Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort and many others are questioning how a female snowboarder spent the night on a gondola.
Monica Laso told reporters that she was directed by a Heavenly staff member to board the gondola around 4:58 p.m. on Feb. 25, after saying she was too tired to take another run down the mountain. Laso said the lift stopped running about two minutes after she boarded.
In an interview Laso shared that the gondola stopped about two minutes into the ride. She didn’t have her phone with her, but shouted through the small cabin window when she saw resort workers closing down the mountain below. “I screamed desperately until I lost my voice,” she said during an interview translated from her native Spanish. She rubbed her hands and feet together to stay warm as the temperature dropped to 23 degrees overnight.
Down as the base her friends were frantically trying to find her. They filed a missing persons report with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office and posted to Facebook sites, sharing that she was last seen going down with a ski patroller, and that the ski area was “doing nothing” to find her.
Resort workers only discovered her predicament when the lifts began running again the next morning, about 15 hours after she had boarded. Laso reported having a cold night, but declined to seek medical attention, according to first responders.
Tom Fortune, vice president and COO of Heavenly Mountain Resort and the Tahoe Region stated that the incident is being investigated “with the utmost seriousness.” “The safety and wellbeing of our guests is our top priority at Heavenly Mountain Resort,” he said.
According to the Heavenly website, the last scheduled uphill trip on the gondola departs the base area in South Lake Tahoe at 3:59 p.m. The lift does keep operating for some time afterwards, however.
This was an Epic and unfortunate experience, we’re very happy that Laso had a happy outcome.