Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails, with plenty of mustard, returns to Bear Mountain

Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails will bring 40 of the country's top snowboarders to Bear Mountain, where they'll have the opportunity for some flight time. (Bear Mountain photo)

Professional snowboarders have already booked their flights during Bear Mountain’s 10th annual Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails event in September. (Bear Mountain photo)

No fresh powder? No problem as Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails brings 40 top professional snowboarders to Bear Mountain for the event’s 10th anniversary on Sept. 21.

The winter kickoff party features 130 tons of ice chipped into man-made snow and creative, new urban-style steel features that will be available for everyone to ride this winter in the Red Bull Plaza at Bear Mountain.

Gates open at 9 a.m. and the competition — which may be viewed viewed from Bear Mountain’s 13,000-square-foot deck and Beach Bar — begins at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

DJs will be playing music, and guests can participate in fun games and claim prizes from Red Bull, GoPro, Electric, SkullCandy, ThirtyTwo and other snowboard brands.

“The 10th anniversary is going to be bigger and better than ever,” says Zak Hale, professional snowboarder and pro team rider for Bear Mountain. “Bear Mountain is the perfect place to get people excited about the upcoming winter season while showing off this year’s up-and-coming professional snowboarders.”

Judges will include professional team riders Joe Sexton, Chris Bradshaw and Scott Stevens, and guest snowboard legend Dave Downing.

The event also will be an opportunity to purchase 2013-14 winter season passes for Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

Information: www.bearmountain.com

Bear Mountain, Snow Summit are getting ready to call it a season

Earlier today, skiers were getting in a few last runs for the season at Snow Summit. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

On Sunday, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit will be marking the end of the 2012-13 ski and snowboard season at the two resorts.

After receiving only 75 to 90 inches of natural snowfall this season, extensive snowmaking systems at each property allowed the slopes to remain open a week into April.

“Even in a season like this, where natural snowfall was well below average, we were able to make great snow and host big events right up to the end,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing. “Being the only Southern California ski and snowboard resort open this late in the season, we have truly shown dominance in our snowmaking capabilities.”

Mountain High also boasts about its extensive snowmaking system, and the winter sports season at the Wrightwood resort just recently wrapped up. Mountain High closed March 31 after the annual Spring-A-Ma-Jig celebration.

For Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, being situated next to Big Bear Lake has its benefits. The lake acts as a reservoir for snowmaking, providing a nearly inexhaustible supply of water during the winter months. Regardless of natural snowfall, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit can cover nearly 100 percent of their slopes with manmade snow.

“A big ‘thank you’ goes out to all guests who came out this season to enjoy our new additions, and made this a fun season for everyone,” Riddle said.

It was a season that included a milestone, as Snow Summit celebrated its 60th anniversary.

“We look forward to many more decades of hosting happy skiers and snowboarders,” Riddle said.

Already, officials at Bear and Snow Summit are looking forward to next winter, selling passes that they say will offer skiers and snowboarders the biggest savings for the 2013-14 season. But the passes must be purchased by May 31. Click here for information.

Bear Mountain, Snow Summit filling Easter baskets with ‘snow’ much fun

At Bear Mountain, peeps are playing board games for Easter weekend. (Bear Mountain photo)

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have lots planned for Easter weekend and into next week, as spring break festivities continue at both resorts. Here’s a sampling:

Bear Mountain
Saturday
Neff Beach Bash; highlights from last year’s events may be found here.

Sunday
Social Media Easter Egg Hunt

Monday through Friday
Snowboarder Magazine’s “The Launch”

Wednesday and Thursday
Uniform Days (discounts for law enforcement, EMS, firefighters and active military)

Saturday, April 6
Ashbury Demo

Information: www.bearmountain.com

Snow Summit
Saturday
60 Grit Blues Band at Slopeside Pub, 1-5 p.m.
D-Team Race

Sunday
Social Media Easter Egg Hunt

Wednesday-Thursday
Uniform Days

Information: www.snowsummit.com

#freshpow day on the slopes at Bear, Snow Summit and Mountain High

Snow Summit is a winter wonderland in March, thanks to productive cold-weather systems that went through Southern California on Thursday and this morning. This photo has attracted a lot of reaction since it was posted on Facebook earlier today. (Snow Summit photo)

By Jerry Rice

Fresh powder days in March are rare in Southern California – especially ones with storms that leave behind more than a foot of snow – so it may not be surprising that social media is burning up today with the latest reports from Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Mountain High.

The photo of snow-covered tables and chairs at Snow Summit (above) has received more than 950 “likes” and 139 “shares” since it was posted this morning. Because a photo really is worth a thousand words, many of the comments have been appropriately brief: “Wonderland!” (from Freddie Merz), “Yes!!!” (Kelsey Elizabeth Stern) and “Wooooo Hoooooo” (Snuggle Bear Cabin).

Others said they were on their way up the hill (presumably after they called the boss to say they suddenly came down with some “ailment”), or that they would be there during the weekend.

With 12-14 inches of new snow at Bear Mountain, it appears to be time for some fresh-powder runs at the resort. (Bear Mountain photo)

Snow Summit reported 12 to 14 inches of fresh powder in the last couple days – about the same amount that fell at the resort’s corporate sibling, Bear Mountain, where the photo on the right was taken. Since being posted on Facebook today at about 10 a.m., the shot has received nearly 400 “likes” and 25 “shares.”

Snow Summit is 100 percent open, and only Bow, Deer and Goldmine canyons are closed at Bear, according to information on their websites. Also, skiers and snowboarders should note that Snow Summit will be holding its final night session of the 2012-13 season on Saturday.

With fresh powder at Mountain High, the snow depth on the slopes is 12-24 inches. (Mountain High photo)

At Mountain High in Wrightwood, they’re also excited about the conditions after receiving 6 to 8 inches of new snow. “We love fresh pow,” said the Facebook entry that was posted with the action shot on the left. “Share this photo if you love new snow as much as we do!”

The last time we checked, 61 of the resort’s Facebook fans followed through on that request.

Bear Mountain, Snow Summit have plans for the weekend

Here’s what’s on tap during the next few days at two Big Bear Lake mountain resorts:

Bear Mountain

  • Today and Thursday — Uniform Days (Law enforcement, EMS, firefighters and active military may purchase an area use ticket for $38.) Click here for more information.
  • Friday — KROQ-FM on the Bear Stage
  • Saturday — Power 106 Snow In with Kid Ink and T-Mills
  • Sunday — USASA Slopestyle (registration 8-9:30 a.m.); and DJ Jason Newman on the Bear Stage, noon to 4 p.m.

Information: www.bearmountain.com

Snow Summit

  • Today and Thursday — Uniform Days
  • Saturday — KIIS-FM on the Slopeside Stage, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Jimmy Blaze Band at the Bullwheel Bar, 3:30-7 p.m.
  • Sunday — Goldsmith Race No. 3

Information: www.snowsummit.com

Double the fun for half the price on the slopes at Bear Mountain, Snow Summit

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have a midweek two-for-one lift ticket deal for Valentine’s Day. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have a special lift-ticket deal for February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Buy one ticket and the second one is free when they are purchased online.

“Last year, we had a couple get married on the top of Snow Summit,” says Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “We were thrilled to add a uniqueness factor to their big day. The Sweetheart Deal gives people the incentive to grab a partner for an out-of-the-ordinary date, with midweek skiing on our great snow conditions at half the price.”

The Sweetheart Deal lift ticket deal is available online only. Lift tickets are valid for use Feb. 12-14. The special is available for Adult and Young Adult tickets, and valued up to $118. Same day purchase is not available.

If the tickets are not used Feb. 12-14, they may be used on another day after paying the difference between the original purchase price and the prevailing rate on the new date that they are being used.

Kids ski/ride free all season long at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain

Big Bear Lake resorts are offering kids a chance to ski or ride for free.

At Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, the Kids Ski/Ride for Free promotion is good weekdays all season long, including spring break. This special offer requires an overnight stay, Sunday through Thursday, at the time of booking.

“Spring break just got more exciting in Big Bear because we now offer free lift tickets for kids,” said Rebecca Hrabia, Big Bear Lake Resort Association director of operations. “Parents will save money, and the kids will have an absolute blast. It’s the perfect solution where everyone in the family wins.”

The Kids Ski/Ride for Free package must include lodging at one of Big Bear’s participating lodges. One free kid’s lift ticket voucher will be given for each paying adult lift ticket.

Free tickets are valid for kids 12 years and younger. Lift tickets are good for either or both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

Packages are good for lodging arrivals Sunday through Thursday and skiing or snowboarding Monday through Friday. Midweek skiing generally has no wait time at the chair lifts, and the runs are wide open. Lift ticket vouchers are not valid on weekends and during the holiday period Feb. 16–22.

Families also qualify to participate in Big Bear’s new Kids. Get Outdoors. Win. program that gives kids an opportunity to collect stamps in an adventure stamp passport. Kids who collect three stamps or more will qualify to win a grand prize trip for four to Big Bear.

Other prizes include a new bike, new snowboard, zipline tickets or a season pass to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Families are encouraged to go to guest services at either Snow Summit or Bear Mountain to receive a stamp for the passport.

For more details about the Kids Ski/Ride for Free package and Kids. Get Outdoors. Win. program, including a list of Outdoor Fun Spots locations, prize listings and official rules visit www.bigbear.com or call 800-424-4232.

Artificial snow saves the day at SoCal mountain resorts

Early December conditions were disappointing at best at all of the mountain resorts in Southern California. Thanks to some natural snow and lots of manmade powder, 2013 is off to a great start at several of them. This photo at Bear Mountain was taken on Jan. 7. (Bear Mountain photo)

By Art Bentley

Back in December, a red Christmas seemed like a distinct threat to the balance sheets of Southern California ski resorts. Only Bear Mountain remained in business, and it was limping at best.

Uncooperative weather forced Snow Summit and Mountain High to halt their lifts after all three resorts had opened before mid-November, amid optimism prompted by the prospect of a profitable Thanksgiving holiday weekend clearly in sight.

Meanwhile, Snow Valley, Mount Baldy and Mount Waterman — the other Southern California ski areas — had yet to sell a lift ticket. (Waterman is the only local area that depends entirely on nature for snow. Consequently, it’s also the only area that remains closed.)

“We’d had three days of snow-making, we were open to the top at Snow Summit, and we had the beginner area open at the bottom,” said Chris Riddle, vice president for marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, which operates Summit and Bear. “Then we had three weeks without one night of snow-making. It was a very strange warm spell.”

Visions of a strong start disappeared along with the Thanksgiving turkey, and the leftovers were disappointing enough to give an accountant heartburn.

Toward the middle of December, cold weather returned, bringing several small snowstorms. Far more important, however, it brought the kind of consistently frigid temperatures that play particularly to the strengths of Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, where huge snow-making systems draw unlimited quantities of water from Big Bear Lake.

Both resorts were in almost full operation by Christmas. At one stretch, Snow Summit, which returned to the lineup Dec. 15, was pumping 7,300 gallons of lake water per minute into its artillery.

“What really sets us apart is our access to that big storage unit down there,” Riddle said recently with a nod in the direction of the lake. “Wells (on which other Southern California resorts must rely for their water) don’t have the same level of recovery that we do. To go from closed to 95 percent open in two weeks without a big storm is unprecedented.”

Shopping for deals on the slopes

At Mountain High, the Express Pass opens the way to money savings on the slopes and several special features. (Mountain High photo)

By Jerry Rice

OK, everyone knows that skiing and snowboarding can be expensive – traveling to the resort, lodging, equipment rentals, lift tickets…

But there are many ways to save on costs without cutting cut corners on the fun. Some examples:

> Free rentals for first-timers, ages 8 to adult, when a beginner lesson package is purchased at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit during the month of January. It’s part of a Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month promotion in partnership with the National Ski Areas Association. Information: 909-866-5841, www.snowsummit.com

Mammoth Mountain’s January midweek pass is $249 – $50 less than last season. With regular adult lift tickets at the resort running $99 per day, the cost of the special midweek pass essentially means it more than pays for itself after three days on the slopes. Other price levels are $179 for youth, $69 for children and $199 for seniors. The pass is valid Monday-Friday through Feb. 1, but must be purchased by Monday. Information: 800-626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com

> At Mountain High, spend $10 on a rechargeable Express Pass, load it with almost any lift ticket and start saving – $10 on all flex ticket options – and enjoying other benefits. Those other benefits include guaranteed reservations in case of a sellout, a free eight-hour non-holiday ticket after every five visits, and the ability to track the number of runs you’ve completed, the total vertical feet and other individual stats. Information: 888-754-7878, www.mthigh.com 

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Santa sightings on the slopes

By Jerry Rice

Santa Claus has a big job to do come Dec. 24, so if the Big Guy wants to have some fun before the Big Day it’s probably best to cut him some slack — otherwise you may find coal in your stocking on Christmas morning. The Jolly Old Elf has been visiting several ski resorts during the last several days …

Santa offers a helping hand to the snow-making crew at Mountain High. (Mountain High photo)

One cameraman caught him making snow at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com). The Wrightwood getaway was in big need of the white stuff, as there was none of it on the slopes as recently as Dec. 12. That was just before a storm moved through and dumped 6-12 inches of snow, and also brought with it the below-freezing temps that were desperately needed for the resort to turn on its extensive snow-making system.

Santa carves up some fresh powder at Snow Summit. (Snow Summit photo)

Elsewhere in Southern California, Santa parked his sleigh for a fun outing at Snow Summit (www.snowsummit.com), where he pulled off a maneuver that yours truly has never attempted — at least not on purpose.

At that Big Bear Lake resort, St. Nick found favorable conditions — 12-18 inches of snow, with a surface that ranged from machine groomed packed powder to hard pack — to perform all sorts of acrobatics.

We’re not sure how Santa landed a second or two after this shot on the right was taken, but we would like to see how it scored with the judges.

We recall last winter when the ski/snowboard season got off to a disappointing start at resorts throughout California. Mammoth Mountain (www.mammothmountain.com), for example, didn’t receive its first significant snowfall until late January. By then, much of the lucrative ski/snowboard season was lost.

Santa jumps for joy at Homewood Mountain Resort. (Homewood Mountain Resort photo)

This winter, thankfully, has been different. Mammoth has a base of 7.5 feet, and since early November it has received nearly 13 feet of snow — with more on the way tonight and Saturday.

Snow also is in the weekend forecast at Lake Tahoe, where Homewood Mountain Resort (www.skihomewood.com) reports as much as 45 inches of it has fallen this winter on the slopes at the higher elevations. That news apparently has Mr. Claus, at left, really excited.

We figure there will be Santas galore at Whistler Blackcomb (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) on Saturday morning. That’s when the resort will be giving a free lift ticket to the first 75 people who arrive at the Garibaldi Lift Company in full Santa or Mrs. Claus attire. They will be invited to ride up the hill at 8 a.m., then board or ski to the bottom of the Emerald Express for a group photo.

At Whistler Blackcomb, lots of Santas will be checking their lists while riding the lifts. (Whistler Blackcomb photo)

It’s an annual tradition at the Canadian resort. A cameraman for the local Pique Newsmagazine captured last year’s festivities, and some of the highlights were edited into a cute 48-second YouTube video. It shows a sea of red suits and bushy white beards moving down the mountain, some more gracefully than others.

With that, we offer Santa this important reminder: There are only three more skiing/snowboarding days left until Christmas.