Spot Check: Heavenly Valley

I was fourteen when I first rode at Heavenly. My friends and I had to take a shuttle bus from the California side of the mountain to the Nevada side (a 30-minute ride), because they wouldn't allow snowboarding on the California side of the mountain (a five-minute shuttle ride) for another three years. These were the days of neon clothes, and Avalanche snowboards shaped liked ironing boards. Maybe five or six other snowboarders aside from my friends and I rode; everyone else was a skier. It was cool. My friends and I would bomb down the hill as fast as we could, and nine times out of ten, I'd catch my toeside edge and slam, pelvis first, into the hardpack.

Damian Sanders, Jimmy Halopoff, and Randy Walters were destroying that mountain then, doing roast beefs, Taipans, and cross-rocket 360s off of anything they could. The trees on the Nevada side offered some of the funnest powder turns, days after storms. But it was beat that we weren't allowed to cross the state line, where we could ride all the way to the California base lodge and be minutes away from our house. The shuttle would have to do.

Eventually, snowboarding began to blow up and acceptance (or at least tolerance) of the sport followed. Heavenly opened their entire mountain to snowboarding, and the long shuttle rides ceased. With both sides now open, the terrain seemed endless. Starting in California, you could ride up the tram in the morning and get fresh tracks in North Bowl, take three chairs up and traverse to Killabrew Canyon on the Nevada side for some steep chutes, and then, as the legs really began to burn, we'd take Sky Chair up (California) and traverse over to Skiways (Nevada) for some dope windlips and powder turns that would put you right back in California. In order to get where the goods were, traversing and short hikes were a must. To compensate for this inconvenience, views of the lake were accesible from most of the runs.

Today, Heavenly is starting to understand just how much money snowboarding brings to their resort, and after tons of suggestions from locals and tourists alike, Heavenly should be stepping it up a notch or two in the park department. Their halfpipe is definitely worth checking out, and you'll likely be impressed by the plethora of talented athletes riding there, including Jimmy Tomer, Brian Richardson, Sean Bauman, Dustin Singler, and Travis Chatwood.