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Last week at Heavenly

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I spent last week nestled up right next to Heavenly. I'd heard from people here and from other sources that Heavenly doesn't live up to the hype, but factors beyond my control dictated the venue. I will summarize by saying that the good news is that we had great snow at Heavenly, and the bad news is we had great snow at Heavenly, which meant we couldn't easily travel elsewhere.

My group had 7 people: one first-time skier, 2 upper-intermediate boarders, 1 intermediate skier, 1 good boarder, and 2 good skiers.

I was far more disappointed with Heavenly than I could have imaged I would be. For starters, the $75 lift ticket is, I think, the most expensive I've ever purchased. For that kind of money, I'd expect to get some decent facilities with reasonable service. Heavenly has neither.


The lodge food is a full 30-50% more expensive than any other resort food I've had. $6.75 for a slice of pizza!? I'm not usually cheap when it comes to eating on the hill - I just rack it up to the cost of doing business. But at Heavenly, I really felt like I was getting slapped in the face. Further, the overpriced food and the service you'd expect for your $75 lift ticket are horrible. One day I ordered a chilli dog. The guy pulled the dog out of the hot water with tongs, dropped it, picked it up again after it had rolled all the way across the counter, and put it on the bun. When I said that I'd prefer not to have that dog, he just looked at me blankly and said "the counter is clean".

The lodges are too small. To compensate for this, they seem to have created quite a bit of outside seating. Anything with the word "grill" in the name means you're sitting outside. I don't know how this works out during mild days, but it was COLD every day we were there. The lodges also, for lack of a better word, suck. Again, for my $75 lift ticket I'd expect something comfortable and well appointed - you know, ski lodgey. The facilities have none of that. My humble little home mountain, Crystal Mtn in WA state, has far nicer facilities than the heavenly mega-resort.

The lift operation sucks. The first day we rode the tram up and the operator rambled aimlessly about the ski code saying things like "if you hit someone, stay with them. It's like a hit and run if you don't. I think it's okay if you get ski patrol. You could get arrested or have your lift ticket pulled or both. My friend Bob had his ticket pulled one time". Each mini rule lecture involved the rule being broken by a personal friend or family member. The lifties hardly maintained the loading and unloading areas. For example, on many lifts, the load line was not cleared and no cones or other markers were set up. The pre-loading areas were often icey and uneven. At one triple, Groove, (not detachable), myself and two friends pulled forward only to find that the surface was so icey that two of us started to slide backwards which nearly resulted in the 3rd person falling from the lift. The unloading areas were so icey that my very experienced snowboarding friends had a couple of falls.

Our overall enjoyment of Heavenly skyrocketed when we decided to take the gondola down to the base and eat at the Wolfgang Puck Express there. $10 or $15 there gets you a MUCH better meal than you'd pay $20 for on the mountain. The time spent riding the gondola down and back up was a bit of a drag, but it had to be done.

The Good Parts:

As I said above, we had mostly great snow. Our first day there, Sunday, it was warm and sunny. Everything below the Sky lift was mostly slush. On Monday, it poured rain all day and we went to the casinos. On Monday evening, though, the rain turned to snow and it kept coming for the rest of the week. I did enjoy the tree skiing there, but I didn't find anything that I considered particularly challenging. I would have liked to have tried the Mott area, but it was closed most of the time we were there. The mild trees off the dipper and comet chairs were nice for two in our group who got their first taste of skiing in trees where they found powder turns all day - they loved it. I can't think of a place where you can get a better introduction to tree skiing. The rest of us spent most of our time in the steeper wooded areas, which were pretty fun.

On Wednesday, we had clear enough roads to drive to Squaw. What a difference. You get so much more for your cheaper lift ticket. We all enjoyed the terrain more as well. Granite Chief and KT-22 are real fun and have lines that are more than a little scary (if you're at my skill level or below!). Myself and my other friend who will board just about anything had a great time on the tracked powder and fluffy bumps on Granite Chief in the afternoon. I guess the locals only showed up for the main cource, but we still enjoyed the left overs. The service, lodges, food, etc are mostly in line with what you'd expect to find at any other world-class resort. Everyone, from our newbie on up had a fantastic day at Squaw.

Overall, the good snow made it a great trip. But I doubt I will ever ski another day at Heavely (unless it's on someone else's nickle!). There's better skiing to be had for much less $ elsewhere.
post #2 of 5
You didn't mention the view which is one of the main reasons for going to Heavenly. Oh and skiing two states ('though it's a pain traversing from one to the other). You've apparently discovered there aren't many other redeeming features. Gunbarrel and West Face under the tram can be fun moguls
post #3 of 5
I have been looking at Heavenly as a potential destination now and again, wondering if the crowds would be too much for me. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
post #4 of 5
I went to Heavenly almost three weeks ago and Had a great time there. The lines looked very long but they move quick and the hill grooming was some of the nicest I've been on. I wanted to post my pic's but the files were to large to upload here. I paid more but I expected too. I think squaw is nicer but heavenly was no let down
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by TruckeeLocal
You didn't mention the view which is one of the main reasons for going to Heavenly. Oh and skiing two states ('though it's a pain traversing from one to the other). You've apparently discovered there aren't many other redeeming features. Gunbarrel and West Face under the tram can be fun moguls
You are right about the view. The first day we were there, especially, it was really quite something.

West face and gunbarrel were in fairly shabby condition for the most part.

And I agree with Bill about the grooming. Heavenly had lots of well groomed terrain, which several in our group enjoyed. We skied squaw the morning after a good snow, and they seemed to have pretty good groomers too. Grooming coverage is pretty low on my list of ski area priorities. Unless it's Deer Valley.
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