Utah may have lost a resort last month but now it has another. I recently got the chance to tour what will be America’s first new ski resort since Tamarack Resort opened in 2004. Cherry Peak Resort is under construction just outside of Richmond, Utah. It is named after the 9,765 foot peak nearby but the ski area will not even reach 8,000 feet. The resort was scheduled to open last season but never got enough snow and construction fell behind. Cherry Peak Resort is owned by local developer John Chadwick and located entirely on his private land. He has been quietly working to build the ski area for the past five years while buying used lifts and equipment. To call Cherry Peak a resort is a stretch but this will be a nice community ski area with 1,265 vertical feet of skiing and three lifts.
Chadwick is currently running the ski lift version of a chop shop with used Yan lifts from across the west being cobbled together into three new triple chairs. Two lifts, dubbed Gateway and Vista are completed and load tested. Gateway was Blackcomb’s former Crystal Chair while Vista came from Sunnyside at Sun Valley. Cherry Peak also bought multiple used lifts from Squaw Valley in 2012.
The completed lifts have brand new E-Max control systems which are known for being high quality yet simple. Gateway has also been upgraded with hydraulic tensioning. Both lifts are quite short; Gateway has ten towers Vista has only eight. A third lift, called Summit, will be the longest of the three when it is completed with 11 towers. I have my doubts whether Summit will be done for this season given that nothing is in the ground yet. Towers are scattered along the line ready to go vertical but there are no footings.
The business model is depends on two things: snowmaking and night skiing. In an industry first but not surprising in this part of the world, the ski area will be closed Sundays. A lot of snowmaking infrastructure has been installed on the lower mountain so hopefully Cherry Peak can make magic happen with a base elevation of only 5,800 feet. (For reference, that’s 800 feet lower than the marginal Jordanelle base area at Deer Valley.) The new base lodge is beautiful and there is an awesome beginner area with one of the longest magic carpets I have ever seen.
Cherry Peak is scheduled to open by Thanksgiving. Running a small ski area is a tough business to be in and I wish John Chadwick and his crew the best.