Back to (Double) Black: Palisades Tahoe Redesignates Extreme Runs
New changes to the Palisades Tahoe trail map better reflect the difficulty of the terrain
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Palisades Tahoe skiers and boarders have long-known that more than a few of its black diamond runs warranted another diamond due to cliffs and other hazards. The resort finally agreed this year.
Palisades Tahoe upgraded nearly 40 of its 245 Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley runs to double black diamond status–on paper anyway–including Granite Chief Peak, Funnel, Kathmandu, Idiot’s Delight, Tom’s Tumble and Chimney. The extra diamond can be seen on the resort’s 2022/23 map available on its app.
Resort leadership told Outside it was a matter of safety and customer experience to be more detailed about identifying Palisades Tahoe’s more extreme runs. The resort expects increased visitation and improved mountain access this season with the opening of a gondola connecting the 6,000-acre resorts to previously unconnected base areas.
“We felt like there was an opportunity to provide our guests a better indication of the difficulty of the advanced terrain so we added double black trail designation to our trail rating system,” said Michael Gross, Vice President of Mountain Operations, “Now at first glance, you’ll know the Palisades (run) is steeper than Siberia Bowl.”
Some Alpine Meadows runs were designated as double black until 2012, the year formerly named Squaw Valley purchased Alpine Meadows and combined the two areas. The former name was changed last year as “There is now insurmountable evidence, dating back to the early 1800s, that the word ‘squaw’ has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman,” the company announced.
The new 2.4-mile base-to-base gondola will connect the two separate Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows areas, making Palisades Tahoe North America’s third-largest ski resort when the gondola begins operating Dec. 17. The $65 million gondola will travel between the Village at Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Lodge, with two additional unloading points in between that access expert terrain. A one-way trip will take about 16 minutes, and is expected to decrease the vehicle traffic between Palisades Tahoe’s two bases while letting skiers spread out more.
The gondola was not without controversy. Palisades Tahoe settled a lawsuit initiated by the Granite Chief Wilderness Protection League that said the gondola would destroy critical wildlife habitat near the Granite Chief Wilderness. Palisades Tahoe agreed to preserve other lands for wildlife conservation and donate money to the Tahoe Donner Land Trust for the purchase of private land bordering the Granite Chief Wilderness.
This season is already shaping up to be a good one for Palisades Tahoe with an early storm dumping three feet of snow on the resort’s upper runs, allowing the resort to open four days early on Nov. 18.