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.”
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Following a winter with three times normal snowfall, California now has its second major lift project for the coming construction season. Bear Valley in the Stanislaus National Forest plans to construct a six-passenger detachable in place of the Bear chair from the day lodge at mid-mountain to the 8,500′ summit. The Leitner-Poma installation will closely match one built last year at Skyline Investments’ other mountain in Canada, Horseshoe Resort. Leitner-Poma also supplied Bear Valley’s first detachable, the Polar Express quad, in 2006.
Bear is a 1967 Riblet double running parallel to a Yan triple called Kuma, built in 1981, that combine to serve the heart of the mountain. Kuma will remain for now. The 11-tower, 58-chair six-pack will rise approximately 750 vertical feet in just over three minutes. “This lift investment is a game changer for Bear Valley that will greatly enhance our guests’ experience during the winter operations, and with the new high speed lift being 100% downloadable it aligns well with our heightened focus on summer recreation and activities on the mountain,” said Andrea Young, general manager at Bear Valley. “This 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.” Bear Valley plans to build two additional lifts on the backside of the mountain in the coming years, directly connecting the Bear Valley Village to the ski area for the first time.
Bear Valley’s sixer is the seventh to be announced this year. With only five high-speed quads scheduled in the United States and Canada, more-six packs than detachable quads may go in for the first time ever this year. In 2010, the ratio of quads to six-packs was 9:1, in 2013 it reached 3:1 and last year hit 1:1. Six-place lifts can be built with any capacity that quads can, allow families to ride together and can offer greater wind resistance. The new one at Bear Valley is sure to be a hit over the 50-year old center pole double it replaces.