At Kirkwood Mountain Resort, bringing in the New Year yesterday was more festive than usual. The reason: Kirkwood was officially celebrating its 40th birthday on Dec. 31.
The festivities included fire dancers, aerial acts, fireworks, evening snow cat tours, and the annual torchlight parade.
Ski pioneers Dick Reuter and Bud Klein were the prime movers in creating Kirkwood back in the early 1970s. Sadly, neither man was around for this year’s birthday bash. Both Reuter and Klein both died in 2011 – both in their 80s. The Reut chairlift is named after Reuter, a true ski pioneer.
But what Reuter and Klein left behind is a true legacy, a mountain that often gets the most snow (average is 600 inches) in the greater Lake Tahoe area and has always been applauded as a skier’s mountain.
Logistical challenges have always been at the core of this resort, which is situated approximately 35 miles from South Lake Tahoe. Good snow conditions and smaller crowds than other Tahoe resorts coaxes skiers and snowboarders to make the drive to enjoy a glorious powder day on Kirkwood’s challenging slopes.
Located off Highway 88, Kirkwood is the most isolated of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts. Kirkwood has 15 lifts, more than 72 trails, and the mountain rises to a 9,800-foot elevation. The resort also has three terrain parks and its longest run is 2.5 miles.
Last winter, Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. bought Kirkwood for $18 million from Mountain Springs Kirkwood. Kirkwood Mountain Development retained most of the rights to the real estate assets, while Vail Resorts has the mountain to operate.
Vail Resorts is still in the process of assessing what improvements to make on the mountain.
“Looking ahead, I am extremely excited to work with the very talented and committed staff of Kirkwood to kick-off the next 40 years,” Casey Blann, general manager of Kirkwood, told Lake Tahoe News. “The mountain is incredible, the snow is unbelievable and the possibilities are many.
“My priority is to get behind the scenes to understand where the opportunities are to provide the best experiences for our guests,” added Blann. “While I won’t be around to see the entire next 40 years, I can at least get the ball rolling toward improvements which we hope will resonate with our both our guests, as well as staff.”