Shredding the Slopes at Heavenly

Shredding the Slopes at Heavenly

During a recent trip to Silicon Valley a colleague and I decided to sneak away for the weekend, and headed for the ski slopes surrounding Lake Tahoe.

The journey to Heavenly was, well, less than heavenly. It all began with an Uber ride to Sydney International Airport, followed by a flight to Los Angeles, another flight to San Francisco, and yet another flight to Reno. Three flights, a bus ride, and an Uber in, and we were adequately exhausted. As such we decided to skip the hour long wait for the bus, and instead paid the extra money and Ubered the remaining 45 minutes to Heavenly.

We checked into our truely American motel, Bluelake Inn, before heading out to the local ski shop to hire our equipment in the hope of avoiding the long morning queues. It was a long weekend in the US, and Heavenly had received a good dumping of snow just a few days before, so we were definitely expecting large crowds.

After renting some very average looking skis and boots, we headed into Heavenly Village for dinner. The Village was beautiful, with snow surrounding the walkways, and the warm glow of light illuminating the restaurants and bars. After wondering in and out of various venues, we selected the Base Camp Pizza Co, largely due to the live music and vibrant crowd.

Our quiet dinner “dragged” on for longer than expected, thanks largely to Base Camp’s long list of craft beers. To fend off the effects of the beer, I ordered the Smoky BBQ Chicken & Bacon pizza, which was absolutely magnificent. Many hours, and a few free beers later (thanks to understanding waiters when we strongly disliked one or two of the beers on tap), we stumbled back to our inn.

We were a little slow getting going the next morning, partially due to our foggy heads, but also since we’d forgotten to hire helmets, and were forced to join the now very long ski hire queues, filled with people trying on boots and getting skis adjusted. Thankfully we managed to convince the staff to let us skip the queue since we only needed helmets, and we were soon on our way to the gondola (having also taken the opportunity to buy my first pair of ski goggles).

Sadly this was not to be the end of our queuing. Despite having bought our ski passes online the night before, we were forced to queue to collect the cards. And we then had to queue for a third time to board the gondola.

We finally boarded the gondola at 9:30am, and began the 4km ascent up the East Peak. The panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, as the snow thickened and began to cover the trees, was spectacular.

Before starting our day on the slopes we dropped into Tamarack Lodge for a very average cup of coffee, and to plan our runs. We opted to begin the day on the Calafornian side, before heading over to Nevada later.

We got off to a slow start, hitting a few of the shorter runs, before our plan was blown out of the water when the Sky Express chair lift broke down with us midway through the queue. After waiting patiently for 10 minutes we decided to have a break and enjoyed a great pulled pork bun, with the largest pickle I’ve ever seen, at the Sky Deck.

Fed up (literally, not figuratively), we hit the slopes hard for the next 4 hours, until they were closed. We hit run after run, not taking a break. The views from the mountain were incredible; whether it be the windswept trees covered in snow, or the deep blue Lake (Tahoe) filling the valley below us. Some of the best views were from the Skyline Trail, so it’s definitely worth a run in the early morning or late evening. The Californian trail on the other hand had slightly less scenic views, but was an incredible run consisting of some steeper sections, along with some more gentle gradients to relax the legs.

Andre took full advantage of the steeper sections by under estimating his speed and skiing directly into a tree. Sadly, I missed this show of skill and only saw him peeling himself off the tree as I came around the corner.

Despite being an exceptionally busy weekend, the mountain was well managed, and we never queued for lifts for longer than 5 – 10 minutes. The slopes also had a lot of free space, as the crowds were well spread over the resort.

When the slopes finally closed at 4pm we made our way back to the gondola, and headed back down to Heavenly Village.

That evening we met up with some mates and spent the evening bar hoping the village. It was surprisingly quiet considering how busy the mountain was. Perhaps everyone was exhausted from the day on the slopes? Or perhaps people were hoping to get an early start to avoid the gondola queues.

Sadly, it didn’t matter, as we woke up to pouring rain the following morning. The gondola was closed due to the weather, so skiing was officially off the cards. We returned our gear, and began the long trek back to Silicon Valley.

We’d booked our flight for 7pm as we were hoping to spend another day on the slopes, meaning we had a lot of time to kill. We took an early bus back to Reno airport, hoping we’d be able to hop onto an earlier flight. It was not to be, so we relaxed at the airport for the rest of the day.

Despite having spent 2 very long days travelling for just a single day on the slopes, it was totally worth it. I’d highly recommend Heavenly, thanks to the incredible combination of skiing and views. It may be one of the more expensive resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe, but if you’re only there for a day, it’s worth the money.