Heavenly begins construction on Epic Discovery project
Special to the Tribune
As Heavenly Mountain Resort opened for seven-day-a-week summer operations on Friday, the resort will also begin construction on the initial phase of the Vail Resorts’ Epic Discovery program, the first comprehensive summer program of its kind in the Lake Tahoe area.
“This project has been in the works for many years, and for this first phase of construction, we’ve identified the activities that will be located in the most developed area of the mountain and that also are the most accessible, appealing to a broader range of guests,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly vice president and chief operating officer. “Epic Discovery is going to revolutionize the summer guests’ experience at Heavenly because it is about more than the individual activities; it is a cohesive plan that brings together all components under the unified theme of learning about and engaging with the National Forest.” Construction on the alpine coaster will begin in mid-June with an anticipated completion date at the beginning of November. The alpine coaster allows guests on individual sleds to descend on a raised track through the forest and natural rock formations. It will be located north and west of the existing tubing hill and uses gravity for the descent while giving riders full control of speed. The alpine coaster is slated to open during the 2015-2016 ski and ride season. The mid-station zip line canopy tour, an interpretive zip line canopy tour in the area between the Gondola mid-station and the top station to the east of the Gondola alignment, is scheduled for construction in early July, with a completion date in October. The tour will incorporate the use of zip lines and aerial walkway bridges and will open summer 2016. Heavenly’s summer tubing hill will have a second lane added and will be ready in time for the summer opening of the tubing hill on June 26. Construction is underway on the permanent rock climbing wall. The 35-foot-tall climbing wall is slated to open in mid-August and will feature 18 defined climbing routes with automatic belay systems and a quick-jump 35-foot rapid descent that emulates free-falling. In September, Heavenly will provide Mountain Excursion Tours via 4×4 vehicles. The guided tours will feature a narrated tour of the mountain and stops at scenic viewpoints. For smaller children, Heavenly will open a kids-specific zip line and ropes course this summer. The kid-sized, 150-foot-long zip line is the perfect intro to adventure. The kids’ ropes course will be a smaller version of the three existing larger ropes courses and provide ample challenges for younger guests. A central component of Epic Discovery is the interpretive learning program, currently under development with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and The Nature Conservancy, with the goal of bringing nature-based and learn-through-play content to eco-discovery experiences. The interpretive learning program will share the rich natural environment and cultural history with guests using fun and informative learning techniques. It will be implemented in summer 2016. Expansion of activities outside of the top of Gondola area to the East Peak, Dipper/Comet areas will begin in summer 2016. Heavenly will begin summer operations with the debut of the new four line Hot Shot Zip Line, along with the Discovery Forest Ropes Course and Boulder Cove Ropes Course, opened in summer 2014. The Blue Streak Zip Line, Black Bear Ropes Course and summer tubing will open full-time on June 26.
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