Kirkwood: Fawn Ridge
Legendary among locals and out-of-towners alike, Kirkwood Mountain Resort has a storied past and a bright future. With arguably the most snow of any resort in the Tahoe Basin, Kirkwood lives up to its’ reputation as a premier big-mountain playground for powder-lovers and steeps-chargers. Besides the snow, besides the friendly people, besides the wilderness-feel, there is one chief reason people love Kirkwood: the terrain.
KMR is gifted with some of the best fall-line terrain anywhere in the lower 48 states--so come prepared to be challenged and maybe a little scared. While the slopes directly under the lifts are awesome in-and-of themselves, most of the locals prefer what is deemed “the side-country”—areas that are in-bounds, but just barely. Of all of Kirkwood’s side-country options, my favorite is the Fawn Ridge zone.
Fawn Ridge is unique in that it’s not entirely lift-accessed. Having one of Kirkwood’s two T-bar serviced areas, the ridge is only accessed by foot for most of the season—which is great for those who believe that some powder stashes should by out of reach of the masses. As a hike-to only area of the resort, Fawn Ridge stays fresh for days after a storm, making it a destination for people like me who care enough about fresh tracks to walk up a mountain ridge to get the goods.
Some resorts, such as Heavenly, are about taking laps on long groomers and not having too much to worry about. Kirkwood distinguishes itself by being a place where you can still find an adventure or two if you’re willing to look.
To find Fawn Ridge, access chair 4 and ride it to the top. As you ride 4, you’ll see to the left (skiers right) a long ridge over “the wave” that culminates in a peak: this is Fawn Ridge. To access—ride to the bottom, just above the wave, unclip, and start walking. If you keep walking, you’ll eventually reach a peak, and there will be Kirkwood boundary signs. I usually clip-in right after the final T-bar lift tower. Once ready to go, drop the bowl and stay high-right to maximize the turn-potential.
Warning: whatever you do, avoid dropping off of Fawn Ridge to the right, as there are many cliff bands and unmarked obstacles—only attempt with a guide or people who’ve done it before…