BEYOND THE SKIS: When is a ski resort not a ski resort? When several of its calendar to-dos not only veer from the traditional activities of a snow-laden slope, but they go on to incorporate some seriously outlandish happenings. Take Tahoe Donner. Yes, you can indeed strap on a pair of skis and schuss to your well-insulated heart's content, but wouldn't you also like to cheer on a snowball launch? Or watch teams build dummies that they then send careening down a hillside? Or how about digging into a 200-foot banana split? It isn't even the size of the banana split that has our jaw a-hangin'. It's the frosty fact that banana splits incorporate ice cream -- spoiler alert -- and ice cream tends to be cold -- more spoilers -- and it isn't something you associate with a winter-brrrr mountain. But Tahoe Donner definitely hot dogs to the swoosh of its own snowboard.
WHAT'S AHEAD: Let's put first things first up front: The downhill ski area opens on Friday, Dec. 13. Then, after that? Plenty of rampant outlandishness to make life in the snow a little warmer. There's the requisite torchlight parade on New Year's Eve, followed nearly two months later by a glow stick parade for the kids (that's on Feb. 22). Fridays'll bring Night Tubing -- ohhh, mysterious -- and the snowball launching contest is on Dec. 27. That's different from the snowball throwing contest, which splooshes all over the place in early April. And is there a Winter Beach Party? Of course: Pack your Hawaiian shirt, and some serious thermals, if you visit on March 1. And not even lastly, but lastly for here, is the build-a-dummy Downhill Dummy Contest (the dummies slide, then fly off a "massive jump"). Oh Tahoe Donner: You do amuse.
BUT... remember that straight-up, wind at your cheeks skiing and snowboarding is at the heart of the mountain. As are snowshoe treks, including a few by the full moon. We'd definitely sign up for one of those, especially if we planned on eating a lot of a 200-foot banana split.