The Summit at Snoqualmie fans honed their gaze in on Summit East this month. The eastern segment of the resort, known to old timers as Hyak, closed in January 2009 after a mudslide tore out lift towers. Now, work on the two new chairlifts at Summit East is closing in on its final weeks, with the resort hoping to open by the end of January.

Summit East is an old time favorite of many Washington skiers who enjoy its tree runs, steep pitches, and fall line descents.  So how big is the anticipation of its re-opening? "In a word? Huge," spokesperson Holly Lippert told us. "Employees and guests alike are chomping at the bit to experience the expansion, particularly the backside that hasn't been accessible in over 20 years."

One of the new lifts-the Hidden Valley double chair-will allow skiers and snowboarders to access 65 acres of terrain that has been inaccessible for more than two decades. The front side lift, a triple, changed from its previous length, now loading at the base area and unloading at the top knob, negating the need for a hike to ski the knob.

The resort was aiming to open Jan. 8. The chairs were installed on the new Hidden Valley lift by then and new trail signage went up, but crews were still working on the Hidden Valley electrical system and installing chairs on East Peak, the front side lift. Both lifts are required to pass load tests and be certified before they can open to the public.

"Perhaps our 'appetite' was a bit too big when we decided to construct both lifts in one summer, but we're still 100 percent confident you're going to be glad we did once we get them open!" the resort's construction blog said.

Lots of snow slowed progress on lift installation in early winter. Crews plugged on by working seven days a week.

The resort hopes to open Summit East by the end of January. It will operate the lifts Saturdays and Sundays only. The Summit East base area offers lift tickets as well as food and beverage options. Rentals and lessons are not available at Summit East, but at Summit Central and Summit West.

Summit East will also be open Fridays for Nordic skiing. Nordic skis and snowshoes are available for rent.

More information. Or call 425-434-7669.

Catch a sneak peak of some of the Summit East terrain in this Snowtroopers video from YouTube: