Sans fresh pow, Snow Summit shifts from boarding to biking.

After storing skis and snowboards in the attic, at Snow Summit it's time to break out the mountain bikes. (Snow Summit photo)

After storing skis and snowboards in the attic, at Snow Summit it’s time to break out the mountain bikes. (Snow Summit photo)

Snow Summit will open its renowned bike park for the 2014 summer season on Friday, making it the first lift-serviced bike park to open this year in North America.

“We can’t wait to kick off another great summer season at Snow Summit Bike Park,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “We’re excited to be the first bike park to open for the season, and we’ll be one of the last to close. It’s going to be a long, fun season here at Snow Summit.”

The resort’s inaugural Summer Kickoff Party will be held on Saturday. The bash will transform the base area at Snow Summit into a Vendor Booth City, featuring dozens of brands like Troy Lee Designs, Five Ten, Smith Optic, Ryders Eyewear, Marin Bikes, Freestyle USA, and Trek. DJ Slip Matt will be spinning from the Red Bull MXT, and guests can enjoy raffles, prizes and product giveaways all day. Drink specials will be available for the 21 and older crowd.

The Snow Summit Trail Crew and Gravity Logic are preparing new features and trail designs, including a re-routing of the Westridge Trail. A new, top-to-bottom beginner trail is set to open by July 4.

Mountain bikers can enjoy dozens of downhill and cross-country trails, as well as new features that will change throughout the season.

Summertime season passes for the bike park are available for $279.

Other summertime activities including hiking, sightseeing, and the Scenic Sky Chair. Guests can take in breathtaking views at 8,200 feet from the Scenic Sky Chair and spend the day enjoying the outdoors, wildlife, and fresh mountain air while hiking Snow Summit’s many trails. Or, guests can take a break from the action and relax with games, delicious barbecue, and panoramic mountain views from the View Haus restaurant located atop Snow Summit.

The Sport Shop also will be open with a great selection of summer gear and accessories.

Information: www.bigbearmountainresorts.com/summer

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.”

Snowboarding workshop brings strength, healing to veterans

The Southern California-based nonprofit Strength in Support on Thursday will head to Bear Mountain for a snowboarding workshop designed to help veterans overcome challenges resulting from years of service and sacrifice.

Strength in Support (www.strengthinsupport.org) was founded in 2013, and provides mental health services, including counseling, mentoring and workshops to active military, veterans and their families.

“We’re so happy that Strength in Support is hosting their workshop at Bear Mountain,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We want to say ‘thank you’ to our military service members, and welcoming groups like Strength in Support is one way we can do that.”

The snowboarding workshop is not only for veterans, but is also led by veterans. This “vet-to-vet” experience will allow participants to interact in a fun and relaxed setting, while receiving encouragement from one another to break down isolation issues and foster healthy and supportive relationships.

“Our recreational snowboarding workshop is being offered for the first time thanks to SIS’ board, donors and volunteers, as well as Big Bear Mountain Resorts,” said Jill Boultinghouse, Strength in Support board vice president. “Our vets are looking forward to a fun and healing day on the slopes. We need more organizations like BBMR that are supportive of our veterans, and can help make these types of events a reality.”

Strength in Support is one of dozens of military groups that BBMR has welcomed this season. In addition, BBMR hosts a number of Uniform Days throughout the year. On these special days, all active duty military, firefighters, EMS and police officers can take their identification to any Snow Summit or Bear Mountain ticket window to receive $38 lift tickets.

“It’s just one more way we can salute those who serve,” Riddle said.

The remaining Uniform Days for the 2013-14 season are March 5-6 and April 2-3.

Spring conditions combine with specials at Bear Mountain, Snow Summit

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

It may have been a warm winter, but Big Bear Mountain Resorts does have plenty of snow and more than 85 percent of both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are open.

“We have up to three feet of snow at both resorts and we continue to make snow at every opportunity,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We’re excited to have such great spring skiing conditions right now. We’re featuring some of the best deals of the season to get skiers and boarders up the mountain to experience it for themselves.”

Skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of some serious deals before hitting the slopes for some early spring skiing, including:

Plenty of snow Sundays
Skiers and boarders can enjoy a Sunday fun day at BBMR with mid-week priced lift tickets every Sunday. That’s a full day adult lift ticket for $60, young adults (13-21) and seniors (62+) for $50 and children for $25. Restrictions may apply.

Calling all season pass holders
Season pass holders from any other resort – from Mammoth to Squaw Valley to Mountain High – can head to Big Bear and receive half off their BBMR lift ticket. Restrictions may apply.

Bring a friend for half price
BBMR season pass holders can now bring a buddy for half price. Pass holders can bring their season pass and a lucky friend to the Guest Services office at either Snow Summit or Bear Mountain to score 50 percent off a buddy lift ticket for that day.

Half-off blacked out passes
On any day that a BBMR season pass is blacked out and not valid for use, pass holders can now take it to the Guest Services office at Snow Summit or Bear Mountain and receive 50 percent off a lift ticket for the day.

On all of the above offers, see the resort’s discounts and specials page for additional info.

Dropping in for a Sochi to California comparison on vertical descents

Sochi Downhill

We’ve been watching a lot of NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage – speed skating, slopestyle skiing, halfpipe, hockey – and have been wrapped up in much of it.

A few minutes ago, @NBCOlympics posted on Twitter the image above with course info on the downhill portion of the men’s super combined. The vertical drop of 3,205 feet caught our attention, and we thought it would be worth checking http://mountainvertical.com to see how the mountains near Sochi compare with the ski resorts in California. Here’s what we found:

Mammoth: 2,885
Heavenly: 2,735
Squaw Valley: 2,389
June Mountain: 2,420
Northstar-at-Tahoe: 2,276
Diamond Peak: 1,741
Bear Mountain: 1,665
Mt. Rose: 1,635
Homewood: 1,625
Kirkwood: 1,622
Sierra-at-Tahoe: 1,590
Mountain High: 1,588
Alpine Meadows: 1,555

The best U.S. match to the 3,205 vertical descent of the mountain where the Olympics competition is happening now is the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort – the area where the 1932 Winter Olympics took place.

– Jerry Rice

Snow Summit, Bear Mountain light up for New Year’s Eve

(Snow Summit photo)

The slopes at Snow Summit are all aglow for part of the resort’s New Year’s Eve celebration. (Snow Summit photo)

Ringing in the new will be an enlightening experience at Snow Summit, where the annual New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade begins at 7 p.m. The parade is free and open to all ages for viewing.

It begins when more than 200 employees descend the mountain on skis and snowboards, each caring a torchlight. This amazing display illuminates the night sky and gives the mountain an astounding glow. After the parade, onlookers are encouraged to join Big Bear Mountain Resorts to help ring in the new year. Guests will have two parties to choose from, one at Snow Summit and one at Bear Mountain.

“The Snow Summit Torchlight Parade is an incredible New Year’s Eve tradition,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “With two great parties this year following the parade, there’s no better place to spend New Year’s Eve than here at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.”

At Snow Summit, guests can enjoy live music from DJ Slip Matt from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Slopeside Pub and can dance the night away with DJ Desi at the Bullwheel Bar. At Bear Mountain, partygoers can ring in the new year at The Scene Bar with live music by Club George. Both parties begin at 9 p.m. and end at 1 a.m., and will have specialty drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a New Year’s Eve countdown.

The New Year’s Eve parties at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are 21 and older only. Tickets are $25 for each party, and can be purchased at the door.

Information: www.snowsummit.com

Mammoth Mountain: The resort that Dave built celebrates a milestone

While no longer under the leadership of its founder,
the Eastern Sierra getaway is still going strong at 60

Mammoth Mountain’s original warming hut, which opened in 1953, was nicknamed “The Pit.” In part of the design, Dave McCoy incorporated a downward-pointing arrow, using black rocks from Westgard Pass, to show skiers that this was the place to be, according to the book “Tracks of Passion” by Robin Morning. (Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

Then: Mammoth Mountain’s original warming hut, which opened in 1953, was nicknamed “The Pit.” In part of the design, Dave McCoy incorporated a downward-pointing arrow, using black rocks from Westgard Pass, to show skiers that this was the place to be, according to the book “Tracks of Passion” by Robin Morning. (Photos courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

By Jerry Rice

Mammoth Mountain.

The name says everything a skier or snowboarder needs to know about a resort with some of the country’s most desirable terrain, spread across 3,500 acres and reaching an elevation of 11,053 feet.

But for many veterans of this place, it’s more affectionately known as “Dave’s Mountain.” That’s in deference to Dave McCoy, the legendary founder of the ski area that this winter is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Dave McCoy, founder of the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, on the slopes likely in the 1980s.

Dave McCoy, founder of the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, on the slopes likely in the 1980s.

McCoy, who was born in 1915 in El Segundo, has been in the area since 1935 when the freshly minted high school grad landed in the nearby hamlet of Independence. He started earning money as a soda jerk — the same job he was working when he met his future wife, Roma Carriere — and saved up to buy his first Harley-Davidson.

In 1937, McCoy wanted to set up a rope tow on McGee Mountain, just off Highway 395 south of Mammoth. He used his motorcycle as collateral for an $85 loan to get parts for the device, which was powered by the motor from a Ford Model A truck. Eager skiers paid 50 cents to be pulled up the hill, and a business was born.

Soon, McCoy found work as a hydrographer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, sometimes in the winter skiing 50 miles a day to measure snow depths so officials could predict how much water would be available in the spring and summer.

“I enjoyed being outdoors all the time,” said the 98-year-old in a recent phone interview. “You enjoy life a lot more if you’re doing what you want to do.”

When the Forest Service sought bids to build a full-fledged resort in the area, McCoy used his knowledge of snowfall and snowpack trends and picked what he thought would be a prime location. In 1953, he was awarded a permanent permit to operate Mammoth Mountain. He built a warming hut that summer, and by November, shortly after the birth of their sixth child, McCoy told Roma he was quitting his job to put all of his energies into building the ski area.

Much of McCoy’s story — which is intertwined with that of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the town of Mammoth Lakes — is documented in “Tracks of Passion,” written by local historian Robin Morning. In snippets of text and lots of vintage photos and illustrations, it captures the challenges McCoy et al. needed to overcome to turn a stunning mountain in a remote area into what has become a world-class destination.

More recently, that transformation included the 2003 opening of a four-story, pedestrian-oriented shopping and condominium complex, the Village at Mammoth, and then McCoy’s decision in 2005 to sell his controlling interest in the company to Starwood Capital Group for $365 million — one of the highest prices ever paid for a ski resort at that time.

Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge today offers all of the amenities that skiers and snowboarders have come to expect – apparel and gift shops, equipment rentals and demos, restaurants and other diversions. (Photo by Peter Morning)

Now: Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge today offers all of the amenities that skiers and snowboarders have come to expect – apparel and gift shops, equipment rentals and demos, restaurants and other diversions. (Photo by Peter Morning)

What makes Mammoth such a special place? Ask McCoy, and his answer is simple and direct: “The snow and the mountain.”

For many, if not most, of the 1.3 million skiers and snowboarders who frequent the resort every winter, that truly is the long and short of it.

Others may point to the fact that Mammoth Lakes is essentially a 4.5-square-mile island in the middle of hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped public lands. That’s a big part of the appeal for Jack Copeland, president of the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s no urban or suburban sprawl here,” he said. “We don’t have a cute little 19th century mining town because the ones we did have burned down in the 19th century. What we have now is close proximity to unspoiled wilderness and fabulous weather — great for summer and for winter.”

It likely will remain that way since much of the region is national forests, national parks and property overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The DWP also is a huge player, after it bought up nearly all of the land in the Owens Basin and the accompanying water rights that stretch essentially to the foot of Mammoth Mountain.

So, in effect, one outcome of the California water wars of the early 1900s is that the region around Mammoth Lakes will never get built up like many other winter destination communities, such as the ones along Interstate 70 in Colorado or those in the vicinity of Park City, Utah.

That, Copeland adds, is a good thing.

“I know a lot of people who like Park City, but the main attraction at a lot of those other big resorts is not about skiing, it’s about retail, frankly,” he said. “We really specialize in outdoor wilderness and mountain experiences. That’s who Mammoth is for — people who want to be close to the mountains and either actively participate in recreational activities or want to relax and enjoy the view.”

It’s the same outdoors, and the same mountain, that Dave McCoy embraced all those years ago.

>>>>>

5 RESORTS: NEW ON THE SLOPES

Ski and snowboard resorts invested big during the off-season. Here are highlights from five California locations. For information about resorts throughout the state, visit www.dailynews.com/travel and www.insidesocal.com/snow.

Bear Mountain
43101 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake
909-866-5766, www.bearmountain.com
• What’s new: For snowboarders, the Red Bull Plaza has been revamped and now includes a city-inspired parking structure, billboard wall ride, Dumpsters, close-out rails and a multi-use object called the City Center.
• Social connections: @Bear_Mountain, www.facebook.com/BearMtn

Mountain High
24510 Highway 2, Wrightwood
888-754-7878, www.mthigh.com
 What’s new: A Rossignol Experience Center, expanded Children’s Sports Center and new snow cats and terrain features are among the more than $1 million in improvements. The current snow-making system is 30 percent more efficient than it was a decade ago, allowing the resort to make more snow than ever using fewer resources.
• Social connections: @mthigh, www.facebook.com/mthigh

Snow Summit
880 Summit Blvd., Big Bear Lake
909-866-5766, www.snowsummit.com
• What’s new: Big Bear Mountain Resorts, which owns this property and Bear Mountain, has invested more than $12 million to improve snow-making capabilities at both resorts in the past few years.
• Social connections: @Snow_Summit, www.facebook.com/SnowSmt

June Mountain
3819 Highway 158, June Lake
888-586-3686, www.junemountain.com
• What’s new: The resort returns after a one-winter hiatus with on-mountain experiences suited for all levels, especially families and entry-level skiers and snowboarders. The Mammoth Mountain MVP season pass also includes free access to the slopes at June.
• Social connections: @JuneMountain, www.facebook.com/JuneMountain

Mammoth Mountain
10001 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes
800-626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com
• What’s new: The 60th anniversary season brings with it many improvements, including a $700,000 renovation of the Mammoth Mountain Inn and the debut of the Underground Lounge nightclub with space for live music. Kids are sure to enjoy the upgrades to the Unbound Playgrounds and Adventure Zones, part of which will have a Sesame Street West theme. Top skiers and snowboarders will come to town for pre-Olympic training at Mammoth before heading off to Sochi for the Winter Games. The Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, Jan 18-19, will conclude with the announcement of the 2014 Olympic Snowboarding Team for halfpipe and the new Olympic event of slopestyle.
• Social connections: @MammothMountain  www.facebook.com/MammothMountain,
www.youtube.com/user/MammothMTNOfficial

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: www.bearmountain.com and www.snowsummit.com

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.

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.

Information: www.bearmountain.com

 

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 jobs@bigbearmountainresorts.com or visit www.bigbearmountainresorts.com.