#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. >>>

Sans fresh pow, Snow Summit shifts from boarding to biking.

After storing skis and snowboards in the attic, at Snow Summit it's time to break out the mountain bikes. (Snow Summit photo)

After storing skis and snowboards in the attic, at Snow Summit it’s time to break out the mountain bikes. (Snow Summit photo)

Snow Summit will open its renowned bike park for the 2014 summer season on Friday, making it the first lift-serviced bike park to open this year in North America.

“We can’t wait to kick off another great summer season at Snow Summit Bike Park,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “We’re excited to be the first bike park to open for the season, and we’ll be one of the last to close. It’s going to be a long, fun season here at Snow Summit.”

The resort’s inaugural Summer Kickoff Party will be held on Saturday. The bash will transform the base area at Snow Summit into a Vendor Booth City, featuring dozens of brands like Troy Lee Designs, Five Ten, Smith Optic, Ryders Eyewear, Marin Bikes, Freestyle USA, and Trek. DJ Slip Matt will be spinning from the Red Bull MXT, and guests can enjoy raffles, prizes and product giveaways all day. Drink specials will be available for the 21 and older crowd.

The Snow Summit Trail Crew and Gravity Logic are preparing new features and trail designs, including a re-routing of the Westridge Trail. A new, top-to-bottom beginner trail is set to open by July 4.

Mountain bikers can enjoy dozens of downhill and cross-country trails, as well as new features that will change throughout the season.

Summertime season passes for the bike park are available for $279.

Other summertime activities including hiking, sightseeing, and the Scenic Sky Chair. Guests can take in breathtaking views at 8,200 feet from the Scenic Sky Chair and spend the day enjoying the outdoors, wildlife, and fresh mountain air while hiking Snow Summit’s many trails. Or, guests can take a break from the action and relax with games, delicious barbecue, and panoramic mountain views from the View Haus restaurant located atop Snow Summit.

The Sport Shop also will be open with a great selection of summer gear and accessories.

Information: www.bigbearmountainresorts.com/summer

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.
07millcity
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.

War of Rails returns to Bear Mountain this weekend

The fifth annual War of Rails, presented by Under Armour, is returning to Bear Mountain on Feb. 28 to March 1. The country’s top freestyle skiers will hit The Scene at Bear Mountain to compete for bragging rights and a $30,000 cash purse.

“War of Rails is the biggest ski competition on the West Coast,” said Craig Coker, the event’s founder.

Coker has partnered with Bear Mountain and title sponsor Under Armour, as well as Red Bull, Bern Helmets, Wahoo’s, Power 106, Windells, SnoCru, Outdoor Tech, and Ion to make War of Rails V possible. Anon will sponsor the Best Trick with a prize of $2,000.

The top 15 competitors from Friday’s qualifying competition will throw down on Saturday among some of the best freestyle skiers in the world for a chance to earn the title of War of Rails champion, as well as the $30,000 cash prize. More than two-dozen top freestyle skiers are already confirmed to compete.

On Saturday, guests can enjoy the perfect spring skiing conditions at Bear Mountain, then make their way to The Scene to catch the non-stop action. Spectators can head to the 13,000-square-foot Beach Bar to soak up the sun and enjoy drinks, live music, games and giveaways, then see one of the biggest and best ski events of the year.

Red Bull will be streaming the competition live from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The live stream will be available at newschoolers.com and freeskier.com For more information, including the invited athletes list, course layout and live updates, visit warofrails.com or Bear Mountain’s website.

“We’re so excited for the return of the War of Rails event this year,” said Rio Tanbara, Bear Mountain’s director of marketing. “The course is the biggest and best one yet, and all the top riders will all be here to throw down their best tricks. We hope that everyone will head up to enjoy this one-of-a-kind event.”

Spring seasons passes on sale at Mountain High for $249

Mountain High released its Spring Season Pass rates today, just in time for the biggest snow storm of the season. The season’s biggest snow storm is fast approaching, with forecasters calling for anywhere from 6 to 16 inches by Saturday afternoon.

Beginning Saturday, skiers and snowboarders can purchase an adult Anytime Season Pass good for the remainder of this season and all of next season for $249. That’s a savings of 64 percent over a traditional single-year pass.

Plus guests can upgrade to a VIP Season Pass for $50 more and receive terrific benefits like free tickets to the North Pole Tubing Park, discounts on lessons and rentals, and three free days at 11 other Powder Alliance Resorts. That’s 33 free tickets. Information: http://www.mthigh.com/season-pass-sale

“This is the best value in Southern California — $249 for the rest of this year and all of next? You can’t beat it,” says John McColly, resort spokesman.

Mountain High’s Anytime Season Pass is good any day or night the resort is open with no restrictions. At just $249, it pays for itself in less than five visits. Children’s Passes for ages 7 to 12 are also available for $199 with the purchase of an adult season pass and $219 without (regularly $279). Children 6 and younger ski free when accompanied by a paying adult. Please note there is a $10 processing for all new passes purchased.

Ride the longest high-speed quad in the region at Mountain High’s East Resort. Ski under the stars at Mountain High’s West Resort. Or take the kids on an exciting winter adventure at the North Resort.

A season pass is good at all three areas and this year Mountain High has added a new Burton LTR Center, increased snowmaking, an updated smart phone app, new terrain features, and an enhanced family atmosphere. Pass holders also have the ability to track their days ridden, runs per day, vertical feel, and more.

Mountain High’s Spring Season Pass offer is available March 1 to April 20, 2014. Guests are encouraged to purchase the passes online at mthigh.com however passes can also be purchased at the resort and by calling 888-754 7878.

 

Snowboarding workshop brings strength, healing to veterans

The Southern California-based nonprofit Strength in Support on Thursday will head to Bear Mountain for a snowboarding workshop designed to help veterans overcome challenges resulting from years of service and sacrifice.

Strength in Support (www.strengthinsupport.org) was founded in 2013, and provides mental health services, including counseling, mentoring and workshops to active military, veterans and their families.

“We’re so happy that Strength in Support is hosting their workshop at Bear Mountain,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We want to say ‘thank you’ to our military service members, and welcoming groups like Strength in Support is one way we can do that.”

The snowboarding workshop is not only for veterans, but is also led by veterans. This “vet-to-vet” experience will allow participants to interact in a fun and relaxed setting, while receiving encouragement from one another to break down isolation issues and foster healthy and supportive relationships.

“Our recreational snowboarding workshop is being offered for the first time thanks to SIS’ board, donors and volunteers, as well as Big Bear Mountain Resorts,” said Jill Boultinghouse, Strength in Support board vice president. “Our vets are looking forward to a fun and healing day on the slopes. We need more organizations like BBMR that are supportive of our veterans, and can help make these types of events a reality.”

Strength in Support is one of dozens of military groups that BBMR has welcomed this season. In addition, BBMR hosts a number of Uniform Days throughout the year. On these special days, all active duty military, firefighters, EMS and police officers can take their identification to any Snow Summit or Bear Mountain ticket window to receive $38 lift tickets.

“It’s just one more way we can salute those who serve,” Riddle said.

The remaining Uniform Days for the 2013-14 season are March 5-6 and April 2-3.

Spring conditions combine with specials at Bear Mountain, Snow Summit

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

It may have been a warm winter, but Big Bear Mountain Resorts does have plenty of snow and more than 85 percent of both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are open.

“We have up to three feet of snow at both resorts and we continue to make snow at every opportunity,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We’re excited to have such great spring skiing conditions right now. We’re featuring some of the best deals of the season to get skiers and boarders up the mountain to experience it for themselves.”

Skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of some serious deals before hitting the slopes for some early spring skiing, including:

Plenty of snow Sundays
Skiers and boarders can enjoy a Sunday fun day at BBMR with mid-week priced lift tickets every Sunday. That’s a full day adult lift ticket for $60, young adults (13-21) and seniors (62+) for $50 and children for $25. Restrictions may apply.

Calling all season pass holders
Season pass holders from any other resort – from Mammoth to Squaw Valley to Mountain High – can head to Big Bear and receive half off their BBMR lift ticket. Restrictions may apply.

Bring a friend for half price
BBMR season pass holders can now bring a buddy for half price. Pass holders can bring their season pass and a lucky friend to the Guest Services office at either Snow Summit or Bear Mountain to score 50 percent off a buddy lift ticket for that day.

Half-off blacked out passes
On any day that a BBMR season pass is blacked out and not valid for use, pass holders can now take it to the Guest Services office at Snow Summit or Bear Mountain and receive 50 percent off a lift ticket for the day.

On all of the above offers, see the resort’s discounts and specials page for additional info.

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

Two for one lift tickets on Valentine’s Day in Wrightwood

Spend a picture perfect day on the slopes then top it off with a romantic, mountaintop dinner. Mountain High is offering couples two adult 8-Hour tickets for the price of one this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Guests save $59. Tickets must be pre-purchased at https://shop.mthigh.com/p-115-valentine-special-2-for-1.aspx and are valid Feb. 14 only. No refunds.

Following your day, enjoy a four-course meal at the Bullwheel Grill for $50 per couple. Dinners include champagne, appetizers, desert and choice of four entrees.

A complimentary scenic sky chair ride is also available so couples can enjoy the lights overlooking the city. Limited reservations are being taken from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. so call (760) 316-7818 to book your Valentines Day package early.

Mountain High reports best ski conditions in months

Cool, crisp air makes it feel like winter again in the mountains. And temperatures in the teens have allowed resorts like Mountain High to make snow, adding to its base and open new terrain.

For advanced skiers and snowboarders, Calamity has reopened offering a challenging thrill. And Conquest lift and trail opens this weekend providing more intermediate terrain.

Mountain High now has a 12- to 16-inch base with mid-winter surface conditions that range from packed powder to hard packed snow. Lesson and rental packages are available for ages 4 and older; night skiing takes place Thursday through Sunday from 5-10 p.m.

“The conditions are the best they’ve been in months and there is more snow in the forecast,” said John McColly, resort spokesman.

Several inches of new snow are expected Friday and Mountain High will continue to make snow whenever possible to ensure consistent conditions on all open trails. The Wrightwood resort has been making snow for the past five nights and will continue to do so as long as conditions permit.

Here’s what it looks like on the slopes at Mountain High. >>>