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

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

Hundreds hit the slopes on opening day in Big Bear

Snowboarders look to head up the chairlift at Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Friday, November 28, 2014. California is suffering  one of the worst droughts in its history. (Eric Reed/For the Sun)

Snowboarders look to head up the chairlift at Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Friday, November 28, 2014. California is suffering one of the worst droughts in its history. (Eric Reed/For the Sun)

By Joe Nelson, Staff Writer

Ricky Vega held his 3-year-old daughter, Brooke, steady as she stood atop a snowboard, feet buckled securely in bindings, at the Bear Mountain ski resort on Friday,

Vega positioned his daughter in place, in a safe area at the bottom of the slope, away from the throng of snowboarders zipping down the mountain. He whispered a few words of encouragement in her ear, then gave her a gentle push forward. He darted forward, several feet ahead of his daughter, then turned and held out his arms to receive her.

Clad in pink ski pants, a pink ski jacket and a knitted Curious George ski cap, Brooke was all smiles as she slid about five feet across the slope and into her doting father’s arms.

“My two nephews started doing this when they were 3, and now it’s her turn,” said Vega, 36, of Lakewood. “We’re trying to make it a family tradition.”

Vega was one of hundreds drawn to Bear Mountain on the cloudless and rather warm Black Friday for the resort’s opening day of the season. Neighboring Snow Summit opened for the season on Wednesday.

“It’s awesome. It’s beautiful weather,” said Vega, who along with his twin brother owns a cabin in Big Bear Lake, where he and his family spent the Thanksgiving holiday before taking to the slopes on Friday.

“I’m on vacation. It’s opening day,” Vega said, “and I wanted to get out here before all the snow melted.”

The two opening-day events, at Bear Mountain on Friday and Snow Summit on Wednesday, marked their first under new ownership by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which announced its purchase of the sibling ski resorts in September. The sale awaits the closing of escrow, said Rio Tanbara, director of marketing for Bear Mountain.

Read more of Joe Nelson’s story SKI

Snow Summit ski resort opens in Big Bear

First Chair Banner for Web (1 of 1)-2

Riders are already making their first turns on the mountain and everyone is talking about the 12 terrain features already available to ride.

DJ Slipmatt is busy keeping the base crowds entertained with music and contest updates.

Speaking of contests, the Message in a Bottle clue is on Twitter and Instagram. First person to find the bottle can bring it to Guest Services for a goody bag.

Be sure to tag all your photos from today with #summitopens. We’re keeping an eye on all those pictures. We’ll be updating the fan photo page with your pictures and the top photographer will get featured as the photo of the day and win a prize!

Just in case you missed it, here are our early season rates:

Discounted Early Season Rates Day Half-Day
Adult (22+) $45 $38
Young Adults (13-21) $38 $31
Child (7-12) $18 $14
Child (6 & Under)** FREE FREE


Conditions for Opening Day look fantastic with summit to base skiing and riding opening at 8:30 am! We will be operating Chair 1 to the summit and Chair 8 will service our beginner area. Skiers and riders will find 12 boxes and rails on the slopes as well as a roller! Our Crew will be adding more features as we make snow!

You can also compete in our first “Message in a Bottle” competition of the season. We’re going to hide a message in a bottle somewhere at Snow Summit. Follow us on Twitter  for the picture hint and use that clue to find the bottle. The winner can take the bottle to Guest Services to collect the prize!

Be sure to tag your pictures from the festivities with #summitopens. We’ll be tracking the tag and will post the winning image as our photo of the day which will also win a prize!

DJ Slipmatt will be providing the music and is stoked to see all the first day Summit guests!

Stay tuned to all of our Social Media Channels for updates throughout the day!

Help wanted: Bear Mountain, Snow Summit resorts host job fair

Big Bear Mountain Resorts is ramping up for opening day, but first comes the annual Bear Mountain and Snow Summit job fair. It happens Saturday at Snow Summit from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

While offering a fun work environment, Big Bear Mountain Resorts offers great privileges to all employees. Among them: free skiing and snowboarding for employees and their immediate eligible families under the age of 18 at both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, discounted rental equipment, free and discounted lessons, discounted food and beverages and discounts in retail shops.

“Our goal is to provide our guests with the best possible service and experience. We’re looking for hardworking and dedicated employees that are personable, out-going and have a passion for snow sports,” said Chris Riddle, director of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Most of our employees, including myself, have worked here for over 10 years and we know firsthand how incredible a career in the snow sport industry is, as we get some of the coolest perks around.”

Full-time and part-time positions are available in both indoor and outdoor areas, including ski and snowboard instructors, snowmakers, snow sport lessons promoter, sport shop sales, parking, lift operators, food servers, bartenders, dishwashers, cooks and guest services.

For more information, call employee services at 909-866-5766, Ext. 140; email or fill out an application and bring it to the job fair.

Cali4nia Pass good at Mammoth, Bear Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit


border="0"Introducing the Cali4nia Pass, the best thing to happen to California skiing since stretch pants. The Cali4nia Pass gives you unlimited and unrestricted access to Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and Snow Summit for $689. From a quick getaway to Big Bear to a full family vacation at Mammoth, we’ve got you covered. Every style, every skill level and everyone is invited.Plus, the Cali4nia Pass offers amazing perks like discounted tickets for friends, special early mountain access, and savings on food, lodging, equipment rentals and more.

Mammoth + Bear Mountain + June + Snow Summit = Cali4nia Pass. All the benefits of Mammoth & June plus anytime access to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.