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CA in December?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
What are the chances of decent skiing in CA mid December? Are resorts normally open?
post #2 of 13

Tony's the best one to answer, but they'll be open.   Mammoth's probably the best bet, for decent conditions.

Lord knows,  they're due.

post #3 of 13

Assuming you mean Lake Tahoe area, I think the chance of good skiing is less than 50%. The later in the month, the better the chance and the bigger the crowd. Heavenly and Northstar will have some long man-made groomers assuming temperature is low enough to make snow.  See CA page at http://bestsnow.net/ and Early Season Recommendations Revisited which is 15 years old, but still valid.

post #4 of 13
Most resorts get open by the 15th in the Tahoe area, however conditions can be all over the map with the best man made surfaces at Northstar/Heavenly.

sometimes we get lot of snow but you will not know until this happens as snowfall is never reliable early season

Best bet is wait to book any destination travel until the snow is on the ground

@Tony Crocker is the snowfall expert and its best to consult his site http://www.bestsnow.net also
post #5 of 13

Bad idea. Even by xmas good skiing is 50/50. Mid December means mostly limited man made snow most years. We've had a few great Decembers, but mostly not.

post #6 of 13

Farther north along the coast it is more reliable.  Most places from Mt. Hood to Whistler are fairly reliable in mid-December, but nothing is written.

post #7 of 13

The issue with the Sierra is volatility, which can work in your favor in the early season.  In the big Decembers, most recently in 2010-11 and 2012-13, base depths and open terrain in the Sierra can be much more than in most of the Rockies. TR and pics from Dec. 4-8, 2012: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=10384

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 

Farther north along the coast it is more reliable.  Most places from Mt. Hood to Whistler are fairly reliable in mid-December, but nothing is written.

Mammoth's average percents of terrain open in December are similar to Bachelor's and Crystal's.  But there are two key caveats here:

1) Averages don't tell the whole story.  The odds of a horrible start in the Sierra (see 2011-12 and 2013-14) are much higher.  You can be looking at manmade WROD's on well under a quarter of terrain mid-December.

2) With the exception of Kirkwood, those early season stats at Tahoe are not as good because elevation is lower and November/December tend to see more rain incidence than January-March (also true in the PNW by the way).

 

I can't tell where Karlsson lives, but if skiing CA mid-December requires an advance booked flight, the answer is NO.  But that applies to most destinations IMHO.  December 15 is about the point where the most elite and consistent early season places (Targhee, Whistler, Alta) are worth taking an educated chance on an advance booked trip.

 

If you live within drive distance and/or can get to the Sierra on short notice once you know there is adequate snow, the better Decembers can be as good as anywhere.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 8/20/16 at 10:13am
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. I live in Europe and the trip wouldn't be a ski trip, but a visit to friends (St Barbara & LA). So just curious. I'll be able to make a last minute desicion.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karlsson View Post

Thanks for the input. I live in Europe and the trip wouldn't be a ski trip, but a visit to friends (St Barbara & LA). So just curious. I'll be able to make a last minute desicion.

In that case, bring your skis (or at least your boots)--there have been some really good Decembers and you might luck into one, and if you're going to be in Socal consider Mammoth instead of Tahoe if you have a car. Flying from Socal to Reno on short notice will be very expensive and Mammoth is a lot higher than most of the Tahoe areas.

post #10 of 13

Yes, bring your boots and ski clothing.   Two reminders from my post above:

1) Mammoth has a better shot at good mid-December skiing than most of Tahoe due to near immunity from November/December rain.  So you're just as well being in SoCal, with the 5 (LA) - 7 (Santa Barbara) hour drive to Mammoth.

2) If you see my TR in the above post, Liz lived in NYC at the time and brought only skis and clothing.  There was an excellent selection of demo skis at Mammoth's specialty shops, Footloose and Kittredge.

post #11 of 13

Good advice above.  And don't be too put off by the 5-7 drive to Mammoth, which is spectacular, especially the 2nd half.

All but the last 45 minutes are through the desert at relatively low elevation, so there's no worry about having to go slow and getting stuck somewhere.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all advice. Fingers crossed.
post #13 of 13
I booked a hotel Dec 10 weekend for 100 a night plus tax. It has free cancelation within 2 days of arrival. Point is, if you need a hotel, maybe book now but find a place you can cancel if needed.
Edited by lott42 - 8/20/16 at 7:18am
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