#Winter2014: Skiing, snowboarding at Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Continuing our look back at the winter that was, it’s time to visit Homewood Mountain Resort near the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

Season start/finish: Dec. 11, 2013, through March 23, 2014. The opening date was typical of past seasons, and the closing date was two to three weeks than was planned.

Snowfall: Well short of the typical 450 inches per season, although figures were not provided. Snowmaking made up some of the difference.

Season highlight: A series of big winter storms arrived just before the President’s Day holiday weekend and the mid-winter break for many schools in Northern California. “The conditions were the best they had been all season during what is typically a very busy weekend/week for us,” said Paul Raymore, resort spokesman. “At that point, every skier and snowboarder in Northern California had been ‘jonesing’ for fresh powder for months, so it was fantastic to be able to finally offer some when many had time off work or school.”

Comment:The lack of our typical abundance of natural snow in Tahoe certainly made the 2013-14 ski season a challenging one; however, that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun year,” Raymore said. “Savvy Lake Tahoe skiers and snowboarders, who knew where to look to find the best conditions, were still able to find great snow at the smaller resorts such as Homewood, where the lack of crowds really helped to preserve the snow on the mountains.”

Looking ahead: Homewood has major changes planned for the 2015-16 ski season, with a wholesale redevelopment of the resort scheduled to begin in summer 2015. Improvements will include a new high-speed gondola taking skiers to mid-mountain, a new 5-star hotel at the base of the mountain, new skier services buildings and amenities, as well as construction of a number of residences at both of the base areas. Information about the Homewood Master Plan is at www.SkiHomewood.com/MasterPlan

#Winter2014 recap: Skiing, snowboarding at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit

OK, we know that winter 2014 was a bummer of a snow season, but we’re going to take a look back anyway with dispatches from many of California’s ski and snowboard resorts – starting today with Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

Season start/finish: Bear Mountain, Nov. 27-March 30; Snow Summit, Dec. 6-March 17.

Snowfall: 20-30 inches at each resort; the season average is 75 to 100 inches.

Comment: Despite a shorter season and lack of natural snowfall, we’re very proud of what we were able to accomplish for the 2013-14 season at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Each year we strive to provide the very best conditions, and this year was no different. Thanks to our advanced snowmaking system and our dedicated park crew, we were able to offer some of the greatest skiing and snowboarding in California – especially earlier in the season. We were able to successfully keep open the vast majority of our runs, with some of the very best conditions in the state. It was a great achievement for us.”

Looking ahead: Big Bear Mountain Resorts will be reducing the price of all passes for the 2014-15 winter season, with savings up to $110 from last winter’s rates. Dual-mountain pass holders will have unlimited access to 26 lifts, 438 developed acres and more than 55 runs.

Media: Here are video highlights from the slopes at each resort. First, Bear Mountain. >>>

Now it’s Snow Summit’s turn. >>>

Ski Pakistan? Absolutely! CNN follows heli-skiers to near the top of the world

Talk about a ski adventure.

The Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan include many of the world’s tallest peaks, and a thrilling challenge for any skier. While the highest paved international road – connecting China with Pakistan – is part of the landscape, the adventurers featured in a recent CNN report by Saima Mohsin avoided this road less traveled and flew in by helicopter.

Click here to catch their wild ride.

#freshpow day on the slopes at Bear, Snow Summit and Mountain High

Snow Summit is a winter wonderland in March, thanks to productive cold-weather systems that went through Southern California on Thursday and this morning. This photo has attracted a lot of reaction since it was posted on Facebook earlier today. (Snow Summit photo)

By Jerry Rice

Fresh powder days in March are rare in Southern California – especially ones with storms that leave behind more than a foot of snow – so it may not be surprising that social media is burning up today with the latest reports from Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Mountain High.

The photo of snow-covered tables and chairs at Snow Summit (above) has received more than 950 “likes” and 139 “shares” since it was posted this morning. Because a photo really is worth a thousand words, many of the comments have been appropriately brief: “Wonderland!” (from Freddie Merz), “Yes!!!” (Kelsey Elizabeth Stern) and “Wooooo Hoooooo” (Snuggle Bear Cabin).

Others said they were on their way up the hill (presumably after they called the boss to say they suddenly came down with some “ailment”), or that they would be there during the weekend.

With 12-14 inches of new snow at Bear Mountain, it appears to be time for some fresh-powder runs at the resort. (Bear Mountain photo)

Snow Summit reported 12 to 14 inches of fresh powder in the last couple days – about the same amount that fell at the resort’s corporate sibling, Bear Mountain, where the photo on the right was taken. Since being posted on Facebook today at about 10 a.m., the shot has received nearly 400 “likes” and 25 “shares.”

Snow Summit is 100 percent open, and only Bow, Deer and Goldmine canyons are closed at Bear, according to information on their websites. Also, skiers and snowboarders should note that Snow Summit will be holding its final night session of the 2012-13 season on Saturday.

With fresh powder at Mountain High, the snow depth on the slopes is 12-24 inches. (Mountain High photo)

At Mountain High in Wrightwood, they’re also excited about the conditions after receiving 6 to 8 inches of new snow. “We love fresh pow,” said the Facebook entry that was posted with the action shot on the left. “Share this photo if you love new snow as much as we do!”

The last time we checked, 61 of the resort’s Facebook fans followed through on that request.

Welcome to Begaebong, a North Korea ski area that outsiders rarely get to see

By Jerry Rice

Never thought I’d see the words “ski resort” and “North Korea” in the same sentence – much less type them myself for a post on this SnoWonder site – but here they are.

Eric Lafforgue has made a name for himself by taking amazing photographs the world over, from Cambodia to Kazakhstan to the Papua Islands (with many more locales listed on his website, www.ericlafforgue.com). One of those other places is Begaebong, in North Korea’s Mount Paektu region, where he visited a small ski area.

OK, with a ski run that’s barely 875 yards and a lift with only 80 chairs, there’s no chance this place will ever be mistaken for the resorts at Heavenly or Mammoth. But his video offers a rare glimpse at an attraction that makes for some interesting viewing. We noticed, for example, that there are no skiers whatsoever on the slopes.

Mount Paektu, by the way, is an active volcano that erupts two or three times a century. It has been in the news of late because of warnings that earthquakes from North Korea’s nuclear tests may trigger an eruption.

Step aside Gangnam Style, it’s time for the Harlem Shake

By Jerry Rice

Sorry, Psy, but Gangnam Style is so 2012. The dance of this moment is the Harlem Shake.

With tens of thousands of Harlem Shake videos on YouTube — including nearly 9,000 uploaded today alone — it’s safe to call it the latest craze that’s sweeping the nation. Students at campuses around the country, office workers, firefighters, grandmas, and a unit of the Norwegian Army are all busting a move to the techno beat.

Anderson Cooper (inset) watches a video of his staff doing the Harlem Shake.

One video asks whether Wolf Blitzer would do it. His CNN colleague, Anderson Cooper, apparently wouldn’t. When the “Anderson Live” crew interrupted a morning meeting to shake it, they couldn’t get Cooper to join in.

“I gotta say, I was horrified. It made me so uncomfortable,” he said on Tuesday’s show.

Many of the videos are called “original.” Perhaps the one with the best stake to that claim was posted by five bored Australian teens who were stuck indoors during a storm. Their version, “The Harlem Shake v1 (TSCS original),” has 6.3 million views (and counting) in its first week on YouTube. Their story was told by The Courier-Mail in Brisbane.

A quick search came up with several Harlem Shakers in the Inland Empire, so we featured them in a Daily Bulletin story.

Skiers and snowboarders at Mountain High also have gotten in on the act. Here’s their version:

Squaw Valley plans Super Bowl viewing party for 49er faithful

By Jerry Rice

Even while Colin Kaepernick and his teammates were still on the field in Atlanta celebrating the San Francisco 49ers’ return to the Super Bowl, the alert went out: Squaw Valley is planning a big party for the big game.

Anthony Dixon of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates the team’s win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. (Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Bring the skis and snowboards along with San Francisco 49er jerseys, join the largest on-mountain Super Bowl party and celebrate “one of the greatest football teams in the country and of all time,” the resort said in a release.

OK, so while the resort’s PR department may have been showing a little 49er fanaticism — and this Jerry Rice has no problem with that — the viewing party will be a benefit for a great cause: the High Fives Foundation.

Founded by Roy Tuscany and based in Truckee, Calif., the High Fives Foundation is dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action sports community. Information: www.highfivesfoundation.org.

Squaw will show the Super Bowl on a 16-foot by 21-foot, 49-panel “diamond vision” screen at the KT Base Bar, located at the base of the KT-22 lift. There will be festivities planned throughout the day including giveaways and promotions before, during and after the game.

“We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to celebrate, in the biggest way possible, the success of a football team that our customers are wild about,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

After today’s 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game, the 49ers will be making their sixth appearance in the Super Bowl. The game will be played in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

For more information about the Super Bowl event at Squaw Valley, visit www.squaw.com or call 800-403-0206.

Learn how to make those cool ski flicks

By Jerry Rice

While it may not be as celebrated as the School of Cinematic Arts at USC, the Canadian Mountain Holidays Film School has put together some impressive productions.

The CMH Film School, in Revelstoke, British Columbia, is where nascent ski filmmakers come to sharpen their skills. The program is featured in the February issue of Ski Magazine.

“Our legs ache from a day spent blasting arcs in the high alpine, and now we watch as Guy Clarkson, a cinematographer who owns Raven HD, makers of award-winning documentaries, dices and splices clips as fluently as he skis,” writes Joe Cutts.

Clarkson comes with an impressive resume: besides film work, he’s a licensed pilot, sailor, rancher and military trainer. And he’s been to the top of the world, watching the sun rise on Mount Everest.

The film school’s courses aren’t cheap, but they come with lots of neat bonus features. The cost of the Feb. 4-9 session at CMH’s K2 Lodge is $6,080, and the March 28-April 1 course at Revelstoke is $4,038. Both include lodging, heli skiing, equipment and meals.

In the story, Cutts recalls a recent crash course on editing with Clarkson.

“We go through footage he shot on a professional-grade camera and stuff clients shot with their GoPros and his guidance,” Cutts writes. “We’re learning the techniques and decision making that make the magic happen — how to have the skier ski into the shot, how to fade out on a spray of snow, even how to ski for the camera ourselves.”

For information, visit www.canadianmountainholidays.com. Here’s a sample of their work:

They give Oscars to ski films, don’t they?

By Jerry Rice

The Academy Award nominations will be announced early Thursday morning. While there’s nary a snowflake in several of the leading best picture candidates — “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty” — there are many prize-worthy films that have been released over the years about skiing and snowboarding.

We surveyed Taylor Rhoads, who listed his five favorites in his blog, at www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-ski-flicks, and included some of his comments about each. His picks:

“All.I.Can” movie poster

1. “All.I.Can.” (2011), Sherpas Cinemas “‘All.I.Can’ has insane cinematography, a little bit of an artsy feel, and some gnarly shredding in super exotic places that you may or may not ever be able to afford to visit in real life.”

2. “Swift. Silent. Deep.” (2009), Teton Gravity Research  “These are skiers that, at the time, had not yet accepted their own mortality, which is a killer mentality to watch on screen.”

3. “The Dream Factory” (1997), Teton Gravity Research  “In typical TGR fashion, this film is all style/we’re better than you at this (real talk). We get some sweet perspective on the pioneers, as well as the new generation of free-skiers that are transforming the Alaska scene into the next decade.”

4. “Revolver” (2010), Salomon & Poor Boyz  “This film is basically the dream team of skiing on one DVD.”

5. “The Eighty Six” (2012), Stept Productions  “If you’re into urban shredding, this is your jam.”

Shopping for deals on the slopes

At Mountain High, the Express Pass opens the way to money savings on the slopes and several special features. (Mountain High photo)

By Jerry Rice

OK, everyone knows that skiing and snowboarding can be expensive – traveling to the resort, lodging, equipment rentals, lift tickets…

But there are many ways to save on costs without cutting cut corners on the fun. Some examples:

> Free rentals for first-timers, ages 8 to adult, when a beginner lesson package is purchased at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit during the month of January. It’s part of a Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month promotion in partnership with the National Ski Areas Association. Information: 909-866-5841, www.snowsummit.com

Mammoth Mountain’s January midweek pass is $249 – $50 less than last season. With regular adult lift tickets at the resort running $99 per day, the cost of the special midweek pass essentially means it more than pays for itself after three days on the slopes. Other price levels are $179 for youth, $69 for children and $199 for seniors. The pass is valid Monday-Friday through Feb. 1, but must be purchased by Monday. Information: 800-626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com

> At Mountain High, spend $10 on a rechargeable Express Pass, load it with almost any lift ticket and start saving – $10 on all flex ticket options – and enjoying other benefits. Those other benefits include guaranteed reservations in case of a sellout, a free eight-hour non-holiday ticket after every five visits, and the ability to track the number of runs you’ve completed, the total vertical feet and other individual stats. Information: 888-754-7878, www.mthigh.com 

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