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Is Big Bear the safest bet in California?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

We went to Big Bear this weekend. Big Bear was AMAZING! Lots of coverage on the main runs. Lots of snowy features and big jumps. Fun and challenging steep pitches with a nice grippy surface. Sunday morning brought sunny skies and man made sweet powder. WOW!

 

The locals were unimpressed. "Hey, it's always like this. Unless it snows and the trees open up. Then it's really good." Big Bear's quality snowmaking and grooming (how do they keep the groomed runs from turning to boilerplate?) resulted in one of the best days of the season for us - despite the drought.

 

One issue the locals noted was how quiet it gets midweek. Few ski vacation plans consider Big Bear as a destination. Given that there is almost certainly a sweet manmade base and the possibility of some great terrain during heavy storms, Big Bear should be on the list for ski trip plans.

 

Being heavily vested in Squaw (with a pass and a rental property there), I probably shouldn't be touting alternative destinations. But Big Bear IS really good - an overlooked gem.

 

Eric

post #2 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eleeski View Post

We went to Big Bear this weekend. Big Bear was AMAZING! Lots of coverage on the main runs. Lots of snowy features and big jumps. Fun and challenging steep pitches with a nice grippy surface. Sunday morning brought sunny skies and man made sweet powder. WOW!

 

The locals were unimpressed. "Hey, it's always like this. Unless it snows and the trees open up. Then it's really good." Big Bear's quality snowmaking and grooming (how do they keep the groomed runs from turning to boilerplate?) resulted in one of the best days of the season for us - despite the drought.

 

One issue the locals noted was how quiet it gets midweek. Few ski vacation plans consider Big Bear as a destination. Given that there is almost certainly a sweet manmade base and the possibility of some great terrain during heavy storms, Big Bear should be on the list for ski trip plans.

 

Being heavily vested in Squaw (with a pass and a rental property there), I probably shouldn't be touting alternative destinations. But Big Bear IS really good - an overlooked gem.

 

Eric



Grew up skiing there.  I have a lot of time invested in skiing So Cal.  One, they do not have steeps.  Big Bear version of steeps is an intermediate run in Colorado or Utah.  For anything close to real steeps you have to head over to Mt Baldy.  They do get "boilerplate" you just happened to miss it.  Big Bear suffers from more than just being overlooked, they have little nightlife and they lack the resort type of hotels.  Don't get me wrong, I put my first pair of skis on at Snow Summit and I view So Cal skiing in a very good light.  Just that they are not real mountains as far as steeps and vertical are concerned.  I think the worst part of skiing up there is getting to the top and looking over to see Anderson Peak and San Gorgonio Mountain, mountains that push up past 10,500 and 11,000 feet.  Those are the mountains that the ski areas should have been built on.  Anyway, glad you had fun, I had a blast skiing there until I was 18 and bolted out of CA.

post #3 of 15

How far is the drive from Vegas? 

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

It's a long way to Vegas. Over 3 hours driving.

 

I agree that Big Bear on slope lodging and night life is not the glitziest. But there are a lot of restaurants in town and a lot of reasonable nearby off slope accomodations. It is like a suburb of LA so driving a car is required. While it is not an Intrawest or Vail slopeside village, it's not bad if you consider the proximity of the whole town.

 

The hills are reasonably steep. Silver chair at Big Bear is almost the same length pitch and fall as Granite Chief at Squaw (according to my buddies fancy GPS goggle readout). When the snow is good, the out of bounds (which returns to the lifts and is legal) is as good as Granite.

 

Being lazy, I seem to miss the boilerplate by getting out for the afternoon spring conditions. Unless it's good early too. Their grooming is really good - they make manmade snow skiable (I still hate groomed runs - unless that's all there is in the state).

 

My kids spent lots of weekends up there - it is great as an escape for Socal residents. Along with Baldy (too many snowboards now have ruined the sweet bumps that used to develop) and Mountain High (when they were little we went to Ski Sunrise but Mountain High gobbled that up) we had fun day trips to our local mountains.

 

I still think Big Bear could work as a destination. The certainty of a high quality skiing experience - even in a bad snow year - makes Big Bear a safe bet. This year it certainly has been the spot. If the weather in Tahoe doesn't improve next few seasons, I might have to look for a place there.

 

Eric

post #5 of 15

Interesting, however the usual clause applies.

 

worthless.gif

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by bustedknee View Post

How far is the drive from Vegas? 



oh!  no no no,,, do not make a trip to big bear from vegas!   Big bear is a local socal mtn for people to get their ski fix.  It's more of a giant terrain park than anything, unless they get natural snow that the trees open up.  Repeat do not travel to big bear! :)

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdiddy View Post



oh!  no no no,,, do not make a trip to big bear from vegas!   Big bear is a local socal mtn for people to get their ski fix.  It's more of a giant terrain park than anything, unless they get natural snow that the trees open up.  Repeat do not travel to big bear! :)



What if I am already going to be in Palm Desert? Is it worth it for a day trip? 

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiingCoug View Post



What if I am already going to be in Palm Desert? Is it worth it for a day trip? 



   If you go up on a weekday then yes.  So long as you don't hold it against me. :) 

post #9 of 15

In need a ski fix from Vegas - conference - So its either Big Bear, Brian Head, or Las Vegas Ski area for a day... sounds like Brian Head is also 3+ hours...  any thoughts?

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingZ View Post

In need a ski fix from Vegas - conference - So its either Big Bear, Brian Head, or Las Vegas Ski area for a day... sounds like Brian Head is also 3+ hours...  any thoughts?


Brian head for sure.  

 

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

The lack of respect for Big Bear is not fully justified. Big Bear WILL have snow - that's the safe bet. The mountain is fun and since your ticket works at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit you will have a reasonable amount of terrain. The pitch on many of the runs is quite steep - nice for fast cruisers. The whole mountain is an entertainig terrain park. If you get lucky and a real storm hits, it will be great.

 

Driving from Vegas to Palm Desert with a stop in the Socal mountains is a no brainer. If you are time limited, Mountain High is not a huge detour off I15 and can be fun. If you are spending the night enroute, Big Bear is a great stop. There's supposed to be a shortcut backroad to Desert Hot Springs to save some driving time but do your research - I missed it last time.

 

If you are based in Vegas, it is a long drive. As you can see by the other responses, you won't get any respect for checking Big Bear off your list. But you can count on getting snow (probably plenty of manmade) and a reasonable hill.

 

Unless you are really lucky, it won't be your best ski day ever. Probably not even top 10. But chances are if you invest the effort to bring your skis and drive a bit, you will get some fun rides.

 

Eric

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by eleeski View Post

The lack of respect for Big Bear is not fully justified. Big Bear WILL have snow - that's the safe bet. The mountain is fun and since your ticket works at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit you will have a reasonable amount of terrain. The pitch on many of the runs is quite steep - nice for fast cruisers. The whole mountain is an entertainig terrain park. If you get lucky and a real storm hits, it will be great.

 

Driving from Vegas to Palm Desert with a stop in the Socal mountains is a no brainer. If you are time limited, Mountain High is not a huge detour off I15 and can be fun. If you are spending the night enroute, Big Bear is a great stop. There's supposed to be a shortcut backroad to Desert Hot Springs to save some driving time but do your research - I missed it last time.

 

If you are based in Vegas, it is a long drive. As you can see by the other responses, you won't get any respect for checking Big Bear off your list. But you can count on getting snow (probably plenty of manmade) and a reasonable hill.

 

Unless you are really lucky, it won't be your best ski day ever. Probably not even top 10. But chances are if you invest the effort to bring your skis and drive a bit, you will get some fun rides.

 

Eric



Sorry, I just can't agree with the what I put in bold.  Growing up skiing in Big Bear I thought they were steep, then after spending one season in Colorado skiing all over and for 100+ days I went to visit my family in So Cal and we went skiing.  There was no point to turning on any of the so called double diamond or single diamond advanced runs.  They were short and not steep at all.  Seriously, I was thinking about this a few weeks ago while skiing at Arapahoe Basin.  I was on an intermediate run thinking how it was about the same steepness as the advanced/expert runs in Big Bear.  Big Bear is great for getting your fix like someone said, but as a destination, I can't see it.  The other issue I have with Big Bear is the roads seem to close way too fast, it only takes 1/4 of inch of snow sometimes to close them.  CHP is lame.

post #13 of 15

Big Bear is where I learned to ski. It has been 25 years since I was there but my recollections are:

 

 - hard until 10:00 AM, slush until 3:00

 

 - hella crowds on weekends

 

 - steepest run at Snow Summit was called "The Wall" and it could be ski'd backward if conditions were decent (and I'm talking on straight skis, not twin tips).

 

 

Having said that, you can have fun in most any situation - still beats not skiing

 

 

 

post #14 of 15

From our kitchen window i can see Bear Mtn. When Slow Summit bought Bear Mtn they turned it into a big snow board park where they move the around the terrain features without notice (AIR TIME).  It was the place to ski but now you have to worry if your gloves or shades are going to get jacked by the boarder trash types. The Security because of insurance can not touch a thief last time i checked.  They have a run there where i raced Sl which as steep as any SL course in or out of the USA but its short when its open. Slow Summit is a nice family place where you get off the chair and wonder where the hill is (Its flat). I worked at Mt Baldy and its no Jackson Hole but it does have its three 40 degree steeps and OB skiing is the best in SoCal. To answer your Question, it is the safest bet . The owner of both Big Bear Mtns has water rights from the Big Bear Lake. Other SoCal resorts have wells they draw water from. I believe they can blow more snow hands down than other resort here. Waterman and Baldy probably won't open this year and No Snow Valley just layed off staff and they can't blow enuf snow from there well to keep up. Not sure about Mtn High. Night life is limited unless you go where the locals go. Year in and year out it does have the most snow and they have top notch groomers that make the runs easy to ski.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by timski2 View Post

From our kitchen window i can see Bear Mtn. When Slow Summit bought Bear Mtn they turned it into a big snow board park where they move the around the terrain features without notice (AIR TIME).  It was the place to ski but now you have to worry if your gloves or shades are going to get jacked by the boarder trash types. The Security because of insurance can not touch a thief last time i checked.  They have a run there where i raced Sl which as steep as any SL course in or out of the USA but its short when its open. Slow Summit is a nice family place where you get off the chair and wonder where the hill is (Its flat). I worked at Mt Baldy and its no Jackson Hole but it does have its three 40 degree steeps and OB skiing is the best in SoCal. To answer your Question, it is the safest bet . The owner of both Big Bear Mtns has water rights from the Big Bear Lake. Other SoCal resorts have wells they draw water from. I believe they can blow more snow hands down than other resort here. Waterman and Baldy probably won't open this year and No Snow Valley just layed off staff and they can't blow enuf snow from there well to keep up. Not sure about Mtn High. Night life is limited unless you go where the locals go. Year in and year out it does have the most snow and they have top notch groomers that make the runs easy to ski.T

 

Well said, and it's no joke about getting your stuff stolen and actually having security,  they even have a free ski valet and you better use it.    My daughter left her gloves on the table to get Ketchup and they were gone!    The response of the staff was "well at least they didn't take her lunch". lol! 

 

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