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Best central CA ski areas???

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all. Been skiing Hood and Bachelor since age 4. I just move to CA after a three year stint in Ohio, and I'm anxious to get back into skiing. I'm between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Where should I go?

Tahoe should be good, but it is like 7-8 hours away. Is there anywhere closer that is decent? What is the best place at Tahoe, based on crowds, lift speed, and terrein?

post #2 of 8
Seems like you have a fairly significant haul to any skiing from Lompoc area. Sierra Summit (1600' vertical, 35 trails) might be around 5 hrs from you. Kirkwood (2000' vertical and southern-most of the "Tahoe" resorts) looks to be about 6.5 hrs away. I thought Mammoth would have been closer, but according to yahoomaps it looks to be about as far as northern Tahoe resorts - about 8hrs away. Check out for some details on California ski areas.

Just thought about busy areas to the south: Mountain High, 4 hrs from Lompoc, 1600' vert, 47 trails.
post #3 of 8
sierra summit ( is your best (as in nearest) bet. i'd advise against the drive down to mountain high, unless you can do it midweek when when we have plenty of snowfall.

this assumes what you are most interested in cutting travel time, by the way. assuming the above drive times are correct, i'd consider eating the extra time (since you're driving five hours anyway) and hitting kirkwood.

i was impressed one spring day at baldy when i met a couple who'd come down for the day from santa barbara.
post #4 of 8
I've been to Sierra Summit a couple of times, they have some great terrain. Your best bet may be to catch a quick flight to Salt Lake City.
Don't bother with Mtn High. The only reason most of us go there is because they are the closest place with snowmaking.
post #5 of 8
When I lived in LA, my favorite ski area for a day trip was Mt. Baldy. It'll be about 3 hours or so from you, I think. You'll need to check on that. It's a funky little area that gets good snow (or at least it did when I lived out there 10 years ago). There are few beginner trails, most are advanced runs, and you have to take a lift from the parking lot to get to the base area (usually can't ski down to parking lot, rarely has consistent snow on those trails). Most skiers were advanced and better when I went. Because of the higher-level difficulty of terrain, it was always the least crowded of the SoCal resorts. Views are great, too, if you care about that sort of thing. There is a gnarly access road, during storms you need to use chains. It's off the 10 and the 210. Here's the website:

For South Tahoe, I prefer Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Kirkwood has the highest base area of the Tahoe resorts, so it's snow is usually lighter and often more abundant (once you've skied in Sierra Cement, you'll know why they call it that!). The advanced and expert terrain is superb. Sierra-at-Tahoe is one of the "local" favorites and is known for its tree skiing. Not as challenging as Kirkwood, intermediates and advanced will be happiest here, experts might be bored after more than one day unless they simply love trees or venture through one of the five backcountry gates. Heavenly is nice too, but it tends to be more crowded--it's the most popular because it's the biggest and everyone's heard of it. You could probably find a cheap flight to Reno, then you can also choose from the North Tahoe resorts (since you don't seem to want to drive even as far as South Tahoe). In North Tahoe, Squaw and Alpine Meadows are best for advanced and experts.

Also, a trip to Mammoth is totally worth it.

If you'd like to read reviews and descriptions of what to hit on Mammoth and the Tahoe mountains, you can see my website, (we don't review Baldy because we only cover destination resorts). Look at the resort's homepage and the mountain layout description to get an idea of the terrain on each mountain.

post #6 of 8
Baldy would be worth a 3 hour drive IF we get a decent amount of snow, especially if you like skiing/boarding without many frills.

In any event, post on the meet on the hill section when you make a trip down here or to Mammoth.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice, guys. Keep 'er coming!

Damn....I'm getting so excited it is difficult to work today. I think I'll dig out ye' olde' in-line skates this weekend to try to get my ski legs back in the game.

A guy I work with said he made it to Sierra Summit in four hours last year. I could probably go on a Friday night, stay in a motel, ski Saturday, and drive back home that night.

A Tahoe trip would be nice if I can get the time off. I just heard the Warren Miller movie will come with a Heavenly ticket voucher, so I might have to try to use that. (anyone going to the SLO showing on Nov 28th?)

Hey...How'd you guys figure out I live in Lompoc (Lompton)? I don't see it in my profile anywhere.

Gotta go. Thanks again.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter are the crowds at Baldy? I see it only has 4 doubles, and is in LA's back yard. It reminds me of Ski Bowl in Portland, which is lift-line hell.
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