Yep, we’re up and running, but skimpily |

Yep, we’re up and running, but skimpily

Sam Baumann
Appeal staff writer

The snow may have been sketchy but it was more than adequate at Heavenly Mountain Resort for the annual Winter Wakeup Call Media Weekend.

Saturday morning the only facilities open were the California base for skiing Patsy’s and Maggie’s greens; no connection to Nevada yet. At the Gondola, the lines were long (and at noon the cars were still being filled going uphill) and quickly the trails became crowded.

“Chaos” was a word often heard as there were basically only three real runs – Comet and two off the Dipper chair. By 11 a.m. the snow (almost all of it the man-made variety) was turning to grain sugar and the best way down the hill was to point the skis downhill and let them run; less chance of being banged into by the mob as long as you stayed out front. By noon, caution suggested quitting. So that’s what we did.

Saturday night the media troops gathered at MontBleu hotel casino (née Caesars) for dinner and an address by Glen Plake (he of the weird hairdo) and Blaise Carrig, boss at Heavenly. Plake as always was funny and Carrig was informative. Seems that Vail Associates (which owns Heavenly) is pumping more dollars into the resort, with two slopeside hotels as well as a major development on the west side of Highway 50 opposite the Gondola base and Heavenly Village.

This development will include a 150-room hotel (with underground parking yet) and a convention facility as well as an overpass with escalators over the highway – a site long waiting for a solution to the car vs.pedestrian traffic situation.

And on the long delayed new quad chair from the top of the Boulder lift to the top of the Olympic two-seater chair, Carrig said it’s going to happen next season. For many that will be good news; for the die-hard locals who look on cutting the old-growth trees for the lift, sacrilegious

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Yes, a new quad to the top of Olympic will bring the crowds who have avoided the area because of the interminably slow North Bowl chair and the equally snail-like Olympic chair. Right now there’s basically only one run down Olympic, plus fine tree skiing and access to the burned area behind the Raley’s parking lot. There’s room for a second trail on the left (looking uphill) which right now is sort of open tree skiing. Lots of tree skiing on the right, all the way down to the old chair.

Many will be pleased by the new lift when it goes in; many will moan about it. I’m undecided, not that it matters.

It’s like the problem with the U.S. National Parks – make things civilized so that all may enjoy, or leave it natural so you have to work at it to enjoy. I’m for natural after seeing how humanized the Arches National Park has become.

Northstar parking upgrades

In order to better circulate traffic flow on Northstar Drive, the resort has added a new parking lot, Castle Peak Park & Ride, with 600 spaces adjacent to the gas station near the resort entrance. This will alleviate traffic congestion by routing a significant number of cars into this new parking area and off of the resort’s main thoroughfare.

Shuttle buses will run continuously, picking up skiers/riders from the lot and dropping them off at the entrance to the Village, minimizing the walk required to get from the car to the slopes. The goal is not to leave a guest waiting more than six minutes for bus pick-up.

For those of us who have schlepped boots and skis from car to the Village, this is welcome news.