In a few short hours, I’ll be heading to one of my favorite places just outside of SF to get appropriately Pao Fit. Break out the car playlist of Twista, Pitbull and Ludacris, grab your favorite beanie and pack a ridiculous outfit…That’s right people – I’m going to Tahoe for the weekend for some spring snowboarding! You may have seen the entry on “Squaw vs Kirkwood?” a month or two back, which highlighted a girls’ ski trip to Kirkwood, where I hoped to put to rest the constant debate on which resort is better. From a snowboarder’s perspective, I ranked Kirkwood as King given that I love large mountain faces that I can bowl down at higher speeds. Yet, I did make a point to clarify that when it comes to more technical tree boarding/skiing or and après ski drinks, Squaw is the place for me. To be more specific: High Camp. I did not discover High Camp until my second year of boarding up in Tahoe. I still am hitting myself over the head that I missed an entire season where I could have taken advantage of this sun-filled gem in a sea (or mountain) of snow. I am astonished at how many people do not know about High Camp or what this oasis has to offer.
Picture this. It’s spring time in Tahoe. The sun is shining, the temperatures are warmer than a typical winter day, you’re boarding or skiing down the backside in not much more than a long sleeve t-shirt and if you are like my friends, probably some ridiculous costume like leopard skin pants and a bear hat. As your cheeks start to tan and the snow begins to turn to slush, you begin to feel the hints of frustration…will this be the end of my snow-filled day? Is this all Squaw has to offer me? The answer to that question is a solid, “NO!” While you may have slightly slushier conditions, do not be alarmed. Squaw has a perfect substitute to fill the rest of your day. And that substitute can be found at High Camp: home to a large pool, chaise lounges and a monster-sized jacuzzi. Do not fret if you forget your bathing suit (although I plan on wearing mine beneath my snowboarding gear tomorrow) Squaw has thought ahead for you. They sell bathing suits at High Camp in the shop, and yes, upon my first discovery of High Camp two years ago, my friend Annie and I both bought bikinis to don. I love a place that plans ahead for its guests.
What is the scene at High Camp? Two words: motley crew. There are families, with youngsters bounding around, launching cannonballs into the turquoise waters of the pool. There are also shirts-off dudes in their late twenties; who, ironically, also do their fair share of cannonball-launching. SF locals, Tahoe locals and even the occasional former criminal unite in harmony (no joke – the first time at High Camp I heard the guy next to us in the jacuzzi talking about how he’d just gotten out of prison and had to call his parole officer. You stay classy Tahoe.).
High Camp is apparently one for all personalities – but especially for those who appreciate some sunshine, a cocktail and kicking back after a hard day of getting Pao Fit. In the summer, you can arrive by hiking up back of Solitude/Squaw creek trail – an epic climb on a hot day that involves a fair bit of scrambling. During spring, what is better than finishing a hard day of tree or backside runs, and then rewarding yourself with a large dose of beta carotene and cocktails? Just a word to the wise, the café at High Camp is a bit…lacking. You can order up a salad or sandwich, but I’d recommend skipping the food, stocking up on a cocktail or two (or four) and then heading down to the base for some better eats. High Camp is not necessarily a spot for Pao Chow…But you can count on feeding your Pao Sip. And may even get a bit Pao Lit. Good thing you can take the cable car down to the base and even better that awaiting you is round 2 for après ski: Le Chamoix or its more popular name, the Chammy. Till next week, I’m out!