Three resorts in one, Mountain High is a SoCal winter wonderland

Mountain High is popular with skiers and snowboarders from throughout Southern California, including the Inland Empire. They tend to make a day of it at the resort, instead of coming for an extended visit.

By Trevor Summons

The first time I went to a ski resort, I was entranced. I was only passing through but the atmosphere was truly wonderful. The ultraviolet light bouncing off the snow, the warm sunshine, the excitement of the skiers and the clump of their boots all added up to something magical.

Unfortunately, at the time I was very engaged in business and feared the sport for its injuries. Back then we were quite used to seeing returning winter sports enthusiasts with a foot and lower leg encased in plaster of Paris, and trying to maneuver crutches around. We didn’t have the quick-release bindings and other scientific advancements of today. I left it well alone.

Many decades later I did try, and perhaps it was too late by then, as after a few attempts I had two broken ribs, a lack of dignity and the decision to literally walk away from it all.

Had I waited until now, and joined the “Learn to Turn” course being offered by Mountain High Ski Resort, the outcome might well have been different.

“We offer a day’s course, on Tuesdays,” said Kim Hermon, the marketing manager of the resort. “For $39 we provide the equipment, the lift tickets and the instruction to get you started.”

I think that would have been just what I needed.

There is also no need to jump on one of their 14 lifts either, as beginners can ride to the top of the novice slopes aboard the moving carpet, which is a travelator, or flat escalator.

Mountain High is divided into three separate areas. There is the west area, which is the main part, and then there is the east part which has straighter runs. Mountain High north has an area devoted to tubers’ activities.

Like other Southern California activities they are busiest during the weekends but even on the mid-week day that I went, there were lots of people enjoying that magical atmosphere. I rather envied them.

“Mountain High is a little different from the other ski places,” Hermon said. “We are more of a day resort than a destination.”

By this she meant that people tend to come for the day rather than an extended visit.

The small town of Wrightwood is just 1,000 feet lower and a few minutes drive east of the ski areas. It is limited in the number of rooms available, and the clientele for skiing tends to come from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire. For the truly keen, nighttime skiing is available seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m.

If you get hungry there are two facilities that cover your needs. At the top there is the Bullwheel Bar and Grill, which is American in style; while at the bottom there is the Big Pines Lodge, which is more cafeteria-style in nature. When I was there the delicious smell of outdoor barbecuing was in process.

Shuttle buses take you from one area to the next if you want to experience the entire park. Also, all tickets are flexible, which means you can mix and match the runs.

The park was founded in 1941, and there once were plans to hold a Winter Olympics there. Unfortunately lack of snow caused that to be canceled as snow making didn’t exist back then.

It’s a short drive from the 15 freeway to reach this exciting place, or you can get there from the 14 freeway out of Palmdale. Either way, you perhaps will catch a little of that magic atmosphere that seems to exist out on the snow.

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