Now that Kirkwood is a Vail resort, I decided to use my NorthStar/Heavenly pass to ski it. I haven’t been to Kirkwood in 35 years. I wondered how much had changed since my last visit. As I drove in to the parking lot, I marveled at all of the condo buildings that had sprung-up. From the parking lot, it looked like Kirkwood had been infused with cash.
The mountain looks better than I remembered. There are acres and acres of open bowl and glade skiing. However, the recent warm weather has turned the snow into cement. I skied off piste some, but it was just too sketchy for my liking. Hopefully it will snow this weekend to cover all the ice. If it doesn’t snow soon, make sure you bring your groomer boards with fresh edges.
Vail Resorts will need to make several infrastructure upgrades to Kirkwood if they want to bring it up near the standards as NorthStar/Heavenly. Several of the old 2 and 3 seat, non-detachable lifts without safety bars are still in use. These are the same lifts I rode here in 1977. The Backside Grill hasn’t changed. The paint is still peeling off the walls and the bathrooms are dirty.
What it all comes down to is the mountain, and Kirkwood is a world class mountain. Sadly, Kirkwood's facilities have slipped behind the times compared to the other major resorts in the Tahoe-Truckee area. Perhaps Vail will upgrade some of the lifts and clean things up a bit without destroying Kirkwood's old-school charm.