Gondola a welcome addition to Heavenly skiers, snowboarders
The Stateline corridor abounds with holiday traffic. U.S. Highway 50 is crowded with cars and trucks, and the sidewalk is full of pedestrians. But there is something different about the walking crowd than in previous years. Among people on their way to shop and to gamble are those on their way to Heavenly Ski Resort’s new gondola.
Snowboarders toting boards, and skiers with skis resting on shoulders and boots clunking on pavement walk from their hotel rooms to catch a ride up the mountain. The face of Park Avenue is changing. For the first time in South Lake Tahoe, Alpine enthusiasts can be seen mingling with the downtown crowd.
A shuttle bus takes snow riders from the California Lodge to a bus loop next to the gondola and an 80-space parking lot next to the gondola provides additional parking. A security guard at the Crescent V shopping center across the street monitors the area to prevent those who want to ride the gondola from parking there. Anyone seen trying to unload skis or snowboards is asked to park elsewhere.
Kelly, who would not give her last name, is visiting from Phoenix. She is staying at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and visiting Heavenly for her fourth time.
“I like (the gondola) right here in town,” she said. “I hate taking the shuttle,” Although she admits to taking a taxi from her hotel to the gondola, she walked back to her hotel after a day of skiing.
“I’m lazy,” she said.
Reid Lind said he is visiting from San Jose and has visited Heavenly at least half a dozen times.
“I thought (the gondola) was a great idea,” he said. “In the past, I have taken the shuttle and driven.”
Carol Robinson is visiting from Dallas. She drove up to the California Lodge and traversed to the Nevada side of Heavenly, but by the end of the day she and her daughter were tired and decided to take the gondola down to the bus terminal, where they caught a shuttle back to their vehicle.
“They have it pretty fixed up with the buses running, and you know when you get down that you have a way to get back to your car,” she said.
Tim Valiquet from San Francisco is visiting Heavenly for the first time and staying at the Travel Lodge. He said the gondola is a tremendous convenience.
“We thought that’s great,” he said of the gondola. “Its a good location, right in the middle of town. I love it.”
Harry Bettencourt lives in the San Jose area and has a vacation home in South Lake Tahoe. He has been skiing at Heavenly for 30 years and was fortunate enough to get one of the parking spaces next to the gondola bus loop.
While he traditionally would have driven to the Nevada side, now he can take the gondola, ride to the Tamarack Express chair and ski down to the Comet and Dipper chairs.
“It’s a real time saver,” he said. “I would say about a half-an-hour for us.”
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