Heavenly, CA and NV 1/25-26/2016


Well-known member
Tony Crocker and Lizardqueen arrived South Lake Tahoe about 7 pm Sunday evening after driving from So. CA via 395. Tony was still suffering from a cold he got near the end of his recent Japan trip so I did not push him that hard to get to Heavenly early the next morning to ski the 1" new reported Tues. at all of the Vail Tahoe resorts. And we later heard from ski patroller that new snow did not help groomers as much as if did the off-piste. After getting them a couple of my $82 buddy passes (vs. $125 walk-up), we got on Gunbarrel chair about 9:30.

We rode two more chairs to get to the top and skied Ridge Run into Ridge Bowl, then on next run we skied Liz's, where rocks are still available to be hit on the windswept upper part, into Sky Canyon where we found some snow that was not totally tracked out. Then we skied Ellie's before turning left at the 10K foot top to head to NV. But Tony C had never skied Pinnacles, a newer run not always open so we skied it once before moving to NV. Snow was excellent on groomers, but there was one rocky area on an especially windswept part of Pinnacles that we probably could have avoided. I found a lot of moderately tracked snow on the edge of the run.

We took a high traverse into and across the top of Milky Way Bowl. I took a couple of turns in the 1st set of trees but snow was not that great so we continued further out and found better snow.
Even though we entered Mott Canyon Gate 1, we were able to get on top of ridge and ski into Killibrew Canyon where we crossed Sweetwater and skied 38 degree Bob's Boulevard. While Tony C and Liz went to East Peak Lodge for a pit stop, I did another lap into Mott skiing between Widowmaker and still cliffed out Snake Eyes. I did not see them at chair so I took a quick lap up Dipper chair and skied Big Dipper at the top, then Dipper Bowl at the middle then cut over to Nova at the bottom. All held excellent snow so I repeated the top 2/3 of the run with them, but we cut across Orion and skied Jack's at the bottom, then went up Comet chair.

We skied, Crossover run, reviled by Tony, to get lower on NV. We skied trees next to upper North Bowl which held some totally untracked, then went up Olympic to ski long Olympic groomer where I had to guide Liz back onto run as she was heading for trees at left boundary. Snow got firm from melt/freeze or from getting scraped down to man-made for about the last 300 vertical feet of the 2K+ vertical run. We had to repeat Stagecoach as Liz had dropped a glove and found some good snow in trees under liftline at top. Next time up we skied Upper and Main/Lower North Bowl, where bumps Tony remembered from previous visits were mostly non-existent possibly due to lower Boulder lift not running and North Bowl not running for a while after dropping a downhill chair while loaded with 65 people who had to be rope evacuated on Jan. 3. There was also some smooth snow in trees to left at top.

After long slow North Bowl chair ride, we went up Dipper and returned to Mott where Liz had trouble with first turn commitment on top of the close to 40 degree Y, even though it was hero snow.
Tony C and I took a lap while she got down. We returned to CA via Maggie's Canyon which also had some untracked, then went up Powder Bowl and Sky chairs and skied what used to be Betty's before cutting over to Mombo and Waterfall. For a last run, we all skied Gunbarrel where top was excellent, but almost the bottom half was re-frozen. They cutover to The Face where Roundabout crosses. I continued down Gunbarrel and found a few more ball-bearing spots before getting to chair. I took one more lap on the Face and finished at 4 pm with over 27K.

On Wed I was in no hurry as temps were in the teens so I let Tony and Liz sleep in and we did not get on lifts until after 10. We took one warmup run on Skiy chair before moving to NV where Liz repeated Bob's Boulevard run from previous day while Tony and I skied Outer Limits and missed the entrance into Pipeline. We skied short Thin Line then got on top of ridge between The Meadows and Boundary Chutes where we found very steep and deep lightly tracked snow. We also looked at Pipeline from ridge below it and saw someone skiing it tentatively before seeing another skier launch a rock at entrance, then ski it non-stop and launch the rock in the center below the choke. We caught up with Liz on ropeline traverse back to lift and passed her by taking a higher step-up that got us onto a gravity traverse to lift. We went up Mott lift and skied either side of Widowmaker, then went up Mott and Dipper. Liz repeated Bob's Boulevard while Tony and I found the entrance to Pipeline and skied the 41-degree natural half pipe down the 900-foot fall line. I only had one hesitation where I slowed and side-slipped a second or two longer than needed to get lined up better before making next turn. From the bottom of Pipeline, I was able to get back on top of Boundary Chute ridge and found some excellent snow closer to the ropeline than earlier run.

We skied to East Peak Lodge and took a short break to re-fill water, use facilities and snack. Then we went up Dipper chair and warmed up on somewhat recently added Meteor run. We went up again and sent Liz towards Bob's Boulevard while Tony C and I went to Killibrew Gate B where we found top of Stateline Chute very rocky. I got in from skiers left and he came in skiers right and we both found great snow after getting past barely covered rock in throat of "1,000 foot vertical drop, this 40-degree, north-facing avalanche path is the best place to find soft, chalky snow after a storm." quoted from skinet.com article I have saved on my laptop.

We did not find or have contact with Liz at the bottom and after waiting a few minutes and calling and texting her, we went up Mott and skied Bill's where we both found excellent snow on N-facing very steep run. We eventually found Liz who must have gone too far down ridge separating Mott and Killibrew and got to where only choice was The Y, her nemesis from previous day. After re-grouping, we went up Mott and Dipper chair and skied 49er run so Liz could see top of Stateline gondola area including lodge where they have Happy Hour starting at 3:30 PM with Heavenly Angels dancers. We skied CA trail, then went way further skiers right of Maggie's Canyon than I've ever been for a long and interesting SW-facing tree run. We went to the top again and skied excellent trees and one short face under Sky chair before going up again where we got to the top after 4 pm. We finished our day with Ridge Run (we took some of what used to be Betty's in the middle), then down next to NASTAR course, Mombo and still excellent and soft although bigger bumps than previous day Waterfall. We went up Groove chair and took highest entrance into West Bowl before finding our own routes down to the bottom of the tram at nearly 4:30 with over 17.5 K. Heavenly skied very well both days with very good coverage and surface, about as good as it can be without new snow or deeper base.
tseeb":ob45stw6 said:
Heavenly skied very well both days with very good coverage and surface, about as good as it can be without new snow or deeper base.
That was my immediate impression. Even though I had only skied Heavenly two days since 1996, I was there every season from 1979-1985 and it was my 3rd most skied area until 1987. We have lots of pics from these two photogenic days, first Monday.

Liz at entry to her namesake run:

Top of Ellie's Run:

One of Heavenly's strong points is the great tree spacing over almost the entire mountain, good example here:

Back in the early 1980's North Bowl was a heavy duty mogul run, but pretty smooth here due to the lift closure Tseeb mentioned.

Tseeb skiing the Y in Mott Canyon

Liz at top of Gunbarrel

On Tuesday with Tseeb's navigation I got to ski the best of Killebrew Canyon for the first time. We missed the entry to Pipeline on the first try but got a good view from top of the Boundary Chutes.

This was far from being in vain because the trees below us were mostly still untracked.

Tseeb skiing Pipeline

Pipeline is a steeper version of Mammoth's Shaft on Chair 22. Tseeb said 41 degrees, which would be comparable to Main Chute at Alta though Pipeline is not as long.

Overview of Killebrew Canyon

Tseeb in Stateline Chute

Stateline is longer than Pipeline but not quite as steep. Top entry was sketchier though.

Tseeb in the trees at the edge of Bill's Run

Top of Tamarack late Tuesday

Tseeb on last run down in East Bowl

I took the shot on driving up to Tahoe Sunday despite being quite sick Saturday. Liz had never skied Heavenly and I wanted her to see it in great condition with expert local guidance. I improved each day and was essentially normal by Wednesday. On Monday I skied OK but felt reduced lung capacity from the waning illness. It was like I was skiing 2,000 feet higher than the reality, getting out of breath partway down runs I could usually ski nonstop.