BIG BEAR MOUNTAIN RESORTS
Big Bear Mountain Resorts is actually two separate ski resorts joined by a complimentary shuttle service. It is possible to buy a season pass for "Bear Mountain only" at a reduced rate, but most season passes also include both resorts. These two ski areas have distinctly different flavors. Although I enjoy them both, I usually choose one for the day rather than lose valuable ski time shuttling to the other. To each his own however; there are some who enjoy skiing one area in the morning and the other after lunch - or Bear in the day and Summit at night.
Both mountains have a parking issue so either get there before first chair or expect to park in the boonies and ride the shuttle to the resort. The shuttles run often and do provide good service.
Both resorts usually get a WROD open before Thanksgiving. Both have excellent snowmaking, an unlimited water supply from the lake, a fantastic park and grooming crew, are usually fully open by the end of December, then remain open until mid April.
All photos are courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
Bear Mountain is defined by it's terrain parks and it's youthful vibe. They hosted the first winter X Games in 1997 and continue to sponsor pro riders. There is a regular flow of competitions( amateur and pro) and events held at Bear throughout the season. Don't let this fool you into believing that Bear Mountain is only for the hardcore. Bear has terrain features for all levels, an excellent beginner area, and is home to a full time, on-site, adaptive ski school for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. It also has some of the best steeps in SoCal and, in a big snow year, some great backcountry skiing in the canyons.
Like Snow Summit, Bear Mountain has excellent snow making, great grooming, and it also has an outstanding park development team.
A view of Bear in December 2012. The fantastic snowmaking makes Bear and Summit both excellent early season bets as far as open terrain and snow coverage.
Aside from the beginner area, Bear Mountain divides into three categories: Park Terrain, The Scene, and The Steeps.
THE PARK (chairs 1,2,3,5,9)
The entire Western half of the resort is dedicated to park terrain, a continuous 1200 vertical feet from top to bottom. Although there are features for every level of ability, Bear's park terrain attracts some serious sliders, and the pace is fast and furious. The West side is dominated by intermediate and advanced park terrain and is often busy on the weekends. To avoid crowds, arrive early in the day on Saturday or Sunday. Then when the slopes and park get too busy, hit the beach bar and kick back and watch the park action from the sundeck.
lower park run
Red Bull Plaza - an "urban themed" terrain park built in powder bowl
The scene is located in the base area. New freestyle skiing and snowboarding features are often laid out here before being placed on the mountain, giving sliders the opportunity to hike and try them out. Here, Bear also hosts its numerous events and competitions throughout the season. From the opening competition event in September ( "Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails") to "Neff's Beach Bash", the scene keeps hopping all season long.
The sundeck with view of "the scene"
The Scene rebuilt for the "War of Rails" competition
THE STEEPS (chairs 4 & 8)
Although "steep" is an exaggeration when compared Mammoth, Bear Mountain does boast the longest, steep runs in Southern California. Most of the time, runs like Geronimo and Exhibition are relatively uncrowded. While it may get repetitive skiing the same runs over and over (if avoiding park terrain) the room to ski is a definite plus. Be warned - on a powder day, all bets are off! Even the hardcore park rats appreciate a powder day as much as anyone else and will head for the peaks.
at 1 1/2 miles, Geronimo is the longest steep run in SoCal
view of Big Bear Lake from the top of Geronimo
Exhibition Run under chair 4