Fortune Friday

Posted June 10, 2022

North Bowl ELU Tower Pull


It’s been a bit since my last post, but I’m glad to be back at it! I hope you’ve taken some down time to reset after the ski and ride season.

Now, we are ramping back up as summer activities approach here at Heavenly, and our team has been hard at work. We were happy to see many of you over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and know the wind wasn’t ideal – but as always, every guest was in good spirits and understanding of our safety precautions. Ultimately, we had a great weekend, and it was a wonderful preview of what’s to come for summer. 

I’m so excited about our summer kickoff next Friday, June 17! This year, we expanded our operations and brought back some favorites, including our mountain coaster, tubing, the climbing wall, and more.  
Some key dates to know are: 

  • Gondola / Sightseeing: June 17  
  • Gemstone Panning: already open! 
  • Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster: June 17 
  • Climbing Wall: July 1 
  • Red Tail Flyer Children’s Zipline: July 1 
  • Tubing: early July – date to come 
  • Hot Shot Zipline: mid-July - date to come

Of course, all activities and opening dates are subject to mountain conditions and weather. Summer activities passes and products are live on the website now, so be sure to buy tickets in advance.

We are also making great progress on our North Bowl lift upgrade. Last week, a helicopter removed the old lift towers, and some of the new towers have already been delivered. Our next step will be excavations for the new tower sites... keep your eyes on our social channels for continued updates and images, too.

I think we can all agree that summer in Tahoe is incredible, and we are lucky to be able to take advantage of our incredible surroundings... the lake, hiking and mountain biking trails, and everything our beautiful area has to offer. 

Of course, I’m always most excited to share a team member spotlight in each Fortune Friday post. Today, I’m so proud to highlight Bryan Hickman, our Senior Manager of Snow Surfaces. Bryan is such an important member of our team – and while it may seem like his role would only be focused on winter months, he’s got snow on the brain year-round. Not only that, he’s been an inspirational and motivating leader here at Heavenly over the last six seasons, and he continues to make a difference in our community. Check out his Q&A below!

Can’t wait to see you on the mountain – until next time...


Bryan Hickman

Q: Hi Bryan! Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Heavenly, and how long you’ve been here?  
A: I was born and raised here in Lake Tahoe. My first ski pass was at Heavenly not too long after I learned to walk, so I guess you could say Heavenly is my home resort. My first job at Heavenly was actually running the surface lifts for our kids’ ski school at Cal Base while I was still in high school. After graduating from UC Davis, I wanted a “fun” job that would get me back on the mountain. I started running snowcats at night so that I could ski all day. Of course – this has turned into my career, and I have worked my up the ranks, spending time on operations teams at Northstar, Beaver Creek, and in Russia and New Zealand, ultimately returning home to Heavenly as Snow Surface Senior Manager. I’ve held this role for the past 6 seasons, where I oversee Snowmaking, Terrain Parks, Grooming and Summer Trails Operations.

Q: What inspired your career path? 
A: A love of Lake Tahoe, a love of this mountain, a love of skiing, and a refusal to ever have a “real” job. I have actually had two career paths, although my current role at Heavenly keeps me pretty busy. Aside from my love of the mountains, I also have a love of the water, and I’ve had the awesome experience of having a “second gig” as a Captain. When I was 18, I received my US Coast Guard Masters License, and have worked as a Captain aboard some of Lake Tahoe’s most notable boats, including the M.S. Dixie II, Tahoe Queen, and Tahoe Star. I still don’t think I have ever had a “real job” since I get to work on the mountain by day, and the lake by evenings a few nights a week (in the summer). Not bad, right? 

Q: What are some of the responsibilities you have that might surprise people?   
A: You would think summer would be a time to slow down, but it is actually quite the opposite. My team and I are just as busy in the summer months as we are in the winter. Our massive snowmaking system requires extensive maintenance each summer, and miles of mountain road is resurfaced. We have a small army on our Summer Trails team, and they do everything from erosion control to tree trimming and brush cutting – all of which amounts to being a big job.  

Q: What are the various roles your team members have? What would surprise guests about what goes on behind the scenes on your team?  
A: I don’t think most people realize how much happens behind the scenes and the tireless effort put in by so many to make this mountain the magical place that it is. During the winter, I have teams on the mountain 24/7 making snow, grooming trails, building terrain parks, and everything in between...but there is so much more. Did you know that every hot dog and French Fry eaten on the mountain gets there after a ride up the Tram and a snowcat ride to the on-mountain lodges? We really are a team of do-it-all, passionate people who love Heavenly, and all of our guests!  

Q: What do you love most about your job? And about Heavenly?  
A: My office is a 4800- acre playground! I have an opportunity that very few others get, which is to see this mountain at all hours of the day (and night), through all seasons of the year. I am living every kid’s dream, driving some of the nicest heavy equipment in the world (and for anyone who has been in a snowcat, you know what I’m talking about!). I truly have the greatest “office” in the world! 

Q: What unique or special skills are needed to do your job?   
A: An ability to work some really strange and long hours. As I mentioned, we are a 24/7 operation, and you have to be willing to work any and all of those hours. We put in a ton of time in November in particular while we are making snow and gearing up for opening day, but all that hard work pays off when we are taking our first runs of the season and see all the happy skiers and riders enjoying it too.  You have to really love the mountains, outdoors, and snow to be part of this team – and all of us really and truly’s why my team is the best and filled with so many passionate people! 

Q: What’s one thing you wish guests knew before coming to Heavenly?  
A: Take the time to learn the mountain. We have some of the best terrain out there, matched with the best views in the world. Heavenly is a big mountain and can be difficult to navigate, though, so find a friend (or make a friend on the chairlift!) who knows their way around. Guaranteed you will find some of the best skiing on our mountain (hint: some of the best skiing will get EVEN better with the new North Bowl Express lift that’s being installed this summer, but get there early!).  

Q: What or who inspires you most?  
A: My team. During the winter there are more than 100 extremely hard-working team members that make up the Snowmaking, Grooming, and Terrain Parks departments, and every single one of them has such a drive and passion for the job, the sport, and mountain. Seeing their love for what they do inspires me to continue to do what I do, and reminds me how lucky I am to be where I’m at. 

Q: What’s your favorite summer activity at Heavenly?  
A: The Mountain Coaster!! While most of my friends and family are content to just take the Gondola up for sightseeing in the summer, I've taken my niece and nephews on the Mountain Coaster and what a blast it is! I personally have ridden it countless times (another perk of the job) and never get tired of it.