Heavenly season at this Lake Tahoe resort
In an unprecedented move, the South Lake Tahoe resort decided over two months out that it would extend its closing date, which rarely ventures into May and was originally supposed to shut down its massive, 31-lift system by April 20.
Of course, the reason for an extended season is the massive amount of snow Heavenly and all Northern California resorts have received this winter. Despite a slow start, the snow began arriving by mid-December, providing an early Christmas present. And it kept right on snowing through January and into early February.
Heavenly Mountain Resort received 167 inches of snow in January, marking the most snowfall in a single month since the resort began keeping data in 1975. The record snowfall has Heavenly’s snow pack 23 percent above average and heading into the second week of March the snowfall had exceeded 300 inches overall.
“We’re in one of those epic snow cycles that the Sierra mountain range is famous for,” said Blaise Carrig, Heavenly’s chief operating officer. “We beat the next closest month by 20 inches. There is no destination in the U.S. that has the kind of snow we have right now.”
Frankly, the Tahoe resorts were due for a wet winter. Two years ago was a down season and 2007 was characterized by warm temperatures and below-average snowfall. That combination led to a forgettable season in not only Tahoe but all of California where skier/snowboarder visits were down 1.6 million from the previous year (7.8 million).
For Heavenly season-pass holders like Justin St. Onge, it’s about time. The Marquette, Mich. native has been waiting for a season like this since he decided to call South Lake Tahoe his home six years ago.
“Yeah, definitely, it’s been a pretty good year, especially after the last two, which were horrible,” said Onge, 29. “We’ve had consistent snow all season.”
Russ Pecoraro, Heavenly’s director of communications, says extending the season two more weeks is a way to reward loyal pass-holders like Onge, who skis at least five days a week thanks in part to living only a few blocks away.
“It’s a chance to give people like our pass holders the value that they didn’t get last year,” Pecoraro said. “But it is important to know that it is weather dependent. If we don’t get more snow, we may not extend it.”
Like many Heavenly loyalists, Onge gravitates toward the tree runs, especially on powder days, which were frequent in January. One of Heavenly’s greatest drawing cards for expert boarders and skiers like Onge has always been its abundance of trees.
“Heavenly is so big and has so many tree areas that you can always find secret stashes (of snow) that no one knows about,” he said. “Even a couple weeks after a storm you can still find some stashes no one has skied.”
Good news for all Heavenly visitors this year has been the long awaited upgrade of the Olympic chair, which went from a dreadfully slow, old-fashioned two-seat wooden bench to a high-speed quad that cut the ride time from 18 minutes to around five.
“It was the type of lift that if you rode up with someone you had time to hear their entire life story,” laughs Pecoraro. “Olympic had been underutilized in the past, now a lot of people head over that way, so we got the desired result, people moving away from the Comet and Dipper lift.”
Not only does the Olympic lift now transport people up the hill in no time, they can easily access three new runs – The Pine, Cloud 9 and Bohemian Grove. Cloud 9 is a classic groomer run, The Pine is a mild tree run that is frequently groomed, while Bohemian Grove offers the type of tree skiing that makes Heavenly, well, Heavenly.
“It’s beautiful in that area, but it does get skied out in a hurry,” Onge said.
Jeffrey Weidel is a Sacramento-area free-lance writer with over 25 years of skiing experience.
Author Jeffrey Weidel, an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region, can be spotted skiing the powdery slopes at Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts or trying to lower his handicap at local golf courses. He can be reached at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.
Pet Care | Real Estate | Restaurants | Tech | View All | * Add/Upgrade Business
Placer County News HeadlinesSouth Yuba River State Park: Summer CooldownSouth Yuba River State Park provides a scenic adventure and summer escape with pricing that's hard to beat.
Estate Planning Workshop in Granite Bay June 2Roseville, CA- Come out for an informative seminar with Bill Walker to learn how about smart estate planning on Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Roseville Ride: Miner's Ravine Trail Roseville, CA- A great place to go solo or bring the family, Miner's Ravine Trail offers a great escape for those looking to get away without the hassle or cost of a more time consuming adventure.
3 Arrested in West Roseville Vehicle TheftsRoseville, CA- Kevin Patrick McFarland, Maksim Mishchenko, and Stanislav M. Taran, were arrested on suspicion of stealing from numerous vehicles in Roseville.
Annual Marysville Stampede Memorial Day WeekendMarysville, CA- An annual celebration of California Western and rodeo heritage, in the heart of California's cowboy country, the 83rd Annual Marysville Stampede
Downtown Woodland: Unexpected TreasureWoodland, CA- On a recent Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my wife and headed off on a rather short drive to Woodland to catch an afternoon show at the Blue Note Brewing Company.
Roseville Flash Crime Report (5.23.16)Roseville police crime report digest update for May 23, 2016.
Local Team Wins Spirit CUP at SMUD Solar RegattaRocklin, CA- The Sierra College Solar Energy program Team competed last Saturday May 14th in the Northern California SMUD Solar Regatta
Roseville Area Organization Helps Guardian Scholars ProgramRoseville, CA- Sierra College Guardian Scholars Program thanks the ALPHA DELTA KAPPA Organization for their generous donation to our Former Foster Youth
Placer County Water Agency Master Plan UpdateAUBURN, Calif. - At its May 19 meeting, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors received an update on the PCWA County-wide Master Plan.
Subaru BRZ: Reasonably priced old-school sports carRoseville, CA - For driving enthusiasts who want to own a light, agile car that provides an elusive fun factor while also looking cool, the smartly designed Subaru BRZ deserves a good look.
Roseville Gas Prices See DropRoseville, CA - While regional gas prices appear to have held steady, some gas station in Roseville are reporting a downward tick in prices.
NEWS: In Case You Missed It