Build your skills with an affordable and fun lesson. (Alyeska)
Ever have a friend with whom you’d love to hit slopes, but he or she has never skied or ridden before? If so, the annual Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month may just be the ticket.
Lost Valley in Maine rejoicing recent cold and snow along with many others. (Lost Valley/Facebook)
An incredibly-powerful ocean storm will move close to the East coast Thursday and Friday while moisture returns to the Sierra for the first time in several weeks.
Nearly every turn at Heavenly has lake vista. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Heavenly Valley rightfully boasts its best elements: Most skiable terrain (4,800 acres) in Lake Tahoe area. Most vertical feet (3,500) on West Coast. Among highest summit elevations (10,067 feet) in the region.
Skiing and riding underway at Mount Rose. (Mount Rose Ski Tahoe/Facebook)
California has two dozen ski and snowboard resorts, and the bulk of them have minimal lodging and rely upon skiers and riders who drive up for the day.
Crystal Mountain in Washington opened Wednesday. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
A powerful weather system delivers heavy snow across the West through Friday, then leads to lake effect snow during the weekend for the East.
First SoCal high-speed goes up at Snow Valley. (Snow Valley)
Being close to the Los Angeles Basin means the lift lines at Snow Valley can be daunting, even for SoCal skiers and riders used to a crowd.
Good times kept rollin' at Mammoth. (Mammoth Mountain/Facebook)
It will take a record 270 days, but Mammoth Mountain will finally put an end to the 2016-2017 ski and snowboard season Aug. 6.
Zipline-ing at Heavenly includes monster lake view. (Heavenly/Facebook)
One of the most prevalent summer activities at ski and snowboard resorts is the high-flying, high-speed zipline. And California is no exception.
Hittin' the summer ski scene at Squaw. (Squaw Valley/Facebook)
After one of the best snow season in recent times, a quartet of Western mountains will keep the lifts turning well into what should be the season for sun-bathing and surfing.
Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Partners are purchasing four California resorts, including Mammoth Mountain.
Moving quickly after purchasing Intrawest resorts, a new Aspen-based ownership group announced it has bought Mammoth Mountain and three other resorts in the Southern California mountains.
The heretofore unnamed entity, formed by Aspen Skiing Corp. and KSL Capital Partners, said it will close this fall on a sale of a quartet of areas including Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.
The announcement comes on the heels of the group’s industry-rocking purchase of Colorado’s Steamboat and Winter Park, Quebec’s Mont Tremblant, Vermont’s Stratton, Ontario’s Blue Mountain and West Virginia’s Snowshoe. The four Aspen mountains and Squaw Valley-Alpine, a KSL property, will come under the umbrella of the new group but will continue to operate independently.
Because both purchases aren’t expected to be finalized until next fall, resort-specific season tickets will be honored for next season. So will the M.A.X. Pass, Rocky Mountain Super Pass and Mountain Collective that overlap into the partnership’s new portfolio in various ways.
“We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle,” said Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group that owned Mammoth and the other resorts “We know Aspen and KSL have the experience, commitment, and balance sheet to help make our vision a reality.”
No upgrading plans have been announced yet, but indications are that the new entity has the capital to put into improvements at these resorts – for both winter and summer. However, official statements have noted that coordinating e-commerce technology among all the resorts will a high priority in order to expand the marketing capabilities of all the mountains.
The move by Aspen Skiing Corp. to acquire and consolidate some 15 resorts under the Aspen-KSL roof is seen by industry officials as a response to Vail Resort’s two-decade effort to acquire 14 resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
Turns to be had at Snow Summit. (Snow Summit/Facebook)
Mid-winter doldrums gave way to a snow-filled spring that has kept many resort open longer than expected – and cranked up the end-of-season parties.
Deep powder prevails at Heavenly (Heavenly/Facebook)
Plenty of pow at Mammoth. (Mammoth/Facebook)
The sudden turn of fortune for Mammoth Mountain – and the rest of the Sierra – has prompted the California resort to stay open until the Fourth of July.
Officials said a record month in December, another 20 feet in January and more to come made the decision easy. This season’s July 4 closing is the first time since 2010-2011 season when nearly 56 feet – 668 inches -- piled up.
Not only are skiers and snowboarders stoked by the record snowfall, California water officials are too: The snowpack in the Eastern Sierra is 173 percent of normal – with several months of winter to go.
Since Mammoth opened for the 1969-70 season, there have been six seasons with more than 500 inches falling from the sky, according to stats from mammothsnowman.com. The bleakest winter at the California mountain came in 1976-77 when a mere 96 inches came down – with none in December!
Mammoth's mammoth weathers the storm. (Mammoth/Facebook)
After a month of January that put up to 20 feet on the ground in the Sierra, you’d figure things would calm down at bit. But before that happens, there’s a couple of more feet on the way.
OpenSnow.com forecasters say that snow at Tahoe-area resorts should drop between one and two feet this weekend – and storms will stick around for another couple of days beyond that. Up north, Washington and Oregon resorts should benefit as the jet stream shifts to a more northern route in February.
“We should see a break Saturday night into Sunday but with winds picking back up,” said OpenSnow’s Bryan Allegretto about Tahoe. “Then another storm moves in Sunday night into Monday. This storm also has snow levels near lake level until falling later Monday. We could see 3-10 inches at lake level, and 4-15 inches on the mountains by Monday night.”
For example, China Peak was expected to get more than a foot over the weekend, pause on Monday, and then get ready for up to four more feet next week, according to OpenSnow forecasts.
This on top of a month of January that recalled years gone by when double-digit snowfalls were standard. At Mammoth Mountain, the month included one-day dumps of 42 inches (Jan. 4) and 91 inches total in the week of Jan. 7-13. Total for the month topped 200 inches.
California water officials say that the month’s moist largesse helped replenish a third of the state’s “water deficit,” refilled reservoirs and setting up for a spring melt that would refurbish some of the state’s groundwater supply. But they warned that without consistent precipitation, the benefits of the winter’s snow bonanza will diminish fairly soon.
Snow everywhere you look around Lake Tahoe these days. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Ah, just like the old days … The trio of Pacific storms that recently slammed into the Sierra left behind record snow depths and wind speeds as high as 100 mph and forced nearly a dozen Lake Tahoe resorts to shut down their lifts.
Early-morning fire consumed South Lodge at Homewood. (North Lake Tahoe Fire District/Facebook)
UPDATE 12/19/16: Homewood lifts will be opening Thursday with top-to-bottom skiing starting at 9:00 a.m. Guests can access the upper mountain via Madden Chair, which is located at the North Lodge.
The South Lodge at Homewood Mountain Resort was engulfed in flames early in the morning of Dec. 28, forcing the California mountain to close temporarily.
North Lake Tahoe firefighters responded at 3 a.m. to the day-trip mountain on the shores of Lake Tahoe, finding one of two base lodges at the resort “heavily involved” in flames.
“No injuries have been reported, and fire suppression efforts managed to keep the fire isolated to a single structure,” fire officials said on the district’s Facebook page.
Mountain officials shut off the lifts and barred any visitors for the day, as firefighters remained to keep the fire isolated and to clean up on location. The building was a total loss.
Statements later in the day indicated that officials hope to get the 1,260-acre ski and snowboard mountain on the west shore of the lake up and running for Dec. 29.
The South Lodge is located at the base of the Quail Chair and housed a restaurant and administration offices. The larger North Lodge, just up the road with the bulk of visitor parking, was not damaged.
Updates will be forthcoming on SnoCountry.com as to when Homewood will reopen.
Bay Area-based company Chariot will provide free transit services within Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods
Getting to the slopes in Massachusetts and California this season just got easier with new programs at Wachusett and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows that utilize ride-hailing apps to get you to the snow without having to drive your car.
A new Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Commuter Rail station recently opened, just 10 minutes from the mountain, with a shuttle running on weekends. Skiers and snowboarders can take the commuter rail from Boston’s North Station to Fitchburg on weekends throughout ski season.
In addition to servicing the new Wachusett Train Station, Uber is a viable transportation option for skiers and riders in the greater Worcester area traveling to the mountain.
To encourage guests to take advantage of the new partnership with Wachusett, Uber is offering riders a $25 “Get to the Slopes” credit on their first ride when the sign up using the code SKIWAWA.
Wachusett General Manager David Crowley said, “We are excited to partner with Uber to grow transportation options, providing an affordable and convenient way to access the mountain if they don’t have a car or choose to leave the keys at home. This partnership improves on-demand transportation options, allowing Wachusett visitors to travel to and from the train on their own schedule.”
The trial program is offered as a transportation option for guests and residents in the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, while also removing cars from roads and parking areas.
Chariot’s mobile app will allow people to book rides for both on-demand and fixed-route services within the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, using new 14-passenger Ford Transit vehicles equipped with ski and snowboard racks.
Chariot’s shuttles will pick up passengers along fixed 15-20 minute routes between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and from 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. In the middle of the day, Chariot will provide custom resort-to-doorstep rides within the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows neighborhoods, in addition to fixed routes.
Resort-to-doorstep rides can be booked via Chariot’s mobile app.
You find features all over Mammoth Mountain. (Mammoth Mountain/Facebook)
As the song contends, it seems “it never rains in Southern California,” but it does snow in the mountains. Enough has fallen already from the skies and out of the nozzles of snow guns that SoCal’s ski and snowboard season is underway.
All within driving distance of Los Angeles or San Diego, a half-dozen resorts feature ample varieties of trails and slopes, and terrain parks that play off of the popularity of skateboarding and surfing down below.
Another highlight is collaboration on lift tickets that make it easier and cheaper to get onto the slopes. It’s the second season for the consortium of Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. The Cali4nia Pass covers all four resorts for the whole season, while Bear and Snow Summit join up with both unlimited and midweek versions. Season pass holders at Mountain High or Mt. Baldy get three free days at the other resort.
At Snow Valley, there’s a new conveyor lift that doubles terrain for the kid’s learning area, while night skiing continues. At Snow Summit, a new 3,000 square-foot children’s center sprung up over the summer.
San Diego fav Mountain High boasts two separate mountains that let skiers and riders choose the type of terrain they want to hit on any day.
And Mt. Baldy – about 45 miles from L.A. – keeps it old-school with fewer trails groomed every day to challenge skiers and ‘boarders to up their games beyond corduroy.
Mammoth Mountain – the largest resort in Southern California – adds to its Unbound Terrain Park legacy with a new hike-in terrain park in the Hemlocks Ridge area. A half-dozen parks of progressive difficulty dot the lower half of the trail map at Mammoth, including four half-pipes.
“Surfing and skateboarding are inherently ingrained in the fabric of Southern California, and freestyle snowboarding is a natural extension of that,” Mammoth’s Lauren Burke told SnoCountry.com. “The Southern California board sport culture slowly made its way to up north, first to June Mountain and then to Mammoth, and the Unbound Terrain Parks were born.”
At Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, terrain park crews regularly shift features overnight to keep things fresh.
This rendering shows what the base area will look like after redevelopment (Squaw Valley Tomorrow)
Squaw Valley officials say completion of final design and plans for the multi-decade project can get underway after Placer County approval of its ambitious development plans for the base area.
The project at the Lake Tahoe resort reflects a trend among Western resorts to upgrade into order to keep up with their international and domestic competitors. Officials recognize that the pre-eminence of Squaw Valley in the 1960s and 1980s has waned, due greatly to the lack of concerted updating and reinivigorating the property.
About 90 percent of the project lies on existing parking lots, according to resort officials, and calls for an overhaul of existing retail outlets, and construction of about 1,500 new beds in some 750 lodging units. The initial work on the project would include ski in/ski out lodging, fractional cabins on the west side of the base area, and the Mountain Adventure Camp – a 90,000 square foot rec center that sits partially on the previous center’s footprint.
The timeline for completion of the $1 billion project extends out as far as 25 years, and initial work won’t begin until planning approvals can be secured for each portion of the development.
“Each lot that is to be developed will be subject to a similar public review and approval process that includes opportunity for community input, so nothing is immediately going to start in the way of construction,” Squaw’s Jess VanPernis Weaver told SnoCountry.com, noting that actual construction may not begin for a couple of years.
The project sits on 22 parcels owned by KSL Capital Partners, which bought the resort in 2010 from closely held interests that stretch back to the 1949 opening of the mountain. Recently, Squaw Valley and neighboring Alpine Meadows joined forces.
Opening day for the 2016-2017 season is slated for Nov. 23, weather permitting.
Browns Canyon along Arkansas River is not for the faint of heart (AVA Rafting/Facebook)
Every spring, the high country sends cascades of frigid cold, roaring water down mountain rivers. While the runoff signals the end of the ski and snowboard season, it also means that it’s time to hop into a raft and keep the thrills coming.