Kirkwood-based Josh Daiek, who won the 2012 Freesking World Tour, spent most of this winter on the road. He was in France and Italy for the Freeride World Tour, and in B.C. filming with Salomon Freeski TV. He never unpacked his ski bag, and he was only back in Tahoe for a few days at a time. This is his best day of the year.
As told to Heather Hansman
It was the end of March I'd been on the road for, I think, six weeks at that point. I'd just come back home to California, and, as you may or may not know, Tahoe was having a really poor season. I was excited to be home and see some friends, but everyone was being such a bummer. They were like, "the snow sucks, everything is tapped."
So I went up to Kirkwood with some buddies. It hadn't snowed for a while, but the wind had been blowing hard, and we figured we'd go into the backcountry.
We hiked Thunderbolt, Summit City, and Immigrant Peak. Everything was pretty wind hammered in the resort, so we hit those faces not expecting anything but it was totally blown in and really deep. Some spots were a little chattery, like you can see in the video, but some spots were so good. Everyone else was complaining and we just nailed it. It was the highlight of my season, nothing crazy, but really fun.
Thunderbolt is probably a 15-minue hike off of Chair Six. You just traverse out the ridge. Kirkwood is big bowl, and it all drops in to the northeast. We hiked out the opposite way, and then dropped on a north-facing aspect. Then you have to hike back up the ridge to get out.
After that we skinned up and out of the bowl and skied back down into the resort.
We took two more lifts, up to Chair Four, then we hiked out to Summit City and Immigrant Peak. It's probably a good hour-long hike out to Immigrant Peak, from there you can ski down the backside, then it's probably another 30 minutes of hiking up to Summit City.
Even though it was bad in the resort there wasn't a soul out there, we were blown away. We skied Immigrant back down into the resort, hooting and hollering.
At Kirkwood we usually get tons of snow but there's not a scene. There's not the hype there is at Squaw or Jackson or places, and it's got some of the most playful and fun terrain I've ever skied. You can pretty much place your order and get any kind of terrain you want. I wasn't a good skier when I moved here—I grew up in Michigan, and moved out to Tahoe 11 years ago—but the mountain shaped me.
I guess the best days of skiing are always with your friends, or someone who is just as stoked as you are to be there. Ideal conditions and riding new terrain helps, but you never know what's going to make the best days.