Fortune Friday

Posted on February 24. 2023
Happy Fortune Friday all,


Here we go again! Mother Nature is back and doing her thing. After a few weeks of bluebirds, sun, and easy-going conditions, snow and strong winds have returned. It is always good to have more snow, and we love it! You just can’t beat several powder days in a row. Like we saw earlier this season, these storms are coming with a lot of snow and high winds and are impacting lift operations.

Tuesday and Thursday were particularly challenging during a peak period for us. Wind speeds were consistently above operating thresholds on these days.I mention it often, but it is worth saying again: the Gondola and upper-mountain lifts like Tamarack and Sky are exposed to winds that can reach up to – and surpass – 100 MPH on a pretty consistent basis. We expect more of these conditions over the next few days and potentially into mid-March. Any time lifts are on wind hold, or are closed due to wind, it is strictly for your safety and the safety of our team members. All of that said, how awesome is it to be getting feet of snow again on top of such a great base! Please remember, no one wants to be open more than the team that works here, and we appreciate your support and grace.

The next time we catch up, it will be March, so I wanted to take some time to preview some events we are extremely excited for:

  • Samuel Adams Air and Après will take place on Saturday, March 4. This is an exciting freestyle event featuring big air talent, a light show, and great beer. Professional skiers and riders, Olympians, and X Games athletes will be featured. If you have taken Roundabout or East Bowl recently, you’ve seen that we are currently building the massive jump for the event on World Cup (you can also see this from the parking lot, in case you’re curious). Our Grooming and Terrain Parks teams have been working so hard to get this project to where it is so far. Importantly, I also wanted to shout out Corley Howard, Mike Binnell, and the Kirkwood grooming team. Corley is the Grooming Manager at Kirkwood,while Mike is the Team Lead for Grooming. They bring a wealth of experience, including building jumps for the X Games! It is so great to have their expertise alongside our team to make this happen. Our resorts are always so supportive of each other when important events like these are on the calendar. It is truly a ‘One Tahoe’ team. The jump will take a little more than a week to complete, with 2-3 snowcats working constantly throughout the day – it is huge, and something you are going to have to see for yourself.
  • Our most popular event of the year also returns on March 25th – Gunbarrel 25! I think most of you know about the GB 25, but for any of you that don’t know, this annual event challenges skiers to lap Gunbarrel 25 times. Gunbarrel features roughly 1,600 vertical feet of bumps, and can be a challenge to complete once, let alone 25 times! We keep track of the fastest times to complete 25 laps, as well as who can do the most laps total in six hours. It is a mental and physical grind, but is a ton of fun for all participants. Plus – we don’t judge if you just want to watch with a beer from the lodge! Keep an eye out for an official announcement on the registration information. With the mention of this event, on behalf of the Heavenly team, Iwant to share our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Kyle Smaine. He was the winner of last year's GB 25 in both the Time and Ironman categories. He was an incredible skier, and more importantly, a beloved member of our Tahoe community.

Lastly, for our Team Member Spotlight this week, I’d like to introduce you to our Senior Manager of Lift Operations, Sean Hutchinson! Our Lift Operations Leadership Team is incredible, and I have to say, it must be something in the water at Heavenly, because our resort has a track record of producing truly excellent leaders from Lift Operations. Many have been promoted to bigger roles across our company and Sean is another great example! He started here as a Team Lead and has worked his way to his current role, where he is a crucial member of our resort leadership team and oversees this big department. Enjoy the snow this week and I’ll see you on the slopes soon!


Sean Hutchinson Portrait

Team Member Spotlight/Q&A: Sean Hutchinson

Q: Hi Sean! Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Heavenly, and how long you’ve been here?

A: Hey everyone! I’m Sean “Merle” Hutchinson and I’m the Senior Manager of Lift Operations. I moved to Tahoe from the ‘Ice Coast’ in the fall of 2018.

Q: How did you end up in Lake Tahoe from Vermont?

A: I grew up in New England and loved the hard winters we had. I met a lot of awesome people who have supported me along the way, but I was looking for a change. I saw an opportunity at Heavenly Mountain and thought, “Tahoe seems cool!” I never actually snowboarded in California before but was in shock when I realized how much it can actually snow here. it is certainly different than winters we get in the East!  

Q: What inspired your career path?

A: Imagine getting paid for doing something that you love to do. This is a place that people call vacation and it’s just another day in the office for people like me. I feel so lucky.  

Q: What are some of the responsibilities you have that might surprise people?

A: The amount of shoveling we need to do would probably surprise people. With all of the big storms we have had this year - specifically in January - we were getting to lifts with several feet of snow on multiple occasions. Chairs were buried! The time and effort needed to safely execute all of this snow removal from base areas and the entire mountain is mind blowing.  

Q: What do you love most about your job? And about Heavenly?

A: The people. I love meeting all of the guests and hearing about their experiences on the mountain or what led them to come to the resort. On top of that, the people that work at Heavenly. There are so many awesome individuals that come to work each and every day. This mountain is so dynamic and it takes a community of people working together to make it all possible. This community is like family and that motivates me to remember to ‘Be Kind’ to anyone and everyone.  

Q: What unique or special skills are needed to do your job?

A: You need to learn to adapt. Every day on the mountain is uncertain operationally and provides curveballs to whatever plan you originally had going into the day. You have to learn to roll with the punches and make decisions in high-pressure situations.  

Q: What or who inspires you most?

A: My team. Without them, none of this would be possible. Without them, no one could experience skiing or riding at Heavenly. The memories, stories, and the people are what make my job unique and they inspire me to be a better person. I strive to give them the best experience because they allow me to get the chance to meet and work with all of them.  

Q: What has been your favorite part of this ski and ride season so far?


Q: Do you have a favorite run at Heavenly?

A: East Bowl Woods baby!