Summer at Eaglecrest Ski Area means working and planning for the future.
Dave Scanlan, general manager of the city-owned operation, spoke about the past year and future projects to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon at Moose Lodge Thursday.
“We have got a lot happening on the mountain right now,” Scanlan said.
One of the major improvements Scanlan discussed is the additional snowmaking equipment Eaglecrest purchased after the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved $250,000 for equipment as part of its Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
Scanlan said the ski area had four snowmaking machines last year, but added six more with the additional funding. The snowmaking equipment, Scanland said, will not only allow for more snow on the mountain, it will expand ski areas. Scanlan said snowmaking machines will be able to make snow to the top of the Hooter Chairlift area.
“This is a really critical thing,” Scanlan said. “It gives us a new level of dependability.”
Scanlan said the past season brought on its share of challenges. Scanlan mentioned erratic weather that included three major rainstorms which melted snow quickly. That did not allow the upper portion of the ski area to open until February. Scanlan said once the upper portion did open, people came out in full force.
“I would look out at the parking lot and people were parking down the road,” Scanlan said.
Financially, Scanlan said Eaglecrest did well and actually sold more season passes this past season than previous years which helped bolster the drop in single day sales. He said the additional snowmaking machines could help produce an increase in revenue of 25 percent next season.
“The season ended up being pretty good for us,” Scanlan said.
Beer and wine will also be offered for the upcoming ski season. Scanlan said renovations in the cafeteria will begin in September and the bar area will be open in time for the season.
“It will be a fun little place for people to come socialize and share their grand stories of the ski day,” Scanlan said.
Looking more into the future, Scanlan said he is excited about the Wilderness Cabin at Eaglecrest. The public access cabin is estimated to cost $125,000 and through a collaboration with Juneau Community Foundation, has raised $101,000 so far. The cabin will be an open facility during the day and will offer a sleeping area for people wanting to stay overnight. He estimated the cost would be $75 per night for non-peak times during the week and $90 per night during peak weekend times.
“We will see how the construction season goes this year,” Scanlan said. “At very least we are hoping to get the access road and foundation in. It is not out of that we see it getting completed before the snow flies.”
Summertime fun at the ski area is also something Scanlan said the Eaglecrest is looking into. With ziplining already a popular attraction, he said utilizing the area in the summer is important for year-round operation. Scanlan said he is working on the feasibility of a possible mountain biking trail, alpine slide or mountain coaster.
“This summer we are in the mode of data collection,” Scanlan said. “We really want to look at all the numbers and get some good data to inform our decision going forward as far what sort of summer activities we can provide to the residents of Juneau and visitors alike. There is a lot of potential for us to develop some really exciting activities.”
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.