Old Friends Kirkwood and Heavenly
If you are headed to Kirkwood or Heavenly to ski or ride this season, you will be able to reap the rewards of new programs, accessible off-piste terrain and millions of dollars of improvements made to lifts, lodges, snowmaking and grooming. You will also find unique, innovative programs allowing those seeking the thrills of the backcountry to get fresh tracks safely.
Kirkwood’s Village Plaza will now host the headquarters for Expedition Kirkwood and well as the Salomon Test Center. Expedition Kirkwood offers a series of programs designed to safely orient skiers and riders in a backcountry setting. Expedition Kirkwood headquarters also offers the only cat skiing on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore with Powder Cat Tours on Red Cliffs available on weekends and holidays. In addition, a powder cat tour can be reserved any day of the season by groups of five with 24-hour advanced notice. Monthly backcountry awareness courses will be offered to help advanced skiers and riders learn how to safely enjoy themselves outside of avalanche-patrolled areas.
Kirkwood resort believes that backcountry awareness programs can help arm those who venture into un-patrolled areas with the knowledge to act responsibly and sanely.
The resort is partnering with Backcountry Access (BCA) to offer Beacon Basin, an avalanche beacon training facility. The program can teach beacon users of all levels how to properly use an avalanche beacon to find a buried skier or rider. Students will get practical experience in a safe snowfield where multiple avalanche transmitters have been buried at different levels. Beacon Basin will be part of the curriculum for all backcountry courses and will also be available free of charge for all Kirkwood guests.
The Salomon Test Center allows skiers to conveniently demo the latest Telemark and Randonee gear. Skiers who purchase the Salomon Test Package (STP) will have access to the full range of Salomon equipment in a single day. Special deals are also available for those who chose to purchase Salomon gear.
Quests are two-hour mountain tours for those who want to explore the off-piste steeps and chutes of Wagon Wheel Bowl, an area between Chairs 6 and 10 usually only accessed by Kirkwood locals. Quests are open to advanced intermediate to expert level skiers and riders only and are available on weekends and holidays.
Since its acquisition of Heavenly in Spring 2002, Vail Resorts has invested over $30 million in capital improvements at the resort, culminating in $10 million of improvements during the off-season.
The Powderbowl Express lift now has new high-speed six-pac chairs allowing those in the “singles” line to make nearly a half-dozen new friends. The new Doppelmayer lift replaces two older, slower triple chairs on the California side of the resort and will cut the old twelve minute ride time in half.
The resort has five new Bombardier grooming machines, all sporting a flashy new paintjob and ready to start laying corduroy all over the mountain. The new machines (worth a collective million dollars) are designed with a deeper “till” that allows the groom-meisters at the controls to create a more consistent surface texture, thus making the snow easier to carve.
Heavenly is installing new fan guns on its famous “Face” including the legendary “Gunbarrel” run. The snowmakers are 400 percent more efficient than their predecessors and produce six times more snow per hour. Because of the increased efficiency, the guns use less power and are also much quieter than earlier generations of snowmaking equipment. New snow guns are also being installed at the “Adventure Peak” beginner’s area at the top of the gondola.
East Peak Lodge has been undergoing a radical transformation from a typical “sundeck” type lodge to a protected outdoor area, sheltered from wind and weather. The upgrades to the lodge include a new roof, glass wind-screens, more convenient seating layouts, a new outdoor grilling area and improved bathroom facilities. The East Peak Lodge menu is also getting revamped and will offer new low-carb menu options including lettuce wraps and bunless burgers.
The Boardinghouse shop has moved to the Cecil’s Fountain Plaza in Heavenly Village. The new store is solely dedicated to snowboarders and their gear. The shop is run by avid boarders who are on top of the latest trends and are always ready to help make snowboarders of all abilities better, cooler and eminently more capable of shredding.
Heavenly Sports and Heavenly Village has expanded its rental facility into the space recently vacated by the Boardinghouse. The shop has expanded its rental line by over 40% and has created a new, smoothly flowing line getting people in the door, fitted, equipped and back out on the slopes as quickly as possible. From the door of the shop it is a quick jaunt to the gondola and the ascending ride to snow-riding freedom.