Earlier this week, as he was busy getting everything ready for this year’s mid-June re-opening, Mark Nepermann, Lift Operations Supervisor took a few moments out of his time to talk about summer lift operations at Deer Valley Resort.
Mark Nepermann: I have worked here for four winters and this will be my third summer. And you’re right; summer is my favorite time of the year! I’m originally from northern Illinois, I came out here after college for one winter and I loved it so much that I never left.
JF: Now that the weather has been gradually warming up, are you and your staff ready for your summer season opening?
Mark Nepermann: Absolutely! We opened on June 14 and will be operating our lifts through Labor Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day.
JF: Which chairlifts are open to the public?
Mark Nepermann: We’ll continue to offer rides on Silver Lake Express, Sterling Express and for the third season, Ruby Express.
JF: Who are your typical passengers?
Mark Nepermann: In the summer, mountain bikers are still the majority of our riders, we mount a hook on the sides of all the chairs to carry their equipment, we also get scenic riders who come to enjoy the incredible views that can be seen from our mountain tops.
JF: Do scenic riders have to ride down the lift?
Mark Nepermann: No, we give them many options. They can either ride up and ride back down, or ride up and hike down, particularly on some of our hiking-only trails. They can also hike up and reward themselves with our complimentary ride down!
JF: I’ve noticed that the lifts seem to be running slowly, why is this?
Mark Nepermann: We run about half the speed that we do in winter, this allows passengers to easily get off upon reaching the top since they have to walk away and this takes just a little more time than sliding off the ramp with skis on during the winter.
Mark Nepermann: These are ski poles made available to hikers who want to use them, both at the bottom and the top of each chairlift; we just ask the hikers to put them back into the bin when they’re done using them.
JF: Besides mountain bikes, are you allowing other devices on your trails?
Mark Nepermann: Sure, we see everything from old mountain bikes from the 1980’s, to the latest 50 pound downhill bike, to unicycles, mountain scooters or mountain boards, you name it.
JF: And you let them in?
Mark Nepermann: We let riders use them as long as these machines are equipped with at least two brakes, so if one of them were to fail, there’s still a spare one. We also require all riders to wear a helmet and stay on the bike trails, even on these non-conventional devices.
Mark Nepermann: We prefer all users to stay on the trails in order to prevent trampling vegetation and avoid erosion.
JF: What happens when the weather suddenly changes?
Mark Nepermann: Although heavy rain never seems to be a problem at Deer Valley Resort, the sole reason we would close down our lifts is if it rains hard for very long, riding could cause damage to the trails. Thunder isn’t a deal-breaker, but lightning is. If we see lightning we call “last chair” until the storm is passed and that is for the safety of both our riders and staff.
JF: So, when you compare winter and summer, do you find differences in your ridership?
Mark Nepermann: Our summer guests are definitely more low-key than in winter; perhaps during the warm season people aren’t as eager to clock as many runs as possible, but we also have a wider variety of riders. Some are hard-core mountain bikers, some are nature lovers, others are here to discover mountain vistas for the first time in summer. Our guests’ expectations and interests are far less homogeneous than they are in winter .
Mark Nepermann: Temperature differences between the base and the top of the chairlift always plays a significant role. Temperatures may also change very fast if the cloud cover suddenly moves in or the breeze sets in. Just because it’s sunny and warm at Snow Park doesn’t mean that it might not be 10 to 20 degrees less at the top of Bald Mountain. We encourage visitors to dress in layers and carry a light jacket with them in the event of a sudden drop in temperature.
JF: Any other useful tips?
Mark Nepermann: Always carry lots of water to stay well-hydrated, don’t forget the sunscreen, another good tip is to make sure to wear a hat. Of course, all bike riders must wear a helmet. Also, having a cell phone is always a good idea in case of emergency.
JF: So, why do you like summer at Deer Valley Resort so much?
Mark Nepermann: I like to tell the guests I meet during winter that summers in Deer Valley are even better in terms of the multitude of options offered to visitors. There is a myriad of concerts, mountain biking, hiking, fly-fishing, golfing, great food on Royal Street’s deck and green vistas as far as the eye can see, plus it’s always 10 to 15 degrees cooler up here than down in the Salt Lake Valley. We’re a refreshing alternative to the summer heat, so come up and play with us!