Heavy snow is expected to fall above 5,000 feet, which is plenty low enough for the east and west Mountain High resorts near Wrightwood, where the elevations start at 6,600 feet and rise to 8,200 feet. Coupled with extensive snow making to fill in the patches, this weekend's dump means hardcore skiers and snowboarders will soon be flocking to the first Southern California resort to open the past 16 years in a row. Why will we be going there? Let us count the reasons.
1.) BECAUSE IT'S THERE
The resort's three mountains include 14 lifts that will deliver you to 59 trails. There is terrain for every ability, from newbies to Black Diamond card carriers.
2.) MAKE SNOW NOT WAR
You know that bit in the beginning about Mountain High routinely being the first Southern California resort to open? Much of the credit goes to their extensive snow making and willingness to keep improving every year on man-made white stuff. Take this season: the resort has added six Super PoleCat fan guns from SMI and a swing-arm fan gun from Technoalpine which, no, is not a new Paul Kalkbrenner cut. Unlike the old days when hearty Mountain High staffers had to hike on foot up slopes to activate the guns willy-nilly, these bad boys work automatically and can even adjust to heavy or light snowfall as needed. “Our system has been in place for awhile,” says Snowmaking Manager Eric Loveng, “but compared to some of the newer systems I've seen, they can't touch the amount of snow we can make.”
3.) MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Indeed, the snow-making gear is just part of $1 million in improvements Mountain High has added since last season. There is a new Bison X park cat from Prinoth to groom the runs. Woodworth Gulch, near the bottom of West Resort, is a new "natural” terrain park catering to intermediates and above with rainbow rails, flat-down logs and tree bonks made entirely of wood. The resort also added five new jibs, including a 15-foot log wall, an A-frame, a new pole jam and a new bannister on Woodworth cabin. A new Rossignol Experience Center has the resort partnering with the French ski, binding and board maker to offer the latest in rental gear and instruction. For those who visit/rent multiple times, the center stores your personal information to speed up the process and get you on the slopes faster. The Children Sports Center has been expanded to serve even more 4- to 12-year-olds, and their parents can pick up their tickets and rental gear there also. A new Burton Youth LTR Center gets the young uns' up on the boards quicker–and their rental boards, bindings and boots have been improved to make learning easier as well.
4.) NOW GREENER
As part of an ongoing commitment to reduce Mountain High's carbon footprint and fossil fuel consumption, the resort added more recycling receptacles and installed waterless urinals (saving 1.5 gallons of water per use). They also reuse lift tickets to keep more than 100,000 out of landfills and, if you pay $1 more for that ticket, the buck will be donated to National Forest Foundation conservation efforts. During the off season, more than 10 tons of wood chips were spread around the resort area to maintain soil density and preserve the environment for generations to come.
5.) THEY'VE SWEETENED THE DEAL
In honor of Black Diamonds, Mountain High is offering an early bird Black Friday Special that starts next Friday, Nov. 29, and runs through Dec. 2. "Mountain High lift tickets make the perfect gift because they are always the right size and they never go out of style,” jokes John McColly, the resort's chief marketing officer. Snag an adult ticket for $49 during the special that you can use anytime during the season, a bargain when you consider it's normally $69 and Tahoe resorts are charging $90+ for mid-season, non-holiday tickets.
6.) EVEN SWEETER
Night skiing lift tickets are just 20 stinkin' bucks if you buy during the Black Friday Special period for anytime during the season. And if you buy early, you can also get $39 tickets for any daytimes on Mondays through Fridays (excluding the holiday weeks of Dec. 21-31, Jan. 1-5 and 18-20, and Feb. 15-17). Even beyond the Black Friday Special period, the resort offers savings via season passes, 3 peats and six-packs (of tickets, not beers; settle down!). Shop for these and other deals that best fit your intended skiing/boarding frequency at MtHigh.com. By the way, if you're 8 or under or 70+, you ski for free anytime. But you probably don't the Weekly if you are in those age ranges. Tell a friend!
7.) EYES ON THE PRIZE
To get you in the right proper mood, Mountain High produced the new feature-length snowboarding movie #WOODWORTH, which takes viewers through the history of the Big Pines region through to the creation of Woodworth Gulch, which is named after Dick Woodworth, one of the resort's mid-twentieth century developers. Did you know Hollywood celebrities used to be among those who trekked up Highway 2 to the resort? It must be true, the flick says so. It hasn't finished its theatrical run yet, but you can see the teaser at Vimeo.com.
8.) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Face it, we usually hit Mountain High first because it's the closest and easiest resort to get to from Orange County. If you leave early enough to avoid the daily 91 freeway bottlenecks, you can zoom up the 15 and be there in an hour and half or less depending on where you are and the road conditions. Trust me, Mountain High is aware of this in marketing the resort that, when I was a kid over yonder in Smog Berdoo, was known as Holiday Hill. Click here for their Gas Calculator "that will help you calculate your savings over other resorts.”
Gentlemen and women, start your waxing irons.