Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Heavenly Ski Resort, CA — A Name That Almost Does Justice

John Cunningham |
Heavenly views after a storm cleared- January 1, 2023. image: author

It was March 2017, ‘Miracle March’, as I kept hearing the locals say. I had just finished my day skiing down Gunbarrel, a roughly 1,600ft face with a constant ~30° pitch, scattered with moguls from edge to edge, top to bottom, at Heavenly Ski Resort, CA. Pausing, I craned my neck as I looked back up at the mountain and took it all in for a moment. I was filled with pure emotion:  stoke, adrenaline and immense gratitude for the overwhelming beauty surrounding me.

As a Midwesterner, who learned to ski at 2 years old on the icy East Coast and local Michigan ‘hills’, this breathtaking and expansive mountain had my heart on the first chair ride up. Being a first-timer, the ‘Sierra Cement’-powder, 3,500 vertical feet and 4,800 skiable acres across California and Nevada was nothing short of amazing. However, what instantly had me hooked, were the views.

I stood, strapped in and ready to go, breathing in the cold, crisp mountain air at the top of Sky Express, the highest lift-accessed peak in the Tahoe Basin, hovering 10,067 feet over big, beautiful Lake Tahoe. Surrounded by endless mountains of green trees, covered in a fresh blanket of white snow, I understood where this magical mountain got the name ‘Heavenly’. It was that exact moment I knew I wanted to call this place my home.


Not looking super stoked-me and dad-1998 image: author

At that time, it had been almost 2 years to the day since my dad passed away, and I could feel every ounce of his presence with me in that moment. I still feel his presence every time I ski Heavenly, and every time I strap on my boots to hit the slopes. After a short hiatus from skiing through my teenage years, reconnecting with this passion has brought back countless memories and brought forth endless opportunities to opt outside and explore the great outdoors.

Fast forward 6 years and the feelings on that first day lead me to still happily call Heavenly my home mountain. From the steeps, chutes, and cliffs in Mott and Killebrew Canyon, to one-of-a-kind lift-accessed backcountry overlooking Lake Tahoe through multiple gates down the Gondola face, or cruising along groomers that feel like you are skiing right into the lake, Heavenly offers a little bit of everything for everyone, no matter your skill level. This absolutely magical mountain will always hold a very special place in my heart.

The stoke was real-December 10th, 2022 image: author

Resort Stats:

  • 3,500 ft. of vertical
  • 4,800 acres of skiable terrain
  • 360 inches of annual snowfall
  • 97 trails and 28 lifts (9 high speed)
  • 10,067 ft. summit (highest in Lake Tahoe)
Firebreak, Gondola Line-March 10, 2023 image: author

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