Section 12: Southern California
The following information on Southern California is provided
courtesy of Carlson Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Southern California Skiing
With the possible exception of Mammoth, none of the SoCal resorts
compare favorably with, for example, a Colorado resort. On the other
hand, they are probably worth sneaking away to for a day on a
buisiness trip. Conditions are often soft and slushy. What Easterners
call hard pack, Southern Californians generally refer to as ice. But
do not be lulled into complacency by a warm Santa Ana wind, they are
often cold and bitter once you have made your way to the ski areas.
Driving is much more treacherous in storms since you always have to
traverse the snow line to get to or from the resorts. Chains are often
required in storms.
There are other places in the Southern Sierras, but since they all are
a five hour drive and Mammoth is so big and the rest are so small
everybody in SoCal goes here. This is really a resort for
SoCal residents only since flying into Mammoth is expensive and
flights originate from SoCal only. Mammoth is big (about 25 lifts). It
gets about 500" of snow anually. It has some real steep skiing but at
least half the terrain consists of noodly lower intermediate runs and
there is virtually no sustained upper intermediate terrain. Forget
ambiance, the mountain facilities resemble fallout shelters. The town
is modeled after a SoCal planned suburb with Swiss motifs nailed on as
Big Bear Area
The only place to ski when the snow hasn't fallen yet. Due to the
near limitless quantity of water that can be drawn from Big Bear Lake,
smowmaking can quickly cover Snow Summit and Bear Mt. 100% by
Christmas provided that there is ample cold weather. Snow Summit is
mostly all lower intermediate with just a smidge of beginner and
advanced terrain; 1000' vertical. Bear Mt. has more upper
intermediate and beginner terrrain. Bear has fewer runs than Summit
but 1600' vertical and a high speed quad more than make up for it.
The drive to Big Bear is a torturous cornucopia of tight curves. 45
miles from San Bernardino via either CA-330 or CA-38.
Mostly lower intermediate. There is advanced skiing on slide peak
(hidden from view). They have a small resevoir and do supplemental
snowmaking. Slide peak is only open after a big storm however. The
only advantage to going here is it is at least a half an hour shorter
drive than Big Bear. 30 miles from San Bernardino on CA-330.
2 Mts. connected by shuttle bus, East is 1600' vertical, West is
1000'. They have large resevoirs and can cover quite a bit of terrain
but wait for a few decent dumps before going there. West has lots of
short runs, headwalls really, that are faily steep and challenging.
They let many of them get really moguled - unlike the Big Bear area
where everything gets groomed every day. East has a high speed quad
with three long cruisers and a handful of interesting connector runs
to add variety. Olympic bowl has some truly steep terrain when it is
open. Perhaps the best thing about Mt High is the drive. Virtually
no treacherous roads. One minute you're climbing into the high
desert, the next minute you're parking your car. Take I-15 to CA-138
to CA-2 past Wrightwood.
The gem of the local ski scene - when it has snow (no snowmaking). The
lower mountain is seldom open because of it's low base elevation
(6500') and southern exposure. You ride 1300' to the lodge and ski
off two separate peaks that converge at the lodge. One peak has a
wonderful mix of upper intermediate, advanced and expert terrain. The
other peak has some long lower intermediate terrain. The runs are cut
from a very sparse forest so skiing is possible almost everywhere.
The upper area holds snow even when the lower mountain is totally
bare. And speaking of the lower mountain - it has a good assortment
of steep chutes and gullies that would challange most anyone. Even
when the one intermediate run is open to the bottom, many people opt
to ride the chair down to the parking lot. 20 miles from I-10 and
Upland on Mt. Baldy Road.
Mt. Waterman and Kratka Ridge
Two very funky but fun ski areas. Both have slow, diesel fired
chairs. Kratka's main chair is a single! Waterman is the better of
the two. The face drops steeply down into the parking lot and has
1000 ft. of very steep, knarly runs and glades. Above is the lodge
and above and behind the face is another area with some shortish
beginner and intermediate terrrain. Of course, there is not a single
snow gun between them and grooming is primitive and patchy. Check
them out if only to remember what skiing used to be like 30 years ago.
Almost no amenities, so come prepared. 45 beautiful miles from La
Canada and I-210 on the Angeles Crest Highway.
Bear Mt.................(213) 289-0636
Kratka Ridge............(818) 449-1749
Mt. High................(213) 626-6911
Snow Summit.............(213) 613-0602
Mt. Waterman............(818) 790-2002