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Alpine Meadows, CA.
Rebagliati Freeride at Alpine
Here's the deal, when I moved to Alpine in the summer of '95, the big banner out front said, "Alpine Meadows, A Skier's Mountain." I was bitter having to hike Munchkin Chutes and ride the backside of KT22 to get home from work at neighboring Squaw Valley. I rode everything on the Squaw side, but couldn't ride the coveted Alpine terrain because I was one stick short and a couple a sandwiches light of a picnic. I remember spouting to the effect that when Alpine did open to boarders, we should boycott its past discriminatory ways, not give them the coveted dollar that was forcing their hand to open up to us.

"I heard stories of huge back bowls, cliff bands a plenty and endless traverses into the Tahoe National Forest backcountry..."

Next thing I knew, not only had all my friends claimed epic tracks at Alpine, they were getting jobs and passes there. I still never got to ride their "skier's" terrain. I heard stories of huge back bowls, cliff bands a plenty and endless traverses into the Tahoe National Forest backcountry.

Could I be missing that much? The face offered little insight to its variety. The trail map hinted at the expanse, but being a typical, bitter, skeptical snowboarder I shrugged it off. I had my Squawllywood and Homewood passes. What could Alpine offer that I hadn't experienced already on Tahoe's north shore?

Freeride at Alpine Meadows

Last month I found myself in familiar territory with a friend, Steph, who had taken my place as Tahoe's East Coast pilgrim representative. Steph was in her second strong season of boarding and working Alpine with her Alpine-man, Brendan. They dialed me from the start: they ticketed me; introduced me to the local hippie; and, proceeded to give me the white carpet treatment.

It had been 48 hours since the last fresh had fallen and I was skeptical about finding any left. By two runs, I was convinced that the terrain was not only board-friendly, but spread out enough that if you chose to hike just a bit, the tracks were all yours. I began to see what the "skier's mountain" thing was all about.

Alpine offers much terrain, but not all directly lift accessible. And to hike makes the turns that much more rewarding and at Alpine — they are endless. We would traverse to the pony slope, then hike out on the road for a few back to the lift. There was never a mention of its cost/benefit ratio. It was all in our smiles.

The terrain reminded me of Squaw, BUT unlike Squaw, you could hike almost anywhere, conditions permitting. The national forest ridgeline extends far beyond the 30 minute hike we took on the back bowls to endless open fields of uncut funk. This offered enough fluff to instantly disorient me while the expansive view of the lake mesmerized me. It was almost too much for me to take in during the few days of touring I received, always different, always good.

Only now do I see the "skier's mountain" in a new light. It's a three pinner mountain. The ability to quickly go from lift to traverse to downslope and up again is all about tele-ness. It wasn't a conspiracy after all. It was a statement of fact. This terrain is expansive and not all lift accessible, but I like hike. Families disappear, locals break track and you get a taste of the real reason people here never find time for Squaw and I can't go saying it's bigger or better than Squaw. Chances are if the snow's fresh on one side, it's gonna be fresh on the other. The difference with Alpine is it's more expansive and thus gives you more — more chance to escape and more places to hide.

Freeriding at Alpine
Yes my guide was a pin foot and calmly waited for my one footed snowboard shuffle to hop around each corner and strap in. Not only did man-about-mountain Brendan style me, he also brought me under the hothouse's warm roof after I began crying like a baby about my stinking, rotting teeth. Brendan didn't bat an eye or dawn a face mask. He sat me down and popped that thing outta my head in minutes and had me back on the chair with a lollipop and a smile.

Hans Prosl toothless in Tahoe,

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