January picks up where the holidays left off at the Big Bear resorts, where a nearly two-foot storm and a ton of snowmaking made for great skiing and snowboarding. Indeed as 2017 arrives all major chairlifts at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are operating and the weather pattern continues to bring snowstorms.
Several high-production nights of snowmaking where 5,000-6,000 gallons per minute of water were being converted into snow allowed Bear Mountain to open the Southland’s steepest double black diamond run Geronimo, which offers 1,200 vertical feet of riding in itself. Snow Summit was able to open bowl runs including The Wall and blue square star Chair 10.
Skiers and snowboarders are greeted by two full service resorts in Big Bear that are mostly open including the most popular runs. Bear Mountain’s fan guns opened runs almost daily including favorites like Exhibition and Rip Cord down Silver Mountain, featuring 935 feet of upper intermediate riding, and black diamond Showtime, one of the region’s steepest runs. At the other end of the spectrum, Bear also offers Southern California’s largest beginner area, serviced by the Access Express high speed quad, with low intermediate favorites like Easy Street and Learning Curve doing business.
The Park is shaping up nicely at Bear with dozens of jibs and snow features spread around the resort and more added daily. Including two quarter pipes and the Southland’s only standard halfpipe and as conditions allow, expect to see the competition-quality Superpipe with 17’ sidewalls to open soon. The minipipe with smaller walls for learning will also soon open.
Red Bull Plaza, the urban-inspired park within The Park on lower Park Run. There’s jibs for all abilities including features that debuted at last fall’s Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails which comprise a new entrance. And the Ride Through, which debuted at 2013 HDHR and is essentially a giant hollowed-out shipping container, about 30 feet in length after 10 feet was cut off. Pillars keep it about two feet off the snow so riders slide right into and out of the box getting nice air at the end, hit the sides like it was a wall ride or bang off it. Or jump off the lip. And the Creeper Wall, which debuted at 2014 HDHR.
Snow Summit has also been turning the lake into snow, with all four top-to-bottom runs open serviced by both high speed quads. Along with upper mountain lifts like Chair 10 servicing Perfect Pitches and Sugarpine, Chair 7 with Timber Ridge and Seven Down, and Chair 9 favorites like Cruiser and Mainstream. Chair 3 is also open with access to park features plus popular runs like Ego Trip.
The new 3,000 sq. ft. Adventure Academy at Snow Summit on the east side of the base area is a one-stop shop learning center for kids for rentals, tickets and sports school registration. No longer do parents have to wait in separate lines to get their youngsters onto the slopes; just drop kids at the facility and go.
The base area features the wood-burning Big Born Smokehouse right below the chairlifts and paved courtyard with built-in fire pit plus two portable ones. Tables, heat lamps, charging stations and inflatable 30 foot movie screen are other amenities making the area a great place to hang out. Also don’t miss Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park and 30-foot climbing wall.
Snowmaking systems received $12 million in upgrades in recent years, ranging from the purchase of dozens of fan guns to power plant upgrades at Snow Summit. Really though, it’s not the guns that set the Big Bear resorts apart from the competition, but the ammo. Both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain have a virtually endless water supply in Big Bear Lake, drawing hundreds of millions of gallons for snowmaking, while others rely on limited supplies of reservoir and well water.
In a typical year each resort might convert up to 500 acre feet of lake water into snow…that’s nearly 163 million gallons! Indeed some of the best blizzards fall when it’s hot and dry in Great Basin; dry Santa Ana winds that bring heat to the cities actually start out cold in the mountains, and combined with low humidity, result in excellent snowmaking conditions. So if the palm trees are swaying, it’s likely the fan guns are spraying.
Call the resorts at (909) 866-5766.