Outdoors

Just needing snow, China Peak ready to show off changes

A snowboarder begins his descent down the mountain at China Peak Mountain Resort near Huntington Lake in 2015. The resort is expected to open early next month for the 2016-17 snow-play season.
A snowboarder begins his descent down the mountain at China Peak Mountain Resort near Huntington Lake in 2015. The resort is expected to open early next month for the 2016-17 snow-play season. sflores@fresnobee.com

Thanksgiving week in a wet year can mark the start of the season for snowboarders and skiers. So far in late 2016, that’s not the case at China Peak Mountain Resort, which has received just a dusting of snow.

Storm fronts have not come far enough south with enough ferocity to significantly impact the central Sierra Nevada, unlike at Lake Tahoe where resorts such as Boreal Mountain and Mount Rose opened a week ago.

China Peak resort owner and CEO Tim Cohee said a holiday weekend opening was “unlikely,” but forecasts are looking up for better conditions by next week. The National Weather Service in Hanford has predicted up to 8 inches of snow could fall Saturday night.

Snow-making crews already are out on the mountain, after 3 to 4 inches fell this week. Even that little bit helps, as it’s easier to apply man-made snow on already existing powder, Cohee said.

“We’ll be pushing for snow-making as often as we can,” he said. “… It’s just harder to build a base when you’re on dirt.”

We’ve bought a new SnowCat, added to our snow removal fleet and also purchased a new chair lift, which if we have a good season, we’ll install it in 2017.

Tim Cohee, owner and CEO of China Peak Mountain Resort

Enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to at the Huntington Lake resort, which underwent a major overhaul to its food and beverage services.

A new 3,000-foot outdoor deck at Buckhorn Bar & Grill brings “a whole different ball game in terms of atmosphere and seating,” Cohee said. Other additions include an outdoor barbecue at the day lodge; a wine bar inside Jack’s Place; added seating; and improved sound systems.

And there’s a bigger, longer-term change in store, according to Cohee. The park purchased a chair lift, which if all goes well this winter would be installed for the following season.

We’d like to develop and make improvements, that way every year riders will have something new and exciting to experience.

Cohee on his hope for continued renovation of the Huntington Lake resort

“Last year was our best year ever financially, in the history of the company,” Cohee said as the central Valley experienced a slight respite from the drought. “In the last four years, all we could do was literally survive, but now that we’re back on decent financial footing we’re making a lot of improvements.”

Joining China Peak’s management team is Tim’s son Nick, who will be the resort’s director of skiing. Nick was an All-America skier at Utah and a member of the U.S. Ski Team at the 2015-16 FIS World Cup. Nick Cohee also will lead clinics on select weekends.

“Nick will be a real valuable addition to the management team and the people,” Tim Cohee said.

Angel Moreno: 559-441-6401, @anhelllll

About China Peak

  • Where: 59265 Highway 168, Lakeshore; about 90 minutes from Fresno
  • Contact: Resort phone (559) 233-2500; snow phone (559) 233-3330
  • Website: www.skichinapeak.com
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