Union Democrat staff

Bear Valley is planning to add a high speed chairlift for the 2017-18 winter season which the resort is calling a “game changer.”

The new lift, which will transport six passengers at a time from the mid-mountain lodge to the summit, is pending approval from the US Forest Service. If approved, the lift is expected to be operational in late November, said the resort in a press release.

The lift will get skiers and boarders to the mountaintop three times faster than the current lift. It will take just three minutes to reach the top and unload.

The new lift will feature improved reduced speed for “easy load and unload,” where the chair slows through the loading and unloading process. It will also have comfort bars and foot rests.

The lift will be supported by 11 towers with 58 carriers and service intermediate and advanced terrain, along with providing access to the backside of the mountain where another speedlift is already in service, the Village and all areas in the upper and lower mountain bowls.

“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 percent downloadable it aligns well with our heightened focus on summer recreation and activities on the mountain,” said Bear Valley General Manager Andrea Young in a press release. “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.”

The project will bring Skyline’s investment in Bear Valley to $6 million in improvements in two years including new ski and snowboard rental fleet, new snowcats for grooming, enhancements to the snowmaking system and equipment, IT and WIFI upgrades, new ski trails, remodeling of the guest areas, Creekside restaurant, BV Lodge lobby, lounge and guest rooms among other things.

The mountain offers 1,680 acres of varied terrain, eight chairs and two surface lifts, more than 70 trails (and access to “side country” adventure terrain), two terrain parks with more than 18 features, and 1,900 vertical feet.

Bear Valley averages over 30 feet of snowfall per year. Winters provide skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, cycling, rock climbing, kayaking, youth sports camps, a kids adventure park, camping is available in summer.

For more information, visit www.bearvalley.com.