Mountain High eager to get back in the snow business

Snow guns at Mountain High

Cold, dry air is expected to arrive with the incoming storms, and Mountain High has its snow guns all ready to go. (Mountain High photo)

By Jerry Rice

The excitement of little children as Christmas morning nears is often only exceeded by the excitement of skiers and snowboarders as a storm approaches. So, with a potential snow-maker dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska and heading toward California, this might as well be Christmas Eve.

“We’re crossing our fingers, doing the snow dances and praying – whatever we have to do,” said Kim Hermon, Mountain High spokeswoman.

Presents may be delivered by tonight in the form of 6 to 12 inches of the white stuff. Even better, the forecast calls for it to arrive with frigid conditions that will allow the Wrightwood resort to crank up its extensive snowmaking system.

This storm can’t arrive soon enough. After a promising start to the ski and snowboard season, it’s been rough sledding the last few weeks at Southern California mountain resorts.

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It’s been a slow start to the ski season, but skiing Sunday was grand

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens for it’s first day of skiing and snowboarding of the year on October 17, (2012 Mahala Gaylord, The Denver Post)

By John Meyer
The Denver Post

Like most avid skiers, I’ve been increasingly stir crazy waiting for an opportunity to get in some real skiing through what has been a very lean season for snow thus far.

Oh, I made a few turns on manmade snow when I had access to the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center one morning last month. I took a day when I made a run or two each at Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Copper Mountain — and then rode my bike from Copper to Vail Pass. I got so anxious for skiing that I went up to Loveland one afternoon, skiing the same two runs over and over again.

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Snowmaking important to the success of many ski resorts

No natural snow? No problem at resorts with snowmaking capabilities, as long as temperatures dip low enough so crews can put the systems to work — like they did at Bear Mountain in early November. (Bear Mountain photos)

By Art Bentley

Although Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain offers nearly three times the vertical of our own Snow Summit, these two great ski areas ensure their success with the same winning formula.

The fortunes of Sun Valley are linked as inextricably as those of the 60-year-old resort at Big Bear Lake to a prodigious capacity for turning water and compressed air into a four-letter word of supreme importance to that segment of the populace transported to ecstasy by its “plentitude” or driven to madness by its lack thereof.

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Mammoth Mountain is all in for skiers, snowboarders

Four to 6 feet of new snow make for some spectacular conditions at Mammoth Mountain.
(Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain)

By Jerry Rice

This is what winter is supposed to look like.

After an average start to the snow season, a series of storms slammed into the Sierra Nevada late last week and dumped up to 6 feet of snow at Mammoth Mountain. That bounty will allow the resort to open the entire hill — all 28 lifts and 150-plus trails — on Friday.

While the storms were too warm to do much good for resorts in Southern California, it was a different story elsewhere in the state. In the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley reported 48 inches of snow and Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe welcomed 45 inches. Sugar Bowl received 44 inches, allowing the Donner Summit resort to re-open on Thursday.

Back at Mammoth, after receiving 113 inches of the white stuff since October, the resort is operating on a base of 50 to 70 inches. It’s a much improved story from last winter, when the resort didn’t see any significant snowfall until Jan. 20.

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Storms to improve snow conditions

Snowboarders and skiers at Bear Mountain’s Chair 1 on Wednesday, Nov. 28. (Bear Mountain photo)

By Jerry Rice

Three storms are lined up to drop snow — lots of it, in some places — in the California mountains during the next few days.

The top of Mammoth Mountain may get a total of 4 to 5 feet of fresh snowfall by Sunday night, according to

In the Lake Tahoe area, the National Weather Service was predicting heavy snow Friday (with accumulation up to 20 inches), Saturday and Sunday. It may add up to 7 feet of new powder by the time the weekend is over.

But resorts in Southern California weren’t expected to fare as well when it comes to the white stuff. The snow level was forecast to only drop down to 8,000 feet, which means Bear Mountain was in the best position to take advantage. Its four mountain peaks range from 8,000 to 8,805 feet.

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Ski, snowboard season ramps up

By Art Bentley

The 2012-13 ski and snowboard season has begun in Southern California. Barely.

Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, which share ownership at Big Bear Lake, and Mountain High West near Wrightwood are selling lift tickets at sharp discounts, reflecting operations that are severely limited by mild temperatures after the cold snap two weeks ago that enabled them to make enough snow to open a couple of runs apiece.

The result is not extensive, but diehard skiers and snowboarders have long displayed a readiness often bordering on masochism to drive heroic distances at the drop of a man-made snowflake in the local hills to relieve the long withdrawal between spring and late fall.

They don’t demand a lot, just enough space on a surface of reasonable slickness to permit the fast turns that restore meaning to life.

In a perfect world, rocks would be buried sufficiently to prevent damage to expensive equipment — but, hey, we’re sliding again, right? Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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