Wrightwood, CA – Mountain High closed Sunday, April 19th, up 5% from the previous year making it their 4th best season in history. The area was the first to open in its region for the 12th straight year and posted record revenues in December but a soft economy, late opening, and less than average snowfall presented numerous challenges for the Southern California resort. Mountain High’s platform of providing a great winter experience close to home proved to be infallible and the area saw families trading in their out-of-state vacations for 3-day weekends on the mountain. Ticket reservations reached an all time high and Private Lessons grew another 8% over an astonishing 31% the year prior leading resort officials to conclude that avid skiers and snowboarders will participate even in poor economic times.
Said Karl Kapuscinski, President and CEO, “Of the 12 years I have been at Mountain High, this is the one I am most proud of. With all the external challenges, the team here did an unbelievable job.”
Fears of global warming were palatable as the resort opened on December 6th, nearly a month late and without a single drop of natural snow. Snowmaking improvements paid off though and, once the temperature dropped, the resort was quickly up and running with the region’s first top-to-bottom trails and a budding terrain park. As if not to be outdone, winter storms arrived shortly thereafter leaving four feet of natural snow and catapulting Mountain High to full operation just prior to the Christmas holiday. The combination of pent up demand and waist-deep powder generated a huge increase in visits and departments across the board experienced record yields for the month. Areas such as Food & Beverage which were recently expanded ended up 6% for the year.
From start to finish Mountain High portrayed itself as the close, easy and safe alternative to destination resorts. A winter retreat with three separate resorts and something for every member of the family that doesn’t take hours to reach or break the bank once you are there. Whether you just started this winter or haven’t been locally in some time, Mountain High was the perfect solution for guests who wanted a real skiing experience without sacrificing hours on the road or thousands of dollars in airfare, lodging, tickets, and more. It wasn’t uncommon for guests to spend $800 to $900 over a 3-day weekend which, to most consumers, sounds like a lot of money but for a family of four who traditionally spends thousands on a week-long trip out of state, it was a bargain. In addition to its “Ride Closer” campaign, Mountain High accentuated the on-hill experience with increased snowmaking, a world-class terrain park, and a new customer service department which wowed guests with daily goodies and personal attention.
Said Tom Cordell from Thousand Oaks, “I’ve been coming to Mountain High off and on for years and I have never had a better experience than I did this season. I was greeted on the way in, helped to fit my daughter with the perfect helmet in the sport shop, and the granola on the way out was the perfect touch.”
Snowfall was “not” the story this year as totals hovered a foot to two feet below average but the season’s kick-off in December and a second, 4 foot storm in early February set the resort up for a strong President’s Day weekend with momentum that would carry them through mid April. Mountain High was also one of the last resorts in the country to make snow on April 5th. That combined with the extended Easter/Spring Break schedule gave Southern Californian’s reason to visit right up to the end on April 19th. Mountain High finished the 2008/09 season up 5% in visits from the previous year making it the 4th best winter in its history. Tubing attendance was up nearly 10% and season pass sales complete the picture with a whopping 20% increase over last year.
Mountain High is Southern California’s closest winter resort with three separate mountains, 16 lifts and 59 trails. It has been touted as one of the most innovative winter resorts in the nation and does more skier visits per acre than any other resort in the country. As summer makes its way into North America, resort operators are looking to enhance the facilities even further and more than $1 Million has been set aside for capital improvements.