Taking a ‘peak’ back at the history of Incline Village’s ski resort | SierraSun.com

Taking a ‘peak’ back at the history of Incline Village’s ski resort

Mark McLaughlin | Special to the Bonanza

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Diamond Peak Ski Resort is probably the most overlooked and underrated ski area in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

With an impressive 1,840 feet of vertical, a variety of ski trails and breathtaking views of Big Blue, Diamond Peak is well worth the drive to Incline Village, at the North Shore.

This hidden jewel has miles of uncrowded runs and open tree skiing, and an intermediate cruiser called Crystal Ridge has been rated among the "World's 100 Best Ski Runs" by CNN Travel.

Diamond Peak is geared toward an exciting family experience, but diehard skiers can challenge themselves in Solitude Canyon, an expert area that's killer after a storm.

The resort has something for everyone, with 46 percent of its runs rated intermediate and 36 percent rated advanced.

Financially backed by property owners in the tiny Incline Village community, Diamond Peak is publicly owned by the Incline Village General Improvement District.

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Because of the community support, the resort boasts a modern top-to-bottom snowmaking system, as well as a fleet of state-of-the-art grooming machines equipped with LIDAR, a laser-based radar technology that can precisely measure snow depth to facilitate more effective grooming.

Like many Lake Tahoe ski resorts, Diamond Peak has an interesting history.

For 30 years after the 1929 stock market crash, most of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe was owned by George Whittell, a San Francisco real estate tycoon.

In 1960, Whittell sold 9,000 acres of land to Art Wood, a developer who built Incline Village. The master plan for this vacation resort included a new ski area called Ski Incline.

The word "incline" refers to a 19th century logging operation that hauled lumber up a nearby mountainside during the Comstock Era.

It was a stroke of genius that Art Wood hired legendary Austrian ski pioneer Luggi Foeger to look over the initial layout of the new ski area, because Foeger told Wood that the location was all wrong from a skier's perspective.

The slopes faced south instead of north, which better protected the snow, and the proposed runs were poorly cut. Foeger successfully designed Ski Incline "to provide a pleasurable experience for the whole family."

Over his career, he headed ski schools at Badger Pass, Sugar Bowl and Alpine Meadows. He also helped design Northstar California, now operated by Vail Resorts.

A former trooper with the 10th Mountain Division, Foeger is a member of the prestigious U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

Ski Incline was the first in the West to utilize a snowmaking system. Future improvements added more chairlifts and expanded snowmaking capability.

In 1987, under the direction of resort manager Jurgen Wetzstein, the area doubled in size and was renamed Diamond Peak, giving a nod to the addition of more advanced runs on the new upper mountain.

The resort's 2015 slogan is "Don't Worry, Ski Happy." Check it out for yourself this weekend for the last time this year.

Lake Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin is a nationally published author and professional speaker. His award-winning books are available at stores or at http://www.thestormking.com. Mark can be reached at mark@thestormking.com. Check out his blog at http://www.tahoenuggets.com. Bonanza Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

Dummy Downhill Sunday to close out 2015 season

Diamond Peak Ski Resort’s 15th annual Dummy Downhill is Sunday, March 29, which also marks the last day of the 2014-15 ski season.

The resort announced Tuesday that it will shut down Sunday due to low snow levels.

The Dummy Downhill is an annual tradition in which participants build a dummy (on skis or a snowboard) that gets launched off a big jump on the Show-Off run, while spectators view the action from the Base Lodge deck.

Dummies must be at the base lodge by 11 a.m. to be judged on creativity. Dummies cannot be live and must weigh less than 75 pounds.

Jumping begins around noon, followed by an awards ceremony on the Base Lodge Deck. Stay for live music by Paul David and the Drivers afterward.

Pre-register online or by emailing your dummy name, team name, and team captain’s name(s) to info@diamondpeak.com by Saturday, March 28.

Visit diamondpeak.com/events/details/dummy-downhill to learn more.