Fortune Friday

Posted April 28, 2023

Happy Fortune Friday everyone – the last of the 2022/2023 winter season! 

We hope you are enjoying the extended season and all the great spring skiing and riding conditions! It’s hard to believe we have just nine days to go before we officially say goodbye to what has been a truly historic season. As we reflect on the wild winter and nearly 50’ of snowfall, here we are living in the moment... skiing and riding in 50 and 60 degree weather and sunshine after all of the white outs and cold, windy days we experienced. I am certainly trying my best to get out there and take advantage of the corn snow and sunshine and I hope you are as well. 

As we near closer to our closing day of Sunday, May 7, I have some final operational updates to share. This weekend – tomorrow and Sunday (April 29-30) – the Gondola and Tamarack Chair will operate for their final days of the winter season so we can complete spring maintenance before the opening of summer operations – more news on summer operations will come soon. I am really happy that we have been able to keep Stagecoach and California bases open 7 days a week through this final weekend in April. For our final week of operations, Stagecoach will be closed Monday – Thursday and will re-open for the final three days of the season. Mountain access in California will remain open every day through May 7 with the same great footprint we have been offering from Gunbarrel and Tram all the way up to Sky Express, and over to Dipper Express in Nevada. To recap, here is the schedule for the rest of the season: 

Gondola – Open Saturday and Sunday, then closed for spring maintenance.  

Stagecoach – Open through this Sunday, then closed Monday – Thursday. Will re-open for the final three days of the extended season, Friday, May 5 – Sunday, May 7. 

California Lifts and Dipper Express – Gunbarrel, Tram, Groove, Powderbowl, Sky, and Dipper - open every day through Sunday, May 7.

Groove Park – Open 7 days a week through May 7.

Things ramp down at the end of the season and it’s always bittersweet for me. Despite the record snowfall, it’s clear that people are beginning to enjoy all of the other sports and activities that come with spring and the warm weather. 

With that, I have to mention our amazing events last week and how much fun it was... how about that Pond Skim!? You all came through with some crazy outfits, incredible vibes, and a whole lot of courage. We were not only impressed by how many competitors made it all the way across, but also by some of the splashes! We had competitors of all ages, with our youngest around eight – it is such a great tradition and iconic event. We also know that this is a popular event and that not everyone who wanted to participate got the chance. We are already brainstorming about how we can make this available for more people next year. Lastly, I am especially thankful for our team who worked so hard to create such an amazing pond and kept it full of water despite a last-minute leak! It was really a great way to cap off our ‘Not Closing Weekend’ and begin the extended season. 

I will be back with another Fortune Friday in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this blog and for making this season so special. On behalf of everyone here at Heavenly, we genuinely appreciate having you on the mountain. Personally, I am incredibly grateful for your honesty and your feedback – and for your support in what was an unprecedented season. We really do listen and try to do what we can to make things better at this resort. We also have some great things to look forward to in the future. 

More than anything, my immense gratitude goes to our team. I say it every Fortune Friday, and I mean it -- they are what makes this place so special and we couldn’t do it without each and every one of them.  

Finally, I want to introduce you to our Manager of Base Operations here at Heavenly, Stefan Watkins! Base Area Operations plays a key role in making the resort run smoothly. From snow removal, to transportation, to parking, this team is so important! 

See you on the slopes for the final runs of winter 2022/23... 


Stefan Watkins Blog Photo
Team Member Spotlight/Q&A: Stefan Watkins 

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

A: Hi everyone, I am the Base Area Operations Manager here at Heavenly. I oversee three departments including snow removal, transportation, and parking. We have operations at all four of our base areas including California, Boulder, Stagecoach, and Heavenly Village.  

Q: What inspired your career path? 

A: I have been involved in skateboarding since I was 13 years old, so going into a career where I could be surrounded by board sports was a no brainer for me. I started my career with Vail Resorts in Breckenridge as a snowboard instructor and completed three winter seasons there. After I moved to South Lake Tahoe, I worked as a zipline tour guide, a shuttle driver, assisted in the uniform room, became Transportation Supervisor, and now Base Operations Manager. No matter what role I have been in, the desire to learn and grow in my personal and professional life has always been at the top of my totem pole.   

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

A: Beyond our day-to-day operations, my role includes overseeing environmental compliance at our base areas. This includes monitoring the amount of salt and sand that is dispersed in the basin, monitoring our water treatment system, and ensuring our contractors follow required guidelines. We also work closely with different government agencies to keep the quality of the water that comes off the mountain safe for Tahoe clarity. 

Q: How do those responsibilities change as the resort shifts into Summer? 

A: In the winter I have employees in three different departments. Summer operations consists of just one department. We have transportation services for Lakeland Village and provide transportation for shuttle guests at Lakeview Lodge. The majority of my time is spent planning projects including getting prepared for next winter’s operations, sprucing up parking lots (painting, sealing, managing plow damage, etc.) and environmental compliance.   

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

A: Being able to be a part of this team that cares so much about the experience we provide, the memories we make, and the lives we change. 

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. 

Q: What or who inspires you most? 

A: My mother. She approaches every challenge with a positive attitude and unprecedented work ethic and that is what drives me each and every day. 

Q: What was your favorite part of this ski and ride season? 

A: With as much snow as we had, we without a doubt had a very dynamic winter. That amount of snow brought some of the best days I have ever had on the mountain. Thank you, Ullr and Mother Nature! 

Q: What was it like to experience this historic winter for you both at the job and at home? 

A: Overseeing snow removal operations was definitely a challenge this year. Shoveling your driveway to get to work, shoveling and removing snow AT work, and then shoveling out the berms to get back in my driveway was a physical feat to say the least.   

Q: Do you have a favorite run at Heavenly? 

A: Firebreak on the front side of the Gondola. Raley’s bowl was all time this season!