BEAR MOUNTAIN–The nation’s only all-mountain freestyle park! Rated top park in the country by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine and others with well over a hundred jumps and jibs spread across the mountain during the winter, standard pipe and competition-quality Superpipe, Red Bull Plaza and features for all skill levels from beginner to advanced in all shapes and sizes. Southern California’s steepest run (Geronimo) and largest beginner area mean there’s something for everyone on Bear’s four mountain peaks serviced by two high-speed quads. 13,000 sq. ft. sundeck is legendary for apres ski and board with live music, cocktails and more plus full-service base lodge inside.
43101 Goldmine Dr. Big Bear Lake, CA (844) GO2-BEAR www.bearmountain.com
Fun Features for All at the People’s Park
From the region’s largest beginner area to its longest and steepest run, Bear Mountain has it all outside. So it’s not surprising that off-season improvements instituted by new owner Mammoth Mountain focused on indoors.
The resort introduces Methods Sports Bear in the main lodge with an array of new big screen HDTVs and all the major sports packages so skiers and snowboarders don’t miss the big games. There’s an updated menu too and sports design and memorabilia.
Downstairs Bear’s Silver Mountain Eatery has been completely redesigned with new food service stations and more registers to get guests in and out faster. Choose from Mexican and Asian to salads and smoothies along with traditional resort fare like burgers and dogs.
Even the famous 13,000 sq. ft. deck gets a new look with Laybacks Bar, the ideal spot for suds and sun while catching action in The Scene. A new menu is also slated for Geronimo’s Outpost at the bottom of Southern California’s steepest run.
It’s all part of improving a resort that last year took the top spot in Transworld Snowboarding’s reader poll for best freestyle park, surpassing resorts like Snowmass, Whistler Blackcomb, Park City and Copper Mountain. From new signage with galvanized metal frames in the shape of park features to direct guests around the area to new features from 2016 Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails summer event in Red Bull Plaza, new owner Mammoth Resorts continues to amp up Bear and also neighboring Snow Summit.
Bear has billed itself as the world’s only All-Mountain Freestyle Park for over a decade now and it’s safe to say there’s not another resort anywhere that’s as dedicated to feature fun. About 168 of its almost 200 developed acres are dedicated to freestyle or about 85%, a ratio that nobody else matches. It takes tons of snow to build a great park and that’s something Bear and Snow Summit have plenty of, thanks to state-of-the-art snowmaking systems and unlimited water supply courtesy of Big Bear Lake.
Three halfpipes, from one for those just starting out to a standard pipe and 600 foot-long competition-quality Superpipe with 18 foot sidewalls, set Bear apart from other Southland resorts. The halfpipes are cut with state-of-the-art Zaugg pipe Monsters and four new machines were added to the snowcat fleets at both resorts, two from Prinoth and two from Piston Bully. One is miniature sized designed for cutting intricate snow features.
Bear Mountain pays almost rabid attention to its parks, changing things around almost nightly and maintaining features even during the day. Of which there are a lot; there’s quarter pipes, jibs and jumps spread around the mountain, both snow and metal, a mixture of rails, pyramids, hips, boxes and more for all ability levels.
No surprise then that Snowboarder Magazine’s The Launch presented by Volcom returns to Bear in late March 2017 for a week of insane spring riding on perfectly-cut features with some of the nation’s top up and coming snowboarders. For nearly a decade Volcom’s late season event has fueled the next generation of young riders, visiting top parks in the process including Mammoth. Park staff builds a terrific setup for the event that is often left up for the public to enjoy.
There’s jumps galore, from itty bitty hitties along the flats of Amusement Park perfect for snowboarders and skiers just starting to get air to Superpark-sized triple jump lines down The Park Run with consecutive 30-, 40- and 50-foot jumps that only the best riders hit. Spines, hips, transfers, cheese wedges, rollers and bumps are but a few of the jumps Bear is famous for.
Yet it’s a mistake to think that Bear is just Park. Four mountain peaks, all 8,000 feet or higher, offer great carving whether you’re a one or two planker, and when there’s snow the canyon riding through the trees absolutely Colorado-like.
Each peak has its own distinct personality. Showdown Mountain is mostly natural ungroomed terrain with lots of cool carving under the chair while runs like Gambler are reminiscent of Mammoth. Goldmine Mountain at 8,440 feet sports the signature Park Run, a mile-and-a-third long line of jibs and jumps, but there’s also Rip’s Run and underrated off piste terrain on skiers left.
On Silver Mountain it’s Exhibition, Rip Cord and super steep, twisting The Wedge (formerly Quicksilver), corkscrewing off the 8,560 top. Towering above them all is Bear Peak, sixth highest ski peak in California and tops in the Southland at 8,805 feet, starring Geronimo. The run starts steep, continues with a flatter transition, then suddenly drops away into 35° pitch of double black diamond terror with 1,100 vertical feet and a fall line that drops to skier’s right.
Yet Bear not only has the region’s steepest groomed run but also its largest beginner area, making it the ideal place to learn. Newbies are removed from the hustle and bustle of the resort—in fact they’re shuttled away from ski and snowboard traffic—and get their legs under them by riding their own Magic Carpet conveyor belt they just step on and off. When it’s time to head to the lifts, first there’s slow-moving Clementine and then a detachable high speed quad allowing them to get on the runs in they want on three gentle low intermediate trails that allow learners to feel their way.
“People say Bear has great parks and that’s where the pros go, but it has a larger beginner area than Snow Summit,” the resort’s Clayton Shoemaker said. “We want people to know that if you’re a pro we’ve got it, an intermediate we’ve got it, or a raw beginner, we’ve got that too.”
Skill Builder Parks, found on Amusement Park and Learning Curve, sharpen guest skills in a laid back learning environment on features that start off basic, then graduate to larger rollers. Everywhere there’s small step-up jumps, boxes and rails just inches off the snow. Master those and you’re ready to explore the rest of The People’s Park.
When it’s time for a break head to the 13,000 sq. ft. sundeck, one of Bear’s other notable assets. It’s the place to see and be seen right next to The Scene, the resort’s collection of hike-to-hits above the base area with beginner, intermediate and advanced jibs.