Northstar is a resort winter wonderland. Compared to most places in Tahoe it has a lot of focus on its village-which is beautiful-and establishing a high end feel. As for skiing it has a fair variety of terrain an 8600 foot summit, and excellent wind protection. On windier stormier days this season you can expect guss to be 20 or 30 mph slower than Sugar Bowl and Boreal which shield the mountain from wind and unfortunately some snowfall as well.
None of Northstar's terrain is truly expert but can be extremely fun for a creative rider nonetheless. Early morning get a couple warm ups off of Vista where it is sun exposed early and the groomers are wide and fast. On a powder day the connection to lookout generally opens at 9 and provides spectacular views and some long pow runs. They generally groom Martis and Prosser if you want something mellower to check it out. Off the east and west ridges there are several runs that start with short steeps followed by rolling terrain with lots of hits, rolling grade changes and gladed areas to cut through. The backside offers some long runs. When it hasn't been snowing stay towards the left side (facing down the mountain) as it gets more sun and tends to have less ice when those are the conditions. Otherwise the right side can be a blast too. It is a popular mountain so if you can manage it go for a weekday. There will be virtually no waits and the people are a lot more courteous with there trail etiquette. I can see that most posters here are weekend warriors who complain about everything and make everybody's time less enjoyable.
When its packed on the weekend. Rendevous opens up which takes you centrally to the East Ridge. There is a ton of fun stuff over there especially in the gladed areas right after it has dumped. Rendevous almost never has a line and its a slower and shorter lift. The runs will be shorter but I have done 10 runs in an afternoon with no wait on a pakced Saturday before. Creativity will be your best friend on a day like that. Again leave your crappy attitude at home and come ready to shred.
To avoid ice use common sense and stick to runs that get more sun. This hasn't been an icy season but it happens even to the best mountains. If it is icy stay away fromthe furthest east side of the mountain. You'll have a lot more fun.
Everybody complains about the parking. Count on taking a shuttle. Its not that big a deal and it drops ytou off at the entrance to the village. Its a short (1/4 mile max) walk to the gondola through the beautiful village which provides for a nice leisurely way to warm up the muscles before you shred. Seriously people skiing/boarding is a high exertion activity. A little walk is not a big deal. Stop crying already.
For a more expert mountain, go to Kirkwood or Squaw. Howver after a big dump Hwy 88 is the first to close down so Kirkwood can be tough to get to. Squaw is then your best choice for more expert terrain and it is off of 80 which rarely shuts down. But for cruising family fun Northstar is a great choice especially if you're a fair weather skier because it doesn't get hit as hard. However for the same reason it is very popular. Expect long lift lines on weekends. But if you're willing to brave the crowds and look for the little stretch of mountain to call your own, it can be done quite easily. Just quit your crying and do what you went there to do. That is get some turns on their excellent extensive system of groomed trails or bomb their beautiful gladed areas for some adventure.