Big Bear Mountain Resorts, Mountain High Bring Skiing, Riding To SoCal

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Southern California skiers and snowboarders have plenty to choose from within a couple hours' drive from the Los Angeles Basin into the coastal mountain range.

Two of those resorts -- Mountain High and Bear Mountain/Snow Summit -- actually fill out five separate trail maps as, over the years, consolidation produced a wider variety of terrain.

At Mountain High, skiing began in the 1940s and has expanded to three separate mountains -- East, West and North -- that split out nicely according to skill and type of terrain. The West Resort, now combined with neighbor East Resort, acts as the focus for the three resorts. But each has its own base facilities. Free shuttles run between West and East bases.

This season, skiers and riders will benefit from more snowmaking capacity (essential for a SoCal mountain), more features in the terrain park and renovations to the Foggy Goggle Bar at the West Resort base.

Mountain High is a Powder Alliance member and accepts the two-day-free Indy Pass. Night skiing on 85% of West Resort goes until 10 p.m. every evening at West Resort, with tubing park at North Resort. Parking can be an issue. There is on free parking lot, at the West Resort, but all the others cost $20 per vehicle.

Head to northeast into the San Bernardino mountains to find a longtime favorite of SoCal's skiers and 'boarders, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Under the moniker of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, the two mountains sit separately above Big Bear Lake, but you only need one ticket or an Ikon Pass, to ski and ride both.

This season, a multi-year renovation of the Bear Mountain base has produced an upgraded Laybacks Bar, a more convenient layout for the rental shop, and additional parking. Bear's 1,665 vertical drop serves a couple of long blacks, but the emphasis is on terrain parks. More than 200 features spread around the 200-acre mountain, plus a pair of halfpipes. The mountain's huge learning area focuses on getting never-evers up and onto the slopes, while progressive parks aim to step up freestylers' game.

Partner mountain Snow Summit is a couple of miles down the road, and emphasizes intermediate and advanced terrain with a double-blacks and a bevy of wide-open groomers. Fourteen lifts cover the mountains 240 acres, with two high-speed chairs to the 8,000-foot-high ridgeline. Night skiing at Snow Summit runs weekends and holidays.

 

 

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Early Snowfall Gets Southern Sierra Season Off To Snowy Starts

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A number of southern Sierra ski and snowboard resorts opened earlier than planned for the 2022-2023 season, with a new chairlift, revamped tubing park and more snow guns highlighting new additions.

Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain, Dodge Ridge, Bear Valley and China Peak got going in early November, thanks to several unexpected large storms that dropped several feet up and down California's highest mountain range.

At Mammoth Mountain, crews at the Ikon Pass resort spent the summer working on a long-term project to develop Woolly's Tube Park into an all-season attraction. This offseason, tubing lanes were expanded, six new snow guns went in just for the tubing park, and an elevated conveyor lift is now up and running. The park, located at the bottom of Chair 4 and close to the kid-focused Wonderland Playground,is targeted to get more parking spots, too.

More snowmaking went in over the summer, aimed at getting more snow more quickly on the connecting trails across the mountain, and a bigger supply of snow for terrain parks. Neighbor June Mountain stood pat over the summer, and expects a mid-December opening.'

Up the Sierra Crest, the big news at Dodge Ridge is that two circa-1960s chairlifts came down, and a new triple chair went up in there place this summer. Skiers and riders can now reach the mountain's 8,200-foot-high summit with just one lift ride. The 862-acre mountain, a member of the Powder Alliance, expanded its terrain parks to promote progression, and remodeled both base and mid-mountain lodges.

A couple of other Sierra resorts got enough snow to being spinning lifts early. Bear Valley, a two-hour drive from Stockton, and China Peak, Fresno's backyard ski and snowboard mountain, got a couple of early feet of snow and pushed up opening dates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Game-Changing Lifts Set To Go At Palisades Tahoe, Mt. Rose

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A pair of high-speed chairlifts went in this summer at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and Palisades Tahoe, giving California skiers and snowboarders faster trips up the mountain and more terrain to explore.

At Palisades Tahoe, the much-anticipated base-to-base gondola will open this season. Long a dream of resort owners, the 2.4-mile-long eight-seat gondola will take skiers and riders from the former Squaw Valley base area to what was once Alpine Meadows base.

Alterra Mountain Co., the parent company for the resorts and Ikon Pass purveyor, says the new lift will cut down on traffic in the area by eliminating the need to drive or take a shuttle on the six miles of roadway between the resorts.

The gondola runs from the base of the newly upgraded Red Dog chair at the main Olympic Valley base area up and over the ridge to the backside base area. The ride takes about 16 minutes depending upon length of stops at the top of the KT-22 Express on the front side. Lift capacity would approximately be 1,400 people per hour in both directions.

Since taking over the two California ski and snowboard areas in 2018, Alterra has begun to spend the $17 million it pledged to upgrade and link the two distinctly different mountains -- the Olympic Valley front side with its cliffy steeps and glades, and the back side with expansive powder bowls.

The merging of the two areas will expand Palisades Tahoe's skiable terrain to about 6,000 acres, making it the second largest U.S. resort behind Park City Mountain (also a combination of two mountains).

At Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, the focus this summer has been on the Lakeview zone of the mountain (skier's left). Replacing the fixed-grip Lakeview chair, the replacement high-speed chairlift will deliver skiers and riders to the resort's high ground in less than half the time -- unloading higher up than the previous top terminal.

The new detachable quad will bring novice skiers and 'boarders to some of Mt. Rose's best blues and green runs, including its longest Around the World at 2.5 miles. Also, as the name suggests, the new chairlift will afford skiers and 'boarders a classic view of Lake Tahoe.

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West's Resorts Begin To Fire Up Snow Guns For Opening Day

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With opening dates on the horizon, crews at many resorts in the West have been testing snow guns -- and looking longingly to the skies -- in hopes of putting down a base of snow in October.

Most ski and snowboard resorts have announced their anticipated opening days, although persistent warm weather in some regions may have something to say about that. A frequent check of resort websites is recommended.

However, hints of winter whiff the air and the high-country leaves are turning, so it's time to haul skis and snowboards out of storage and get them ready for the season.

The informal race to be the first to open in the nation falls upon the highest-elevation mountains along the spine of the Colorado Rockies. Traditionally, it's been Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Loveland that vie for the title, but Wolf Creek surreptitiously snuck in last season by firing up its chairlifts on Oct. 16.

This year -- if official dates are to be believed -- Keystone will lead the pack by opening on Oct. 21, followed by Arapahoe Basin on Oct. 22, and Loveland and Wolf Creek on Oct. 29.

In California, 7,700-foot-high Boreal on Donner Pass is optimistic to begin on Oct. 28, while Mammoth Mountain plans to be in second place with an Nov. 11 opening. Tahoe's Heavenly has penciled in Nov. 18 for its first chairs.

Despite having middle-of-the-pack summit elevation, Lookout Pass (5,650 feet) on the border of Idaho and Montana has pushed its first day all the way up to Nov. 6 -- a full two weeks ahead of its previous earliest opening. Schweitzer, Sun Valley and Tamarack all plan to follow later in the month.

A pair of Utah mountains -- Brian Head and Park City Mountain -- hope to be the first in the Beehive State with openings on Nov. 18.

Skiers and riders in Washington will have to wait until December for Stevens Pass (Dec. 2) and 49 Degrees North (Dec. 3), while Oregonians will have to bide their time until Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline (Dec. 11). Mt. Bachelor expects to follow close behind on Dec. 12.

In New Mexico, Sipapu has had a lock on first-to-open in recent seasons. For 2022-2023, the family resort tucked into the Sangre de Cristos has tabbed Nov. 18 to begin spinning its lifts.

 

 

 

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Strap In For High-Wire Thrills On Ziplines in the West

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At least a dozen ski and snowboard resorts in six states in the West have strung ziplines at or near the mountain to augment their offerings during the summer months.

In New Mexico, Angel Fire put its zipline network at the summit, with broad views of Sangre de Cristo Range. Guide-required for four-zip tour with six people max. Tours run every hour until 1 p.m, Friday-Monday.

Neighbor Red Riverloads two-seat Pioneer Flyer for backwards pull up to 600 feet elevation. A short pause for viewing, and then pairs are released for 35-mph free-ride back down. A shorter zip ride is incorporated into Hidden Treasure Aerial Park.

A couple of Colorado mountain resorts have ziplines at the mountain. Vail's on-mountain Epic Discovery Park incorporates a kids-only zipline -- about 10 feet in the air -- among its adventure package.

Purgatory has strung a pair of short, parallel ziplines that load on a condo deck and run over the base village center. Not long, the Plunge runs on weekends and can reach 35 mph.

Utah is home to one of the world's highest and longest ziplines, at Sundance Mountain Resort. Tucked up above Provo, the Sundance Zip has four spans with side-by-side cables that total two miles in length. And, you drop 2,100 vertical feet with control of speeds up to 65 mph -- with mid-air stops, too.

Above Salt Lake City, zipliners climb a 50-foot tower at the base of Snowbirdand reach 30 mph on side-by-side cables, landing on the deck of the tramway building. The ride is 1,000 feet long on a 15% grade.

Over in Idaho, Zip Tamarackruns four tours a day for a max of eight people, which lasts four hours. Each tour hooks onto eight ziplines with two suspension bridges interspersed -- plus a total of 1.5 miles of downhill hiking between platforms.

In California, Heavenly Mountainhas several ziplines on the hill. The rock-star zip is Blue Streak, one of the longest at 3,300 feet with a 525-foot vertical drop. Speeds reach 50 mph. The nearby Heavenly Flyer also reaches 50 mph as it skims the tree tops on an 80-second ride. And, an introductory ride can be had on the Red Flyer, which goes 100 feet at 15 feet above the ground.

And at Mt. Hood SkiBowl in Oregon, the resort has set up an aerial park the in air above the base area that includes an 800-foot long zipline. It's open Thursday to Sunday.

Many other resorts in the West sit near independent zipline operations, like Ski Cooper, Palisades Tahoe and Big Bear.

 

 

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California Independents Make Season Pass Partnering A Priority

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Season passes for 2022-2023 are beginning to come onto the early-season market for California's 38 independently owned ski and snowboard mountains.

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Lake Tahoe's Homewood To Become Semi-Private Resort

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JMA Ventures President Art Chapman remembers the days when Homewood Mountain Resort had six or eight ticket windows open with lines leading up to each window.

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Epic Pass Fine-Tunes Access, Pricing For 2022-2023 Season

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A modest price increase, more choice for multi-day passes, and a monthly no-interest payment plan are among the changes as the Epic Pass for the 2022-2023 winter season comes on the early-season market.

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Late Snow, Early Snowmaking Prompt Slew Of Season Extensions

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Used to be that the first week of April was the traditional time to hang up the skis, store away the boots, and dust off the summer recreation equipment. Not so much nowadays.

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Indy Pass Unveils Spring Sale For 2022/23 Season

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The first salvo in the U.S. multi-mountain season pass competition comes from Indy Pass: A spring sale that includes a Switch Pass with a small discount for skiers and riders who have a 2021-2022 Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective pass.

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California’s Original Ski Resort Is One of the Sierras’ Best Kept Secrets

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When it comes to classic California ski trips, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain are the big two — but nestled among towering red fir and lodgepole pines above the Yosemite Valley floor, Badger Pass has been a local “in the know” spot for generations.

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Five Affordable Ski Resorts To Visit In The West This Season

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Skiing and snowboarding are one of the best aspects of the winter months, and the West Coast, including the coastal areas, has numerous world-class resorts to choose from.

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An Expansive Epic Pairing Awaits At Lake Tahoe

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A half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts encircle Lake Tahoe, and two of the largest -- Heavenly Mountain and Northstar California -- belong to the Epic Pass network.

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SnoCast: Big Snow For the West and Midwest

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After an unusually warm start to the ski season from coast to coast, the forecast features a blast of cold and snow that we snow-lovers have been waiting for. From California to Wisconsin, heavy snow is in this week's SnoCast forecast. 

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California Epic Pass Resorts Poised To Open

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A trio of Lake Tahoe-area resorts on the Epic Pass system have done all they can to get ready for the 2021-2022 season, and now it's up to Mother Nature.

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Bring The Kids And Save Some Bucks This Season

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A burgeoning trend in the ski and snowboard industry is for resorts and states all across the country to expand ski-free programs for youngsters and teens in hopes they stick with the sport -- and also save families a bit on ski vacations.

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California's Trio Of Ikon Pass Resorts Rarin' To Go

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Things are expected to get closer to "normal" at California ski and snowboard resorts this season, as do the four mountain resorts in the Golden Bear State that honor the Ikon Pass.

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Sierra At Tahoe Will Postpones Opening Due To Wildfire Damage

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After several dry seasons, many Lake Tahoe ski resorts rejoiced when they were hit with early snow that kicked off the ski season in October.

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Resorts To Loosen Covid Restrictions

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Last season, Covid gave a jolt to the time-honored habits of skiers and riders, but the 2021-2022 season promises to be a bit less restrictive -- with exceptions.

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Big Snow = Early Openings in California For Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe

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Thanks to more than three feet of snow, California's Mammoth Mountain and Palisades Tahoe will open for the season on Friday, Oct. 29.

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