Smitty from Germany writes:
Just returned from a week long visit ending Friday 25 Mar 2011. I can't remember nicer snow conditions than what I encountered early in the week. By mid-day Wednesday, though, a bad weather system made the skiing all but impossible. The early week snow was fantastic, and I did enjoy myself.
Now for the criticism:
I've been skiing in the Austrian Alps for the past few years, and I think Heavenly leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, there are some great views of the Lake, and the High Desert in Nevada, but I don't go skiing for the view. I'm a fairly advanced skier, and found no truly challenging runs other than perhaps one or two of the bigger bowls, only then because my slim-ish Fischer Progressor skis weren't designed for the knee high powder I encountered there.
The real problem with Heavenly is that it is too small, though. A competent skier could, assuming no lift lines, ski every run before lunch. Getting to Heavenly is basically a whole days travel from almost anywhere further than Sacramento or Reno. So, spending a long weekend is a minimum to make the trip worthwhile. Heavenly's small size is an issue for sure. Compare Heavenly piste map with a few of the available resorts in Europe and you'll see what I mean. These maps are on a much larger scale than the Heavenly map.
try snow-forecast dot com:
to see some big ski arenas.
Heavenly's management should be ashamed at the archaic lifts, half of which can only carry three or fewer people. This makes the lines significantly longer than they should be. Also, what's the deal with the staff at the gondola ? They seem incapable of putting more than four skiers in a single car, and also seem to think we're too stupid to put our own skis in the ski rack. This makes the morning queue a painful experience.
All in all, I'm surprised at how poor value Heavenly is: $75 per day (unless you have a long term season ticket) is almost twice the price of a typical French, Austrian or Italian resort. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Heavenly, it's a nice place, but it ain't that great.