While skiing and snowboarding have been on summer hiatus, six Lake Tahoe ski resorts have been busy making offseason improvements.
The three Vail Resorts in Tahoe and three other ski resorts have made upgrades this summer. With time dwindling down to the start of the 2022-23 season, Tahoe ski resorts are quickly bringing to a close work to upgrade lifts and expand terrain.
The Tahoe ski season typically begins in mid-November and many resorts are usually open for the Thanksgiving holiday. However, that was not the case last season when virtually no ski resorts were operating due to lack of snow and cold enough weather to make enough snow to kickstart the season.
Here’s a look at the changes taking place at Tahoe ski resorts.
PALISADES TAHOE: For the 2022-23 ski season, skiers and riders will be able to enjoy the long-awaited connection between Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) and neighboring Alpine Meadows, which will be linked by the Base to Base Gondola.
Spanning 2.4 miles from Olympic Valley to Alpine Meadows, the $65 million project will take skiers from either base area in 16 minutes. It will have the ability to operate as two separate lifts, allowing access to the top of KT-22 from either base area. The connection makes Palisades Tahoe the third largest ski area in North America, according to Alterra Mountain Company.
Also of significance at Palisades Tahoe is the Red Dog chair lift is being upgraded from a three-person lift to a high-speed, detachable six-person lift. The lift will also be moved to a new location to allow skiers and riders better access to the parking lot.
Palisades has indicated the resort will open Nov. 22.
HEAVENLY MOUNTAIN: Located in South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly is increasing uphill capacity at its North Bowl lift by 40 percent.
The Vail Resorts operated mountain will replace its three-person lift with a new high-speed, four-person chair. According to resort officials, the North Bowl upgrade will reduce ride time on the Boulder lift, along with an expected reduction in wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts.
Following a busy last season where lift lines were extraordinarily long on most weekends, Vail Resorts announced recently it will limit lift ticket sales throughout the season to prioritize the guest experience.
“We care deeply about our guests’ experience at our resorts,” said James O’Donnell, president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain division. “Limiting lift tickets throughout the season, alongside the big investments we’re making at our resorts and in our team members, will help us provide our guests with (what it hopes) is an experience of a lifetime this winter.”
All Vail Resorts will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, but will continue to require daily health screenings for all team members working onsite. There are currently no requirements for face coverings, vaccines, or dining and lift reservations across Vail’s resorts for this coming season.
By auctioning off the old three-person chairs earlier this summer, Heavenly raised $162,000 for nonprofits the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Ski Run Community Park, and the EpicPromise Foundation.
Heavenly is targeting an opening date of Nov. 18.
SIERRA-AT-TAHOE: Roughly a year ago, Sierra-at-Tahoe was sadly glowing orange as the Caldor Fire burned tens of thousands of acres.
The fire raged at arguably the resort’s best skiing and snowboarding area – the West Bowl. The immense damage from the fire caused the popular South Lake Tahoe resort to remain closed all last season, with the exception of one weekend of limited terrain.
The fire affected 1,600 of the resort’s 2,000 acres, damaged lifts towers, haul ropes, terrain park features, four new snowcats, and a maintenance building, which housed many of our crews’ tools and personal belongings, some that had been passed down through generations.
Sierra-at=Tahoe officials have indicated more than 14,000 fire-damaged trees were abated, amounting to an estimated five million board feet of timber removed from the resort’s slopes.
There has been no official word if the resort will open for the 2022-23 season. Sierra-at-Tahoe typically opens in late November or early December.
ROSE SKI RESORT: The largest capital improvement project in the history of Mt. Rose, a $7.5 million expansion, will see the resort’s new Lakeview zone open to skiers and riders. The trail will provide views of Lake Tahoe and access to Around the World trail.
“The expansion of the Lakeview zone, trail improvements and the addition of the new express chairlift will have a transformative effect on the way people access that area of the mountain,” said Mike Pierce, Mt. Rose marketing director. “Skiers and riders of all ability levels will enjoy expansive views of Lake Tahoe that they haven’t had before. The new Lakeside trail is sure to quickly become a favorite of many, thanks to its gentle wide flow complimented by stellar lake views.”
The new Lakeview chairlift will open sometime during the 2022-23 season as weather and snow conditions permit. The beginner-rated trail will create a better route from the top of the Lakeview lift to the Around the World ski trail, giving novice skiers and riders greater ability to enjoy lake views while accessing beginner terrain.
Located in Nevada, a short drive from North Lake Tahoe and Reno, Mt. Rose typically is among the first resorts to open for the season. Thanks mostly to snowmaking, it often opens by late October.
NORTHSTAR CALIFORNIA: This season, Northstar will debut an improved Comstock Express. It will upgrade the lift from a four-person chair to a high-speed six-person lift. The improvements are designed to reduce wait times at one of the mountain’s most popular lifts and will increase uphill capacity by nearly 50 percent.
Located in Truckee on Tahoe’s north shore, Northstar will also be celebrating 50 years of operations this season.
An auction of Northstar’s old Comstock chairs raised more than $23,000 for the EpicPromise Foundation. The resort’s terrain parks crew is also utilizing the lift towers to create new features.
Northstar plans to begin running lifts Nov. 18.
HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN: Located on Tahoe’s west shore, the family-friendly resort will be taking a new path. Homewood is moving toward a members-only structure.
In addition to the members only, skiers will benefit from opened terrain from forest thinning projects, which resort officials said have allowed for new areas for tree skiing.
Homewood typically opens in early to mid-December.
KIRKWOOD MOUNTAIN: Like Northstar, Kirkwood will celebrate its 50th anniversary of operations this season.
Ahead of the ski season, Kirkwood has announced an addition to its mountain bike offerings. The Forbidden Forest Trail will now be open
Kirkwood is eying Dec. 2 for its season opener.