A big new six-pack is coming together on the front face of Bear Valley, site of the only new lift in Northern California for 2017-18. What’s code-named the Love Six replaces a 1967 Riblet double chair named Bear, which ran alongside a Lift Engineering triple. Kuma will stay for now but is unlikely to see much action as a shiny six-pack steals the show next door. As of this weekend, Leitner-Poma is almost finished with concrete foundations and in the process of assembling 11 new towers (the old lift had 18!) Terminal sections are being delivered nameless as Bear Valley weighs a more creative title than Bear Express.
Bear Valley’s first detachable was an LPOA Omega-model built in 2006 on the back side of the mountain. Owner Skyline Development partnered last year with Leitner-Poma to build a similar six-pack at the company’s Horseshoe Resort. This year’s project is one of seven new six-packs that will debut across the U.S. this winter, tied with 2000-01 for the most ever. The new lift slashes the time to ride time up the heart of the mountain in half to just over three minutes and looks to feature 90-degree loading. “This lift investment is a game changer for Bear Valley that will greatly enhance our guests’ experience,” said Andrea Young, general manager at Bear Valley when the new lift was announced in April. “It is a continuation of the many improvements that Skyline Investments is making at Bear Valley on the heels of two strong winters which will elevate the guest experience and further establish the area as a year-round Sierra family destination.”
In other Bear Valley lift news, Kodiak was removed from the trail map circa 2007; its towers and bottom terminal were recently torched and will probably be flown out when Leitner-Poma flies the new towers in. The Snow Valley and Grizzly Bowl expert zones will continue to be serviced by Grizzly, a long Riblet double from the ski area’s inaugural season.
Bear Valley’s next big project may be a lift linking Bear Valley Village to the Koala portion of the mountain. Today, two trails lead from the summit to the village but the only way back up is on a bus. Everyone knows a lift is better and a gondola or high-speed chairlift was proposed by Bear Valley’s previous owner to bridge the gap. The new 1.5 mile, 1,100′ vertical lift could feature a three degree turn on a mix of USFS and private land, creating a much-needed link between mountain and lodging, dining and shopping. This would also be a logical lift to host summer operations as the village lies beside busy California Route 4. The resort’s master plan from 2008 also called for replacement of the Super Cub beginner lift with a detachable quad.
This year’s addition of the Love Six brings high-speed access to all of Bear Valley’s most popular terrain. As crews work to complete this exciting project, it still needs a name. Across the resort’s lift fleet, the theme is bears. Panda Express is an obvious choice but probably off the table. The retired Kodiak or Hibernation lifts’ names could be revived or a totally new one launched. You can submit your best idea with the chance to win a lift ticket or grand prize season pass. The deadline to enter is midnight tonight!