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.”

Information: www.mthigh.com

— 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.”

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, http://grizzlycafe.com) 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; www.facebook.com/mthigh

Information: 888-754-7878; www.mthigh.com

— Jerry Rice

Mountain High opens for start of So Cal ski season

Mountain High Opening Day 2014

Ski season kicked off in Southern California yesterday with the opening of Mountain High.  This marks the 18th year in a row Mountain High has been the first to open in Southern California.

Roughly 1,000 guests donned their skis & snowboards and hit the slopes of Mountain High for their first winter fix of the season.  It’s a special treat to be open for Thanksgiving and the resort credits its hard working staff and dedicated employees.

“We’ve added several new snowmaking guns, our season pass sale is doing very well, and, with the hopes of a little El Nino snow, the stage is set for a great season,” said General Manager Ben Smith.

Operating hours will be 8:30am to 4:00pm through Thanksgiving.  Night skiing and Tubing Park operations will be evaluated after that.

Early Season Ticket rates will be just $45 for adults and young adults (Regularly $69) and $25 for children ages 7 to 12.  Kids six and under ski FREE with a paying adult.  Ticket sales will be limited so please arrive early for the best experience.  Prices are subject to change without notice.

The Coyote chairlift is currently spinning accessing an impressive rail garden on Cruiser with up to 10 features.  100% of the open terrain is groomed and thanks to Mountain High’s incredible snowmaking team we have a 10 to 12 inch base of machine groomed hard packed snow.  By next Wednesday the resort plans to have at least one top-to-bottom run open if not more.

For first-timers Mountain High offers a full line of rental and retail products however the Winter Sports School has not yet opened for the season.

Black Friday Special
No need to wake up early for the best price on lift tickets.  Stock up November 28th through December 1st, 2014, and save up to 40% on lift tickets to Mountain High, Southern California’s closest winter resort.  Prices start at just $20.00.  Click here to learn more http://www.mthigh.com/archive/email/blackfriday.html

Get Your 2014/15 Season Pass Before The Price Goes Up
For avid skiers and snowboarders a season pass is the best way to save money and pays for itself in as little as 5 visits.  Prices start at just $249 for young adult anytime season pass.  Or go VIP for just $49 and get free skiing at 12 other Powder Alliance Resorts plus tons of other great benefits.  No other resort in the region offers this.  Click here to learn morehttp://www.mthigh.com/season-pass-sale

Mountain High to open Tuesday with limited runs

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Mountain High will open for skiing and snowboarding tomorrow morning at 8:30am for the start of the 2014/15 season.  Get your Thanksgiving holiday started early and join us for this exciting day.

Operating hours will be 8:30am – 4:00pm.  Tickets are just $45 for Adults and Young Adults, $25 for kids ages 7 to 12.  Kids 6 and under receive a FREE ticket with the purchaes of an adult ticket.

Ticket sales will be limited to reflect the reduced terrain so please arrive early.  Night skiing and lessons have not begun yet but should be available shortly.

Our grooming staff will hit the mountain this evening at 4pm to begin preparing the slopes and our Park Crew is busy pulling out a dozen features to build a super sick rail garden for opening day.  Initially just Cruiser will be available accessing beginner to intermediate terrain but look for new trails and lifts opening shortly. 

This season we are proud to announce a wide range of improvements including new fan guns, new terrain features, and new terrain-based teaching programs. These snowmaking improvements will help Mountain High open even quicker this winter, allowing us to put down new snow faster than ever before.

Black Friday Ticket Special

No need to wake up early for the best price on lift tickets.  Stock up November 28th – December 1st and save up to 40%.  Ticket prices start at just $20 and make great stocking stuffers!  Click here to learn more.

14/15 Season Pass Sale Ends 11/30

Time is running out! Get your season pass today for as little as $249 and enjoy 5 months of terrific skiing and snowboarding at Southern California’s Closest Winter Resort. Go VIP for just $49 more and get free skiing privileges at 12 Powder Alliance Resorts. Hurry, sale ends November 30th. Click here to learn more.

California ski, snowboard resorts get a Halloween treat: snow!

The Village at Squaw Valley became a winter wonderland this morning as several inches of snow fell at the resort and throughout the Lake Tahoe area. (Squaw Valley photo)

The Village at Squaw Valley became a winter wonderland this morning as several inches of snow fell at the resort and elsewhere in the Lake Tahoe area. (Squaw Valley photo)

About the time kids were trick-or-treating on Friday night, mountain resorts throughout California were starting to get a special treat: snow. In some cases, it was the first white stuff of the season, raising hopes that the lengthy drought – fingers crossed – will come to an end this winter. There certainly was lots of excitement to go around:

Mountain High: The first snow of the season fell this morning at Mountain High Resort giving the area a crisp glow and solidifying the coming of winter. Traditionally, Mountain High opens in mid-November but it all depends on the season. Three times in the past 10 years, the Wrightwood resort has opened in October. Mountain High’s 10-year average is a Nov. 16 opening. For a gallery of “first snow of the season” photos, click here.

Heavenly: Winter has arrived at Tahoe, and Heavenly Mountain Resort received 3 inches of new snow overnight. 

Northstar: Three inches of fresh snow has accumulated and snow continues to fall. Temperatures have remained in the low 20s and the mountain’s snowmaking team has activated Northstar’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system. The National Weather Service has forecast an 80 percent chance of snow throughout the remainder of the day and into the evening, with expected additional accumulation of up to 3 inches. Snow showers are predicted for Sunday at a 20 percent chance.

Sierra-at-Tahoe: The resort received as much as 6 inches of snow overnight in the base area near the new Solstice Plaza. Early season snowfall is a reminder that winter and the ski and snowboard season are right around the corner.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows: The winter storm sweeping through the Sierra Nevada has brought 10 inches of fresh snow to Alpine Meadows’ upper mountain and 6 inches to Squaw Valley by late Saturday morning, with snow continuing to fall at both mountains. This is the first significant snowfall of the 2014-15 winter season, and comes less than a month before Squaw Valley’s scheduled opening date of Nov. 26. Alpine Meadows is expected to open on Dec. 12.

Mt. High bringing 20 tons of snow to Huntington Beach Saturday

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Join Mountain High Resort for the Grand Opening of Jack’s Snowboard Shop at 410 Main St., Huntington Beach.  We’re bringing 20 Tons of snow to the beach for a snowboard rail jam and demo  on Saturday from noon to  4pm.  The rail jam is invitation only.  If you would like to participate please contact Todd Proffit 

Giveaways and raffles all day including snowboards from Lib-Tech and Capita.  Walk the vendor village and score swag from Volcom, Burton, Von Zipper, Neff, Thrity Two, and more.

Pick up your 14/15 Season Pass or purchase it on site and get $200+ in additional benefits including a FREE Buddy Ticket ($69 value).

Save up to 70% on all your favorite brands.  Buy a 2015 snowboard and get a FREE lift ticket to Mountain High ($69 Value).  Bring your board or skis in for a tuneup and get ready for the 14/15 season.  Winter is coming!

Mountain High continues operation in national monument

Mountain High operates on the Angeles National Forest through a Special Use Permit issued and managed by the US Forest Service.  Despite the new designation as a national monument, the US Forest Service will remain the managing governmental agency.

Under the new designation there will be no changes to the current rules and regulations that govern ski areas or the management of Mountain High’s existing Special Use Permit.  The resort will be able to renew its lease as usual at the end of the term and the Special User Permit would be reissued if the resort was sold.

“The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument protects water rights, fire management, private property, and rights of way. It does not limit or prohibit any form of recreation. That means the recreational activities people already enjoy in the mountains – like winter sports – will remain available for all our communities to enjoy. This includes important and cherished winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding,” says Rep. Judy Chu.

Mountain High offering free season passes to 5th graders

The beauty of the winter mountains is something to be experienced by everyone and that’s why Mountain High and Toyota have teamed up to offer FREE season passes to regional 5th Graders in the 5th Grade Pass Program.   Any 5th Grader in California is eligible for a FREE season pass valued at $279 anytime he or she visits Mountain High during the 2014/15 season.

The 5th Grade Pass Program encourages kids to stay active in winter.  It teaches them new skills, builds overall confidence, and brings families together in an active environment.

Each year the 5th Grade Pass Program introduces thousands of local students and their parents to skiing and snowboarding and provides them with lifelong snow sports skills.  Parents of participants rank it very high and many base their children’s involvement solely on the program.

 “We are excited to partner with Toyota again this year to provide 5th graders in our state the opportunity to experience the joys and benefits of outdoor recreation,” says John McColly, CMO.

Snow sports participation is highly correlated to participation in other physical activities, and active kids tend to be healthier and more successful academically.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Roberts Wood Johnson Foundation, and the America, Physiology Society (among others), America’s children are not getting enough physical exercise and this is leading to a meteoric rise in obesity.

Mountain High’s 5th Grade Pass Program encourages kids to stay active during the cold months.  In fact, during the winter of 2013/2014 snow sports participants burned more than 332 Billion calories while skiing, riding, and snowshoeing, enough to work off 475 Million cheeseburgers.

Additionally, research demonstrates that kids who participate in the Pass Program tend to remain active throughout the year which in turn, is highly correlated to improved academic performance and better health over the course of their lifetime.

Families that play together stay together and the Pass Program has shown to be very effective in bringing adults and other family members into, or back into the snow sports market.  In fact, nearly half of parents questioned said that they participated in snow sports because their child was involved in the Pass program.

Says Michelle Quan from Thousand Oaks, “It is an absolutely wonderful program.  We got the pass for my son when he was in 5th grade and it was just what I needed to get back on the slopes after 11 years! My husband also starting skiing again and now we now have four in our family who are skiers thanks to Mountain High.”

To order a free 5th Grade Season Pass parents visithttp://www.mthigh.com/deal/5th-graders-ski-and-snowboard-free.  Participants must be between the ages of 9 and 11 as of December 31, 2014, and parents are required to show proof of enrollment (report card, school ID, or certified letter of intent.)  Please note there is a $10 processing fee per pass.  Refunds are not available for previously purchased tickets or pass products.

Mountain High VIP pass offers free skiing at 12 resorts

Winter is coming and for regional powder hounds there is no better deal than Mountain High’s VIP Season Pass with FREE skiing privileges to 12 Powder Alliance resorts.

Now through Nov. 30, purchase a 14/15 VIP Season Pass to Mountain High, Southern California’s closest winter resort, and receive three (3) FREE days at Crested Butte, CO, Snowbasin Resort, UT, Sierra-at-Tahoe, CA, Schweitzer, ID, Stevens Pass, WA, Bridger Bowl, MT, Timberline, OR, Mt Hood Ski Bowl, Or, China Peak, CA, Arizona Snowbowl, AZ, Angel Fire, NM, and Silver Star, Canada.

That’s 36 FREE tickets!  Click here for a complete overview of resorts at www.powderalliance.com.

Additional Alliance-related benefits include discounts on lodging, rentals, buddy tickets, and more.  Restrictions apply and all tickets must be used during the 2014/15 season.  Visit www.powderalliance.com for a complete listing of holiday dates and resort benefits.

VIP Passes start at $349 for adults and just $299 for Young Adults, ages 13 to 21.  Children’s passes are also available beginning at $249 for ages 7 to 12.  Kids six and under receive a FREE season pass with the purchase of an Adult or Young Adult Season Pass.

“$349 for 13 mountains is a terrific value and something no other Southern California resort can offer.  Get a full season of skiing at Mountain High plus FREE tickets to some of the best resorts in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and now Canada,” said John McColly, CMO,

VIP pass holders also receive early ups on select days, monthly discounts for family and friends, savings at Wrightwood retailers such as Big Pines Zip Lines and the Grizzly Café, and free tickets to the North Pole Tubing Park.

Click here for a complete listing of discounts and savings.  In total, Mountain High’s VIP Season Pass includes more than $2,700 in added value.

With forecasters calling for the return of El Nino, this season is expected to be the best in years. Passes may be purchased online at http://www.mthigh.com/season-pass-sale, at the resort, and by phone at 888 754 7878.  Operators are available Monday – Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm.  Please note there is a $10 processing fee per pass.