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Advice: Stealing a day (or two) in LA area, around New Year

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be in LA over the New Year for business and have a chance to get free any time after 11 a.m. on Dec. 31st, and for most of Jan. 2, before I catch a redeye home.

Want to get some turns in on at least one of the days, preferably two. No experience with SoCal skiing, not expecting anything epic, just a new experience.

Any and all advice appreciated.
post #2 of 4
You've got 3 1/2 choices for SoCal:

Mountain High
It's the closest resort, but it tends to be REALLY crowded, and attracts a crowd that can be frustrating. If the East resort is open, there's some great cruising, otherwise the west resort is smallish and mostly park oriented.

Bear Mountain
They have the most fun terrain (especially if the canyons are open, but that isn't very likely). Silver Mountain and Geronimo are both lots of fun. However, the resort has lots of terrain features, so if you're not into park, or you really like wide open runs you may find the layout frustrating. Also, Bear attracts lots of snowboarders, some of whom come with attitudes (although it isn't as bad as Mountain High).

Snow Summit
Summit has more skiers than any other mountain in the area, but the runs feel kind of short and the terrain just isn't that exciting (kind of flat, typically overgroomed). Summit tries to be the most resort-like, but I've found their customer service to be weak.

Mt Baldy
This is the half resort. If they have snow, this is the place. Steeps, trees, bumps, etc. However, it takes a lot of snow to really get this place up and running. If the snow report says that you can ski to the bottom then go for it. Otherwise, don't bother. Also, bring rock skis no matter what the ski report says.

I should probably mention that I used to live in SoCal and worked at Bear Mountain, so I'm a bit biased. Also, if you don't mind the drive, you might manage to get in a day and a half at Mammoth, but it's 5 -7 ours from LAX to Mammoth (depending on traffic). Mammoth is a major league resort, and is worth the drive, even for just one day of skiing.
post #3 of 4
Bear Mountain at least has 1500 vertical, and nice views, so it's enjoyable as long as the snow is at least halfway decent. However, there are surprisingly few actual runs, just a couple per chair. Snow Summit has less vertical, but a few more runs, so might hold your attention longer. But the drive up to Big Bear can be an ordeal. Lots of vacation home people and prospective cardboard-box sliders choke the road, you won't be fighting just skier traffic.

Mt Baldy is the standout, again, IF it is open and has coverage beyond their rudimentary snowmaking. It has serious terrain, both nice runs and challenging stuff between the runs. Around New Years, I'd say you're about 50/50 for Baldy being good. You'll have a lot of nonskier traffic and a potentially nasty drive, but a much shorter distance of mountain driving than Big Bear.

My personal opinion, I wouldn't even bother with Mt High. It'll feel like gimmick skiing, like look ma I'm skiing in Southern California.

If you're REALLY looking for an experience, try tracking the developments at the Mount Waterman hill, up the other side of the Angeles Crest. The resort hasn't been open since a tragic accident there, but I've heard rumors that someone was attempting to start it up again. Waterman is like a trip back in time. Waterman needs even more of a lucky stretch of snow than Baldy does to get open.
post #4 of 4
Around New Year's you're about 15% odds of Baldy or Waterman being good, and I've got 31 years of data to back that up http://bestsnow.net/scalhist.htm
But you should check for reliable info when you arrive because those have the best terrain and will be worth it if you get lucky.

You will likely be looking at Big Bear with their huge snowmaking capacity.

I like Mt. High's terrain better than Big Bear's when everything is open. The problem is that most of the time everything is open at Mt. High, it's also good at Baldy so I go there. There are some situations where Baldy's snow has melted off while Mt. High has maintained theirs with grooming and snowmaking. This is obviously more likely a mid-season than New Year's scenario.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Advice: Stealing a day (or two) in LA area, around New Year