Lake Tahoe first tracks at Northstar California

From an early age, I have always loved getting on the mountain early, getting turns in before the crowds show up. For skiers and snowboarders, there's something special about ripping down the mountain, carving up perfectly groomed terrain and making tracks in fresh snow. 

However, for most of my life, that experience has been limited to the first run of the day. If you arrive early enough, you jump on first chair, have a great run, and then get back on the lift, watching as everyone else below skies the terrain you just enjoyed. Typically, that experience of fresh tracks is a one-and-done experience, until just recently, at least at Northstar California.

This past week, I had a rare opportunity to have the mountain almost entirely to myself for a full hour! As a photographer and videographer for Northstar, snow days afford the opportunity to be up on the mountain long before the lifts open.


When you are up there alone, not only is it incredibly peaceful, the ski conditions are at their best. Plus, you don't have to worry about the path of other skiers or an uneven snow surface.  Everything is perfect. How lucky am I? But while this experience is often one that only snow reporters and mountain operations personnel have, Northstar is thrilled to be launching a First Tracks program for guests!

Northstar has created a program called First Tracks, available on select Sundays, when you can access the mountain a full hour before the general public. Guests will join a guide at the bottom of Zephyr Express, where they'll take you to the best groomers of the day or show you secret powder stashes. That way you're not making wild guesses as to where the best snow is (often like I am).  You're skiing with a Northstar expert who knows exactly where to go to have the best experience, featuring the best ski conditions and without any crowds. 

First Tracks, however, is not just about grooming and guides. It is also about a unique dining experience, too.  After you've gotten in an hour and a half of skiing (and everyone else is just starting to get on the hill), it's time to take a break for breakfast. Your guide will lead you to the Zephyr Lodge, where an exclusive breakfast awaits you. With the lodge closed to the public at that time, it makes for the perfect place to kick off your boots, take in the stunning views, and bask in the first tracks you've just gotten while most people are just getting on the mountain.

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First Tracks is offered on select days the next couple of months, including Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 11, and Feb 25.

See you there!

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Colin Lygren

Colin Lygren is a recovering news reporter seeking a new life in a ski town. While he is originally from Sacramento, Tahoe is the place Colin has always called home. He started visiting the region at just a year old and practically grew up on the slopes with his dad and sister. When he is not writing for Tahoe Ascent, Colin is shooting pictures and video or getting up early to make sure he gets fresh tracks, whether it be a groomer day or a powder day. In the summer, Colin likes to relax on the beach by Lake Tahoe’s blue waters or fly fish in the Truckee River.