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Season opener: Heavenly starts churning lifts amid virus restrictions

A skier enjoys fresh snow at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Provided / Heavenly Mountain Resort

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Now that snow has fallen at Lake Tahoe, for winter lovers, hitting the slopes is on top of their minds.

Ski resorts have been preparing since last March, when the season came to an abrupt end, to safely open this winter. So, despite the recent surge in positive COVID cases, the resorts in the area are prepared to open as planned.

“Although subject to change, the expected impact to the California ski industry will be on indoor operations,” said Michael Reitzell, president of Ski California. “Counties moving to purple will have to remove indoor dining. All of our resorts have been diligently working since March to ensure their operations can adhere to ever changing public health and safety requirements, and have prepared for this as a possibility.”

Many resorts have implemented a grab-n-go system for food and have eliminated indoor seating.

Among those resorts is Heavenly Mountain Resort, that despite El Dorado County slipping into the purple tier, was able to hit their targeted opening date of Nov. 20.

“We are in close contact with local and state public health officials and will continue to follow their guidance,” said Joanna McWilliams, Vail Resorts communications manager for the Tahoe region. “Our reservation system will help us safely manage how many people are on our mountains and our safety protocols are focused on face coverings, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning.”

All skiers and snowboarders must make reservations before arriving at the mountain, pass holders have priority reservation days from Dec. 8 through April 4.

Heavenly will have beginner and intermediate trails open for skiing and snowboarding with Patsy’s, Maggie’s and Ridge Run trails open. Skiers and riders must use the California Base Area to access the mountain. The Gunbarrel Express, Heavenly Tram, Powderbowl Express, Canyon Express and Patsy’s chair lifts open at 8:30 a.m.

Restrooms will be open with limited capacity.

Heavenly officials encourage guests to bring their own water, food and snacks.

The gondola is only available for sightseeing until Dec. 3. After Dec. 3, sightseeing will be based on the day of availability.

Kirkwood is scheduled to open Dec. 4, conditions allowing.

To see Heavenly’s approach to safety, visit SkiHeavenly.com.

Ski California also has a list of the resorts’ safety protocols at https://skicalifornia.org/covid19/.


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