Often referred to by my friend Liz as ‘Powderhouse Resort,’ this highly frequented backcountry destination offers over thirteen-hundred feet of consistent 30 degree pitch that gives a great burn on the way up, and an excellent ride on the way down. Perhaps the most accessible backcountry area within proximity to South Lake Tahoe, Powderhouse is friendly enough to be approachable for newbies, but also offers enough diversity that intermediates and experts can find the goods. Located 1.7 miles west of Luther Pass, your best bet is to get there early after a snowfall and bring a few friends to share the turns with.
Not to be confused with its’ big brother Waterhouse Peak directly to the East, Powderhouse has the steeper and more consistent fall-line of the two, rendering it more popular than Waterhouse. Coming from Meyers on US Hwy 89, continue to climb Luther Pass until the road straitens out and flattens; you will see a small turnout on the right side of the road and then a larger one directly after it—pull off here. If you see a sign saying ‘Luther Pass’ and the road begins to descend—you’ve gone too far, and you should turn around.
I love hiking and riding at Powderhouse because the terrain is steep, and the snow is usually deep. Always go backcountry with a partner, and if you can’t find someone who’s been there before to guide you, follow the skin-track to the summit and then try and stay near pre-established tracks. Once at the top, you have many options of where to go and what terrain to shred, but overall there are essentially three general directions to venture. If you head far skiers left, you will encounter more moderate/less-steep terrain. If you drop directly middle—mostly where you were hiking, you’ll find many fun pops and pillows that are playful and for the most part forgiving. The far skiers right offers some bigger drops and a few absolutely-huge cliffs; over here, you better be ready to huck. All three options have outstanding skiing and riding in north-facing glades that are spaced just right…