Lodge (circa 1998) is the primary base of operations at Sugar Bowl.



The northwest view off the backside of Mt. Judah features beautiful Donner Lake.  The ill-fated Donner party of early western pioneers resorted to cannibalism while snowbound on its shores during the winter of 1846.


Sugar Bowl website:   http://www.sugarbowl.com/home

Sugar Bowl trail map:  http://www.sugarbowl.com/trailmaps


About the Author

  • Husband, father and civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a Washington D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim’s ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism’s Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article. To read other articles by Jim, click here
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