When it reopens, should the former Crystal Mountain Ski Resort be known as Last Mountain Adventure Park or Bull Mountain Adventure Park?
That’s the question Don Journeay, the man who just acquired the lease on the West Kelowna property, is asking.
“When I first took it over, I was all for the name Bull Mountain Adventure Park,” he said.
“But I’ve been hearing a lot from the community that they like the idea of bringing back the Last Mountain name.”
Last Mountain was the original name for the small ski hill at the top of Glenrosa Road on Mount Last before it became known as Crystal Mountain in 1992.
To give the public its say, and raise some money for the reopening, Journeay is putting together a naming contest.
The final details haven’t been figured out yet, but it will be a GoFundMe or Facebook fundraiser with Journeay representing the Last moniker and his partner, Jenny Giesbrecht, advocating Bull.
Whoever raises the most names the resort accordingly, and all the money raised goes to help reopen the new entity.
It could be a close contest.
There’s something to be said for creating a whole new name and entity with Bull Mountain. But the tug of nostalgia and a return to Last Mountain can’t be underestimated.
Journeay knows he has a huge job in front of him.
Reopening Crystal as either Last or Bull by December will be no easy task.
Since a 2014 chairlift accident, the 30-run resort was abandoned and left victim to vandalism and theft.
“The resort is actually on Crown land, so I’m subleasing it from the lease holder, Crystal Mountain Resort,” said Don Journeay.
“We plan to open in December, so there’s a lot of work to do. But we can do it. I’ve heard from hundreds of people who want to volunteer and companies who want to donate goods and services in kind. I’m just waiting on volunteer liability insurance and then we’ll be ready to go.”
Journeay, a contractor with his own numbered B.C. company, is also working with the Central Okanagan regional district to get necessary permits.
He will also need the go-ahead from Technical Safety B.C. (formerly B.C. Safety Authority) to reopen using the T-bar lift.
At this time, Journeay is not seeking permission to use the chairlift.
Several people were injured when four chairs from Crystal’s chairlift crashed to the ground in March 2014 after a carriage support cable fell off tower equipment.
The resort closed then and never reopened.
Journeay said he may try to get the chairlift operating safely again and gain permission to use it starting with the 2020-21 season.
“In the meantime, for the 2019-20 season, it’s time it reopened as a small, local resort with a snowboard terrain adventure park, beginner and intermediate skiing, night skiing, disabled skiing and a skating rink,” said Journeay.
“It just needs to be fixed up.”
To distance itself from any negative connotations Crystal Mountain may have, the new resort will have a different name.
In the five years the property has sat unused, vandals have damaged the day lodge, rental shop, chairlift and two homes.
In the 1990s, Journeay worked at Crystal Mountain as a lift attendant, ski instructor and in maintenance.
He came back to the mountain in 2016 to do some repair work and slowly came up with the plan to reopen.
In a strange twist, two motorcycles, a welder and tools that were stolen from the property were returned shortly after Journeay announced he would be reopening.
The 30-run resort has a base elevation of 1,229 metres and a top elevation of 1,440 for a vertical drop of 212 metres.
That’s small in comparison to 119-run, multi-chairlift Big White Ski Resort, east of Kelowna, which has a base elevation of 1,508 metres and a top elevation of 2,319 metres for a vertical drop of 811 metres.
Big White has lots of hotels, restaurants and condominiums.
There’s no on-site accommodation at Crystal.
But Journeay said there’s a niche for Bull or Last as a small resort appealing to local residents and tourists who want good snow and terrain, a shorter drive and a community vibe.