Opening day for the South Shore ski season consisted of motionless lifts and a mountain vacant of skiers, after Heavenly closed the Gondola under threat of high winds.
The ski resort was closed as a result. Nevertheless, visitors wandered Heavenly Village with snowboards and skis in hand Friday, as Heavenly staff informed them of hopes to reopen today.
A blog on Heavenly’s website provided additional information on the closure.
“Due to high winds we will not be able to operate the Gondola today,” the blog stated Friday. “We are confident in the weather tomorrow and these cold temps allow us to put in even more snowmaking hours.”
The delay was bad news for hopeful tourists trying to ski the mountain before leaving town.
“I never expected that wind would be such a factor,” said Adriano Martinez, who was visiting from Mexico City.
Martinez and his wife, Daniela Martinez, came to South Shore this week to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. They planned on skiing Heavenly on Friday, but had to find something else to do.
“This is quite a planning-in-advance trip,” he said. “So you can imagine this is very frustrating for us.”
Neither Martinez nor his wife have been to South Lake Tahoe before, he said, and both were excited to ski the resort.
“I’ve been waiting for this for the whole year,” Martinez said.
On the other side of the gondola, a group of skiers and snowboarders were hanging out by Heavenly’s Guest Services office. Beau Billinger, a snowboarder from San Jose, was one of them.
Billinger said he started the drive to Heavenly at 5 a.m. Friday. He was eager to be one of the first skiers/snowboarders on the mountain this season. He said he cut class at Santa Clara University. With the gondola closed, he said he and his buddies were trying to find some other way to spend their time off.
“We’re going to be the first ones here tomorrow,” he said Friday.
Despite the delay, it is likely that Heavenly will still be among the first Lake Tahoe area ski resorts to open its doors this season.
Boreal was the first to open on Nov. 1, and Heavenly was expected to become the second earlier this week. Kirkwood is anticipating a Monday opening, but several others are taking a wait-and-see approach to snow conditions.
Without delays, Heavenly will operate seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.