Images courtesy of @Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Olympic Valley Expert Itinerary
Guide to Olympic Valley's Most Iconic Steeps and Expert Terrain — KT-22, Headwall, The Palisades, Silverado, Granite Chief, Tower 16/Broken Arrow
KT-22 West/East Side – Headwall to the Slot and North Bowl – The Palisades – Lunch @ The Arc – Explore Silverado – Hike Granite Chief Peak – Ski the Corkscrew – Finish with Tower 16/Broken Arrow – Après @ Auld Dubliner
1. 9-10:30AM – Exploring the steeps of KT-22
It's rare that you can access the steepest terrain on the mountain directly from the base. Take advantage and get right on KT-22 from the Village. Exit right at the top and ski past the patrol shack on the left. Before you are some of the most famous and steep runs at Squaw Valley – the West Side KT Runs. Our four favorites are Chute 75, The Nose Chutes, Mosley's (The West Face if you want to fit in with the locals), and Rock Garden.
Chute 75 and the Nose Chutes are the steepest and most advanced. Chute 75 is just to the left of the patrol shack; the Nose Chutes is at the furthest end of the ridge, just past Mosely's. Rock Garden offers a slightly less steep pitch and provides access to the narrow, tight chutes on its right flank that give the run its name. The West Face is the easiest of the four, but arguably the most famous for its consistently steep pitch, length and very wide slope. The West Face is a must on a powder day! We recommend two or three runs off of KT's west side to start your day as there is still plenty of incredible expert level skiing left to explore.
Finish your trip around KT with a lap down its East side. This time unload KT-22 to the left and follow the cat track around the rock spire called Eagle's Nest. Look for the eagle statue and Tibetan prayer flags at the top of the Eagles Nest. They were placed in memory of the professional skier and Squaw Valley local Shane McConkey. To get to the East Face, follow the cat track towards the top of the Olympic Lady. Just past the lift, you can drop off the ridge into Tamara's (East Face). The East Face is known for its steep and consistent pitch. Head left above the cliff band, about 100 feet from the bottom of the gully to pick up the slight traverse left into Waterfall Gully. When you reach the bottom, look for Easy Street and follow it back to the base area.
2.10:30AM – 1,2,3... Drop! The Slot and Light Towers
Time to head to The Slot. As you enter the base area, look for the Squaw One Express just to the right when facing KT-22. On this longer lift ride, you will have an awesome aerial view of the KT West side runs you just completed. From the top of Squaw One, head left down Mountain Run to reach Headwall Express. Exit Headwall Express to your left and follow the ridge/signs towards The Slot to drop in from the top. A word of caution, The Slot is another classic Squaw Valley run but can have a difficult and tight entrance depending on the conditions.
For something even more extreme, proceed down past the top of The Slot until you reach The Light Towers. The Light Towers are extremely steep, and skiing these are essentially like skiing the face of a cliff. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can access the Classic and Hourglass chutes directly from The Slot by traversing to the right just as the Slot's/Light Towers steep pitches start to mellow. Work your way right towards a line of trees. These trees signify the top of the Classic Chute. The Hourglass sits just a little further past this entrance to the skier's right.
These chutes all let out at the base of the Headwall Express. Take this lift and exit left to follow the cat track along the ridge until you can ski back underneath the chair and towards North Bowl. North Bowl is a short, but very steep bowl that will take you to the bottom of the Siberia Express.
Powder skiing in the Lower Slot
3. 11AM – Extreme Skiing Heaven on The Palisades
While Siberia doesn’t have a ton of steeps, it is the main way to access the famous Palisades. The lift ride is actually a good vantage point to pick your line down these chutes. From the top of the Siberia Express, head left and you'll see the start of the hike next to the patrol shack. The Palisades are an easy 20-minute climb and the views from the top are well worth it. From the summit, pick any of the chutes that fit your skill level and head down. A general rule of thumb is that the chutes off of The Palisades get progressively less steep and shorter from skiers left to right. For first timers we recommend the National Chute, which sits at the far skiers right corner. It has the most mellow pitch and is the widest. For those looking for a real challenge, be sure to check out the Chimney and Main.
By now you've probably worked up quite an appetite. Once you’ve had a moment to catch your breath at the bottom, follow the signs for Funitel/Gold Coast Lodge. Squaw is wide open with few trees so this should be easy to spot. You’ll see the entrance for The Arc at the middle level.
4. 11:45AM – Lunch @ the Arc at
The best part about the Arc is its wide selection of cuisine. They also have two full service bars and a Starbucks upstairs. Enjoy your meal on the outdoor patio that boasts a pretty unbeatable view of the Palisades.
5. 12:30PM – Silverado - The Promised Land
Now that you've refueled, it’s time to head to Silverado. When its open, Silverado is one of our absolute favorite zones to ski. (Note: During seasons with less snowfall Silverado will not open. If this is the case, skip this step and head straight to Step 6). To get there, head down Easy Slider to the bottom of Big Blue. Load Big Blue and exit right to follow the ridge until you reach the top of the famed Silverado chair.
Silverado has 8 access gates, however, gates 3-6 are the easiest to reach from the top. Drop in and explore some of the most extreme and coveted in-bounds terrain in North America. You'll need at least a few runs to explore this area. We recommend Tram Bowl, Medusa, Kathmandu, and Jakes/Billy’s. All of Silverado's trails funnel skiers to the Silverado lift at the bottom. Silverado is an expert skier’s paradise. While it has acres of extreme terrain, it also has some high consequences for the unprepared skier and rider. After a more conservative first lap, take advantage of the lift back up to examine some of the more risky descent choices from the air. For some, this descent into Silverado may be a descent into true paradise. While Squaw still has some amazing terrain left to explore, no one would think less of a skier choosing to spend the rest of their day in the promised land that is Silverado! After about an hour in this extreme skier's playground, if you're looking for full Squaw Valley experience, you will want to head to Granite Chief.
Face Shots in Silverado
6. 1:45PM – Ski The Peak! - Granite Chief
When you are ready to leave Silverado, unload the chair and head right. Silverado puts you right next to the top of the Solitude Chair. Proceed past the Solitude Chair and make your way left across the slope's fall line until you reach Reuters. Continue traversing left (if you drop too low you will need to take Solitude to get back up) until you reach Marillac's. From here proceed to the bottom, past the Shirley Lake Express chair, until you reach the Granite Chief chair.
At the top of Granite Chief proceed straight ahead. Here you will see a sign for the hike to Granite Chief Peak. This is a 30 - 40 min hike with many options to drop in early. If you are not up for hiking, just proceed to the right and into the Granite Glades. You'll notice that the chutes from the top of the peak feed you into these glades too. All of the chutes off of the peak are very steep and very fun.
Once you’ve hit the glades, feel free to explore some of the best trees and ledges at Squaw. All of these runs will feed you back to the Granite Chief lift. On your next ride up, exit to the left and follow the cat track toward the Attic. As you crest over the ridge towards the Attic, you will notice a rocky outcropping towards your left. Bank slightly towards this outcropping, and look for the signs directing you towards Corkscrew and Break It Out. Both are great options, however, Corkscrew is the steepest and more advanced of the two. Pop out of the trees at the bottom and head towards the Shirley Lake Express.
7. 3:15PM – Classic Squaw Finish in Tower 16/Broken Arrow
By now you’re probably fairly tired and ready for a beer. A classic way to finish your day at Squaw with some steeps is to head over to Tower 16 and Broken Arrow. To do this, unload Shirley Lake and head to the left. Follow Mule's Ear toward the bottom of the Mountain Meadow and Bailey's Beach lifts. Just past Bailey’s Beach, you will see the gate for Tower 16.
Follow the cat track to the base of the hike. You can either follow the short 150-yard hike to the top of Tower 16/Broken Arrow, or keep following the cat track around giving you access to the lower 2/3 of Tower 16. Broken Arrow is to the left of the peak and has some cool cliff bands, ledges, and gullies. If you prefer straight and steep, stick to Tower 16 to the right. Any path you choose will bring you down into the main canyon and back to the base area.
Congrats! At this point your legs are probably absolutely toast. Squaw Valley's expert terrain is no joke and you deserve a reward for conquering all of its classics. Head to the Auld Dubliner for a full bar and great food or check out our Après Guide for more options.
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