Memorial Day skiing, riding at Mammoth Mountain? It’s on!

Believe it or not, this is not a Mammoth Mountain file photo from December. It was taken this morning when the resort received up to 10 inches of new snow. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

This is not a Mammoth Mountain file photo from December or January. It was taken this morning — six days into spring! — when the resort received up to 10 inches of new snow. (Photo by Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

For the 27th straight year, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will be open for skiing and snowboarding through Memorial Day weekend, the resort announced today.

“Although winter got off to a slow start, the past month brought a series of strong storms with nearly 100 inches of snow, and more in the forecast this week,” said Rusty Gregory, Mammoth Mountain CEO. “With excellent conditions typical of this time of year, we look to continue our long-standing tradition of skiing and riding well into May.”

Mammoth currently has a base depth of 4 to 6 feet and 100 percent of terrain open. A series of storms are forecast over the next week. That’s in addition to the 8 to 10 inches of new snow that fell this morning.

Information: www.mammothmountain.com

Deer Valley Ski Resort plans major mountain addition in Park City, Utah

 

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is growing. President and General Manager Bob Wheaton announced recently the resort’s plan to add 1,000 acres of ski terrain with five or six new lifts.

The new ski area will be located on the resort’s east side below the Sultan Express and Mayflower lift on Bald Mountain. With this addition, Deer Valley will offer more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. A new lodge, dining area and possibly lodging will be built in the new base area.

Deer Valley has wanted to expand for some time, Wheaton said. On peak days the resort’s dining areas struggle to handle all the skiers. The expansion, he said, will alleviate much of the dining congestion and offer skiers another access point to the resort.

The anticipated start date for the project is 2017. The project is expected to be complete in five years and cost an estimated $50 million.

Also on the horizon is a new gondola from historic downtown Park City to Deer Valley. Another major ski resort, Park City resort already operates the Town Lift from one end of Main Street. Deer Valley wants its own gondola.

The gondola will run from Main Street to Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge area at 8,100 feet. The ride should take 15 minutes.

A decision has not yet been made whether the gondola will be free or if there will be a small fee. The gondola project will begin within two years and cost $10 to $12 million, Wheaton said.

All of this is great news for skiers and visitors to Park City. With a town gondola to Deer Valley Resort and a town lift to Park City Resort, skiers can skip the public buses and go direct from downtown to two of the area’s ski resorts.

Big and easy, that’s Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It’s easy to get to Deer Valley. It’s a 45-minute ride from the Salt Lake City Airport, and many transportation companies offer service from the airport to Deer Valley for a reasonable price.

There are many lodging opportunities at Deer Valley — all are on the expensive side. My stepdaughter and I stayed in a one-bedroom unit at The Lodges, a luxurious complex with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, near Snow Park Lodge, Deer Valley’s main base lodge.

A free shuttle runs all day from The Lodges to Deer Valley and takes less than five minutes. Another plus at The Lodges is the free, on-call car service to anywhere we wanted to go in the town of Park City.

Skiers can also stay in Park City and take the free local public buses to Deer Valley that run all day and pick up at several locations.

On our second day of skiing at Deer Valley, the snowfall was heavy and wet, the kind of ski day that leaves your jacket and gloves soaked.

But that didn’t keep us from discovering and enjoying more of the resort’s beautiful blues and blue-greens, Deer Valley’s in-between groomers that challenge beginners and give intermediate skiers an easy final run at the end of the day.

Beautiful and easy. That’s Deer Valley.

Families and friends make Deer Valley a tradition

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley is a skiers-only resort — one of the few left in the country. And Deer Valley plans to keep it that way.

“We survey our guests and (no snowboarders) is among the top reasons why people come to Deer Valley,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager. He says the resort is doing well financially with only skiers, and he doesn’t see the policy changing.

No snowboarders made our skiing experience more relaxed. And quiet. Deer Valley is excellent casual skiing at its best.

Jill, skiing at Deer Valley with a friend and her friend’s daughter Lauren, described it a little differently. “It’s lazy skiing,” said Jill, a vivacious 50-something lifelong skier. “Nice runs, not crowded, no snowboarders, not too difficult. I’m old. I’ve got bad knees. I want nice, easy skiing.”

This was the trio’s third trip to Deer Valley in three years. The two friends from Texas, whose husbands don’t ski, have been skiing together for many years. Lauren joined them three years ago for their annual ladies-only ski trip, and Deer Valley is their go-to destination.

“It started with six of us friends,” Jill said. “Now only the two of us are going, with Lauren. We’ve been to Deer Valley many times. It’s our favorite mountain.”
It’s also the favorite of Amy and Bill from Austin, Texas. The couple returned to Deer Valley for the second year with their two young children, 7-year-old Ben and Caroline, 9.

The parents felt the resort was ideal for their family. Ben’s favorite trail is Ontario, a long green groomer running from the top of Flagstaff Mountain.
“We’ve been doing that all day,” Amy said with a sigh.

The parents also like the kids ski school program.
“They have fun with other kids, and Bill and I can go ski,” Amy said. “They could probably ski with us now, but we like the ski school. It’s expensive, but if you are spending this much to ski here, what’s a few hundred more?”

Deer Valley lift tickets are on the high side — $108 a day for adults, $68 for
children. The resort offers a nice discount for seniors 65 and older at $77 a day.

Making a mother-daughter trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It was snowing for the first time in three weeks when my stepdaughter and I arrived at Deer Valley Resort in early February: Six inches of soft powder over groomed hardpack and just under freezing. Ideal conditions.

We were standing midmountain looking at the trail map trying to decide where to head to for some easy intermediate terrain. We had tried Bald Mountain earlier and found it too chopped up. It also has a 9,400-foot summit, so we were looking for something a bit easier on our first day on skis this season.
A mountain host gave us some great advice.

“Head to Flagstaff Mountain. There are some beauuuutiful blues off the back side,” the friendly Aussie said with the enthusiasm of a skier on a powder day. Everything was an exclamation!

“Take Hawkeye first. It’s excellent! Groomed with a nice pitch,” he advised. “Then try Sidewinder; it’s a bit steeper, but still nice. They are all just beautiful runs!”

This was our first trip to Deer Valley, and we found many “beautiful blues” in the next two days of skiing. We particularly liked Little Baldy Peak. The runs were groomed, nearly deserted (even on a Saturday) and there were no lift lines. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Deer Valley, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, covers five mountain peaks and 2,026 acres. All levels of terrain can be accessed on all peaks with the exception of the resort’s highest — Empire Peak at 9,500 feet — which offers intermediate and expert terrain only.

Most of the lifts have high-speed quads, giving skiers more time on the slopes. The resort is surrounded by private property, so you’ll see large homes on the side of many runs.

Look for the Raccoon House and the Bear House off Last Chance Trail. Both have whimsical critters of all sizes hanging from the roof, sitting on the deck, peeking in windows and hiding in trees.

Sierra-at-Tahoe’s 2014-15 passes come with a bonus for this season.

Home to 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort has a deal for those who purchase a 2014-15 Keepin’ It Real Unlimited Season Pass: free skiing the rest of the 2014 season at the resort and also at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Sierra-at-Tahoe is offering the Keepin’ It Real Unlimited Season Pass for $289 through April 30. The price increases by up to $100 starting May 1 (earlier, if quantities run out).

Along with free skiing and riding at Sierra-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, passholders can enjoy free skiing/riding in much of the Western U.S. with The Powder Alliance. Those resorts include Angel Fire Resort, Arizona Snowbowl, Bridger Bowl, China Peak, Crested Butte, Mountain High, Mt. Hood Skibowl, Snowbasin, Schweitzer, Stevens Pass and Timberline.

Season passholders will automatically be enrolled into a free membership that earns points toward free lessons, rentals, lunch and other bonuses.

Information: www.sierraattahoe.com or 530-659-7453.

Squaw Valley’s 1960 Olympic Museum has new memorabilia, other updates

Squaw Valley’s recently renovated Olympic Museum at High Camp is open once again and features newly acquired Olympic memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley, as well as a fresh new look.

The mountain-top Olympic Museum tells the story of the 1960 Winter Games – starting from the beginning with the Olympic proposal, to photos, videos and memorabilia from the historic Games. The 1960 Olympics transformed winter sports in the western U.S. and are notable as the first Winter Games to be fully televised, as well as the first to use a computer to tabulate scores.

Historical items new to the museum include the original vinyl recording of the music performed during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games at Squaw Valley, and the clock that hung in Blyth Arena during the 1960 Olympics.

Other mementos on display include: one of the original proposals for the Winter Games by Squaw Valley founder Alex Cushing, authentic Team USA uniforms from the 1960 Olympics, and a waitress uniform from the Olympic Village Lodge where the athletes dined during the Olympic Games – the first and only time in Olympic history all the athletes dined together under one roof. In addition, the museum has received a complete renovation that includes new paint, carpet, furniture and fixtures.

The Olympic Museum is located at the top of Aerial Tram at High Camp and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free with a lift ticket or Aerial Tram ticket. Click here for more information about Squaw Valley’s Olympic history.

Sugar Bowl selling discounted lift tickets when purchased online

Sugar Bowl Resort is launching its own online ticket sales portal, complete with deeply discounted rates.

Lift tickets are available for purchase at www.sugarbowl.com/tickets. The site displays various prices based on the day. Skiers and riders can purchase tickets for the following day, or for use months ahead. The price of an adult lift ticket online is about $67 regular season while a holiday lift ticket at the window is $88. After purchasing, print a confirmation and redeem printed confirmation at the Mt. Judah Special Tickets office.

The option to purchase tickets online for next-day use is only available at a few ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. This allows skiers and riders to take advantage of discounts when it accommodates their schedule or after a strong storm blows into the area.

What’s that coming down from the sky? Yes! It’s snow!

After being MIA for too long this winter (at least in California), lots of fresh snow courtesy Mother Nature is falling on the slopes at resorts throughout the state. Today’s storm is the first of a three-storm series expected to roll through by Sunday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We’ll update this post as reports from the resorts come in. >>>

4:15 p.m. Thursday …

Fresh photos from our friends at Mammoth Mountain, courtesy Mammoth Lakes Tourism.
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06chair2line“With a foot and half of snow on the ground at Mammoth Mountain and several more feet expected through the weekend and early next week, best estimates put the snow total for this storm system at around 3 to 4 feet,” says spokesman Tim LeRoy.

“That would make this the biggest storm system to hit the Eastern Sierra in two years,” he adds, citing a report at Mammoth Weather.

On the Mammoth website, lodging specials included “stay three nights and get the fourth night free” and a lift and lodging package starting at $129 – both good for arrival dates through late May.

3:30 p.m. Thursday …

The winter storm sweeping through the Sierra Nevada brought 13 inches of fresh snow to Squaw Valley and 10 inches to Alpine Meadows by Thursday afternoon, with snow continuing to fall. Both resorts could see more than two feet of snow by Sunday night, with the possibility of even more snowfall through Wednesday.

Here’s what Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows looked like this morning. >>>

Mammoth Mountain received as much as 15 inches of new snow overnight. The forecast calls for another 3 to 5 inches tonight, and up to 17 inches more on Friday. Another 1 to 3 inches is possible on Saturday.

Noon Thursday … 

Rachel Luna, our colleague at The Sun and Daily Bulletin, is on the prowl today for #ieweather photos and videos and took this shot at Snow Valley. >>>

Snow ValleyIt was almost lunchtime and Snow Valley hadn’t sold a single lift ticket all morning. The resort closed for the day at noon.

“Resort officials believe skiers & snowboarders are holding out for the snowstorm to come,” Luna reported via Twitter.

10 a.m. Thursday … 

Mountain High is closed today, and operators are planning to re-opening the resort on Saturday morning. “We fully expect to reopen this weekend with hopes of remaining open all the way through Easter,” said a post on the resort’s website.

In the meantime, here are some other fast facts, according to the resort:

  • Mountain High has been open into May three times during the last 15 years.
  • The average closing date has been April 21.
  • 30-40 percent of the season is still ahead.
  • March is often the snowiest month at the resort.

War of Rails returns to Bear Mountain this weekend

The fifth annual War of Rails, presented by Under Armour, is returning to Bear Mountain on Feb. 28 to March 1. The country’s top freestyle skiers will hit The Scene at Bear Mountain to compete for bragging rights and a $30,000 cash purse.

“War of Rails is the biggest ski competition on the West Coast,” said Craig Coker, the event’s founder.

Coker has partnered with Bear Mountain and title sponsor Under Armour, as well as Red Bull, Bern Helmets, Wahoo’s, Power 106, Windells, SnoCru, Outdoor Tech, and Ion to make War of Rails V possible. Anon will sponsor the Best Trick with a prize of $2,000.

The top 15 competitors from Friday’s qualifying competition will throw down on Saturday among some of the best freestyle skiers in the world for a chance to earn the title of War of Rails champion, as well as the $30,000 cash prize. More than two-dozen top freestyle skiers are already confirmed to compete.

On Saturday, guests can enjoy the perfect spring skiing conditions at Bear Mountain, then make their way to The Scene to catch the non-stop action. Spectators can head to the 13,000-square-foot Beach Bar to soak up the sun and enjoy drinks, live music, games and giveaways, then see one of the biggest and best ski events of the year.

Red Bull will be streaming the competition live from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The live stream will be available at newschoolers.com and freeskier.com For more information, including the invited athletes list, course layout and live updates, visit warofrails.com or Bear Mountain’s website.

“We’re so excited for the return of the War of Rails event this year,” said Rio Tanbara, Bear Mountain’s director of marketing. “The course is the biggest and best one yet, and all the top riders will all be here to throw down their best tricks. We hope that everyone will head up to enjoy this one-of-a-kind event.”