Liftopia offers lift tickets up to 72 percent off

We can’t think of merrier way to spend Christmas Day or a happier way to kick off the New Year than on the slopes. Liftopia, the largest online and mobile marketplace for lift tickets and other mountain activities, is kicking off their annual Christmas & New Year’s Day Promotion featuring savings up to 72% off lift tickets when purchased in advance compared to walk-up window rates. 

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are ideal times to go skiing and boarding – fewer crowds, shorter lift lines, wide-open runs and more powder time! But purchase your lift tickets now – the further in advance you book, the more you will save. Here are some examples of the savings that can be found on Liftopia for Dec. 25 and Jan. 1:

  • Caberfae Peaks, MI: one-day lift tickets starting at $9.99 (72% off)
  • Bolton Valley, VT: one-day lift tickets starting at $19.99 (59% off)
  • Ragged Mountain, NH: one-day lift tickets starting at $34.99 (56% off)
  • Anthony Lakes, OR: one-day lift tickets starting at $17.99 (49% off)
  • Snowbasin, UT: one-day lift tickets starting at $48.99 (45% off)
  • Smuggler’s Notch, VT: one-day lift tickets starting at $39.99 (44% off)
  • Arapahoe Basin, CO: one-day lift tickets starting at $50.99 (43% off)
  • Jay Peak, VT: one-day lift tickets starting at $41.99 (42% off)
  • Mt. Abram, ME: one-day lift tickets starting at $14.99 (40% off)
  • Hoodoo, OR: one-day lift tickets starting at $28.99 (40% off)
  • Whiteface, NY: one-day lift tickets starting at $57.99 (35% off)
  • Snowshoe, WV: two-day lift tickets starting at $114.47 (35% of)
  • Homewood, CA: one-day lift tickets starting at $57.99 (34% off)
  • Mt. Hood, OR: one-day lift tickets starting at $49.99 (32% off)
  • Crystal Mountain, MI: one-day lift tickets starting at $45.99 (31% off)

Need a last minute holiday gift? Liftopia Gift Cards are great gifts and stocking stuffers. Liftopia gift cards are available in any dollar amount (up to $1,000) and are good for lift tickets, rentals, lessons, meals and more at any of Liftopia’s 250+ resort partners. What’s more: no extra fees, no expiration date, and they can be sent electronically or printed so the gift can be given in person or via regular mail.

Mammoth gets 5 feet of snow in December

December has been good to Mammoth! With nearly 5 feet of fresh snow falling this month Mammoth is set to open all of its base areas today (Canyon and Eagle lodges) and new terrain, including chairs 8, 15,16 and 17.
In total, Mammoth now has 18 chairs open, servicing 80 trails, the most in California by some margin.

Some great action shots by Kevin Westenbarger from the weekend’s storms are available here. Also have some good video shot yesterday here

This is all good news for last-minute holiday travel planners. Night of Lights on Saturday is a can’t miss Eastern Sierra tradition and NYE at Mammoth can be celebrated a number of ways, with programming for both Familes and Party Animals.

EpicMix Guide allows guests to ski Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts announced that EpicMix™ Guide, the fifth generation of its award-winning, free, multi-channel app which will re-imagine how skiers and snowboarders will maximize their time on the mountain this winter, is now available for download for iPhone or Android operating systems.

EpicMix™ Guide uses guest input to generate a customized, step-by-step navigational guide to experience Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone in Colorado, Canyons in Park City, Utah, or Heavenly, Northstar or Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe like a long-time local.

“With EpicMix Guide, skiers and riders are able to input what kind of skiing they like to do, what kind of terrain they want to explore and how much time they have available, and the app provides a custom itinerary to help them navigate the mountain in a care-free way, maximizing the fun they’ll have that day,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts.

Guests need only download the EpicMix app from the iTunes Store or Google Play for the Android Market, then activate their free account via the app or at www.epicmix.com using their pass or lift ticket number.

They then log into any one of the various EpicMix channels (app, mobile web, desktop) and answer a variety of questions including: desired resort, starting location at the resort, terrain difficulty desired, and length of time available.

EpicMix Guide then automatically generates the optimal route for that guest on that day. The online version is perfect for those who want to plan their trip in advance, while the app is the best way to track real-time progress.

“EpicMix Guide is like handing you 20 years of experience at that resort on your first visit there,” said Lynch. “We’re putting this power at the fingertips of every one of our guests.”

The EpicMix development team sought the insider knowledge of each resort’s most experienced Ski and Ride School instructors to build itineraries which would let guests explore each mountain in a unique way that is appropriate for the corresponding skill level.

Guests can experience beginner routes such as “Schoolmarm Cruiser” at Keystone or intermediate routes like “Dipper Explorer” at Heavenly, or challenge themselves with advanced routes like “Ricky’s Ridge Adventurer” at Vail.

These are just a few examples of the 350 possible routes spread across the eight mountain resorts (excluding Park City Mountain Resort).

Once an itinerary is completed, skiers and riders can share their itinerary, along with photos and other stats about their day, on social media through Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ll give you all the assets you need to share the story about your epic day,” said Lynch.

BC’s Powder Highway draws adventurers

There’s something compelling about British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies. The nature here is big — monumental, in fact — but amidst this imposing landscape adventurous communities thrive, small but hardy.

Prospectors originally mined this area for gold; now something else beckons, a rush of adrenalin that requires skis and boards, and a GPS to map the way.

The outdoor-adventure action here is concentrated along the Powder Highway in southeastern BC, where eight full-service alpine resorts mingle with more than 10 Nordic ski destinations, nearly two dozen snowcat and heli-ski operators, plus a complement of 23 backcountry lodges.

Heli- and cat-skiing were born here, and it’s where winter resorts offer remarkable, and varied, mountain experiences, chock full of warmth and charm.

Case in point: Fernie, a historic mining town that is now a ski mecca whose population nearly doubles during the winter season.

Here, adventurists can make tracks in Fernie Alpine Resort’s legendary powder, a playground that includes 1,000 skiable hectares (2,471 acres), 142 runs and five alpine bowls. As a bonus, après-ski, Fernie-style, is easily achieved with a pint of Glacier Fresh Kokanee at The Griz Bar.

And that’s just a taste of what’s on offer along BC’s Powder Highway. Die-hards could, for example, explore whole new realms of possibility at RED Mountain Resort, where the addition of nearly 81 hectares (200 acres) of gladed tree skiing on three newly cut runs on Mt. Kirkup’s south side promise to redefine steep and deep.

A venture to nearby Whitewater Ski Resort offers equal challenge — thanks to a wintry landscape that boasts an annual 12-metre (40-foot) snowfall — that is blissfully rewarded at nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs. (Both the resort and the springs are just a short drive from Nelson, one of BC’s quirkiest and most beloved towns.)

Powder addictions will be further sated at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, “The Champagne Powder Capital of Canada,” or at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home to North America’s longest vertical.

For those eager for some high-flying action (a.k.a. an opportunity to perfect their Double McTwist), Panorama Mountain Resort’s terrain park is just the ticket.

There are down-to-earth options along this road trip, too: grown-ups can leave the aerials to the pros, enrol the kiddies at Kimberley Alpine Resort’s Owl Learning Area, and make tracks along open glades and heart-thumping steeps. (Planting poles and warming up with a steaming cup of hot buttered rum at the Stemwinder Bar & Grill is an equally tempting alternative.)

Bottom line: along BC’s adventurous Powder Highway, options for powdery play are seemingly endless. And the locals are pretty friendly, too. PowderHighway.com

Vail Resorts to invest $50 million in Park City Mountain Resort

Vail Resorts Inc. announced the company’s planned upgrades to Park City Mountain Resort for the 2015-2016 ski season. The plan, which totals over $50 million, is one of the most ambitious capital programs in U.S. ski industry history and will transform the guest experience at Park City Mountain Resort.

The plan would establish the connection between Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, creating the largest single ski area in the country with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, and complete a number of critical upgrades to the infrastructure of both resorts. The plan will be subject to approval by both Summit County and the City of Park City. Components of the $50-million capital plan include:

  • The Interconnect Gondola. An eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. The gondola will also have an unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge to allow skiers and riders the opportunity to ski into Thaynes Canyons at Park City via gated ski access or to the Iron Mountain area at Canyons through new trails that will be created from Pine Cone Ridge. This will mark the first gondola at Park City Mountain Resort since “The Gondola” was dismantled in 1997.
  • Upgrade of King Con and Motherlode Lifts at Park City. The King Con  Lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift and will increase lift capacity to this very popular ski pod. The Motherlode Lift will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift, also increasing lift capacity. Both upgrades will reduce crowding, lift lines and improve the guest experience.
  • New Snow Hut Restaurant, Upgrades to Summit House Restaurant at Park City and Expansion of Red Pine Lodge Restaurant at Canyons. The plan calls for building a completely new Snow Hut restaurant at the base of the Silverlode Lift and next to the Park City terminal for the Interconnect Gondola, with 500 indoor seats and a top-of-the-line kitchen and culinary experience. The plan also includes an upgrade to the “scramble” area inside the Summit House restaurant to improve the flow of diners and increase seats. At Canyons, the Red Pine Restaurant will be renovated to accommodate an additional 250 indoor seats. This upgrade follows the recent renovation and increase of 150 seats to the Cloud Dine restaurant at Canyons.
  • Snowmaking and Other Improvements. The plan features additional snowmaking on two trails in the Iron Mountain area of Canyons which will become increasingly central ski terrain given its proximity to the Interconnect Gondola. The plan also includes almost $5 million of “catch up” maintenance and upgrades at Park City, given the lack of spending at the resort over the past few years. This “catch up” maintenance spending is in addition to the normal annual maintenance capital for the two resorts of $5 million, which will be undertaken this year as well.

“This comprehensive capital plan for Park City and Canyons is one of the most ambitious and impactful plans undertaken at any resort in industry history, transforming the experience at both resorts and creating the largest single ski resort in the U.S. with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain,” said Blaise Carrig, president of the mountain division for Vail Resorts.

“The improvements offer skiers and riders more terrain and upgraded lifts to enhance the guest experience and reduce crowding and lift lines, new and upgraded restaurants, more snowmaking and an overall ‘touching up’ of all aspects of the resorts,” Carrig said. “The plan was based on feedback from guests and the local community as well as discussions with the senior operating teams at the two resorts. We look forward to continuing to work with the county and the city and are hopeful we can bring this plan to life for the 2015-2016 ski season.”

For the 2015-2016 ski season, the company intends to operate the two resorts as one unified branded experience under the name “Park City Mountain Resort”. The Canyons base area will be renamed “Canyons at Park City”. The company will continue to maintain the unique history and atmosphere of the two base areas with differentiated marketing for the diverse hotel and hospitality experiences.

A detailed map of the plans can be downloaded here: https://vailresorts.box.com/s/jb7m1hcjek7bymfuofy4

Mammoth Mountain gets two-feet of fresh snow

dump

The storm gates have officially opened and the season is underway here at Mammoth Mountain! It received 13-22 inches of sweet, sweet snow with a storm that rolled in yesterday and there’s more on the way.

Conditions up there are awesome and they’re just getting better. Want to be the first to know when it snows? Sign up for our Fresh Snow and Dump Alert emails here

Mammoth is currently getting hammered by a system that’s likely to leave between 2-3 feet of fresh on the summit when it’s all said and done. 

Also, Mammoth is offering a snow guarantee good for bookings by Dec. 15. It’s pretty straight forward, if the base depth isn’t at the required level, guests get the option of a $100 gift card or the ability to move the reservation dates with no fees or penalties. Though with all this snow, shouldn’t be much of an issue!

Twelve days of Christmas at Keystone Resort

With nearly five feet of natural snow falling in November, Keystone Resort enters December with a plethora of great snow, open terrain, exciting events and Holiday cheer. Here are twelve good reasons to visit Keystone this month:

Twelve Santas Smiling
Santa Claus visits Keystone twelve times during December, providing plenty of time to get those Christmas lists submitted and say “Hi” to the big guy. Various dates and locations throughout December.

Eleven Children Climbing
Keystone’s season-long Kidtopia programming begins with the grand opening of the Kidtopia Snow Fort, the world’s largest snow fort. Ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 atop Dercum Mountain.

Ten Noses a Knowing
Keystone Executive Pastry Chef Ned Archibald utilizes 8,000 pounds of imported chocolate for the Keystone Chocolate Village, complete with various winter scenes. Free to attend, located in the Keystone Lodge and Spa from Dec. 19, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015.

Nine Trails a Glowing
Delay the après with Colorado’s longest ski day as Keystone provides 11.5-hours of skiing and snowboarding fun. Dec. 5-6, 12-13, and 19-31 Keystone is open from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Eight Cooks a Cooking
Skip the cooking, cleaning and preparation needed for hosting a Christmas dinner and enjoy a delicious meal at one of Keystone’s signature restaurants. On Thursday, Dec. 25, the Alpenglow Stube, Der Fondue Chessel, Dinner Sleigh Ride, Keystone Ranch, Ski Tip Lodge and Bighorn Bistro & Bar all offer a Christmas menu. Reservations are required, 800-354-4386.

Seven Revelers Ringing
Live music, dining specials and fireworks are some of the great ways families can celebrate New Year’s Eve at Keystone. There is skiing and riding to be had too of course, guests can enjoy the slopes until 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and begin New Year’s Day with first chair at 8:30 a.m.

Six Families Brunching
Bighorn Bistro’s new family brunch provides kids and adults their very own buffets. Children will enjoy games, entertainment and a fun atmosphere with free supervision provided, while next door adults will enjoy a classic brunch including mimosas and a bloody-mary bar. Located in the Keystone Lodge and Spa on Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Five Golden Rings
Okay, not really. But during the 12 Days of Keystone guests can win prizes such as a season pass, snow cat tour, lift tickets and Keystone swag by posting ‘countdown’ photos to Instagram and tagging @Keystone_resort. Winners will be chosen daily from Dec. 1-12.

Four Free Clinics
Keystone’s Ski and Ride School will provide complimentary one hour clinics for first-timers or guests looking to hone their skiing or riding skills. Two-days, two-clinics – skiing or snowboarding, offered Dec. 13-14 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. atop Dercum Mountain during Get to Know Keystone Days.

Three Peaks Open
December provides excellent early-season skiing and riding conditions, with access from all three of Keystone’s mountains; Dercum, North Peak and The Outback.

Two Nights Only
“Keller & His Compadres” will be performing at Warren Station Dec. 19-20; doors open at 8 p.m. Keller Williams will also perform a solo set each evening. More information and tickets available at warrenstation.com.

And; many a Kidtopia Activities
Ripperoo’s Village parades, Starquest and Fireworks round out an eventful December at Keystone.

Ripperoo’s Village Parade – featuring Keystone mascot Ripperoo and friends at 4 p.m. in River Run Village on Dec. 13, 20 and 27.

Starquest – Keystone Science School provides a unique exploration of the universe. Free to attend, meets at Kidtopia Headquarters in River Run at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Fireworks – free firework display visible from River Run and Lakeside Villages at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13, 20 and 27.

Bigfoot Adventure Walks – A free adventure-filled nature walk. Meets at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30 at Kidtopia Headquarters.

Heavenly offers ultimate holiday experience

Enjoy the ultimate holiday experience to Heavenly Mountain Resort this season, where twirling ice skaters, chainsaw-sculpted ice displays, and world-class fireworks will stir up the energy of the holiday season in Heavenly Village.

Co-produced by Tahoe South, the fourth annual Heavenly Holidays will feature 12 days of festivities beginning with photos with Santa in his snow globe and ending with a glittering New Year’s celebration with the sparkling Gondola Drop to ring in the New Year.

“The spirit of the season really comes to life during Heavenly Holidays. It’s a first-class experience with something that everyone can enjoy,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and COO of Heavenly. “This time of year is all about spending time with family and friends, and Heavenly Holidays gives you the opportunity to go all in with a full day spent on the mountain and a full event roster in Heavenly Village.”

With more snow storms in the forecast and the power of the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system behind it, Heavenly is proud to provide holiday guests with fantastic snow surface conditions for skiing and riding.

After experiencing Heavenly’s 3,500 vertical feet of terrain above soaring views of Lake Tahoe, guests continue their adventure with daily festivities in Heavenly Village, leading up to the final blow out at the New Year’s Eve Celebration.

Santa’s Workshop Snow Globe – December 20-24, 2:00-7:00 p.m.
Enter Santa’s 16 foot snow globe to share your holiday wish list and snap a photo with the man himself.

Ice Skating Spectacular – December 28-30, 7:30 p.m.
Unique performances featuring some of the best figure skaters in the country will take place at the Heavenly Village Ice Rink.

Fear-No-Ice Sculpting – December 28-30, 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Catch the chainsaws in action while Heavenly Village gets a makeover with dazzling ice sculpture displays by talented artists each day.

New Year’s Eve Celebration – December 31, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
The pinnacle of Heavenly Holidays will come alive with the celebration of the New Year. The Fire Groove fire dancers will be spinning flames to a live performance by Wes Quave, while the energy of the night continues with games, face-painting and a photo booth to archive all the amusement of the night. The “Fear-No-Ice” sculptors will bust out their saws to carve their crowning glory for the New Year. Heavenly’s Gondola Drop will descend over the crowd at 9:00 p.m., when families celebrate in concurrence with the midnight Ball Drop in New York City’s Time Square. The brightly lit gondola cabin soars over the crowd while the fireworks dazzle in the sky above, capturing the wonder of kids and adults alike. Guests looking to go all in on New Year’s Eve can gear up for a full night in the variety of clubs, bars and casinos that South Lake Tahoe is famous for.

Book a Heavenly Holiday Vacation!
Heavenly Mountain Resort is the ultimate holiday destination, with 12 days of vibrant events, 3,500 vertical feet of skiing and riding, and endless dining and nightlife options. Visit www.skiheavenly.com for details on vacation packages.

EpicDay Lift Tickets: Buy Online. Skip the Line.
EpicDay Lift Tickets offers up to 25% savings on advanced purchase lift tickets at Heavenly and across Vail Resorts via the new EpicDay Lift Tickets platform. Tickets can be purchased through an easy-to-use online and mobile site, www.skiheavenly.com/epicday, and picked up at an EpicDay Express Ticket Pick-Up window at the resort. Additional days can be added online, avoiding a return trip to the ticket window. EpicDay Lift Tickets reward advanced planning with the lowest guaranteed price and less time spent in the ticket line.

Hundreds hit the slopes on opening day in Big Bear

Snowboarders look to head up the chairlift at Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Friday, November 28, 2014. California is suffering  one of the worst droughts in its history. (Eric Reed/For the Sun)

Snowboarders look to head up the chairlift at Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Friday, November 28, 2014. California is suffering one of the worst droughts in its history. (Eric Reed/For the Sun)

By Joe Nelson, Staff Writer

Ricky Vega held his 3-year-old daughter, Brooke, steady as she stood atop a snowboard, feet buckled securely in bindings, at the Bear Mountain ski resort on Friday,

Vega positioned his daughter in place, in a safe area at the bottom of the slope, away from the throng of snowboarders zipping down the mountain. He whispered a few words of encouragement in her ear, then gave her a gentle push forward. He darted forward, several feet ahead of his daughter, then turned and held out his arms to receive her.

Clad in pink ski pants, a pink ski jacket and a knitted Curious George ski cap, Brooke was all smiles as she slid about five feet across the slope and into her doting father’s arms.

“My two nephews started doing this when they were 3, and now it’s her turn,” said Vega, 36, of Lakewood. “We’re trying to make it a family tradition.”

Vega was one of hundreds drawn to Bear Mountain on the cloudless and rather warm Black Friday for the resort’s opening day of the season. Neighboring Snow Summit opened for the season on Wednesday.

“It’s awesome. It’s beautiful weather,” said Vega, who along with his twin brother owns a cabin in Big Bear Lake, where he and his family spent the Thanksgiving holiday before taking to the slopes on Friday.

“I’m on vacation. It’s opening day,” Vega said, “and I wanted to get out here before all the snow melted.”

The two opening-day events, at Bear Mountain on Friday and Snow Summit on Wednesday, marked their first under new ownership by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which announced its purchase of the sibling ski resorts in September. The sale awaits the closing of escrow, said Rio Tanbara, director of marketing for Bear Mountain.

Read more of Joe Nelson’s story SKI