Heavenly Blog

The Autumn Effect – Pete Sonntag

Photo: Brian Walker

Photo: Brian Walker

When asked what winter means to me, many different thoughts came to mind. From extensive preparations on the mountain to the thrill of researching new gear, the changing of the seasons is one of the most exciting times of the year.

I try to stay in shape all year, but when those leaves start to turn, my workouts take a different focus. With kids, my time is especially precious to me, and I don’t want to spend it at the gym. I wake up early, around 5:15 a.m. to run, bike, or circuit train. It’s all about prepping the body to be able to get after it on day one.

One of the things I look forward to most during this time of year is new gear. I feel the same excitement that I felt when I was 20 years old. And it’s not like the technology of this year’s ski is going to be radically different than last year. It’s more symbolic. It’s that feeling you have the first time you put them on; it’s like none other.

I also love to track storms. I love the anticipation of their arrival and all that comes with it. The daily snow blower chore, the chaos of the roads, I never get tired of it. Even with relentless storms. I used to track storms in Colorado and really enjoyed it. Out here though, they mean so much more. Storms are more significant events in Lake Tahoe. We measure them in feet, not inches.

The cold air and silence that come after a storm always put a smile on my face. The snow dramatically dampens the sound, and the mountain is so peaceful. I grew up in upstate New York, and as a kid, I didn’t get to ski a lot. But I always loved the snow.

When the mountain opens, everything changes. For months and months, we focus on planning and preparation. I’m excited about executing these plans and getting the business running again on a larger scale.

Every year we start with a clean slate and anything is possible. It could be the best season we’ve ever had…

– Pete Sonntag, Chief Operating Officer

What does winter mean to you? Share your story with #heavenlyeffect. Read more stories from employees around the mountain here and view the autumn video and photos from local photographers.


  • Nevadavoter1

    As a long time regular skier from day 1 of the season, I’m waiting to hear the snow guns fire up each evening. Then I know that the season can’t be far away. Meeting all my old friends at the Gondola base at 8:00am Opening Day is always a bitter sweet highlight… great to see many of the old regulars but sad to notice those who have left us over the summer. Sign of old age, I guess.