Southern California ski resorts closing early

By Kristina Hernandez and Neil Nisperos, Staff Writers

They’re packing it in. But unfortunately for local ski resorts, what they’re packing in isn’t snow. It’s the ski season.

Warm weather and extreme drought have combined to force ski resorts across California to close early, and Southern California ski hubs are no exception, even as some try to squeeze some extra days out of the season for visitors from throughout L.A. and the Inland Empire.

Because of the lack of rainfall and higher temperatures, Mountain High in Wrightwood closed up shop earlier this month. Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs also closed earlier this year. Both draw enthusiasts from throughout Southern California, who mountain businesses depend on to hit their bottom lines during the season.

•Video: Skiers enjoy Big Bear’s last bit of snow

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, not far up Highway 18 from Big Bear Lake — both recently acquired by Mammoth Resorts — will remain open until Sunday, which will be the final day of the season.

Mountain High closed on March 3, part of a pattern of closures throughout the season, said John McColly, chief marketing officer.

He held out some hope that the resort would open if wintery weather returned before April 4. But with temperatures expected to top 90 in lower elevations in Southern California through the week, hope for snow was melting fast.

This was, as he put it, “atypical.”

“It’s a month and a half early for us (to close),” McColly said. “It’s really tough to be in the ski industry these last couple of years. It’s the worst possible thing for us and we would much rather be open until April.”

Read more in SNOW.

Save on spring season at Big Bear ski resorts

Despite what the thermometer might be telling you, snow season in Southern California is far from over. Thanks to some late snow, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have top to bottom coverage, a base depth between 16 and 24″ and more terrain features than any other resort in California. And the best part – it’s getting downright cheap.
Big Bear/ Snow Summit are currently offering a spring pass, good through the remainder of the 2015 ski season for $99. That $99 is also good as a credit towards a 2015-16 season pass (including the Cali4nia pass). So either you’re getting a great deal on spring skiing, or you’re doing it for free and buying a pass for next season.
Bear Mountain and Summit also have some great events coming up, including the Neff Beach Bash this Saturday, March, 21. Primarily a snowboarding competition, it features DJs spinning all afternoon and a man-made pond for contestants to skim, hop, flip and slide across.

Mammoth completes buy of Big Bear ski resorts

Rusty Gregory signing agreement.

Rusty Gregory signing agreement.

Mammoth Resorts has completed the acquisition of Big Bear Mountain Resorts as first outlined in September, becoming the leading four-season mountain operator in California.

Mammoth Resorts now includes Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, Snow Summit, and ​June Mountain, which collectively host two million annual skier and snowboarder visits.

Uniting these four resorts under one umbrella paved the way for the Cali4nia Pass, providing skiers and riders with access to 200+ named runs on approximately 4,000 acres of terrain, serviced by 54 lifts.

Beyond the winter season, with the addition Mammoth Resorts will now operate two of the top mountain bike parks in North America ​along with numerous lodging properties, multiple golf courses and other guest attractions.

“This is more than a merger of ski resorts, we’re creating greater access to year-round mountain experiences with a distinctly southern California feel,” said Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory. “At Big Bear Mountain Resorts our goal is to provide the best first-time ski, snowboard and mountain bike experience in the country.”

Seasoned resort executive Dave Likins has been named Chief Operating Officer of Big Bear Mountain Resorts with long-term CEO Dick Kun stepping back from day-to-day operations.

“The sale of Big Bear Mountain Resorts to Mammoth Resorts is a win-win for shareholders, suppliers, local businesses, the Big Bear economy, and most importantly, Southern California’s skiers and snowboarders,” said Dick Kun. “I am both humbled and proud to have been able to help lead the way in making the sale happen as the culmination to my life’s work.”

About Mammoth Resorts Mammoth Resorts is the leading four-season mountain resort operator in California. The company owns and operates a variety of recreation, hospitality, real estate development, food and beverage and retail enterprises.

This includes Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain and June Mountain, which collectively host two million annual skier/snowboarder visits.

Mammoth Resorts is also the owner-operator of Tamarack Lodge and Resort, Mammoth Mountain Inn, Juniper Springs Resort, the Village Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, Snow Summit Bike Park, Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures, Sierra Star Golf Course, and Bear Mountain Golf Course.

For more information visit or

Mountain High offers spring season pass sale

Winter weather has returned to Southern California, just in time for Mountain High’s Spring Season Pass Sale.  Now through March 31st, skiers and snowboarders can purchase an adult Anytime Season Pass good for the remainder of this season and all of next for just $249 ($229 for Young Adults ages 13 to 21).

That’s a savings of 64% over a traditional single-year pass.  Plus guests can upgrade to a VIP Season Pass for just $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!

Click here to learn more “

Says John McColly, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “This is the best value in Southern California!  $249 for the rest of this year and all of next?  You can’t beat it.”

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 5 visits.  Children’s Passes for ages 12 & under are also available for just $199 (Regularly $279).

Children six and under 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 through March 31st or when the resort closes, whichever is later.  At $249 it is the best deal of any major resort in Southern California.

Guests are encouraged to purchase their passes online at however passes can also be purchased at the resort and by phone at (888) 754 7878.

Snow alert! With lots of fresh powder, Mountain High is set to reopen Tuesday

Lots of new snow fell in the past 24 hours at Mountain High, allowing the resort to reopen on Tuesday. (Mountain High photo)

Several inches of new snow fell in the past 24 hours at Mountain High, allowing the resort to reopen on Tuesday. (Mountain High photo)

Mountain High will be back in business for skiers and snowboarders starting Tuesday thanks to a healthy dose of new snow.

As many as 10 inches of fresh powder fell on Sunday and early this morning at the Wrightwood resort, which was closed for the better part of a week. The forecast was calling for another inch or two of snow today, giving way to sunny skies through at least Friday when another storm was expected to roll through.

The resort has discounted its lift tickets to $45 for adults and young riders, a $24 savings off the regular price.

Night operations on the slopes and daytime activities at the North Pole Tubing Park are being evaluated for reopening later this week, according to a resort spokesman.

“Forecasters are calling for a snowier than normal March,” said John McColly, Mountain High spokesman. “Winter isn’t over yet in Southern California.”


— Jerry Rice

Manufactured snow keeps SoCal resorts in the game with skiers, snowboarders

(File photo from Bear Mountain Resorts)

While natural snow has been lacking this winter at places like Bear Mountain, Southern California resorts still have something to offer snowboarders and skiers thanks to the ability to manufacture snow. (File photo from Bear Mountain Resorts)

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on Feb. 11.

By Art Bentley

As mid-February approached, the best ski conditions in California remained right here in the land of the endless summer.

To find better, Inland Empire skiers and snowboarders would have had to drive about 400 miles to Brian Head, Utah, which claimed a 38-inch base of what the Beehive State bills as the greatest snow on earth. It may well be, but unlike the resorts here in the Southland, Brian Head and other Utah ski areas depend exclusively on natural forces.

And if the local talent craved a stiffer challenge than the 1,400-foot vertical rise Brian Head offers, Park City and the Cottonwood canyons, home to Snowbird, Alta and Solitude, are some 250 miles farther north. Not that they’re wallowing in snow either. Measurements in Little Cottonwood Canyon showed bases of about 70 inches at the powder meccas of Snowbird and Alta, which are stops on a Salt Lake City municipal bus line. That’s not a lot, not enough to justify a journey of at least 650 miles.

It’s also not enough to permit a rational practitioner to put equipment in peril by venturing off the groomed runs and into the really outstanding steep terrain at both. One doesn’t go lightly to the trouble or expense of traveling to Snowbird or Alta to ski only groomers. One goes primarily to ski off piste in two feet of feather-light, untracked, legendary Utah powder on outrageous steeps.

Nor at first glance would the 8-to-24-inch base depths advertised at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain at Big Bear Lake, the Southern California pacesetters, seem to indicate a lot of cover either. But there’s been more than enough snow since late December to blanket nearly every open run sufficiently, including the steepest at each. One need not worry about hitting rocks or other obstacles.

The reason? Manufactured snow, which represents an overwhelming majority of the flakes on the ski runs in another extraordinarily dry California winter, tends to be appreciably denser than the natural variety and therefore packs into a more solid base. The result is very good pavement for skiing that holds up day after day, regardless of what nature throws at it.

The two other resorts operating in Southern California, Mountain High near Wrightwood and Snow Valley near Running Springs, are advertising bases of 6 to 10 inches. Like Summit and Bear, almost all of their snow is manufactured as well.

By comparison, Mammoth Mountain, which is in the process of acquiring Summit and Bear, reported a snow depth on Feb. 13 of 24 to 48 inches, far from enough for adequate coverage of many of the slopes, especially the steeper ones. Why leave Southern California for that?

The same question applied to the Lake Tahoe resorts, where rain fell recently on lower slopes. Alpine Meadows on the north shore reported 18 to 42 inches. On the south shore, Heavenly confessed to 35 inches.

And while we’re at it, winter has not been especially kind so far to Colorado or New Mexico.

But as long as the water supply holds out, there’ll be decent ski conditions in Southern California. Water is the primary ingredient in the manufacturing process that, when combined under pressure, yields snow. And when the source of water is Big Bear Lake, rather than wells on which many ski areas are forced to depend, the supply is unlimited.

“We can’t do it without water,” said Chris Riddle, marketing vice president for both resorts. “And the lake is a game changer for us. In weather like this, people tend to forget about us. But we’ve known for a long time that we’re going to have dry years in Southern California, and we’ve built a system that lets us have good years whether we have natural snow or not.”

Snow Summit embraces 2-for-1 lift tickets for Valentine’s Day

(Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

(Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Your dollars for skiing and snowboarding will go twice as far on Valentine’s Day with Snow Summit’s 2-for-1 lift ticket promotion. The tickets are for the night session, so you can bring your sweetie for a romantic time under the stars. Or, make it a group outing and have Mom, Dad, the kids and a few friends come along.

Tickets must be purchased 48 hours in advance — by Thursday afternoon, basically.

For details, call 909-866-5766 or visit

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Snow Summit

Skiing and snowboarding at Snow Summit offers this bonus: spectacular views of Big Bear Lake. (Snow Summit photo)

Skiing and snowboarding at Snow Summit comes with this bonus: spectacular views of Big Bear Lake. (Snow Summit photo)

This is the fourth in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Snow Summit: Like its sister resort, Bear Mountain, the season’s biggest new attraction is the Cali4nia Pass, which allows access to the slopes at Summit, Bear and also Mammoth and June mountains.

Best eats: The View Haus, at the top of the hill, dishes up delicious barbecue and, as its name implies, great views of the San Bernardino National Forest. Specialties include the Blazin’ Pulled Pork, with pork shoulder; and the tri-tip sandwich, with meat that’s grilled outdoors and served on bread that’s baked fresh daily.

Après hot spot: Summit’s Slopeside Pub, which serves a variety of brews and hot chocolate.

Hidden gem: Dickey’s Run will reward the more skilled skiers and riders with beautiful views of the Snow Summit pine tree forest and Big Bear Lake. “Exhibition Run (at Bear Mountain) and Dickey’s Run are the favorite spots for locals looking for some good, challenging slopes,” says Dustin Murphy, spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “The powdery white snow and the steeper inclines are what makes these runs unique.”

Spotted last season: Paula Abdul, Coolio, Emilio Estevez, Justin Timberlake and Dennis Quaid have been at Snow Summit or its sister resort, Bear Mountain, in recent years.

Social connections: @snow_summit on Instagram and Twitter;

Information: 909-866-5766;

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Mountain High

As its name might suggest, it's possible to see Catalina Island from Mountain High's quarter-mile Catalina Run. (Mountain High photo)

As the name might suggest, it’s possible to see Catalina Island far in the distance from Mountain High’s quarter-mile Catalina Run. (Mountain High photo)

This is the third in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Mountain High: Terrain features for both beginner and advanced riders, increased snowmaking and the debut of the fourth edition of the resort’s app for iPhone and Android. It features new map tracking to record your runs, a calorie counter and digital badges to earn.

Best eats: The family owned Grizzly Café (760-249-6733, is a casual dining spot known for its large, delicious burgers. For breakfast, order a cinnamon roll then burn off the calories on the slopes.

For the family: The North Pole Tubing Park is the largest tubing facility in Southern California. Tickets are $20 for two hours of tubing.

Hidden gem: Catalina, a quarter-mile run that’s off the beaten path at the top of the East Resort. “It’s one of the highest and most scenic runs in Southern California,” says John McColly, resort spokesman. “You can see the Pacific Ocean and Catalina to the west, the backside of Mount Baldy and Mount Baden Powell to the north and south, and the Mojave Desert stretching out to the east. It’s a unique experience, and you feel like you’re at the top of a mountain range, at Mammoth or Tahoe, looking over the Sierras.”

Spotted last season: Adam Sandler

Social connections: @mthighsnow on Instagram; @mthigh on Twitter;

Information: 888-754-7878;

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain is known as a hotspot for snowboarders. (Bear Mountain photo)

Bear Mountain is a hot spot for snowboarders. (Bear Mountain photo)

This is the second in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Bear Mountain: The Cali4nia Pass was introduced in late September and is good for unrestricted, season-long skiing and boarding at Bear and three other resorts — Snow Summit, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain.

Best eats: Silver Mountain Eatery offers three primary cuisines — Asian, Mexican and Italian — along with salads, smoothies and more.

Après hot spot: World Famous Beach Bar has live music acts performing regularly on a 13,000-square-foot sundeck.

Hidden gem: Exhibition Run, which is one of the steeper runs at the resort. “Most intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders enjoy this run because it’s the least-crowded run,” says Dustin Murphy, spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Riders can take their time enjoying the slopes and cruising down, while taking in the view of Big Bear Lake.”

Spotted last season: Eva Longoria and Dermot Mulroney out on the runs. In recent years, Paula Abdul, Coolio, Emilio Estevez, Justin Timberlake and Dennis Quaid have been at Bear or its sister resort, Snow Summit.

Social connections: @Bear_Mountain on Instagram and Twitter;

Information: 909-866-5766;

— Jerry Rice