Whitewater is newest Powder Alliance playground for skiers, snowboarders

Whitewater Ski Resort, famous for its deep powder and seemingly endless terrain, has become the 14th member of the Powder Alliance, a collection of ski and snowboard resorts throughout the western United States and Canada that can be accessed with the use of one “anytime season” pass.

Located in the Selkirk Mountains near the town of Nelson, British Columbia, Whitewater receives an average of 40 feet of snowfall every winter.

“If you don’t know Whitewater, you should — 2,044 vertical feet of steeps, deeps, chutes and bowls. It’s an epic winter adventure with the most unbelievable food,” said John McColly, spokesman for Mountain High resort in Southern California.

Here are some other Whitewater facts:

  • Elevation: 5,333 feet for the base lodge, 7,867 for Ymir Peak
  • Lift system: 1 triple chair, 2 double chairs, 1 handle tow
  • Terrain: 13 percent beginner, 32 percent intermediate, 55 percent advanced
  • Ratings: The resort has the best deeps, bowls and glades, according to Ski Canada.

Other resorts in the Powder Alliance include Crested Butte in Colorado; Mt. Hood Skibowl in Oregon; Snowbasin in Utah; and China Peak, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Wrightwood in California. Information: www.powderalliance.com

 

Diamond Peak bundles new perks with 2015-16 season passes

By the time snow returns to the slopes at Diamond Peak, the resort's season pass holders will have lots of new benefits. (Diamond Peak photo)

By the time snow returns to the slopes at Diamond Peak this winter, the resort’s season pass holders will have lots of new benefits to enjoy. (Diamond Peak photo)

Diamond Peak season pass-holders this winter will enjoy great skiing, incredible lake views and some new perks, including a bonus resort credit, coupon books, bring-a-friend tickets and additional bonus lift tickets.

The bonus resort credit, $25 for adult full passes or $15 for other paid full passes, will be loaded onto Diamond Peak season passes purchased during the sale, which ends Oct. 31. This credit is similar to a gift card and can be used for buying food, lessons, rentals or other items at Diamond Peak. Skiers and snowboarders who buy their pass during the sale also get a resort coupon book valid for extra discounts on lessons, rentals, repairs and more. Every pass-holder qualifies for four $50 bring-a-friend tickets.

New for 2015-16, Diamond Peak Ski Resort season pass-holders receive 20 complimentary non-holiday bonus days, four each at Boreal Mountain Resort, June Mountain Ski Area, Homewood Mountain Resort, Red Lodge Mountain and Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort. As part of this partnership, Diamond Peak season pass-holders also receive $150 off 2015 and 2016 Woodward Tahoe Summer Camps, 50 percent off Woodward Tahoe CORE Memberships, and a complimentary hourlong Woodward Tahoe Bunker Session.

Special discounts and privileges on the mountain also are available to Diamond Peak season pass-holders, including 10 percent off food and nonalcoholic beverages in the Base Lodge, 10 percent off equipment tuning at the Diamond Peak Rental and Repair Shop, and $5 off Last Tracks event tickets. Diamond Peak also has pass-holder appreciation events like the annual opening day barbecue and toast, parties, raffles and more. For information, visit DiamondPeak.com/events.

Diamond Peak season passes are on sale at early bird rates starting at $249 for adult midweek passes (ages 24-64) or $349 for unrestricted full passes. Kids 6 and younger and 80-plus always ski free. Season passes are available for purchase at DiamondPeak.com, at the Diamond Peak Skier Services Building or the Incline Village Recreation Center.

Heavenly Mountain Resort zips into summer

Riders speed down a four-line zip line at Breckenridge, Colo. When a similar attraction opens this month at Heavenly, riders will be able to race down the four parallel lines at top speeds of 40 mph. (Vail Resorts photo)

Riders race down a zip line at Breckenridge, Colo. When a similar attraction opens at Heavenly, riders will be able to take the four parallel lines at top speeds of 40 mph. (Vail Resorts photo)

By Bob Goligoski

Heavenly Mountain Resort has started construction on a major expansion of its summer attractions that will include a new alpine coaster ride, an extensive zip line network, mountain bike park, multi-use trails and tree canopy tours.

The project, which has been in the works for many years, has steadily been gaining the approval of various governmental agencies. Last month, the final OK came when the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board voted “yes” on the venture, which is dubbed Epic Discovery.

“This is going to revolutionize the summer guest experience at Heavenly,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly COO and vice president. “It is about more than the individual activities; it is a cohesive plan that brings together all components under the unified theme of learning about and engaging with the National Forest.”

Construction on the alpine coaster, similar to those at Park City and Breckenridge, starts this month. It will operate year-round after opening late this year at the South Lake Tahoe resort.

Guests ride individual sleds down an elevated track that winds down amid the pines and rock formations. Gravity takes care of the descent while riders maintain control of how fast they want to go.

Also this month, the resort debuts a new four-line zip line called the Hot Shot Zip Line. An existing zip line, dubbed Blue Streak, is slated to re-open late this month.

Some of the zip lines at Heavenly will incorporate tree canopy tours.

Bikers have long eyed the vast slopes of Heavenly, which stretch for miles across California and Nevada, as a place where they might some day peddle to their heart’s content. They likely will have to wait another couple years as the new mountain bike park will take time to develop before it opens.

Work crews currently are busy toiling on a new permanent 35-foot-tall rock climbing wall, which is slated to open in August. It will feature 18 climbing routes with automatic belay systems and a quick-jump 35-foot rapid descent that emulates free-falling.

Another lane has been added to the tubing hill and will be open late this month.

In September, Heavenly will offer mountain excursion tours via 4×4 vehicles. These guided tours will feature narrations on the mountain with information about the history, culture and environment of the region.

And children will have a crack at the zip line experience when a smaller kid-specific 150-foot long zip line opens later this summer.

Information: www.skiheavenly.com

Bob Goligoski, a former newspaper reporter, has been writing about the ski industry for various newspapers and magazines for 45 years. He has skied at more than 125 resorts around the world.

Fresh pow means Memorial Day skiing, snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain

(Mammoth Mountain photo)

Mammoth Mountain has received at least 5 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, giving the ski season a welcome lift three weeks after the start of spring. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

Skiing and snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain on Memorial Day? It’s on. Biking and golfing too.

The latest round of May storms dumped at least 5 inches of fresh snow on the slopes at the Eastern Sierra resort, meaning the lifts will continue spinning at least through May 25, according to spokesman Tim LeRoy.

Mammoth also will be offering a Ski/Bike/Golf package – a rare triathlon – during the holiday weekend. A lift ticket, bike park ticket and nine holes of golf cost $99.

Information: 800-626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com

Squaw Valley sends Siberia Express packing to launch a new lift

Squaw Valley's Siberia Express chairlift will be on its way out during the summer and replaced with a high-speed six-passenger chairlift. (Squaw Valley photo by Scott Sady)

Squaw Valley’s Siberia Express chairlift will be on its way out during the summer and replaced with a high-speed six-passenger chairlift. (Squaw Valley photo by Scott Sady)

The Siberia Express, one of the most popular chairlifts at Squaw Valley, will be undergoing an extensive upgrade during the summer.

Currently a high-speed quad, the Siberia Express will become a high-speed six-passenger chairlift designed to improve reliability, efficiency and operational effectiveness, according to a resort spokesman.

“Our team is committed to continually enhancing the mountain experience at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and providing our guests with access not only to the best skiing and riding in Tahoe, but to an incredible recreational experience in an iconic destination,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows mountain resorts.

“Upgrading the Siberia Express lift is guaranteed to have a positive impact on the skier experience on the upper mountain at Squaw,” he added. “In addition, the lift has been designed in a way that will improve its ability to operate during inclement weather.”

The chairlift is used primarily by intermediate and advanced level skiers and riders to access Siberia Bowl, Mainline and the Mainline Terrain Park, as well as the sprawling Gold Coast area. The lift will be replaced in its same location during the summer, and will open during the 2015-16 winter season.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows to get long-awaited linkage

By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent

The long-awaited linkage of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, two legendary Lake Tahoe area ski resorts, will finally take place, according to a report from Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC, which owns both resorts.,

Andy Wirth, president and CEO of the firm, said that it has reached an agreement with Troy Caldwell, owner of a rugged sliver of land separating the two resorts, which will allow the consolidation of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Under the plan, the two resorts will have a base to base connection via a new, high-speed, detachable gondola.

“This base-to-base gondola,” said Wirth, “will offer our guests the ability to easily explore and experience the unique attributes of these two mountains via a brand new aerial connection, while simultaneously reducing vehicle traffic between them.”

The drive between the two resorts is probably a good 6 to 8 miles. Right now, skiers and riders at Squaw Valley can gaze down a steep mountainside into the base facilities at Alpine Meadows. The new gondola will travel over KT-22 peak at Squaw Valley.

Caldwell’s private land between the two resorts has long been known as “White Wolf.” There are no plans currently being contemplated to allow skiing or riding down the steep terrain along the gondola route on Caldwell’s land.

The planned connection between the resorts will result in a sprawling winter mecca of more than 6,000 skiable acres, making it one of the largest ski areas in North America. The ski complex will boast 42 lifts and 270 runs and trails.

The plan must be approved by Placer County and the U.S. Forest Service.

Completion date of the project will depend on when the applications are submitted and when government approvals are made.

Michael Gross, director of environmental initiatives for the two resorts, said, “The plan will be executed with incredible care and concern for our environment, and with the intention of taking cars off the road, effectively reducing vehicle travel between the two mountains. Skiers and riders will be able to explore both mountains with a single lift ticket or season pass.”

Design elements in the plan call for minimizing the number of lift towers and eliminating the need to construct access roads.

Surprise snowstorm hits Squaw Valley – season extended

By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent

A surprise spring storm has dumped 20 inches of snow on Squaw Valley and prompted the resort to extend its season to April 19, a week later than the previously announced April 12. Resort spokesman Michael Radlick noted that “there is the potential to offer skiing and riding beyond that April 19 date should conditions permit.”

With the new snow, which fell on the upper mountain, the snow depth base is now 45 inches. Squaw has several chairlifts running on the upper mountain with 37 runs open ranging from novice to expert.

Alpine Meadows, which is just over the ridge from Squaw Valley, closed for the season several days ago. It is owned by the same corporation that bought Squaw Valley several years ago.

With the skiing and riding somewhat limited, Squaw has greatly reduced lift ticket prices. Walk-up adult tickets are $59, children pay just $34 and really old skiers and riders (super seniors) get in for $34.

Radlick added that people who have season passes at other Lake Tahoe area resorts “can present their season passes at Squaw Valley and receive a day pass for a discounted rate of $39.”

Some rain is predicted for the April 12 – 17 period in the Bay Area and this easily could result in more snow in the Sierra as the storm sweeps to the east. As an inducement to lure skiers and riders to the slopes, several live music shows will be staged in the village at the base of Squaw Valley during April.

Southern California ski resorts closing early

By Kristina Hernandez and Neil Nisperos, Staff Writers

They’re packing it in. But unfortunately for local ski resorts, what they’re packing in isn’t snow. It’s the ski season.

Warm weather and extreme drought have combined to force ski resorts across California to close early, and Southern California ski hubs are no exception, even as some try to squeeze some extra days out of the season for visitors from throughout L.A. and the Inland Empire.

Because of the lack of rainfall and higher temperatures, Mountain High in Wrightwood closed up shop earlier this month. Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs also closed earlier this year. Both draw enthusiasts from throughout Southern California, who mountain businesses depend on to hit their bottom lines during the season.

•Video: Skiers enjoy Big Bear’s last bit of snow

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, not far up Highway 18 from Big Bear Lake — both recently acquired by Mammoth Resorts — will remain open until Sunday, which will be the final day of the season.

Mountain High closed on March 3, part of a pattern of closures throughout the season, said John McColly, chief marketing officer.

He held out some hope that the resort would open if wintery weather returned before April 4. But with temperatures expected to top 90 in lower elevations in Southern California through the week, hope for snow was melting fast.

This was, as he put it, “atypical.”

“It’s a month and a half early for us (to close),” McColly said. “It’s really tough to be in the ski industry these last couple of years. It’s the worst possible thing for us and we would much rather be open until April.”

Read more in SNOW.

Breckenridge celebrates 30 years of snowboarding

Snowboarding legends and current pros converge in Breck’s infamous Freeway Terrain Park to celebrate Breck’s 30th Anniversary of snowboarding with the fourth annual Spring Fever Throwback Throwdown, March 28, 2015.

Presented by Mountain Dew, this throwback halfpipe competition is a chance to watch pro snowboarders from every era of the last 30 years compete for a $17,000 prize purse and take on a two-fold challenge: competing in our 22-foot halfpipe and then a specially constructed 6-foot mini-pipe that is an exact replica of the first one built at Breck in 1985.

Tricks no more than 540 degrees of rotation will be allowed, so each rider will have to get creative with straight airs, alley oops, huge slow spins, and hand plants. The competition takes place on the Superpipe at the top of Freeway in the morning and at the Minipipe in lower Twister after lunch.

Confirmed legends include: Chad Otterstrom, Chris Pappas, Mike Troppman, Todd Franzen, Meg Pugh and a special appearance by Steve Fisher. Current pro riders to watch: Zack Black, Arielle and Taylor Gold, Dylan Bidez, Benji Farrow, Broc Waring and Silvia Mittermueller.

In addition to the contest, the T-Bar Restaurant at the base of Peak 8 will be hosting a throwback party sponsored by Bud Light. Guests can wear their best throwback onesie or retro ski gear for a chance to win a VIP prize package for Spring Concerts, Burton hard goods, and some Helly Hansen apparel.

This Season Marks 30 Years of Snowboarding at Breckenridge Ski Resort!  Breckenridge was one of the first major resorts to allow snowboarding in the 1984-85 season and to host one of the initial major snowboard competitions in the industry, The World Snowboarding Championships, or “The World’s,” in 1986.

Breck solidified its place as the very pinnacle of freestyle snowboarding when it became the first first-ever resort to have a permanent halfpipe then supersized it to a permanent Olympic-sized 22-foot superpipe in 2010, which anchors the resort’s award-winning Freeway Terrain Park on Peak 8.

With four terrain parks, including the top-ranked Freeway Terrain Park and SuperPipe and the Park Lane Terrain Park, a park progression system for beginners and intermediates, Breckenridge remains on the forefront of the industry in both facilities and talent.

See some classic snowboard moments from Breck’s snowboard history on Breck’s You Tube Channel under “Breck Classic Moments” and learn more about some of Breck’s most famous snowboarders and the its rich history of athletes on the Breck Blog.

Breck’s Spring Fever Festival, the largest spring skiing party in the Rocky Mountain region, begins the weekend of March 20 with the GoPro Big Mountain Challenge.

The fun continues through closing day with a series of signature events including competitions and kids’ events in addition to the Bud Light FREE concert series.

Breck Spring Fever 2015 Signature Events include:
•               The Bud Light Concert Series, with national acts performing live on April 11, 12, 18 and 19 on a specially-constructed stage on the mountain, at the Peak 8 base
•               GoPro Big Mountain Challenge on March 21
•               The 19th Annual Imperial Challenge – bike, uphill and downhill triathlon on April 11
•               The fourth Annual Spring Fever Chili Cook-off on April 4
•               On-mountain Easter egg hunt on April 5
•               First Annual Winter Edition of the Kids Adventure Games on April 5

For the latest news and details on all the events taking place or how to participate, visit www.BreckSpringFever.com.

Join the Biggest Party in the Rocky Mountains for as low as $129!
Lodging options start at $129 weekday; $149 weekend from 3/23 – 4/19 with a two-night minimum length of stay. Rules and restrictions apply. Offer exclusive to the official lodging sponsors of Spring Fever.

Fairmont Hotels offer spring skiing specials

With winter winding down, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts invites guests to enjoy the final winter weekends in style. :

FAMILY SKI EXPERIENCE IN MONT TREMBLANT

Skiing with the family in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, is as easy as renting equipment on-site and skiing down to the high-speed chair lift at the doorstep of Fairmont Tremblant, the only ski-in, ski-out resort on the mountain. The Family Ski Experience includes luxurious accommodations with an in-unit kitchen; one ski lift ticket per person; and complimentary valet parking. Available until April 11, 2015, rates start from $394 CAD ($316 USD) per night with a two-night minimum.

THE FRANZ KLAMMER FAMILY SKI EXPERIENCE

Spend this Spring Break on the slopes of the Telluride Ski resort, where lift lines are non-existent and the terrain is varied and unparalleled. The Family Ski Experience at Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge includes accommodations in a two or three bedroom residence (with a four night minimum); two adult lift tickets per day; a children’s amenity; complimentary airport transfers from Telluride or Montrose Airports; complimentary ski valet; and complimentary valet parking. Available untilApril 5, 2015, package rates start at $475 USD ($598 CAD) per night.

CHARLEVOIX FAMILY SKI EXPERIENCE

Quebec’s famed Charlevoix region is one of the best places to enjoy spring skiing, and the majestic Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu offers unrivaled activities for the whole family. The Charlevoix Family Ski Package includes accommodations in a Fairmont Room; ski lift tickets at Mont Grand-Fonds for two adults and two children per day; cookies and milk delivered to each guestroom per night; and one complimentary in-room movie rental per night. Available until March 22, 2015, rates start from $289 CAD ($232 USD) per room, per night for two adults and two children.

SAVE 25% WITH WHISTLER SPRING SKI EXPERIENCE

Nestled at the base of Whistler Blackcomb, Fairmont Chateau Whistler is North America’s best ski resort, and the best destination for Spring Break skiing. Save 25% with the Spring Ski Experience package, which includes a minimum of four nights of luxury accommodations; one Whistler Blackcomb dual-mountain lift pass per adult, per day (excluding arrival day); and use of resort amenities including the Health Club, pools and fitness center, and the Village Shuttle. Rates for the Spring Ski Experience start at $502 CAD ($403 USD) per night for stays through April 19, 2015.

 FAMILY SKI EXPERIENCE IN JASPER

Jasper National Park is the perfect place for a family ski vacation, with Marmot Basin offering short lift lines, vast terrain, high-speed quad chairs and beautiful vistas of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Family, friends and fellow snow bunnies who hit the slopes with Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s Family Ski Experience will enjoy luxury accommodations for a minimum of two nights; transportation to and from the ski hill; and family ski lift tickets for two adults and one child (under 17) at Marmot Basin (one day of skiing for a two night package; two days of skiing for a three night package; three days of skiing for a four night package). Available until May 3, 2015, rates start from $359 CAD ($288 USD) per night based on triple occupancy in a Deluxe Room.

LAKE LOUISE FAMILY SKI EXPERIENCE PACKAGE

Ski and stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, one of the top resorts in Canada, and indulge in après-ski activities for the whole family, including a memorable skate through the ice castle on the lake or relaxing next to a blazing bonfire on the lake shore. The Family Ski Experience Package includes luxury accommodations in a Deluxe Room or higher; two lift tickets; one in-room movie; a $25 Chateau Deli credit for treats; and complimentary ski shuttle to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Available until April 20, 2015, package rates start at $369 CAD ($296 USD) per night based on double occupancy.

LUXURY SKI THE CANADIAN ROCKIES PACKAGE

Skiers in the Canadian Rockies will marvel at the natural beauty and the unspoiled wilderness of Banff National Park. The ski package at Fairmont Banff Springs includes luxury accommodations in a Fairmont Room; self-parking for one vehicle; two tri-area ski passes per room, per night, valid at Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Mountain Resort and Ski Banff at Norquay; shuttle service between the ski hill and the hotel; daily à la carte or buffet breakfast; daily access pass to the Willow Stream Spa; and complimentary ski and snowboard storage. Available until April 30, 2015, package rates start at $539 CAD ($427 USD) per night.

SKI & SPA PACKAGE

Discover ideal snow conditions and the legendary Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, only 20 minutes from the ski hills. The Ski & Spa Package includes accommodations for one night; full buffet breakfast for two adults; one-day ski lift ticket per person at Mont Sainte-Anne or Stoneham; and one 50-minute massage for two at the Spa du Château. Available until April 30, 2015, package rates start at $575 CAD ($456 USD) per night.

Additional ski experience packages across Canada can be found here. All packages unless noted otherwise are subject to availability, priced per room, per night, exclude taxes and are based on double occupancy. Rates are subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offers. For more information and reservations, travelers can visitfairmont.com/promo/skipackages/ or call 1-800-441-1414, or contact their local travel consultant.