It’s not snowboarding or skiing, but trying to walk across a small log, as it shakes and swings on the end of some rope at least 20 feet off the ground, can provide several thrills of its own for guests at Heavenly Mountain Resort this summer.
On Thursday, Heavenly unveiled a variety of new summer activities available at the top of the gondola. They include three new ropes challenge courses and a 3,300-foot-long zip line.
“We already have a lot of people who have been enjoying the gondola, coming up, sight seeing, but there really wasn’t a lot for them to do,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and COO of Heavenly. “Now we’re offering something for them to do, to keep them busy and to keep them really engaged with the natural setting here.”
The new activities, which are now accessible to the public, were completed last summer and fall. However, Heavenly decided to wait until this summer to open them.
“We toyed with the idea of opening in the winter, but we wanted to make sure we did it right,” Sonntag said. “The summer is a much better environment to run these in.”
Black Bear Challenge Course, Bolder Cove Challenge Course and the Discovery Forest Canopy Course are the three new ropes activities available to summertime visitors.
Black Bear is more ideal for families with younger children and features shorter challenges than the other two courses. Boulder Cove, a two-level structure, offers a greater challenge and is recommended for adults and older children.
The third course, Discovery Forest, is described by Heavenly as a “tree-top adventure” that allows participants to move through natural and man-made obstacles while choosing their own paths, which vary in difficulty.
“That’s a really unique course that’s actually built into the natural environment,” said Matt Eaton, senior manager of activities. “We work with a company called Bonsai (Design Inc.) that takes really great care of our trees and natural environment. “
The last addition, the Blue Streak Zip Line, features a 55-mile-per-hour trip down the face of Heavenly.
Sonntag said the new activities give people a chance to interact with the environment on a “deeper basis,” but they also provide a boost to the economy in terms of job opportunities.
The creation of the three ropes challenge courses and zip line resulted in the resort hiring an extra 120 full-time positions.
“For us, that’s being able to take 120 of our best winter employees and offer them more of a year-round opportunity,” Sonntag said, adding. “It’s good for our company, it’s great for the local economy, and I think it’s a good story for us to tell, too.”
Nevada’s Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki expressed his support of the projects at Thursday’s unveiling.
“From an economic development standpoint, the jobs, the year-round abilities, the caliber of (Heavenly’s) work forces are already very, very high,” Krolicki said. “But the ability to keep people year-round now will only make it better.”
Heavenly now offers hiking, sightseeing, a climbing wall, summer tubing and the Spider Climber in addition to the new activities.
Summer activities currently center around Tamarack Lodge and the top of the gondola. But Sonntag said the resort plans to expand its summer lineup soon.
“There are a lot of fun things we think we can do that would expand to other parts of the mountain, including mountain biking and canopy tours,” he said, adding. “That’s what we get really excited about because then people can come up and really spend several days up here and not get bored. And I think that’s really the vision.”