Sunlight Mountain Resort has announced a three-phase $4 million expansion plan that will add a new lift to its East Ridge expert terrain plus nearly 100 acres of additional skiable terrain.
Phase 1 of the project is currently underway with Sunlight's trail maintenance crew performing extensive glade work to the ski area's existing Aligator Alleys, Deception, Defiance, and Perry's Plunge. More trees are being cleared below Midland Traverse adding approximately 500 vertical feet of descent to Lower Defiance, and Lower Deception. In all five new hike-out runs will be created in Phase 1 of the project.
Phase 2 of Sunlight's expansion into East Ridge will commence next summer, and involves glading nearly 100 additional acres of forest to the east of Perry's Plunge that currently marks Sunlight's eastern-mostboundary. Midland Traverse will be expanded to the East, and more runs will be added below Midland Traverse ending just above Four Mile Creek.
The loading station for the new East Ridge lift will be on the south side of Four Mile Creek near the intersection of Four Mile Road and Forest Road 300. The top unloading station will placed above Beaujolais and Rebel, providing access to beginner, intermediate, and expert runs west of East Ridge.
The new terrain, located on private land, will be hike-out only until Phase 3 of the project is complete. Trees will also be cleared to make way for a new fixed-grip lift that will be installed in Phase 3.
"This is a multi-year effort, and while glading work is already underway, we are in the very early stages of a process that includes building a capital fund, negotiating additional financing, permitting processes with the county and Forest Service, mapping, planning, and shopping for lifts," says Tom Hays, general manager at Sunlight.
Sunlight's last expansion happened in 1993 with the addition of East Ridge that added more than a dozen new black and double-black expert runs. The new East Ridge Expansion will add more intermediate and advanced terrain to the east, and also lengthen existing runs further downhill near Four Mile Creek.
"We're excited to expand skiing and riding on the already legendary East Ridge, these new runs mean our local skiers and riders have even more powder to explore and exploit, and it's all just one chairlift away and conveniently located close to home," says Troy Hawks, marketing and sales director at Sunlight.
This fall, Sunlight will offer a special promotion for an exclusive opportunity to be one of the first 25 skiers or riders to experience the new terrain. Sunlight is coming off of its best season on record in terms of revenue. More than 203 inches of snow this past season helped it beat its previous best season ever in terms of revenue set in 2016/17. Skier and snowboarder visits to Sunlight this past season were up 16 percent above its 10-year average.
"The first step in adding a new lift to East Ridge is building the reserve fund, we anticipate that with another solid ski season we can set aside enough capital to put us in a good position when it comes time to negotiate funding for the project," Hays added.