Sitting 10,067 feet above sea level at its summit and 6,657 at the base, Heavenly has a higher altitude than any other ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area. Its 97 trails and 28 lifts straddle both California and Nevada with two base areas in each state. It’s big. And a lot of people pass through there on a daily basis. One of those people, a visiting snowboarder by the name of Monica Laso, just navigated a nightmare of a trip to the resort. She spent 15 hours stranded in one of Heavenly’s gondolas overnight where temperatures dropped below freezing until she was discovered by staff the next morning.
Laso was on a trip with friends when she reportedly split from the group. She was tired so she asked a Heavenly employee if she could ride one of its gondolas down the hill instead of snowboarding the rest of the way down. The employee obliged but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for Laso’s car to actually complete its trip before the 5 p.m. sharp closing time. The entire operation shut down just a few minutes into her ride and there she was, hanging above the resort at last call with no phone and no way to get anybody’s attention from the cable car.
“I screamed desperately until I lost my voice,” she told local news, KCRA. Nobody heard her though, so she eventually gave into the realization that she’d be spending the night in that gondola. Laso told local news she rubbed her hands and feet together through the night in order to keep as warm as possible.
Laso’s friends reported her missing to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office that evening but it wasn’t until workers fired up the gondolas at 8:30 a.m. the following morning that she was finally found. The local fire department was called to treat Laso but she declined to go to the hospital.
The battalion chief said in 23 years with Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue she’d never responded to a call like this one.
“It sounds like she wasn’t injured or anything, but she definitely didn’t have a great night, that’s for sure,” another member of the department, Spokesperson Sallie told the LA Times. “I don’t know how something like that could have happened. It’s very weird,” Ross said. “She must have felt some kind of terror, really, knowing she’s there all alone and not knowing if someone was going to find her. That must have really been terrifying for her.”