Strongly holding true to their reputation as South Shore’s independent ski area, Sierra-at-Tahoe is knee deep in street-cred as the last noncorporate/community-based mountain resort in South Lake Tahoe. Regionally and internationally renowned for their excellent parks, this year alone Sierra Resort was successful in training and churning out two gold-medal Olympians. Just a reality check, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s gold medal count was greater than that of many countries (that says a lot!!). However, if you’re not just a park-fiend, and you’ve heard whispers that Sierra Reosrt has something else to offer, you should listen, as this place is full of unexpected, but amazing surprises. Located near the top of Echo Pass at 1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe Rd., this mountain offers a lot of everything, and should be on your itinerary if you’re tired of the corporate vibe you experience elsewhere around the lake.
When I first moved to Tahoe, I was under the impression that Sierra-at-Tahoe had lots of parks, but little else: I was wrong. Upon visiting, I found an immense plethora of great tree skiing/riding that was both generously spaced and also challenging. In fact, if aesthetics are your thing, Sierra has some of the oldest and best preserved old-growth forest of any ski area I’ve ever been to; tree-riding aspens is one thing, but tree-riding in old growth pine offers a much cooler “I’m in Star Wars movie” feeling.
Also, a lot of people like to talk about Sierra-at-Tahoe's lack of steeps and scary terrain—these folks have obviously never visited and skied in Huckleberry Canyon--Sierra Resort's awesome side-country stash. Huckleberry has a way of surprising people, myself included, with its huge cliffs and amazing granite pillow lines. When entering into Huckleberry, it’s wise to go with someone who’s been there before, as well as having an Avi-kit (beacon, shovel, & probe). This side-country area is blasted and monitored by ski-patrol, but it is remote and not easily accessible from the base area, so be careful.
In addition to the amazing parks, trees, and side-country, Sierra-at-Tahoe's biggest claim to fame is its low-key and ‘rootsy’ vibe that echoes from another era of less monetized, more community based ski culture. This philosophy towards skiing and snowboarding is exemplified in the quality of the athletes that call Sierra Resort home. Most of the time when asked why they train at Sierra-at-Tahoe, the resort’s team will attribute their high caliber of performance to the low stress and low pressure that they receive from their home mountain. Most other resort teams push their athletes to do distracting events/comps that don’t support the individual, but Sierra has done nothing of the sort, and in the process allowed their athletes—and now their Olympians—to focus on the stuff that matters: skiing and riding.