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

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 ( 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.


Bear Mountain, Snow Summit looking for a few good men and women

Big Bear Mountain Resorts is seeking applicants to join the team at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. These are jobs with perks, including free skiing and snowboarding, discounted rental equipment and food and beverages, and skiing and snowboarding lessons for employees and their immediate eligible families, including grandchildren.

Both resorts will be hosting a job fair on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Bear Mountain, 43101 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake.

“We offer unique job experiences that you won’t find anywhere else,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts.

A 40-year employee of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, Riddle understands what it takes to be successful in the industry. “We strive to give our guests the best experience possible, with an emphasis on great customer service. That wouldn’t be possible without an amazing team of employees who share our passion for the mountains, and for skiing and snowboarding.”

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are seeking friendly, out-going, and customer-service focused individuals, 18 years and older. Applicants may be 16 or 17 years of age if applying for a ski school assistant position. Applicants are asked to arrive early and bring resumes,photo identification, and proof of legal right-to-work. Positions are available in both indoor and outdoor areas including ski and snowboard instructors, snowmakers, groomers, parking, lift operators, food servers, bartenders, dishwashers, cooks, guest services, and many more.

For more information, call Employee Services at 909-866-5766, Ext. 141; email or visit

Tommy Gesme takes flight, lands with top prize at Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails

Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails attracted more than 40 professional snowboarders to Bear Mountain over the weekend. (Bear Mountain photo)

Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails attracted more than 40 professional snowboarders to Bear Mountain over the weekend. (Bear Mountain photo)

More than 40 of the best snowboarders from all over the world competed in the 10th annual Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails on Saturday at Bear Mountain, where bragging rights and $15,000 worth of cash prizes were at stake.

Tommy Gesme took home top honors and $10,000, while Dillon Ojo finished second and received $2,500; Jordan Small placed third and earned $1,000. Jaeger Bailey received the best trick award and $500 for his 50-50 hardway 270 transfer. Women’s first place went to Melissa Evans, who was awarded $1,000. This was Evans’ fourth win at Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails.

Gesme, Evans and Bailey were presented with customized iPad minis and go-pro cameras provided by Fusion of Ideas. The tablets displayed the winners’ digital checks at the award ceremony.

Thousands of spectators watched as top jibbers showcased their talents and their craziest tricks on more than 140 tons of man-made snow and urban-style steel features, which will be available for the public to ride in the Red Bull Plaza at Bear Mountain this winter.

“This year’s event was bigger and better than ever,” said Clayton Shoemaker, director of park development and youth marketing for Bear Mountain. “Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails is the ultimate winter kick-off party. If we can put on an event like this before winter even arrives, imagine what the park is like when the season hits. Bear Mountain really is the place to be this winter.”