Mountain High Celebrates Award-Winning Year

Mountain High has plenty to celebrate despite a seasonal decrease of 85% in the region’s natural snowfall. This winter was the resort’s second-best ever in terms of attendance and the mountain is receiving high honors for both advertising creativity and their ability to generate new skiers and snowboarders. The National Ski Areas Association named the 3-Peat For Success the country’s Best Program To Grow The Sport To New Participants* and will be recognizing the resort at this year’s industry conference in New Orleans.

“Programs such as this are important to the future of our industry,” says Brad Wilson, Assistant General Manager. “And never more so than in lean snow years like these.”

Mountain High’s collective print campaign, created by the advertising agency McElroy:FCB, also won three Best Of Show awards along with Gold, Silver and Merit trophies at the 2002 Orange County Advertising Awards, the region’s largest and most represented competition for creative excellence.

“This year’s creative advertising was fun and engaging and it gave our guests something they could really sink their teeth into,” said John McColly, Mountain High’s Marketing Director.

The 2001/2002 season most certainly began with more questions than it did answers. How would the war on terrorism affect the use of leisure time? How would the recession affect public spending? Southern Californians answered clearly with more than 522,000 visits to Mountain High, the second largest turnout ever. In its opening week, Mountain High saw attendance levels jump 212% over the previous year and the Christmas holidays were up a respective 80%. New records were additionally set during the Martin Luther King weekend and on President’s Day as well. Uncharacteristically, December was the resort’s healthiest month, a title normally reserved for February or March when snowfalls are at their highest.

“It’s an amazing accomplishment especially considering the lack of natural snow,” stated Karl Kapuscinski, General Manager. “Only 40 inches of snow had fallen by April 1 as compared to 260 inches which fell the season prior.” Not surprisingly, the San Bernardino Sun newspaper reported this winter as the county’s driest in the last 125 years, when record keeping began. Said Kapuscinski, “Every Mountain High employee deserves my deepest appreciation because without their incredible teamwork, we never would have been able to achieve such a triumph.”

While snowfalls throughout the season were down, virtually all of Mountain High’s programs were up. Season Pass sales doubled that of the previous year, and all affinity programs experienced notable increases. The 6-Pack, a discount ticket program that rewards guests for purchasing in bulk, increased 110%, a sizable jump considering the success of the season pass sale. Its early-season availability became especially important considering the lack of snow and close to 50,000 visits were generated through the 6-Pack program alone.

New participants represent the future of any sport, and Mountain High’s 3-Peat For Success has become a proven learn to ski and snowboard program that turns “never-evers” into all-mountain enthusiasts. This season it is being recognized by the National Ski Areas Association as the Best Program To Grow The Sport To New Participants* in the country. The three-day package includes lessons, rentals and lift tickets and those who complete the program are rewarded with a free lift ticket and membership to the Mountain Access Club. With benefits such as $10.00 off 8-hour tickets, a free lift ticket after every five visits and the ability to have one’s tickets charged automatically at the lift, the Mountain Access Club ensures that participants stay loyal to the sport and to Mountain High. Now in its third year, sales of the 3-Peat For Success are up 80% over the previous season.

Technology also played a key roll in Mountain High’s prosperity. Through a new product called the Express Pass, the resort removed the hassles of ticket lines and made it easier for guests to access the mountain. The Express Pass is a reusable, electronic-access ticket, free to any visitor with their first lift purchase. Its benefits include hands-free lift access through the resort’s electronic turnstiles, $4.00 off adult tickets, guaranteed reservations and pre-activation by phone at (760) 316-7808 or online at allowing guests to go straight to the lifts.

“This is the ultimate ticketing scenario,” says Brad Wilson. “The Express Pass removes the hassles associated with both ticket purchases and lift access, creating a seamless transition between the guest and the mountain.”

Mountain High’s website at was not only frequented by Express Pass users but by the majority of skiers and snowboarders in Southern California. With its wide variety of movies, chat rooms and streaming cameras, it has become the most popular non-destination resort website in the country, receiving 1.3 million page views per month, peak season. This represents a 315% increase over the previous year, and, with new communication features set to be released next fall, resort operators expect that number to climb even higher.

Since its rebirth in 1997, Mountain High has been a shining star in the United States winter market. Now on the heels of the worst winter in 125 years, their commitment and ingenuity have produced business levels that many resorts will never reach even in their best days.

“I am proud of our success,” says John McColly, “and moved by the fact that the only thing greater is our potential.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact John McColly at (760) 316-7830.