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Lake Tahoe"s Heavenly ski resort lives up to its name Печать E-mail
Новости - Зарубежные новости
Автор: Newsmaster   
03.01.2009 13:26
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The wind was howling, the temperature plunging and snow was coming down so fast that a four-minute ride on a high-speed chairlift at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly resort left me and a friend looking like abominable snowmen.

As we neared the top of the lift, I asked, "Trees?"

"Yeah," he replied.

On a day like that, trees are the best place to go. Giant pines can shield the skier from the wind and snow.

SKI GUIDE: Resort profiles, snow conditions, more

With about two feet of fresh powder, it was hard to go fast, but if we did fall, we'd have a soft landing. Plus, the open trails were whiteout conditions with visibility extending maybe 15 feet.

I wouldn't suggest that a beginner try skiing amid the trees, but if you're an intermediate, Heavenly resort offers great tree runs plus plenty of other challenges — from moguls to steeps and manageable off-piste runs. It's the kind of place where you can have something to brag about at the end of the day, no matter what level your skill.

At its heart, Heavenly is the best resort I've ever seen for the intermediate skier. Many mountains offer a bunch of easy slopes and a few intermediate ones to bridge the gap to the hair-raising advanced and expert runs. But I've found that mountains with a lot of intermediate terrain often drop the ball on providing varied terrain that will challenge you without pushing too far.

That's not to say Heavenly lacks trails that are the stuff of legend. It boasts a couple canyons that are roped off and peppered with warning signs that took a team of lawyers to write.

But, if you're like me and of a certain age and crave a bit of adrenaline without risking life and limb, Heavenly is where it's at.

It's also the mountain where skiing changed from being hellish for me to, well, heavenly.

Learning to ski as an adult can be daunting: bumps and bruises compete on the pain scale with iron maiden-like ski boots pinching feet. Inadequate ski gear leaves the newbie skier wet and cold. And, the first time on the real mountain after leaving the bunny slopes can set the tummy aquiver.

Heavenly bridged that gap for me about ten years ago. One minute, white-knuckle terror and the next, bliss.

At 4,800 acres, Heavenly is California's largest ski resort. It straddles the Nevada-California border at the south end of Lake Tahoe. You can ski either in Nevada or California (or both in the same day).

The Nevada side is my favorite. Depending on conditions, you can cruise through giant snow-covered pines while the brown desert lies thousands of feet below. The contrast of wintry alpine and harsh desert make for lasting memories.

On the California side, the deep blue of Lake Tahoe is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, extending off into the distance. On a sunny day, the view is glorious.

Some quick stats: average of 360 inches of snow per year; 3,500-foot vertical rise; 10,067-foot summit elevation; more than 300 days of sunshine per year. The sheer size of the place makes boredom impossible. We skied four days without running out of places to explore.

We did find a few favorite spots — most notably, the tree run by the Olympic Express lift, which we worked all day during the blizzard. And, we really enjoyed the blue runs around the old two-man Galaxy lift. Most people avoid the runs leading to the slow Galaxy lift — so even on a crowded weekend, the trails are quiet.

Now, when I go skiing, I generally am too bushed to take much advantage of more than a pint or two at apres ski. But, if you have more stamina than I, there's plenty to do at Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly is right at the state line. So, cross into Nevada if you like to gamble or see casino-type shows. The high-rise casinos crowd right up to the border. You can dance until dawn, gamble, drink and carouse at Harrah's, Harveys or Horizon casino.

Or, if your tastes run closer to mine, check out the Lake Tahoe cruises. We took a two-hour cruise on the MS Dixie II paddlewheeler across the pristine water (zephyrcove.com or 775-589-4906). Blue sky and water sandwiched the snow-covered mountains. Be sure to take the camera!

You can also catch a movie at the Heavenly village or nearby Horizon casino. The narrow road running along the south shore of the lake is lined with cheap places to stay and eat, with a sprinkling of higher end lodging and dining.

A bit farther afield, a monster plate of nachos from Sprouts Natural Foods Cafe was just what we needed to fill the empty chasm in our midriffs after a hard day slopeside (3123 Harrison Ave., South Lake Tahoe, 530-541-6969).

We also enjoyed a good steak lakeside at The Beacon Bar and Grill (1900 Jameson Beach Rd., South Lake Tahoe, 530-541-0630). Beware the Rum Runner drinks!

San Francisco is about three and a half hours away by car, so it's easy to add on a couple days of city exploration to the mountain fun. Either way, if you're seeking a blissful ski vacation, check out Heavenly and see if you agree that it earns its name.

Найдено в интернете: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~r/UsatodaycomTravel-TopStories/~3/VO3P_fsj76Q/2009-01-02-heavenly-resort_N.htm

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