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.
A pair of skiers punctuate the new season at Copper Mountain. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)
Just as doomsayers raised their voices, Mother Nature came to the rescue in the West and turned the conversation to, “When are you opening?”
For many resorts in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades, the answer is a resounding “soon.” Yes, terrain will be quite limited – often a couple of runs in the beginner/intermediate areas – but many ski and snowboard areas put up cheap ticket deals to get people to the slopes as soon as possible.
Significant snowfall coursed across the northern tier of the Western mountains in the past week, dropping as much as a foot on Steamboat which opens this week. Most Colorado resorts that pushed back their traditional pre-Thanksgiving opening days have put a new date on the calendar. Colorado’s Keystone, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Copper Mountain all dropped the ropes this past week, after a week’s delay. Eldora is set drop the ropes this week.
Out west In SoCal, Mammoth Mountain has been open for a couple of weeks and, in the Sierra, both Boreal and Mount Rose began spinning lifts this past week while a slew of other Tahoe-area resorts plan to open for Thanksgiving.
Early snow has come fitfully to Utah, but Snowbasin plans to lead the pack with a Wednesday (Nov. 23) start, followed by Park City on Friday (Nov. 25). A bunch of Utah’s 15 resorts haven’t announced an opening yet.
Up in the Northwest, Mount Baker expects to win the race this season by kicking off the season on Nov. 23. Others have coverage, but await more.
OpenSnow forecasters see multiple storm systems rolling in off the Pacific in the next couple of weeks, bringing significant snowfall to the mountains and brightening the prospects for early-goers all across the West.
If big snow falls early, pay less to ski more powder at Crystal Mountain. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
This is what we do in anticipation of another ski and snowboard day: Think snow, check web cams, pray for cold – and lock in a couple of early-season discount tickets.
Most resorts drop ticket prices before the holidays to entice us into the high country as soon as possible. Savings also can be had by ordering online, buying in groups, and going midweek.
Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of early ticket deals around the country:
Crystal Mountain. Limited number of five-pack of adult tickets available on first-come, first-served basis at Washington mountain. Cost is $335 for 10 percent savings.
Sundance. Utah resort sells limited number of day tickets 40-60 percent off on a revolving basis. For example, Dec. 9 ticket costs $30.99 – more than half off.
Mammoth Mountain. Ski opening day at Cali resort for $50, online only. Includes free coffee and cocoa to stay warm till lift opens at 8:30 a.m.
Snow Summit. Opening day at SoCal mountain is $41; stay another day and get two days for $69. Must buy online at least 72 hours in advance.
Steamboat. Through Dec. 18, three days of skiing and riding costs $169 with Boat Launch Pass, plus 20 percent off mountain lodging.
Aspen/Snowmass. Book at least two nights before Dec. 18 and get 40 percent off lift tickets at any SkiCo mountain. Book three nights at Little Nell Hotel before Dec. 18 and get two lift tickets free.
Bromley. Purchase a Sun Mountain Card by Dec. 16 for $69, and get $30 off full day ticket price all season. Price goes up to $79 after that.
Stratton. Top out at $69 midweek, $89 weekend with bonus day after Jan. 2 for $89 with X2 Card.
Ziplines like this one at Whitefish Mountain take kids for high-flying rides at mountain resorts. (Whitefish/Facebook)
Winter resorts across the nation want kids to take up skiing and snowboarding to keep the sports growing. And, many believe that attracting youngsters to the mountains during the summer will help.
Although the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is only three days and nights, once you get to Telluride, you won't want to go home. (Telluride Brews & Blues Festival)
What’s on tap for this summer of fun? Along with sampling some of the finest craft beers around, a trip to a beer festival this summer also means live music, tempting food, and another perfect reason to get outside and enjoy the mountains.
Squaw Valley is one of eight resorts offering skiing and snowboarding Memorial Day Weekend, plus a Hot Tub Party at High Camp. (Squaw Valley photo)
Memorial Day Weekend traditionally marks the official beginning of summer, but eight ski resorts across North American are holding out for at least one last weekend of skiing and riding.
If you’re heading out this weekend to make some turns, don’t forget to bring the bikes, hiking shoes and kayaks too! So which resorts are open this weekend? Here is a rundown:
By age six, Shaun White was riding the rails at Big Bear Mountain -- and catching the eye of promoters of the new sport of freestyle. At age seven, the San Diego native had a sponsorship, and was tearing up the terrain parks at Mammoth Mountain.
How about a wintertime business retreat with private skiing and snowboarding by helicopter or snowcat? Throw in a private clubhouse, luxury ski-in ski-out lodging and a chance to cut lift lines at Mammoth Mountain?
With up to two feet of new snow this past week, resorts across the west continue to open and expand terrain heading into the weekend.
The first storm cycle of the season has brought much-need precipitation to California and the Pacific Northwest, and enough snow to open a few more resorts, and expanded terrain offerings in Colorado.
The waters are warming in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, signaling that El Niño is on his way – and so should above-average snowfall across the West and Southwest.
The first evidence of what Mammoth Mountain, the new ownership, wants to do for its resorts at Southern California’s Big Bear Lake will be an upgrade of the mountain biking trails at Snow Summit, including a top-to-bottom beginner trail.
Returning from military service with a disability is too frequent an occurrence in the United States these days, and the healing process can be daunting. But the sport of skiing has proven to give a strong boost for so-called “wounded warriors” who work to assimilate back to civilian life with wounds, injuries or illnesses suffered during their time of service.
The weather map displays more action up north this week, after a period where most of the action has been at the southern edge of ski country in the West.
An extensive storm system fueled by a so-called "Pineapple Express" has made landfall in northern California, prompting forecasts for 1-3 feet of snow in and around Lake Tahoe by the weekend.
After several seasons of below-average snow, preseason storms have heartened Californian skiers and snowboarders and prompted resorts in the Golden Bear State to set opening dates.
Here’s a sampling of events across America. Check with your favorite resort for many more Independence Weekend happenings.
Thanks to a number of spring storms and a deep snow pack on Ajax Mountain, Aspen is spinning the lifts for skiing and snowboarding Memorial Day Weekend.