Fire on the mountain: Hail the New Year with torchlight and fireworks
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area and Mt. Rose Ski Area each honors a centuries-old tradition of sending off the old year in a blaze of glory and welcoming the new one by lighting up the skies.
On Friday, Dec. 31 join other immediate skiers for the annual torchlight parade atop Truckeeand#8217;s Tahoe Donnerand#8217;s black diamond Racecourse Run.
According to Ski Area Manager Robert McClendon the end of the year event has been a popular Lake Tahoe Basin ritual for more than two decades.
and#8220;Every year it gets better,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Last year we had over 250 skiers and boarders who came down the mountain.and#8221;
Participants aside, local neighbors and tourists crowd to the resortand#8217;s deck areas to watch the column of fire snake down the snowy slopes.
The free event begins sign-ups between 4:30 and 5:45 p.m. following the 6 p.m. loading of participants both on skis and snowboards on the ski lift. Due to the inky fast approach of darkness, McClendon says the lift is slowed down for safety.
On the top of the mountain staff and ski instructors await to strap the skiers with miniature torches. Similar to roadside emergency flares McClendon notes the faces of young skiers and boarders, especially, break into wide grins during the lighting of the torches.
Many appreciate the outstanding view of the Tahoe basin from atop the mountain. Only once in its history has Mother Nature interfered with a blinding snowstorm. The torches still came down the mountain although they went unseen until almost reaching the bottom.
After 15 minutes of top of the peak preparation a line of fire zig zags its way down to thunderous applause of onlookers. Typically, the torchlight parade lasts less than 10 minutes.
A party atmosphere continues at base camp where a disc jockey spins tunes from the 1970s to today as free food such as cheese and turkey wraps is eaten.
Similar festivities happen across the basin at Mt. Rose Ski Areaand#8217;s Winters Creek Lodge.
Kayla Anderson, the resortand#8217;s public relations manager, reports the free cold air entertainment begins with music by the lodgeand#8217;s fire pits at 4 p.m. Specialty drinks for the end of the year occasion will be available and further fuel the fun. Snow Cats will conduct a parade. By 5:15 p.m. the lifts will be closed to the public as staff and selected pass holders bring ribbons of fire down the mountain. This is only the second time an incendiary event has occurred at Mt. Rose. The first was when the lodge opened last year. Accompanying the torch bearers, skiers will be fire dancers. As a finale Mt. Rose will hail 2011 with a rousing base camp fireworks display.
Thanks to Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area and Mt. Rose Ski Area, New Yearand#8217;s Eve in Lake Tahoe will be in the wordand#8217;s of Robert McClendon and#8220;an amazing sight.and#8221;
Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area
Truckee, Calif., 96161
Mt. Rose Ski Area
22222 Mt. Rose Hwy.
Reno, Nevada 89511
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