SoCal ski resorts are loving these frigid December temps

Theresa McCrackn waxes skis on Tuesday at Snow Valley Resort in Running Springs. Tuesday was the resort's opening day for the winter. (Photo by LaFonzo Carter/San Bernardino Sun)

Theresa McCrackn waxes skis on Tuesday at Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs. Tuesday was the resort’s opening day for the winter. (Photo by LaFonzo Carter/San Bernardino Sun)


By Jim Steinberg and Michel Nolan

San Bernardino County Sun

RUNNING SPRINGS >> Morning sun glinted on the snowy ski runs as the thermometer flirted with the high 20s on opening day of Snow Valley’s winter season. And the newly covered slopes of local mountains translated to green – as in money – for those resorts.

Advanced skiers John Reilly and his fiancee, Lesandre Barley, both of Running Springs, celebrated their first day on the slopes Tuesday.

“They did get 6 inches of snow and groomed it, so it’s a superb day up here,” said Reilly, 45.

Barley, 31, reported that two runs were open, including The Edge, which is the terrain park.

Temperatures marked the coldest opening the resort had seen in a long time, said Nick Chatterton, 34, Snow Valley’s snow surfaces manager.

Chris Toth, marketing director, agreed.

“For early season conditions, it’s pretty cold. Nick and his snow surfaces crew have done a great job,” Toth said. “Two women are part of the crew, and that’s unique.”

A slightly cooler than normal December has propelled snowmaking ahead of last year, which was slightly warmer than normal for the 12th month of the year, said Steve Travis, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.

“It’s been a decent season so far,” said David Stone Junior, a San Bernardino Mountain entrepreneur, who owns Fireside Lodge and Bear Creek Resort, both in Big Bear Lake.

“The key to it is what nature is going to bring,” Stone said. “So we are all in a beautiful holding pattern to see what happens.”

Travis said that there will be a gradual warm-up at the end of the week and temperatures should rise to slightly above normal for Sunday and Monday.

During the peak of the warm-up, some of that man-made snow might be melting, he said.

The next chance for natural snowfall in the Southern California mountains will be at the end of next week – but it’s not a sure bet at this point.

“We have a rudimentary sense of what is happening,” and that it might bring cold Canadian air back into the Southland, he said.

Snow-making at Mountain High is going so well that night skiing is expected to begin Friday, the resort reported Tuesday on its website.

Robbie Ellingson, general manager of Mt. Baldy Ski Resort, said that he is hopeful that the beginners’ slope will open this weekend, although the resort has been open for “snow play” since Thanksgiving.

Like other ski slope operators, Ellingson said he is hoping for natural snow.

“Typically, when the mountains are white, we do better,” he said.

Mountain High gets it started for skiers, snowboarders

Skiers and boarders hopped onto the first chairs of the season this morning at Mountain High in Wrightwood. (Mountain High photo)

Skiers and boarders hopped onto the first chairs of the season this morning at Mountain High in Wrightwood. (Mountain High photo)

The 2013/14 ski season got under way in Southern California as Mountain High opened to a full crowd of skiers and snowboarders this morning. For the past 17 years, Mountain High has been the first resort in the region to open top to bottom.

Thanks to a foot of fresh snow and recent snowmaking improvements, Mountain High is one of only six resorts open in the state. Others, including Squaw Valley, will be opening in the days ahead in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

At Mountain High, snowmaking will continue as conditions permit with the goal of making even more terrain available.

“With so much natural snow and snowmaking, this is one of our biggest openings in years,” said Karl Kapuscinski, the resort’s president and CEO.

Information: www.mthigh.com

Mountain High gives thanks for new snow, plans to open Sunday

Mountain High will be opening for the winter starting Sunday, in time for Thanksgiving weekend. (Mountain High photo)

Mountain High will be opening for the winter starting Sunday, in time for Thanksgiving weekend. (Mountain High photo)

Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood received 12-plus inches of new snow from this week’s storm and announced it will open Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for the start of the 2013-14 winter season.

“With so much natural snow and snowmaking this will be one of our best openings in years,” said Karl Kapuscinski, resort president and CEO.

Operating hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and tickets will be $45 for adults (regularly $69) and $25 for children ages 7 to 12.  Kids 6 and younger ski free with a paying adult.  Prices are subject to change without notice.

Night skiing is expected to take place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30, from 5 to 10 p.m. The North Pole Tubing Park is tentatively scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 29, as well for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Up to four lifts will be available accessing terrain for every member of the family including top to bottom terrain features for freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

Information: www.mthigh.com

New snow has Mountain High hoping to open Sunday

Four to 6 inches of new snow has fallen at Mountain High and snowmaking operations are underway with the hope of opening as early as Sunday. No official opening day statement has been made though as it depends on what happens over the next 72 hours, according to a press release from the Wrightwood resort.

“For many people, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of ski season and we are doing everything we can to get open for the upcoming holiday,” said spokesman John McColly.

When the resort does open, operating hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets will be $45 for adults (regularly $69) and $25 for children ages 7 to 12. Kids 6 and younger ski free with a paying adult. Ticket sales will be limited. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Up to four lifts will be available accessing four trails that consist of predominately beginner to intermediate terrain. This means there is something for every member of the family including top to bottom terrain features for freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

For first-timers, Mountain High offers a full line of rental and retail products along with repair services and food and beverage. The Winter Sports School will also be open with its early-season $99 special consisting of a lift ticket and one hour private lesson for both children and adults.

Information: www.mthigh.com

Mountain High gets in on the Black Friday frenzy

It’s not just retailers announcing Black Friday specials — ski resorts are too. Mountain High, for example, will be taking up to 40 percent off the price of lift tickets sold Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.

Adult 8-hour tickets, which normally cost $69, will be $49 during the sale. They’re valid any day or night this season including holidays. The price of midweek, non-holiday tickets also will be reduced by $20 and will go for $39.

Holiday dates include Dec. 21-31, 2013; Jan. 1-5, 18-20 and Feb. 15-17, 2014.

Night tickets, which may be used from 5 to 10 p.m. any night the resort is open, will be $20 during the Black Friday sale. They’re regularly $35.

To order, visit https://shop.mthigh.com 

As per usual, there are restrictions: Black Friday tickets must be purchased online and are only redeemable at the ticket windows. All Black Friday tickets must be used during the 2013/14 season. There are no upgrades at the resort. There are no refunds, credits, or extensions on unused tickets. Limit six tickets per guest. All rates are subject to change without notice.

That said, resort spokesman John McColly, added: “Mountain High lift tickets make the perfect gift because they are always the right size and they never go out of style.”

Mountain High spends off-season making $1 million in improvements

Mother Nature brought some early snow to Mountain High in late October. (Mountain High photo)

Mother Nature brought some early snow to Mountain High in late October. (Mountain High photo)

Mountain High this winter will be unveiling more than $1 million in improvements, which include a new Rossignol Experience Center, an expanded Children’s Sports Center, and new snow cats and terrain features.

A big part of that expenditure is more than $300,000 in snowmaking improvements. The resort should be able to make snow faster than ever with the addition of six new Super PoleCat fan guns from SMI and one swing-arm fan gun from Technoalpine. The SMI Super PoleCat snowmakers are big throw, simple nozzle fan guns that are fully automatic and perfect for all temperature conditions. Plus, the extended reach of the Technoalpine swing-arm snowmaker means the Mountain High can place the snow exactly where it’s wanted, even in windy conditions.

Gone are the days of employees hiking up the mountain to adjust snow guns with a wrench and prayer. These guns are fully automatic so they adjust themselves based on the conditions. They can be dialed down to make heavier base snow or dialed up to create champagne powder. Some guns can even be activated by remote control.

Mountain High operates one of the largest snowmaking systems in the country and is continually striving to increase its coverage and efficiency while reducing overall fuel consumption. This is no small task, so for the better part of 10 years, Mountain High has been adding electric fan guns, installing new compressors, and retrofitting its exiting hydrants to perform at peak capacity. The current system is now 30 percent more efficient than it was a decade ago, allowing Mountain High to make more snow than ever using fewer resources.

It is being run by a new captain, Eric Loveng, formerly the assistant snowmaking manager, who has 20 years of snowmaking experience spread between Mountain High and Snow Valley.

Information: www.mthigh.com

Mountain High enhances its Family Learning Center

Youngsters will have more and better opportunities to learn how to ski and snowboard at Mountain High this winter – something their parents will appreciate. (Mountain High photo)

Youngsters will have even more and better opportunities to learn how to ski and snowboard at Mountain High this winter. (Mountain High photo)

Mountain High has increased the size of its Family Learning Center to accommodate even more students ages 4 to 12.

Located adjacent the Bullwheel Grill, the two-story facility is complete with rentals, restrooms, warming stations and more. Parents can pick up tickets and rentals there or book online (www.mthigh.com) and have lesson packets waiting for them when they arrive. This also guarantees lesson reservation in case of a sellout.

For first-time skiers and snowboarders, the experience begins in the West base area at the new Winter Sports School reception kiosk. That’s where guests can purchase tickets, pick up rental paperwork, and check in for lessons. Then they take their first ride up a 400-foot moving carpet to the Children’s Sports Center and adult meeting area where they meet their instructors. After the lesson or during mid-day breaks, families can warm up in the remodeled Bullwheel Grill and enjoy updated menu items ranging from mouth- watering burgers to heart-healthy options.

On the snow, Mountain High has partnered with Burton to offer a new Burton Riglet LTR (Learn To Ride) Center and implemented terrain-based teaching. When combined, these two elements are proven to help students progress faster and have more fun on the snow.

Burton Riglet LTR Center
Since 1998, Burton has featured beginner-specific equipment and learning programs. Today, they partner with more than 190 resorts and offer a full range of Learn To Ride programs and parks.

Resorts partnered with Burton not only have the training and experience to work with kids of all ages, but also the boards, boots and bindings to provide the best start. Soft-flex boards with catch-free edges make the equipment easy to control, and Velcro boots and bindings are something even a small mitt-covered hand can manage. Throw a Riglet towing accessory on the smallest boards and no child is left behind.

Interactive stations allow kids to maneuver over, under, around and through sculpted terrain and features. Balance, weight transfer, edging and freestyle are learned through fun and play. Lessons begin at age 4 and include individual attention and feedback with small class sizes in a safe and friendly environment.

By integrating play into snowboarding and using an interactive environment, kids have more fun and get better results.                                                             

Terrain-based teaching
Terrain-based teaching zones are the newest thing when it comes to making learning easy and fun. Features such as banks, berms, camel humps and mini-halfpipes let guests feel the natural movements of their equipment while reducing fears, reducing falls and increasing the overall excitement. Students learn to go with their momentum rather than fight against it because the terrain does the work.

The result transforms a “traditional” lesson taught on the bunny hill into a beginner experience that keeps students engaged and coming back.

Information: www.mthigh.com/lessons

Mountain High premieres new snowboarding movie #WOODWORTH

Mountain High’s newest movie, “#WOODWORTH,” premieres Oct. 5 at the West Resort. This feature-length snowboarding film looks at the history of the Big Pines region, ending in the development of Woodworth Gulch, Mountain High’s new “all natural” terrain park named after Dick Woodworth, one of the resort’s mid-century developers.

The free event includes DJs, vendors, food and drinks. In addition, 20 tons of snow is being trucked in to create a jib session for season pass holders. A Burton Riglet center will be available for all kids ages 10 and younger.

For $20, moviegoers can purchase the Hardwood Package, which includes:
- Early / late season lift ticket ($59 value)
- “#WOODWORTH” DVD
- Commemorative etched glass mug
- Raffle ticket (Go Pros, outerwear, lift tickets, goggles, glasses, Mountain High apparel, and more)
- Octoberfest beer tasting (or soda if younger than 21)
- Food (brautwurst, etc)

Guests who purchase a season pass at the event receive a free buddy ticket worth $69. Mountain High’s season passes are on sale for up to 53 percent off the regular price and consist of anytime season passes for $299, and VIP season passes (which include three free days of riding at 11 other Powder Alliance resorts) for $349. Click here for more information.

Schedule:
3:00 p.m.                 Snow making begins
4:00 p.m.                 Event start
7:30 p.m.                 “#WOODWORTH” premiere

Click to watch the teaser: https://vimeo.com/73968972

Mountain High’s season passes go on sale Aug. 31

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Mountain High’s Anytime Season Pass Sale begins Aug. 31 with prices up to 53% off.  For just $349 (Reg $749) guests can enjoy an entire season of skiing or snowboarding at Southern California’s closest winter resort plus receive three free days at 11 other Powder Alliance areas.  That’s 33 free tickets!

Resorts include Crested Butte, Snowbasin Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Stevens Pass, Timberline, Schweitzer, China Peak, Arizona Snowbowl, Mt Hood Skibowl, Angel Fire Resort, and Bridger Bowl.

If you order by Sept. 10, you’ll also receive a free Buddy Ticket to Mountain High worth $69.

“This is an incredible deal and something no other Southern California resort can offer.  With a VIP Season Pass you get a full season of riding at Mountain High plus free tickets to mountains across Utah, Colorado, Montana, Washington, and more.  Now that’s value!” said John McColly, CMO.

VIP Season Passes are good any day or night Mountain High is open with no restrictions.  Other benefits include free tickets to the North Pole Tubing Park, early-ups on select days, monthly discounts for family and friends, $10 Off Adult ski or snowboard lessons, 10% Off non-sale retail items, and the ability to track your days ridden and share them with friends.

As a Powder Alliance member, you are free to ski about the Western United States and find the best snow conditions & nearly limitless vertical feet.  There are no membership fees, no collective pass prices, no additional charges of any kind.

Simply show your 2013/14 VIP Season Pass and receive three free tickets any Sunday through Friday, non-holiday, at participating areas.  Please visit http://www.powderalliance.com/ for a complete listing of dates and restrictions plus additional resort benefits.

Mountain High offers a traditional Anytime Season Pass for just $299. Guests can still ski or snowboard any day or night the resort is open and record their statistics but there are no additional discounts or benefits.

Children’s passes for ages 7 to 12 are also available beginning at $199 with the purchase of an adult season pass and $219 without.  Kids six and under ski FREE when accompanied by a paying adult.

Buy Mountain High, get bonus days to ski and ride at 11 other resorts

postcard_finalOne pass, 12 resorts, $349. That sums up what Mountain High will be offering starting Aug. 31.

The resort’s VIP Season Pass includes an entire season of skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High plus free days at 11 other Powder Alliance resorts. They are Arizona Snowbowl; China Peak and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California; Crested Butte in Colorado; Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho; Bridger Bowl in Montana; Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico; Timberline and Mt. Hood Skibowl in Oregon; Snowbasin Resort in Utah; and Stevens Pass in Washington.

If the pass is purchased by Sept. 10, Mountain High will include a free buddy ticket worth $69.

“This is an incredible deal and something no other Southern California resort can offer,” says John McColly, Mountain High spokesman.

VIP Season Passes are good any day or night Mountain High is open with no restrictions. Other benefits include free tickets to the North Pole Tubing Park, early-ups on select days, monthly discounts for family and friends, $10 off adult ski or snowboard lessons, 10 percent off the price of non-sale retail items, and the ability to track your days ridden and share them with friends.

The free tickets to partner resorts may be used any Sunday through Friday during non-holiday periods.

Mountain High also will be selling its traditional anytime season pass for $299 starting Aug. 31. That pass is valid only at the Wrightwood resort, and pays for itself in less than five visits.

Information: www.powderalliance.com and www.mthigh.com