My Bro-In-Law and I are leaving on Saturday for a week in Tahoe. We will be staying in SLT but have the epic pass and plan to hit Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar. The one thing I have noticed over the past week is Heavenly seems to have alot of wind closures before a storm comes. I havent noticed this at Kirkwood or Northstar. The long range forecast shows a good chance of more snow next week. Is this something that regular happens at Heavenly but not at the other 2? Should we just plan to hit Kirkwood or Northstar when a storm is coming to avoid any possible wind closures? I've always been to CO to ride so I'm not too familiar with conditions in Tahoe and just want to know what to expect. We plan to hit the casinos a few times but we are there to ride and dont want to show up and the lifts close during the day for wind.
First, Northstar is actually in North Lake, so if you are staying in SLT, is 42 miles ~ 1:15 drive in good weather. Back in the day, we used to drive to Kirkwood (35 miles, 50 mins drive in good weather) from SLT as well so I guess it isn't that bad.
Northstar is east facing (has it's "back" to the wind most of the time) and is one of the more wind-protected mountains, along with Homewood, it is open when most of the other resorts are on windhold. The one time, they closed the summit there, was at like 2PM, then the wind was so strong, it flip up a ski/snowboard rack and blew it ten feet through the air, sending equipment everywhere (powder was great before that though).
As for Kirkwood, the summit chairs (Chair 6 and 10) and the backside chair 4 are probably as susceptible to wind-holds as the summit chairs at Heavenly, if not more.
Since Heavenly is so close to where you are staying... I would just check to see what is open that day. That being said... Kirkwood is by far my favorite mountain out of the three for free-riding. The terrain at Northstar is a little flat/boring (backside is so-so), although the terrain park is top notch... it can be a zoo sometimes. I've never really liked Heavenly myself (too much traversing and bad grooming).