Mammoth Mountain, Lake Tahoe have more of what is wanted: fresh snow

Mammoth Mountain will have 100 percent of its terrain available for skiing and snowboarding this weekend. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

Mammoth Mountain will have 100 percent of its terrain available for skiing and snowboarding this weekend. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

By Jerry Rice

The calendar says “April,” but it’s looking a lot more like winter – finally – at Mammoth Mountain and resorts in the Lake Tahoe area.

Mammoth received 18 inches of fresh powder this week and more than 36 inches since March 26. At Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley’s seven-day snow total is 47 inches, and at Northstar California, about six miles north of of the lake, the resort welcomed 34 inches of new snow during the last several days – just in time for this weekend’s Spring It On! festival and pond skim contest.

“We’ve received so much fresh snow just before some of our most anticipated spring events, which means phenomenal skiing and riding and added excitement to this weekend’s festivities,” said Bill Rock, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Northstar.

Back at Mammoth, the new snow means a special on-mountain experience.

“Lift lines are typical for this time of the year, and skiers are able to spread out due to 100 percent of the terrain being open,” said Tim LeRoy, resort spokesman.

For more information, visit…
www.mammothmountain.com
www.northstarcalifornia.com
http://squaw.com

Memorial Day skiing, riding at Mammoth Mountain? It’s on!

Believe it or not, this is not a Mammoth Mountain file photo from December. It was taken this morning when the resort received up to 10 inches of new snow. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

This is not a Mammoth Mountain file photo from December or January. It was taken this morning — six days into spring! — when the resort received up to 10 inches of new snow. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

For the 27th straight year, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will be open for skiing and snowboarding through Memorial Day weekend, the resort announced today.

“Although winter got off to a slow start, the past month brought a series of strong storms with nearly 100 inches of snow, and more in the forecast this week,” said Rusty Gregory, Mammoth Mountain CEO. “With excellent conditions typical of this time of year, we look to continue our long-standing tradition of skiing and riding well into May.”

Mammoth currently has a base depth of 4 to 6 feet and 100 percent of terrain open. A series of storms are forecast over the next week. That’s in addition to the 8 to 10 inches of new snow that fell this morning.

Information: www.mammothmountain.com

What’s that coming down from the sky? Yes! It’s snow!

After being MIA for too long this winter (at least in California), lots of fresh snow courtesy Mother Nature is falling on the slopes at resorts throughout the state. Today’s storm is the first of a three-storm series expected to roll through by Sunday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We’ll update this post as reports from the resorts come in. >>>

4:15 p.m. Thursday …

Fresh photos from our friends at Mammoth Mountain, courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism.
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06chair2line“With a foot and half of snow on the ground at Mammoth Mountain and several more feet expected through the weekend and early next week, best estimates put the snow total for this storm system at around 3 to 4 feet,” says spokesman Tim LeRoy.

“That would make this the biggest storm system to hit the Eastern Sierra in two years,” he adds, citing a report at Mammoth Weather.

On the Mammoth website, lodging specials included “stay three nights and get the fourth night free” and a lift and lodging package starting at $129 – both good for arrival dates through late May.

3:30 p.m. Thursday …

The winter storm sweeping through the Sierra Nevada brought 13 inches of fresh snow to Squaw Valley and 10 inches to Alpine Meadows by Thursday afternoon, with snow continuing to fall. Both resorts could see more than two feet of snow by Sunday night, with the possibility of even more snowfall through Wednesday.

Here’s what Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows looked like this morning. >>>

Mammoth Mountain received as much as 15 inches of new snow overnight. The forecast calls for another 3 to 5 inches tonight, and up to 17 inches more on Friday. Another 1 to 3 inches is possible on Saturday.

Noon Thursday … 

Rachel Luna, our colleague at The Sun and Daily Bulletin, is on the prowl today for #ieweather photos and videos and took this shot at Snow Valley. >>>

Snow ValleyIt was almost lunchtime and Snow Valley hadn’t sold a single lift ticket all morning. The resort closed for the day at noon.

“Resort officials believe skiers & snowboarders are holding out for the snowstorm to come,” Luna reported via Twitter.

10 a.m. Thursday … 

Mountain High is closed today, and operators are planning to re-opening the resort on Saturday morning. “We fully expect to reopen this weekend with hopes of remaining open all the way through Easter,” said a post on the resort’s website.

In the meantime, here are some other fast facts, according to the resort:

  • Mountain High has been open into May three times during the last 15 years.
  • The average closing date has been April 21.
  • 30-40 percent of the season is still ahead.
  • March is often the snowiest month at the resort.

Dropping in for a Sochi to California comparison on vertical descents

Sochi Downhill

We’ve been watching a lot of NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage – speed skating, slopestyle skiing, halfpipe, hockey – and have been wrapped up in much of it.

A few minutes ago, @NBCOlympics posted on Twitter the image above with course info on the downhill portion of the men’s super combined. The vertical drop of 3,205 feet caught our attention, and we thought it would be worth checking http://mountainvertical.com to see how the mountains near Sochi compare with the ski resorts in California. Here’s what we found:

Mammoth: 2,885
Heavenly: 2,735
Squaw Valley: 2,389
June Mountain: 2,420
Northstar-at-Tahoe: 2,276
Diamond Peak: 1,741
Bear Mountain: 1,665
Mt. Rose: 1,635
Homewood: 1,625
Kirkwood: 1,622
Sierra-at-Tahoe: 1,590
Mountain High: 1,588
Alpine Meadows: 1,555

The best U.S. match to the 3,205 vertical descent of the mountain where the Olympics competition is happening now is the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort – the area where the 1932 Winter Olympics took place.

– Jerry Rice

Winter returns in a big way to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Mammoth

After going way too long without major snowfall from Mother Nature, the storm system that rolled through much of California at the end of last week left mountains coated in white.

In the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley received 68 inches – more than 5 and a half feet – of snow while sister resort Alpine Meadows received 63 inches. The new snow has created a tremendous base at both resorts and will allow both mountains to open new terrain this week.

At Mammoth Mountain, the storm dropped more than 3 feet of fresh snow, bringing the base depth at the summit to 70 inches. The new snow will allow the resort to open 100 percent of the terrain this weekend for the first time this year.

In addition, Mammoth has some great deals:
  • The resort is selling 2-for-1 lift tickets. For more information, click here.
  • Mammoth is also offering free flights from LAX and San Diego when guests stay three or more nights at any of the Mammoth Lodging Collection properties.
  • To earn the free flights, reservations must be made by March 23 by calling 800-626-6684. Guests can stay through April 6.

Back in the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley had 15 lifts operating today and Alpine Meadows had seven. Lifts slated to run this week for the first time this season include Solitude at Squaw Valley, and Scott and Lake View at Alpine Meadows. Siberia Express also is set to reopen at Squaw Valley starting Tuesday.

“The new snow was just what we needed to really get winter going here at Squaw and Alpine,” said Mike Livak, executive vice president for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. “Thanks to the storm, we are now able to open new lifts so that our guests can truly experience the diverse terrain that these two mountains have to offer.”

Here’s what Squaw Valley is looking like with its fresh coat of snow. >>>

Mammoth opens more runs with 20 inches of new snow

Mammoth Mountain received 16 to 20 inches of new snow, and the resort has expanded open terrain with 20 lifts running and access to 129 trails, including the Face of Five and the Avy Chutes on Lincoln Mountain. The base depth on the mountain is now 25 to 35 inches and the conditions are great with packed powder.

The forecast shows more snow in the forecast this week so if you haven’t already, make your last minute Presidents Day plans to visit Mammoth.

We have special deals on lodging, dining, activities and retail.

Mammoth offers 2 for 1 lift tickets and 18 inches of new snow

Mammoth Mountain looks a lot different than it did a week ago following a round of much needed storms that dropped 18 inches of snow – and there’s more on the way. The next round of snow storms is just starting to hit Mammoth Mountain and is expected to stick around through Monday.
To help visitors make the most of all this nice new snow Mammoth is offering 2-for-1 lift tickets! To redeem, you just have to “like” Mammoth Mountain on Facebook and fill out the form in the link above to receive a voucher redeemable at any ticket window.

Mammoth Mountain’s snow dance pays off with 8 inches of fresh snow

A snowy – and welcome – scene this morning at Mammoth Mountain's Canyon Lodge. (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area photo)

A snowy – and welcome – scene this morning at Mammoth Mountain’s Canyon Lodge. (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area photo)

By Jerry Rice

#MammothSnowDance appears to be working.

After a seemingly never-ending string of sunny days this winter, employees and guests at Mammoth Mountain started performing their best “make it snow” moves for a YouTube video that was posted a couple days ago. The gambit apparently worked because the resort has received more than 8 inches of new snowfall in the past 24 hours.

By any measure, this has been a rough winter for ski and snowboard resorts throughout California. Whether it’s Heavenly and Squaw Valley in the Lake Tahoe area, or Bear Mountain and Mountain High in the Southland, the lack of snowfall has presented an unwelcome challenge. Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge, for example, has a season total of 54 inches – considerably short of the 250 inches of snow received by this time last year.

So resorts with snow-making capabilities have been putting those tools to work whenever possible. At Mammoth, which has an extensive snow-making system, the base depth this morning was 15-25 inches and 16 lifts were scheduled to run today offering access to 52 trails.

But there’s nothing like the natural stuff.

“Keep the snow dances coming – Mother Nature is listening,” says Mammoth spokeswoman Lauren Burke. “The snow is still falling at about an inch an hour, and is not expected to stop anytime soon.”

Want some inspiration before choreographing your own #MammothSnowDance? Here’s the video. >>>

Team USA going to Sochi Olympics draws 6 from Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes will be well represented starting next week at the Winter Olympics. The Eastern Sierra community, with a population of 8,234, is sending six athletes to the Games in Sochi, Russia, and they’ll compete in a variety of disciplines from ski cross to snowboarding.

While some grew up in Mammoth Lakes and others moved there later in life to train, they all call Mammoth home.

The contingent would be even larger, but one of Mammoth’s most impressive athletes, 13-year-old women’s halfpipe phenom Chloe Kim, is too young to compete. She’ll have her chance in four years at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In the meantime, here’s a closer look at this year’s Olympic-bound athletes from Mammoth:

  • John Teller was the first American to win a ski cross World Cup event, topping the podium in 2011. Most recently, Teller took first in Val Thorens, France, making him the only American to podium in ski cross this World Cup season, and sending him to Sochi.
  • Kelly Clark clinched her spot on the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team for halfpipe early in the season. Clark has been to the Olympics three times before, bringing home a gold and a bronze in the halfpipe event. Most recently she took first in halfpipe at this year’s X Games in Aspen.
  • In what was deemed the most surprising result of any Olympic sport this season, Trevor Jacobwon won a World Cup snowboardcross event in Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra, which placed him on his first U.S. Olympic Team.
  • With a season that included upsetting Shaun White in the first of five Olympic selection events for halfpipe, snowboarder Greg Bretz earned his stripes and his place on the team. It will be Bretz’s second trip to the Olympics. He placed 12th in Vancouver in 2010.
  • Stacey Cook earned two, back-to-back downhill second-place finishes at the Audi FIS World Cup 2012/13, marking the first podiums of her World Cup career and the first step on her road to Sochi. Recently, she wrapped up her spot on the Olympic team with some of her best World Cup finishes of the season. This will be her third trip to the Olympics.
  • Kaya Turski is a Canadian freestyle skier who also is a member of the Mammoth Unbound Freeski Team. She heads to Sochi to compete in the Olympic debut of the slopestyle event. Most recently she won her fourth X Games gold medal for slopestyle in the 2014 event in Aspen.

Snow makers rescue big Sierra resorts as drought bakes smaller ones

Daniel Crandall monitors a fan gun snowmaking machine on the upper slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. The lack of rainfall this winter has left the tourism trade in the Lake Tahoe area in shambles as ski resorts struggle to survive without snow. (Daniel Crandall monitors a fan gun snowmaking machine on the upper slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. The lack of rainfall this winter has left the tourism trade in the Lake Tahoe area in shambles as ski resorts struggle to survive without snow. (Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News)

Daniel Crandall monitors a fan gun snowmaking machine on the upper slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 10. The lack of rainfall this winter has left the tourism trade in the Lake Tahoe area in shambles as ski resorts struggle to survive without snow. (Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News)

By Lisa M. Krieger
San Jose Mercury News

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — These are the unlikely saviors in the lofty peaks of the serene Sierra: high-tech snow machines, roaring like jets and spewing million-dollar crystals.

“If it wasn’t for snow making, we probably wouldn’t be open,” said Barrett Burghard, head snow maker at Heavenly Ski Resort, who is propping up the beleaguered mountain economy with his vast computer-driven complex of snow guns, pumps, compressors, pipes, hydrants, nozzles and miles of hoses.

Mother Nature, always fickle, has been especially cruel this drought year to the resorts and mountain communities that depend on snow for their economic survival. Instead of fluffy powder, there’s just granite, mud and manzanita.

So Burghard and other snow makers are fabricating winter where it isn’t.

As the eastern sky turns pink with dawn’s rising sun, his 165-gun system performs alchemy, mixing massive drafts of water, air and electricity to prepare 14 miles of bare ski runs for thousands of visitors. Every night, snowcat crews push piles of the precious product back up the slopes.

Innovations in technology — such as the $40,000 Super PoleCat, with a built-in automated weather station that alters man-made snow characteristics — make it possible to produce an acre of thigh-deep snow in an hour.

That’s enough to blanket a football field with snow 8 feet deep during a three-hour game.

In this dry and balmy winter, the small, historic and family-owned resorts without extensive snow making — such as Donner Ski Ranch or Dodge Ridge — haven’t opened, costing jobs and starving local businesses. The National Winter Trail Days event at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center was canceled.

But big corporations running Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain have made major investments in snow-making tools. Squaw Valley alone has spent $5.2 million since 2012. This month virtually all of the snow at the resorts came out of machines.

The goal is to survive not just dry years, but what could be a parched future.

“The larger resorts have the capital resources to do extensive snow making,” said Bob Roberts of the California Ski Industry Association.

At South Lake Tahoe’s Powder House, where equipment rentals have fallen from 120 to 60 a day due to lack of natural snow, technician Michael Breshears said “they have technology on their side, and Heavenly has by far the best snow making around.”

“It is the saving grace,” said skier Colleen Tanaka. Tracking California’s weather from her home in Hawaii, she says “we were a little bit bummed. It is a little disappointing. But thank goodness that Heavenly makes their own snow so we can still have a nice white winter.”

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