Mountain High Tops In SoCal Again

Wrightwood, CA – April 22, 2004: Mountain High, Southern California’s most popular winter resort, finished top in its region again with roughly 460,000 skier visits. This marks the fourth straight year in that position and resort operators couldn’t be happier. Mountain High also received its third marketing award from the National Ski Areas Association for a new program called W.E.S.T. The season was not without its challenges though. Fires, floods and heat waves plagued the area from beginning to end yet Mountain High’s Learn to Ride programs and terrain park notoriety soared to all time highs proving you can succeed under adversity.

Said Karl Kapuscinski, Mountain High’s General Manager, “This was definitely a season I won’t soon forget. Fire. Rain. Hail. Add a swarm of locust and you’d have something from the book of Exodus. It forced us to work smarter both in operations and marketing, pulling back when situations got tough and exploding when times were good.”

The season began on the heals of the largest wildfire in recent history. More than 750,000 acres burned in blazes throughout Southern California destroying approximately 3,600 homes and countless memories. The once vibrant sun was obscured by a pungent, often unbreathable, layer of smoke and ash, and the region ultimately grinded to a halt. After more than two weeks of nonstop fighting, fire crews finally got the upper hand as the sweltering heat gave way to cooler temperatures and scattered showers. Mountain High capitalized on the climatic change as well, opening on November 3rd, 2003, at 8:00am, its earliest ever.

November turned out to be a huge success as record numbers of guests visited the resort but the momentum was short lived. Warm temperatures returned to the area and with little to no natural snow, the resort entered the holidays with less than half its mountain open, roughly 80 acres. This continued through January where the resort was rained out twice, and into mid February when winter finally made its appearance. More than four feet of new snow fell in the following three weeks accounting for the majority the season’s natural snowfall however the conditions didn’t last. A searing heat wave that would ultimately close the resort took hold during the first week of March and turned winter to spring almost overnight.

Despite these obstacles, Mountain High continued to stimulate visits and remain the leader in Southern California. Their terrain parks, under the direction of new employee, Tyrone Coyne, became a focal point for choosy guests who knew they could count on precisely built and well maintained features no matter what the snow conditions. Signature features like the Swingset Box, the Double Roller Box and the Slayer Box (S-Box) became instant hits. Photographers, videographers and their wanting subjects lined up to challenge these features day after day, eventually landing the resort in magazines such as Transworld Snowboarding and on countless videos. Mountain High’s event staff was busy as well with top notch competitions such as the $25,000 Kawasaki Triple Air, the Queen of the Mountain Pro/Am Slopestyle presented by SG Magazine, the Active “Sponsor Me” Rail Jam and the Transworld Trans Am. Each created a spectacle previously unmatched and the combination of sunny skies, professional riders, music, vendors and giveaways was infectious.

Even less concerned about the weather were introductory skiers and snowboarders who flocked to Mountain High raising Ski School traffic by 20%. Two-lesson value packages were visibly up along with the 3-Peat For Success learn to ski/snowboard program, a winner in the 2001/2002 NSAA Marketing Awards. The Children’s Academy, freshly out of its two-year remodel, saw an incredible 25% increase in visits…so much so that Mountain High created a second children’s program called the Grommet Freestyle Camp. Separate from the Children’s Academy, the Freestyle Camp keeps older students captivated with miniatuure freestyle terrain, an indoor activity room and a camp-like atmosphere. Overall the beginner market showed very little, if any, adversity to the unseasonable weather and Ski School Directors even noted a resurgence in ski lessons, a discipline that had lost ground to snowboarding over recent years.

Nighttime visits now make up roughly 20% of Mountain High’s annual attendance, an increase of 6% over the last two years. A relatively new package program titled The Quad contributed to the jump by generating roughly 27,000 visits this season. The Quad consists of four Night Tickets for just $59.00, regularly $25.00 each. The tickets are good all season long from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and during the day as well after March 29th, adding a small stimulus to late season business. No surprise, The Quad was also recognized by the NSAA as the Best Program to Increase the Frequency of Core Participants last season.

This season a new Mountain High marketing program is being added to the list of the NSAA’s best. It is called the Winter Education Skier/Snowboarder Training or W.E.S.T. W.E.S.T. proactively reaches out to schools, park districts, scouting organizations, military bases and more with educational seminars that promote winter sports and actually prepare guests for their trip. Classes are given by Patroller & Safety Expert, Rick Strasser, and his rescue dog Sequoia. Rick is an active Firefighter/Paramedic with over 20 years of patrolling experience. His dog, Sequoia, is a nine year old snow white German Shepard trained in avalanche and wilderness rescue. Together they provide a show that is fun & engaging and this season they spoke to roughly 45,000 individuals.

The season was a success overall but not without its obstacles. Annual snowfalls were 52% below normal and the resort operated with less than half its terrain for the majority of the season.

Said Karl Kapuscinski, “We did roughly 400,000 skier visits on 80 acres this year. In visits per acre we lead the country.”

Despite these adversities, Mountain High’s ability to stimulate the market and provide a fun and entertaining on-hill experience keeps them in the forefront of the snow sports community. They have become known for their yearly improvements, noteworthy events and colorful promotions making them a positive entity even during the most trying of times. For more information on next years improvements and programs, please log onto www.mthigh.com.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contract John McColly, Director of Marketing, at (760) 316-7830 or jmccolly@mthigh.com.