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.

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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.

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.”

Bear Mountain prepares for Saturday’s Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails

Today, a large cargo container and black plastic tarp mark the site of Saturday’s Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails event at Bear Mountain. In three days, that will all change as more than 40 professional snowboarders will be competing for $15,000 in cash prizes.

Below is a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the 10th annual event. For more information, visit www.bearmountain.com.

Hot dogs, hand rails and a whole lot of fun on Saturday at Bear Mountain

More than 40 professional snowboarders will be competing Saturday during Bear Mountain's 10th annual Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails. (Bear Mountain photo)

More than 40 professional snowboarders will be competing Saturday during Bear Mountain’s 10th annual Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails. (Bear Mountain photo)

Snow in September? It’s definitely in the forecast at the 10th annual Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails competition Saturday at Bear Mountain.

More than 40 top professional snowboarders are scheduled to take part, and they will compete for $15,000 in cash prizes.

The men’s first place winner will be awarded $10,000 and the women’s first place will take home $1,000. The jibber with the best trick will receive $500. Both men and women’s first place finishers and the best trick winner will be presented with customized iPad Minis, which will serve as their digital trophy. Provided courtesy of Fusion of Ideas, the iPad Minis will display the digital checks and headshots of winners. These winners also will take home go-pro cameras customized by Fusion of Ideas.

Since the skies likely will be clear, the event will take place on 140 tons of man-made snow and will include urban-style steel features, which will be available for the public to ride in the Red Bull Plaza at Bear Mountain this winter season.

“From up-and-comers to seasoned riders, the 10th anniversary lineup is bigger and better than ever,” says Rio Tanbara, Bear Mountain’s director of marketing. “Each year, riders take the contest to a new level, and we can’t wait to see what new tricks they have in store.”

The event will showcase the talents of Bear Mountain professional team riders Dylan Alito, Zak Hale, Brandon Hobush, Desiree Melancon and Scotty Vine, among dozens of other top riders. Judges include Chris Bradshaw, Joe Sexton, Scott Stevens, JP Walker and special guest snowboard legend Dave Downing.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Diversions include DJs, dozens of vendors giving away prizes and, of course, lots of hot dogs. On the menu is a special hot dog deal, which includes a hot dog, chips and a domestic beer for $10.

The band Five Knives will perform on the Red Bull tour bus. Recently named an MTV2 Artist to Watch, Five Knives toured with the Smashing Pumpkins in 2012 and is a featured artist on the 2013 Vans Warped Tour.

The competition will begin at 2 p.m. and may be viewed from Bear Mountain’s 13,000-square-foot deck and Beach Bar.

Information: www.bearmountain.com

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.