Heavenly goes great guns, opens new terrain
Not content to ring in its latest terrain opening with a 21-gun salute, Heavenly is marking the opening of two more trails with 150 blazing snow guns.
Skiers and snowboarders visiting the resort over the weekend will be able to ski Lower Ridge and Maggie’s on Saturday, in addition to Patsy’s, the trail Heavenly opened the season with last weekend. Heavenly’s Aerial Tram and Waterfall lifts also open Saturday.
“We’re ecstatic to have open what we have open,” said Heavenly communications director Monica Bandows, who added the whole mountain usually isn’t open by Thanksgiving.
“We’re continuing to make snow and hoping that by Thanksgiving, we’d be open from the top of the Sky Express to mid-mountain,” she said.
Snowmaking largely is the reason Heavenly was the first resort on the South Shore to open, and will provide more terrain this weekend. The largest battery of snow guns on the West Coast put in a 32-hour continuous snowmaking effort culminating Thursday morning, coupled with Tuesday night’s winter storm, helped Heavenly’s coverage. If the storms many anticipate will hit the Sierra this weekend do come through with more snow, it could provide even more terrain for skiers and boarders – at Heavenly and beyond.
“What we’re hearing is probably what everyone else is hearing: That we are expecting snow,” Bandows said. One forecast she heard predicts two storms dropping snow between 7,500 and 8,000 feet in elevation beginning Saturday, and continuing into Sunday and Monday. Heavenly should be able to resume its snowmaking operations in the wake of the storms.
Even though the winter seems to be starting later than the past few years, business still is brisk. Heavenly had between 400 and 500 skiers and snowboarders on the slopes last weekend, and around 200 during the day this past week.
“We’re right on, as far as business,” Bandows said.
Lift tickets remain $15 for adults, $10 for children on Friday, but the price will rise on Saturday to reflect the openings.
Kirkwood is the next South Shore mountain scheduled to open. While the last storm built the natural base up between 6 and 8 inches – more than a foot with man-made snow – Kirkwood is waiting for a 3-foot base.
“We’re still waiting for that ol’ 3 feet,” said Tania Magidson, Kirkwood’s public relations and communications director.
“We basically are ready to go,” she said. “If it snowed three feet overnight, we’d probably open (Saturday).”
Kirkwood’s staff is ready to go on extremely short notice. As at Heavenly, a later start than last year hasn’t stopped inquiries.
“The phone’s been ringing,” Magidson said. “Excitement’s building.”
Sierra-at-Tahoe, originally on schedule for a Dec. 3 opening, received between 6 and 8 inches of new snow in the last storm also, and a few more storms could open the resort by Thanksgiving.
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