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.

#ski #snowboard … opening day updates from the slopes

A bunch of California resorts already are open for skiing and snowboarding. Here’s the latest we have from resorts that have yet to start their seasons. >>>

Bear Valley: Opening Saturday and Sunday for skiing and snowboarding, closing Monday through Dec. 19, then opening for the season on Dec. 20. During the first weekend, this Saturday and Sunday, tickets will be $39 for adults and $19 for ages 6-12. Info:

Dodge Ridge: Opening day is “just inches away” says the resort’s website. Dodge Ridge received 18-20 inches of snow in the 72 hours leading up to Monday. Info: 

Homewood: Opening Wednesday with limited operations. The Happy Platter surface lift, Happy Park terrain park and Magic Carpet beginner terrain will be available. On opening day, everyone skis and rides for free. Info:

Mt. Shasta Ski Park: “Opening soon!” says the website’s home page. We’re not sure what “soon” means, but the resort is plugging a New Year’s Eve party. Info:

Snow Valley: Opening today, with 6 inches of natural snow and snow-making on the slopes top to bottom. Info: 

Soda Springs: Opening Friday. No other details about conditions were available on the website. Info:

Bear Mountain, Snow Summit have Wednesday circled on the calendar

Bear Mountain has announced it will open for the 2013-14 winter season on Wednesday and Snow Summit likely will do the same.

At Bear, Chair 9 was expected to be running top to bottom accessing the following trails: Upper Park Run, Expressway, The Gulch and Lower Park Run. The runs off Chair 9 are intermediate to advanced, and there will be no beginner trails available on opening day, according to the resort.

Early season pricing – which includes $40 for an all-day adult ticket and $16 per child – will be in effect.

At Snow Summit, there’s a “90 percent” chance the resort will be open for skiing and snowboarding starting on Wednesday, according to a post yesterday afternoon on its website.

If Summit does open, Chair 1 will service the top of the mountain and provide access to intermediate level runs while Chair 8 will service the beginner area.

“Plan on arriving early as ticket sales may be limited due to limited terrain,” said the resort’s website.

Information: and

LUNCHTIME UPDATE: Snow Summit will not be opening on Wednesday after all. “Unfortunately, last night’s low temperature was not as low as we hoped. Warmer temps plus high humidity pushed back our opening day,” said a post this morning on the resort’s website. … Bear Mountain remains on track to open Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

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.


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.


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.


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 

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.


Young riders can learn the ropes of the slopes at Bear Mountain

(Bear Mountain photo)

Young snowboard enthusiasts will be able to learn the basics of the sport this winter at Bear Mountain’s Riglet Park. (Bear Mountain photo)

Adults aren’t the only ones who will be hitting the slopes this winter at Bear Mountain, where Riglet Park will offer lessons for the little ones. Children as young as age 3 will be able to learn snowboarding basics in a fun and safe environment.

Young jibbers-in-training learn to ride miniature terrain park features by using Burton’s innovative Learn-to-Ride Technology. Riglet Park emphasizes learning in a playground-like setting, while introducing new possibilities for younger riders.

Children learn balance while riding custom-made snowboards with soft flex boots and bindings over mellow rollers, small berms and ground level features. With the Riglet Reel tow, a certified instructor will pull the child over the variety of mini-features, allowing young riders to experience the excitement of learning to ride on their own. Full-day lesson packages include equipment, shelter and lunch.

Bear Mountain will be promoting Riglet Park at a number of events and trade shows, including:
• Surfside Snow Carnival in Orange County, Nov. 2
• Burton Riglet Tour at Active Temecula, Nov. 16
• Ski Dazzle Ski Show & Snowboard Expo in Los Angeles, Dec. 5-8

Miniature versions of Riglet Park will be re-created at various events throughout the season. Once children try it out at Ski Dazzle and other locations, they will receive $25 off full-day and $20 off half-day lessons when they visit the official Riglet Park at Bear Mountain this season.

“We’re excited for the opportunity we have to introduce these young riders to snowboarding, and instill a passion for it at such a young age,” said Rio Tanbara, Bear Mountain’s director of marketing.



Let’s get it started! California resorts reveal opening dates for season

A new ski/snowboard season is about to start in California. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

A new ski/snowboard season is about to start in California. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

Mammoth Mountain announced its 2013-14 opening date – Nov. 7 – several weeks ago, and other California ski and snowboard resorts are starting to follow suit. Here’s the latest rundown:

Northern California
Alpine Meadows: Dec. 13
Boreal: TBA
Heavenly: Nov. 22
Homewood: TBA
Kirkwood: TBA
Mt. Rose: TBA
Mt. Shasta Ski Park: TBA (job fair, Nov. 9)
Northstar: Nov. 22
Royal Gorge: TBA
Sierra-at-Tahoe: TBA (job fair, Nov. 2)
Squaw Valley: Nov. 27
Sugar Bowl: TBA

Central California
Badger Pass: Dec. 13
Bear Valley: TBA
China Peak: TBA (pray for snow party, Oct. 31; job fair, Nov. 9)
Dodge Ridge: TBA
June Mountain: Dec. 13
Mammoth Mountain: Nov. 7
Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center: TBA

Southern California
Bear Mountain: TBA
Mountain High: TBA
Snow Summit: TBA
Snow Valley: TBA