First SoCal high-speed goes up at Snow Valley. (Snow Valley)
Being close to the Los Angeles Basin means the lift lines at Snow Valley can be daunting, even for SoCal skiers and riders used to a crowd.
That is expected to change this season, as the San Bernardino Mountain resort is putting in the first six-seat, high-speed chairlift in the region.
The $5.7 million lift will replace Lift 1 double chair. Called the Snow Valley Express, the new detachable high-speed chair will cut the riding time from the base to the summit from 14 minutes down to less than five minutes. It will rise more than 4,600 feet and carry 2,600 riders per hour, according to the resort. Total vertical will be 1,041 feet from base to the summit of Snow Peak. From there, they can ski or ride down, or take Lift 9 which will take them into the back bowls of Peak 9 and Slide Peak.
On the chair, skiers and riders will be able to take in views of Southern California mountains and Big Bear Lake.
Officials say the new chair will be an 80th birthday present to skiers and ‘boarders who make the drive out of Los Angeles and up past Running Springs to Snow Valley. They hope to get a Forest Service permit next summer so that the new lift can transport mountain bikers up the hill, officials said.
Opened in 1937, Snow Valley had one of the first overhead cable lifts, featuring attachments that looked like a child’s swing and transported 10 people at a time.
In 1949, Snow Valley put in its first chairlift – a single seater -- and its first double chair went on line in 1960. The day-trip resort has nine chairlifts and two conveyors that operated last season, spread around and across 240 skiable terrain. Officials say a few of the moth-balled lifts may be resurrected in the future.