Wind Buff Buffet: Conditions Report From Palisades Tahoe

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Palisades Tahoe's KT-22 reopened on March 4, 2024 following a three day storm closure. Unfortunately, the 90+ inches of fresh skied more like 6 inches due to 100+ mph winds battering the snowpack.

The winds died down yesterday, March 5th, and produced one of the best conditions known to skiers: buff, and lots of it. Check out my short run down West Face Alternates below:

As an East Coaster who moved West, (I've accepted the fact that I fit nearly every millennial cliche. It is what it is.), this wind buff stuff is quite intriguing.

I'd heard fairy tales of the wind refilling entire bowls at Alta Ski Area days after a storm, but as a skeptical former-Catholic from The Mid-Atlantic, I had my doubts.

Could the wind actually improve conditions? If my 15 years of skiing in Vermont had taught me anything, the answer is a resounding no.

Wind = cold. Wind = lift closures. Wind = bad.

Hand up, I was wrong, very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I owe a heartfelt apology to the wind. So, Wind, I'm sorry.

As the great Shaquille O'Neal once said to NBA player Christian Wood in what has since become a meme: "I owe you an apology. I wasn't really familiar with your game."

Looking towards Headwall from KT-22. March 5th, 2024. <p>Photo: Matt Lorelli/Powder Magazine</p>
Looking towards Headwall from KT-22. March 5th, 2024.

Photo: Matt Lorelli/Powder Magazine

If you can look past my mediocre skiing ability, you'll notice the clouds of powdery goodness that shoot into the sky with each turn I make.

The snow was slightly firm just underneath the sugary wind-blown surface layer, but it didn't matter. It was the perfect consistency.

I don't pretend to be a "good" skier when compared to some of my colleagues who are professionals, but this wind buff delight gave me so much confidence that I felt, even if only for a fleeting moment, that I could be as good as them one day.

The speed I was able to carry through each turn was enough to make me slightly nervous, but I never felt out of control.

The entire West Face was skiing almost as if a groomer has laid down a track the night before, but it was covered with 1-3 inches of firm snow with a coating of mystical dust on top. In a word, it was lovely.

West Face and West Face Alternates as seen on Palisades Tahoe's trail map.<p>Palisades Tahoe</p>
West Face and West Face Alternates as seen on Palisades Tahoe's trail map.

Palisades Tahoe

The upper mountain on the Olympic Valley side of Palisades Tahoe is expected to open today, March 6th, 2024, for the first time since the storm.

I plan on heading out for my regular afternoon laps in search of protected powder stashes and more wind buff-ery.

The rest of this week should be dry and mild with a solid refresher storm moving in early next week. Here's hoping our fast start to Miracle March continues.

I'm having too much for Spring to start quite yet...!

Related: Skier Ryan Faye Makes Incredible Save On 'The Fingers' At Palisades Tahoe

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