A Perfect Day At #SkiHeavenly
Heavenly is a fun mountain with "heavenly" views and some amazing terrain. But, it can also be packed on holiday weekends. Some of the best terrain requires quite a bit of traverssing to get there. So, here are a couple pointers for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels to make their day a bit more heavenly.
First and foremost is to realistically address everyone in your group and what type of terrain they're comfortable riding. There's a little bit of everything at Heavenly. And, if you know where to look, then you really can find your own piece of Heaven.
Second is to figure out where everyone wants to start and finish. Heavenly is huge. The mountain crosses over state lines covering California and Nevada. There are four main base areas - Cal Base, The Gondola, Boulder, & Stagecoach. There may not be enough time to tackle each and every area. So, pick your area appropriately.
Finally, what type of amenities is your group looking for? Is quiet and quaint more your style? Or, is your group looking to get down and cut loose as they apres all day? There's a good mix for families seeking quality time together, as well as rowdy activities for young adults looking to live it up.
One of my favorite zones is on the California side. I could actually spend all day hot lapping The Face. But, this run isn't for everyone. It's steep, can be fast & firm, and is almost always covered with bumps. If bumps aren't your thing, then dip below Booyah's and to the rider's right of the tram into Avalanche Bowl. The trees there can conceal powder stashes well after storms.
If you have beginners, then start off on First Chair. It's an all beginner run and one of the multiple "bunny hill" areas. The Cal Base is home to one of three ski schools. Sign up for a lesson if you need a little help or aren't up for tackling the job of teaching your friends, family members or loved ones.
Once you're aquainted with the California base, take the Gunbarrel chairlift or the Tram up and head over to Patsy's, Groove, & Powderbowl. Be prepared. Gunbarrel to Patsy's is called "Hospital Corner" for a reason. As people get more comfortable, start exploring Mombo off Powderbowl, then head over to Sky & Canyon to test your obstacle course skills on Ridge Run. Advanced riders can enjoy Powderbowl Woods, Ski Way Glades, The Pinnacles, and even Milky Way Bowl heading over into Nevada. Coming back they can dip into Maggie's Canyon. There are also two terrain parks to play in on the California side. One is off Groove. It's a beginner zone and a nice introductory park. The bigger lines are off Canyon. There's even a halfpipe to work on your trick ditch moves.
If starting at the Gondola, then expect things to be a bit more rowdy and catered to the casino scene. Tamarack Lodge has their Unbuckled apres party. It's definitely not for the kiddos. But, there's a ropes course and great beginner area there right next to the lodge, complete with another ski school spot. Non-skiers can also use the gondola to visit the observation deck and take in the views of Lake Tahoe below.
At the top of the gondola, Tamarack chair accesses another terrain park with intermediate and advanced features on your way to East Peak Lodge. It also lets you cut over to the Nevada side to Comet and Dipper chairlifts. These chairs cater to intermediates. The runs are longer, intermediate, runs that are great for the family to explore. Galaxy may not be the fastest chair. But, the terrain is great for families looking to get away from the crowds surrounding East Peak Lodge at the base of Comet and Dipper. Heavenly had removed the Galaxy chairlift for the 2017/18 season. But, I hear rumors that it may be operational for the 2018/19 season.
Advanced riders can show off alongside the Comet Cats ripping bump lines or sneak off into Aries Woods. From here, you can also adventure over to Mott Canyon and Killebrew Canyon, if your group is adventurous and looking to test their skills. Be prepared. These areas aren't for the faint of heart. And, Killebrew requires a long, flat, & unforgiving traverse out to get back. Or, you could simply traverse over to Boulder and Stagecoach for some more Nevada exploring.
Nevada - Boulder & Stagecoach
Boulder and Stagecoach areas don't have the same amenities as the gondola. But, there's some awesome terrain off Olympic, Stagecoach, North Bowl, and Boulder. Boulder is another area for beginners. And, it has another ski school for those interested. The runs off Olympic and Stagecoach let the speed demons come out to play. As always, look out for yellow jackets ready to cite you for excessive speed or out of control riding. And, look out for fellow skiers and riders out of control. They can and will take you out.
There are also a few gates where skilled backcountry travelers can go beyond the ropes and get their fix away from the crowds. Be very careful. The newspaper is filled with careless visitors that get in well over their head.
You could spend an entire week exploring Heavenly and still not cover the entire mountain. I still find stashes that I've yet to explore. But, for easy access from South Lake Tahoe and a mountain that has a little something for everyone, Heavenly does a great job appealing to the masses. #anotherheavenlyday #monumentvalley #heavenlyvalley #heavenlyorbust #tahoeviews #somethingforeveryone