Imagine you’re skiing down a powdery slope in Lake Tahoe when you spot a black bear tearing across your path.
Actually, you don’t have to. This happened to a skier at Heavenly Mountain Resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and they caught the moment on video.
“Almost hit a bear skiing down ridge run Heavenly,” wrote TikTok user @Tao7570 on December 10. “Didn’t realize it was a bear until it was too close.”
Naturally, the post went viral and currently has around 1.4 million views. Here’s the video:
@tao7570 Almost hit a bear skiing down ridgerun Heavenly. Didn’t realize it was a bear until it was too close #Tahoe #LakeTahoe #tahoelife #travel #heavenly #ski #bear #wildanimals â¬ original sound – Tao
Among the 1,000-plus comments on the post were many excellent bear puns.
“Bearly made it! ” wrote Jesse Taylor.
“I could BEARly watch,” wrote Ray Ramirez. “I was afraid of a GRIZZLY outcome or PANDAmonium, but it turned out to be the POLAR opposite, a KODIAK moment!
Between 300-500 black bears live in the Lake Tahoe area, with more than 50 in the city limits of South Lake Tahoe alone, experts told KRCA. While most still go into a state of torpor during the winter months, some have acclimated to sharing their habitat with humans. With easy food sources like trash cans available, some bears are no longer going dormant during the coldest months.
This particular bear may not have gone into hibernation yet. Or, it may have been sleeping but awoke because of nearby activity, Bear League Executive Director Ann Bryant said.
“It’s happened several times before,” she told SFGate. “The bears often find dens up on the ski runs in the wooded areas and can be awakened when skiers are close by.”
Black bears are omnivores, which means they’ll eat anything (plant or animal). Though the diet of Tahoe bears tends to be 85% plant-based, they are opportunistic feeders. So, if they have access to human food, they’re happy to partake. The organization Keep Tahoe Bears Wild says that some bears habituated to the presence of humans can weigh twice that of a wild bear on a natural diet. As a result, there have been bears documented the in Lake Tahoe Basin that weigh in at over 600 pounds.
In the 20-second video, the bear seems more interested in crossing the slope and escaping humans than in doing any harm. It’s best to steer clear of bears, of course, and this one on Heavenly’s slopes must have surprised the skiers and snowboarders who crossed its path, but what an experience! They’re unlikely to forget the encounter any time soon.