Las Vegas Sun

February 18, 2019

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Perched well above the valley, Mount Charleston residents bask in the good life

Mt. Charleston Living

Wade Vandervort

Peyton Corr, 3, plays with her sister, Rylee, 1, in the backyard of their home on Mount Charleston Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

Mount Charleston Living

Angie Tomashowski poses for a photo outside her home in Mt. Charleston Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Angie Tomashowski stands behind a window in her Mount Charleston home and watches the snow fall, adding to the powder-covered backyard akin to a winter wonderland. The chilly, snow-white landscape holds three decades of memories for her and her husband, their children, and now their grandchildren.

No matter the season, there’s little wonder as to why thousands take the trip up the mountain each month. Just 45 minutes from Las Vegas, this natural oasis provides reprieve from city living and some of the stress that modern society brings. But for some, like the Tomashowskis, Mount Charleston isn’t just a weekend escape, it’s home. As the saying goes, for these mountain dwellers, home is undoubtedly where the heart is.

The Tomashowskis have lived on Mount Charleston for 30 years. In that time, they’ve grown their family-owned real estate business, Mt. Charleston Realty, into a multi-generational success story — daughter, Katie Corr, and son-in-law, Steven Corr, also work there. Their familiarity and love for mountain living has made them an authority on Mount Charleston.

Purchased in 1988 as a foreclosure, the Tomashowskis remodeled nearly every aspect of their three-bed, three-bath, 3,500-square-foot home to highlight the vaulted double A-frame’s magnificent and sturdy bones. From the cedar doors throughout the interior to the breathtaking three-story exterior, her husband, a former contractor, overhauled just about everything on his own.

In the backyard, the Tomashowskis have waterfalls, a garden, a bridge and an apple tree — the latter being quite popular among the local deer.

“You don’t see that in the city,” Angie Tomashowski said, bringing out her phone to show photos of a beautiful fawn nibbling on an apple.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, she says it’s the nature and the simplicity that drew her and her husband to the mountain in the 1980s.

“In the beginning we lived in Las Vegas and started out like most people,” she said. “We would come out to the mountain on the weekends.” Over time, they’d stay for weeks, then an entire summer, and then the winter. Eventually, they knew they wanted to live there full time.

For the last three decades, Angie Tomashowski has spent her mornings sipping tea and watching animals saunter in and out of her backyard— the giant floor-to-ceiling windows provide the perfect view of wildlife in its natural habitat.

“The mountain is kind of a spiritual sanctuary,” she says. “It’s like you’re having a divine conversation with this wild creature.”

For the Tomashowskis, it’s the simple things that they enjoy most, like cuddling up next to the wood-burning fireplace, curling up with a book and taking in their surroundings. Of course, living on the mountain fuels their sense of adventure, too. They also like to hike, ski and ride motorcycles when the weather permits.

They raised their three children in the same mountain home and their youngest daughter was married in the backyard. Now, they get to witness their grandchildren grow up on the mountain, too. The Corrs and their two children live just up the road.

“There’s a lot of memories,” Angie Tomashowski said. “We ski, we hike and our kids all did the same.”

Katie and Steven went to elementary school on the mountain and their children will also go there. With about 25 students in kindergarten to fifth grade, Earl B. Lundy Elementary School has one of the best student-to-teacher ratios in the Clark County School District.

“I’m just excited to have another generation of little mountain babies,” Katie Corr said. “Being close to my mom and dad has been really special with the girls.”

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From left, Katie Corr, Rylee Corr, 1, Steven Corr, and Peyton Corr, 3, pose for a photo in the backyard of their Mount Charleston home Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

Katie and Steven Corr have lived in their Mount Charleston home for about five years. “This was definitely a fixer-upper,” Katie Corr says, standing inside her rustic, country-inspired kitchen. “But we’ve had so much fun doing it.”

The Corrs’ two children, Rylee and Peyton, love mountain living just as much as they do. Home prices range from the high $200,000s to $2 million.

“We want to raise our kids here the way my childhood was,” Katie Corr said. “We love being outside and having the four seasons and being in nature. The girls love being outside.”

Living on Mount Charleston is easier now than ever. The new 125,000-square-foot Smith’s Marketplace in Skye Canyon, which includes a gas station and online shopping feature to preorder groceries, opened in June. It’s about a 40-minute drive to the bottom of the mountain, but still an upgrade.

Mount Charleston doesn’t have consistent, reliable high-speed internet, which is a concern for many considering moving there. Steven Corr, for example, played a lot of video games but quit “cold turkey” when he moved to the mountain, he jokes. Cox Communications doesn’t provide internet in the area, so residents still rely on satellites for their connections.

But they still live normal lives. Activities such as going to the movies or out to dinner just require a little bit more planning.

“We are close enough to Las Vegas that I feel like Mount Charleston is literally a suburb,” Katie Corr said. “It would take us the same time to get to Downtown Summerlin from Henderson as it would from here.”

“It can be shocking for someone in Vegas,” said Steven Corr, who grew up in Indian Springs and Las Vegas but visited the mountain often when he and Katie were dating. “I fell in love with it early on, so I knew what to expect.”

As Kylee and Peyton get older, the Corrs say they hope the girls’ extracurricular activities stay on the mountain — things like hiking, skiing and snowboarding. “It’s hard to take them to dance class and basketball four days a week,” Steven said, “so you try to make it so family life really is enveloped on the mountain.”

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Mike Ibasco and Stephanie Weigel for a photo outside their home on Mount Charleston Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

For Mike Ibasco and Stephanie Weigel, that active lifestyle was key in their decision to move to the mountain five years ago.

“We try to be adventurous in the things that we do,” Ibasco said. “So that’s the reason why we branched out.”

They couldn’t have grown up in places more different from Mount Charleston — Ibasco is from American Samoa; Weigel from Kentucky — but living at the top of the mountain allows them both to lead their athletic lives. As an ultra-marathon runner, Weigel runs 10 to 40 miles a day in the mountains to prepare for her races.

“She’s the person to beat,” Ibasco said. She took first place in the female category in her most recent run, a five-day race through the Rockies, and took third overall. “It’s because I train here every day,” she laughs.

Ibasco, a former American Ninja Warrior contestant, also trains on the mountain regularly. Together, the pair own the Fitness Source Las Vegas, a personal training studio on Sahara Avenue and Fort Apache Road.

When they aren’t working in the city or running in the mountains, they’re likely tending to their animals. The pair have three dogs, three cats, two goats, chickens and ducks — and plenty of room for all of them to roam comfortably.

Having chickens means they can have fresh eggs every day. You have to get resourceful when the grocery store is 40 miles away.

But like most Mount Charleston residents, they wouldn’t change it for a thing.

“You just adapt to it,” Weigel says of her comfy and remote mountain paradise. “I look forward to coming home.”