United SLopes of America
SEASON 1: Lake Tahoe and then some.
Desiree, along with lensman Tyler Orton, climbed into a 2002 Toyota Tundra outfitted with a camper that she built with her father and set off for five months on the road, traversing Oregon, Washington, and California for both the maiden voyage of the adventure-ready rig, as well as of United Slopes. And as luck would have it, Des, Tyler, and their fledgling journey were welcomed both with plentiful West Coast storms and by numerous local communities of snowboarders who wanted to share their locales. So with that, enjoy the first installment of The United Slopes of America. Follow along as Des and Tyler traverse the most western mountain ranges, finding the solace in going to heel to toe and back again at every stop they make.
Stay tuned for more and follow along on Instagram: @unitedslopesofamerica.
Words: Mary Walsh
Last winter, Desiree Melancon packed up her snowboard and took to the road on an epic snowboard roadtrip. Her goal: ride at every resort in the U.S. and experience not only the snow-packed trails, but the mountain lifestyle proffered by each location as defined by the locals who call each place home.
In the first episode of The United Slopes of America, Desiree captains her custom-built camper to Truckee, California, where a storm cycle offering plentiful powder and laps with friends awaits, welcoming Des back to her first days riding post-knee surgery. Soda Springs, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, and Boreal are on the to-do list and with a crew of Tahoe’s finest, Desiree and filmer Tyler Orton tackle the steeps of the Sierras. At each resort, Desiree’s narration sets the stage while her riding, along with that of Max Tokunaga, Sammy Spiteri, Nial Romanek, Tucker Andrews, Johnny Brady, Felix Mobarg, Gray Thompson, Alex Horgan, Paul Heran, Chris Roach, Kael Hill, Wilkyboi, Jacob Krugmire, Lane Knaack, Jake Luczak, Zander Blackmon, Casey Pletz, and Jackson Fowler tell the story of each mountain.
The rooster tails, cliff drops, and jib lines are plenty to extrapolate on the wonders of Tahoe, but local and native snowboarders offer up their experiences as to why each resort is worth visiting. It’s one part travel log, one part snow porn, and one part guide book to where you should set your compass as the snow starts to fall.
Follow @unitedslopesofamerica as Desiree sets off on year two of her road trip and stay tuned for episode two right here on Snowboarder.com.
Words: Mary Walsh
In the second installment of The United Slopes of America, lauded lady Desiree Melancon continues her exploration of legendary mountain mecca, Lake Tahoe. From the shores of the alpine lake itself, to the resorts that cause tourists to stay so long they turn into locals, the inherent magic of this area is paramount to experiencing all that makes Tahoe such a beloved place. Driving out of Truckee, Desiree points her DIY camper to Kings Beach in Lake Tahoe and susses out stashes in resorts that are a little smaller, a little off the beaten path, escaping the crowds of Tahoe in favor of wider turns, untouched snow, and more runs. She meets up with Felix Mobarg and Mike Villanova at Homewood, a powder-filled paradise with four lifts and zero liftlines. Next up is exploring the groomers of Granlibakken, a resort in Tahoe City located around the corner from Johnny Brady’s childhood home. The lifts are surface only, but the gratification of arcing turns down the 300-feet of vertical is much deeper.
Back up north, in stark contrast to the less-developed resorts, the United Slopes crew boards the gondola at Northstar, a mountain beloved for its SPT-built park system, but that provides a very different user experience for the local or vacationer. Tahoe legend Dave Downing and Alex Andrews are in town for the Burton Qualifiers, a grassroots park event that brings out talented up and comers like Judd Henkes and provides a platform for the rising generation. A few runs with East Coast transplant and park phenom Chas Guldemond, style king Brett Wilkinson, and rippers Jeremy Landy, Matt Shaffer, and Brian Neeri, and it’s time to ride the gondola back to the village and head back to the camper.
And finally, the episode ends with a day at Sugarbowl, a mountain that, when covered in snow looks like something out of a Dr. Suess book. Tucker Andrews, Alex Horgan play tour guide through springtime powder and groomers before making the pilgrimage to Donner Summit, a place rooted in snowboarding’s history. As Desiree follows the lead of two of the Sierra’s current flagbearers, past and present collide in a way that further reinforces the spirit of snowboarding in Tahoe.
Stay tuned for episode 3 of The United Slopes of America to sit shotgun as Desiree makes shred stops at every resort in North America and follow @unitedslopesofamerica to follow along the journey on Instagram.
Words: Mary Walsh
Desiree Melancon is on a multi-year odyssey to explore every ski area in our country and document the descents, culture and community that constitute the character of these destinations. Episode 3 of Desiree Melancon’s United Slopes Of America delves into the more subdued spots on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore. Places like Diamond Peak, Sky Tavern, Mt Rose and Tahoe Donner forgo cashing in on tourists in favor of a more municipal approach where the moniker “home mountain” has true meaning. Episode 3 also highlights Tahoe's iconoclastic Gray Thompson and his over achiever ways both on and off the hill as well as a featuring nice little ladies only interlude with Desiree and gal pals Fancy Rutherford and Christine Savage at Mt Rose.
Words: Pat Bridges