Sunlight will launch into its 53rd season of operation at 9 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 6th. Sunlight will open its lower Tercero lift for the weekend, with about 20 acres of terrain on its Midway run. Sunlight’s new Mini-Mayor, 8-year-old Piper Arnette of Silt, CO, will have the honor of riding the official First Chair on Friday morning.
The first 50 skiers and riders will be treated to free cans of Sunny Pop, Sunlight’s new craft soda produced by Tommyknocker Brewery of Idaho Springs. Sunlight will also be handing out free donuts by Sweet Coloradough of Glenwood Springs.
This fall, a bear wreaked havoc on our snow stake, so we do not have a 100% accurate snow total from the past few weeks, but we received about 8-10 inches of natural snow near the base and more up top. Heavy winds blew much of the snow at the top of the mountain into the trees, but with more snow in the forecast, we’re hopeful we can replenish the snow near the upper lift stations and get more top-to-bottom terrain open soon. But again, we do need to receive more snow in order to get more terrain open. Snowmaking operations are also still underway.
Sunlight will begin daily operations next Friday, Dec. 13th. To celebrate, Sunlight has organized our 1st Annual Sunnystock. All season pass holders from any resort can come and enjoy two lift tickets for $69 for the weekend Dec. 13-15.
Also on Dec. 13, our volunteer ski patrol will be hosting a beer tasting with live music starting at 3pm in the Sunlight Lodge.
Topping the list of improvements at Sunlight this season are five new runs on East Ridge as part of its 3-phase, $4 million expansion project. Phase 1 of the project was completed this summer 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 were being cleared below Midland Traverse adding approximately 500 vertical feet of descent to Lower Defiance, and Lower Deception. In all crews added five new runs on East Ridge this season.
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-most boundary. Midland Traverse will be expanded to the East, and more runs will be added below Midland Traverse ending just above Four Mile Creek. 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.
While plans are still being drawn, the new lift loading station will be below Perry’s Plunge near Four Mile Creek and the top unloading station will placed above Beaujolais and Rebel, providing access to beginner, intermediate, and expert runs west of East Ridge.
“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.
Last season was Sunlight’s “best ever” in terms of revenue. More than 203 inches of snow last season helped Sunlight 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.
Follow Sunlight on Facebook for updates on the project.