Classic Sidecountry Lines: Munchkins, Alpine Meadows

Comments by Ingrid Backstrom/

Photo of Jonny Moseley shot by Keoki Flagg/WME

Some might complain that truly secret stashes just don’t exist anymore. But thanks to increasingly friendly open-boundary policies, if you use a good measure of safety and put in some effort, you’ll be rewarded with tons of semisecret spots, like Munchkins in Alpine Meadows, California.

web_Munchkins_JonnyMoseley_KeokiFlagg_AlpineMeadowsCAA short traverse from the top of Alpine’s Lakeview chair opens up a treat box of chutes, glades and pillows collectively known as Munchkins. But just because it’s easy to get to, doesn’t mean this innocently-named sidecountry classic should be taken lightly.

Oh-for-One Chute offers a few hanging turns above a rappel into a tight chute. Next door, the entrance to M1 most often requires a mandatory air ranging from three to ten feet. To the skier’s left, M2 offers the most consistently good skiing in a wide, treed chute. For the most straight forward pow skiing, continue down the ridge and drop into the glades or smaller cliffy areas for a playful time.

Adding to the tricky nature of this zone, it can only be well scoped from a few spots on the other side of the valley. It’s one of those places where help from a local who knows the way is virtually required for a first timer. Here, “If you don’t know, don’t go,” really applies.

Then there’s the little matter of getting back up to Alpine afterwards. In the past, it has required sticking out a thumb or stashing a car, but the recent Alpine-Squaw Valley merger means that regular shuttles leave from the parking lot at the bottom of the Alpine road.

Hike: Ski: 6


Introduction to Classic Sidecountry Lines, plus Cody Peak, Jackson Hole
Classic Sidecountry — DOA, Whistler Blackcomb
– Classic Sidecountry Line — Hell Brook, Stowe
– Classic Sidecountry Line — Shuksan Arm, Mt. Baker

*Hike and ski ratings are in terms of difficulty: 1 being relatively easy, 10 being very challenging. This article originally appeared in the 2013 FREESKIER Backcountry Issue. Subscribe to the magazine, or get it on the iTunes Newsstand.