Fresh snow attracts many people to China Peak

FRESNO, Calif.

Nearly 6,000 people made a visit to the China Peak Mountain Resort -- the most all winter. Much of that is because the mountain got the most snow and had the most runs open all season.

Skiers and snowboarders were anxious to get up the mountain and make their way down. Rich Osler made the journey from Pismo; it was his first visit to China Peak this winter.

"I'm not going to come over if it's not good snow, it's just not worth it, it's a four-hour trip," said Osler.

He says this trip was worth every minute. About 90 percent of the runs were open -- from beginner to expert. But it was the fresh fallen snow that many were raving about.

"It's a lot different, it's easier to carve, it's easier to do everything really," said Xan Wagner, a snowboarder.

Many were starving for a weekend like this because much of the year, the resort had to mostly rely on manmade snow, and many of the runs on the top of the mountain were closed.

"Better late than never and hopefully it'll continue through March," said Joan Smith, a skier.

That's what China Peak Mountain Resort owner Tim Cohee is hoping for.

"I remember a year in 1991, it was called the March miracle, and it was like this, it was a very, very late start, not much snow at all, marginal conditions. And all of a sudden we hit March and April, and it snowed 35 feet," said Cohee.

But unless that happens, having a profitable year will be a struggle, and many future projects will have to go to the back burner.

"We've got a couple of really fun improvements that we would like to make that are going to be several hundreds thousands of dollars, and we're not going to be able to do those this summer," said Cohee. "So it delays building really fun things to make the resort better, and that's the biggest bummer."

For now, the resort can only hope to finish the season as strong as possible, hoping for more snow to bring more weekends like this one. Cohee plans to keep the resort open another eight weeks through April 27.

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