Tahoe ski resorts look to go farther, faster in 2022-23
With time dwindling between now and when snow covers the Sierra, local ski resorts around the region are quickly bringing to a close work to upgrade lifts and expand terrain.
From new gondolas and lifts to opened up ski areas, the Lake Tahoe region’s ski resorts are planning on offering guests more than ever this upcoming season.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort is increasing uphill capacity at its North Bowl lift by 40%.
The Vail Resorts operated mountain will replace its three-person lift wtih a new high-speed, four-person chair. By auctioning off the three-person chairs, Heavenly raised $162,000 for nonprofits the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Ski Run Community Park, and the EpicPromise Foundation.
The North Bowl upgrade will reduce rider time on the Boulder lift, along with an expected reduction in wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts, according to resort officials.
Late last month, Vail Resorts announced it will limit lift ticket sales throughout the season in order to prioritize guest experience.
“We care deeply about our guests’ experience at our resorts,” said James O’Donnell, president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain division, in a news release. “Limiting lift tickets throughout the season, alongside the big investments we’re making at our resorts and in our team members, will help us provide our guests with an Experience of a Lifetime this winter.”
Additionally, Vail Resorts will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, but will continue to require daily health screenings for all team members working onsite. There are currently no requirements for face coverings, vaccines, or dining and lift reservations across Vail’s resorts for this coming season.
Heavenly is targeting an opening date of Nov. 18.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Vail’s other operated resort south of Tahoe, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, will celebrate its 50th anniversary of operations this season.
Ahead of the ski season, Kirkwood has announced an addition to its mountain bike offerings. The Forbidden Forest Trail will open this weekend.
Kirkwood is eying Dec. 2 for its season opener.
Northstar California Resort
Sitting above Truckee and Lake Tahoe, the third of region’s Vail operated mountains, Northstar California Resort, will also be celebrating 50 years of operations.
This season, Northstar will debut an improved Comstock Express, upgrading the lift from a four-person chair to a high-speed six-person lift. The improvements are designed to reduce wait times at one of the mountain’s most popular lifts and will increase uphill capacity by nearly 50%.
An auction of Northstar’s old Comstock chairs raised more than $23,000 for the EpicPromise Foundation. The resort’s terrain parks crew is also utilizing the lift towers to create new features.
“Our teams can’t wait to welcome guests back to our mountains for the upcoming winter season,” said Tom Fortune, VP and COO – Heavenly Mountain Resort and the Tahoe Region in a news release. “We wait with great anticipation every year for the start of ski + ride season, and I know this will be another amazing winter for all of our resorts across the Tahoe region. Most importantly, our Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar teams are working incredibly hard in preparation, and their amazing dedication and focus will no doubt allow us to deliver another excellent season for our guests.”
Northstar plans to begin spinning lifts Nov. 18.
Roughly a year ago the skies above Sierra-at-Tahoe were glowing orange as the Caldor Fire burned tens of thousands of acres.
The fire burnt the area’s West Bowl and caused the resort to remain closed almost all of last season.
The fire affected 1,600 of the resorts 2,000 acres, damaged lifts towers, haul ropes, terrain park features, four new snowcats, a maintenance building, “which housed many of our crews’ tools and personal belongings, some that had been passed down through generations,” according to a resort update.
Resort officials indicated more than 14,000 fire damaged trees were abated, amounting to an estimated five million board feet of timber removed from the resort’s slopes.
Sierra-at-Tahoe typically opens late November, early December.
A dream more than seven decades in the making is finally reality as Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows will now be linked by the Base to Base Gondola.
The $65 million project will take skiers from either base area in 16 minutes, spanning 2.4 miles from Olympic Valley to Alpine Meadows. It will have the ability to operate as two separate lifts allowing access to the top of KT-22 from either base area. The connection makes Palisades Tahoe the third largest ski area in North America, according to Alterra Mountain Company.
At Alpine Meadows the Red Dog chair lift is being upgraded from a three-person lift to a high-speed, detachable six-person lift. The lift will also be moved to a new location to allow skiers and riders access to the parking lot.
Palisades has indicated they will begin spinning lifts Nov. 22.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe
The largest capital improvement project in the history of Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, a $7.5 million expansion, will see the resort’s new Lakeview zone open to skiers and riders.
The new trail will provide views of Lake Tahoe and access to Around the World trail.
“The expansion of the Lakeview zone, trail improvements and the addition of the new express chairlift will have a transformative effect on the way people access that area of the mountain,” said Mike Pierce, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe marketing director, in a news release. “Skiers and riders of all ability levels will enjoy expansive views of Lake Tahoe that they haven’t had before, and the new Lakeside trail is sure to quickly become a favorite of many thanks to its gentle wide flow complimented by stellar lake views.”
The new Lakeview chairlift will open during the 2022-23 winter season as weather and snow conditions permit. The beginner-rated trail will create a more suitable route from the top of the Lakeview lift to the Around the World ski trail, giving novice skiers and riders greater ability to enjoy lake views while accessing beginner terrain.
Mt. Rose typically is among the first resorts to open for the season, and has begun spinning lifts as soon as late October.
Homewood Mountain Resort
While much attention has been on Homewood Mountain Resort’s announcement of moving toward a members-only structure, fans of skiing on Tahoe’s West Shore won’t see any changes this season.
Skiers will benefit from opened up terrain from forest thinning projects, which resort officials said have allowed for new areas for tree skiing.
Homewood typically opens in early to mid December.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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