Living and skiing in Lake Tahoe I’ve always known Homewood Mountain as one of the hidden gems of Lake Tahoe. The common surprise is the size of the mountain as you can’t see most of the mountain from the base. But the treasure is the untracked powder for days and views of the lake so close up that you literally feel like you will ski into the lake at the base.
I know the backcountry terrain that is accessible right off the top of the mountain because I’ve hiked it over the years. But since they started operating in 2015 I’ve been wanting to try cat skiing with Homewood Snowcat Adventures. After several feet of fresh powder blessed the shores of Tahoe the first week of February, there was no better time to finally do it.
The morning began by checking in with the staff and guides at West Shore Café at the base of Homewood, right on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. They had a light breakfast and coffee waiting that I enjoyed while staring out at the lake.
I met some of the other people that would be along for the ride. 8 people in total plus 2 very experienced backcountry guides, Andrew and Sam. They went through all of our backcountry gear to make sure it was in proper working order and that we were familiar with how to use it properly. They explained that chances were slim we would need to use it, but it’s important that everyone is trained and ready to help if any snow dangers did arise.
We all knew that feet of powdery snow had fallen the last few days and had yet to be touched in the area were heading, so you could feel the energy and excitement building among the group as we headed out to the mountain. (I’m the one in black with the yellow board.)
It was a mixed group of experienced skiers and boarders and we had a lot to talk about as we got on the ski lift at the bottom of the mountain and headed to the top. At the top of the mountain, our snowcat and driver were waiting to take us out to the untracked backcountry terrain.
Our guides gave a brief snowcat safety talk, and then we hopped in and were off on our adventure!
After a 5-10 minute ride, we were at our first drop-off spot. We all climbed out full of anticipation for the wonderful untouched powder runs that must be waiting for us. Everyone helped to unload the gear and spirits were high.
Andrew and Sam led us on a short walk to where we would be dropping in for our first run.
The skies were blue and the views of the lake as incredible as usual, but it was the untouched powder sparkling in the sunlight that had our attention.
The guides explained the line we would be skiing. They gave us the meet-up location told us to stay within eyesight of each other. If you were new to skiing the backcountry, all of this communication and training from the guides would put you at ease.
The lead guide Andrew dropped in and set an outer boundary line for all of the skiers to stay inside of, and to set a track for us to ski out at the bottom. They gave us the meet-up location and told us to stay within eyesight of each other. Sam would be coming down last making sure we all made it safely to the meetup location.
Then they sent us one after the next in succession so that we were close enough to keep eyes on each other, but not close enough to get in each other's way. It was finally game on as we each dropped in and picked our own untracked powder lines, and it was deeeep!
One of the things that makes the experience unique at Homewood is that they use both the lifts and snowcat to access the longest possible runs. Towards the bottom, you link back into the mountain trails, which had plenty of fresh tracks of their own.
Then it was back into the snowcat to talk about our epic runs and head back up to a new drop-in spot with untouched snow. The whole ride up everyone was repeating, “I can’t believe how good it is!”.
The rest of the day was that loop on repeat. Lap after lap of untracked powder and trips up with newfound friends to share our elation with. At one point a delicious meal magically showed up in the snowcat that we enjoyed on one of our trips up to a new spot.
By the end of the day, we had not only made fresh tracks. We had made new friends and great memories.
I’m not one for being overly excitable, but it was an amazing day. The combination of beautiful views, untouched powder, good company, delicious food, and amazing guides had me all smiles.
The cherry on top was the next round of snow moving in to bring continue feet of powder to the shores of Lake Tahoe.
We finished the day back at the West Shore Café for drinks, and to recap our amazing experience with our new friends.
Any trip to Homewood is made by the views alone. The lack of crowds and untracked snow keeps you coming back for more. The snowcat adventures are icing on the cake, especially if you let us try to help you score the perfect powder day for your day in the backcountry.
Visit SkiHomewood.com for more information.
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Photos courtesy of snowledge.co