Snow Valley Resort in the San Bernadino Mountains will join the growing ranks of American ski resorts with a high-speed lift next winter, opening a six-pack in place of Chair 1. More details are below, but first, resort marketers take note. Snow Valley made two interesting choices today. One, they announced the new lift on a Sunday, when there is a smaller audience but also a lot less “noise” on the internet (I can’t remember the last time lift news broke on a weekend and yesterday was not an option.) Two, they teased the announcement with a photo and invited guests to guess the big reveal on Facebook with a chance to win free lift tickets. As of this writing, that post has garnered 92 comments, likely more than the actual announcement will see. Many commenters nailed it, while others opined Snow Valley was opening a Starbucks, had discovered a new way to control the weather or would begin offering free beer. Nothing like a little suspense to grab people’s attention and spur engagement on a Sunday morning.
Now to the lift news. Snow Valley is one of those high density resorts with twelve Yan fixed-grips and an hourly uphill capacity of 17,500 skiers on 240 acres (at Jackson Hole where I work, we operate a dozen lifts with about the same capacity spread across 2,500 acres.) Leitner-Poma of America completed a retrofit of Chair 13 at Snow Valley in 2013 and will build the new detachable six-pack, which will ascend approximately 800 feet over 5,000 feet of slope length with a ride time of 4.9 minutes. “This new lift will open up new opportunities for Snow Valley in the future, including the possibility of summer operations,” said Kevin Somes, Vice President and General Manager of Snow Valley Resort. “We look forward to sharing many seasons of fun ahead and we dedicate this lift to all of our guests and team members.” The new lift will cost just under $6 million.
Chair 1, a 1973 double with a mid-station will be removed and could end up at another ski area rather than being scrapped. Mothballed lifts 4, 5 and 10 are also slated to be returned to service in the near future. After the upgrade, only Mt. Waterman and Mt. Baldy will remain in the Southern California ski market without a detachable. Snow Valley’s new One is the first lift project announced for 2017-18 in California, historically the second largest market for lifts after Colorado but one plagued by drought the last four years leading up to this banner season. Leitner-Poma will begin construction as soon as the resort closes, while the Starbucks and free beer will have to wait for another year. Snow Valley will hold a celebration of the old Chair 1 next Sunday, with a final ride at 4:00 pm and party to follow.