This week’s healthy snow dump in the mountains is a sight to behold for historically beleaguered California ski resorts that need as much white stuff as possible if they are going to help set a Guinness world record.
Seventeen ski areas in the Golden State join more than 130 around the country on Friday in trying to achieve the record for the largest multi-venue ski and snowboard lessons ever taught, according to the California Ski Industry Association, which is co-sponsoring the event that is tied to January being Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
The reason for the event, according to organizers, is the large drop off among people who try to ski or snowboard on their own. The industry association cites figures showing 85 percent of those who go up the hill never return for a second trip.
“Our member resorts are not only very excited to participate in this event to set a world record, but also to promote and celebrate learning to ski and snowboard in California and Nevada,” says California Ski Industry Association President Michael Reitzell.
“We are not talking about giant lessons at each venue,” adds Mary Jo Tarallo, the event director. “If a venue has 100 people that may mean 10 lessons with 10 people. It depends on the venue.”
After the lesson, which averages to a couple hours, participants will have access to beginner slopes the rest of the day, according to the association.
Participating resorts include Southern California’s four biggies (Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, Mountain High and Snow Valley) as well as popular resorts in the Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes’ areas (full list at the bottom).
A couple seasons ago I attended the scheduled re-opening of June Mountain, the sister resort to the state’s leader, Mammoth Mountain. Skiers, snowboarders and their gear arrived, but the snow did not, so we had to make due with one short, icy bunny hill that had been covered with trucked-in snow.
Officials at Mountain High near Wrightwood and Bear Mountain and Snow Summit hovering over Big Bear Lake say they are banking on forecasts calling for up to 2 feet on new, nature-made snow by the end of the week. As you read this, the snow level should be between 6,000-7,000 feet but then drop to 4,500 feet. With more storms apparently on the way, the problem won’t be not enough snow but perhaps a pounding during Friday’s event that might spook newbie skiers and boarders.
It’s even more intense farther north.
“The first official El Nino storm of this winter is here and it’s a doozy,” Mammoths Tim LeRoy told me Tuesday afternoon. “So far at Mammoth there’s eight inches on the ground, with as much as four feet expected over the next 48 hours.
“Mammoth is 100 percent open—all lifts, all terrain. As of this morning the base at the top of the mountain was 85 inches, so this should put us over the century mark!”
You read that right: 85 inches BEFORE the other storms arrive. Amazing.
Oh yeah: BRING CHAINS!
Snow Valley outside Running Springs is wooing potential local crowds with special offers. Their 2016 Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Offer allows anyone ages 13+ to buy a beginner ski or snowboard lesson for $69 and get a second free. The deal includes beginner area lift tickets, 1.5-hour group lessons and a complete ski or snowboard rental package. It’s valid Mondays through Fridays through Jan. 29. (The holiday rate for a beginner lesson on Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is $99.)
Snow Valley is also running a “Bring A Friend” Offer that allows everyone ages 13 and up to saves $10 on their own lift ticket when they bring a newbie for any beginner lesson. Full price lift tickets are: $69/adult (ages 22-64); $49/Young Adult (ages 13-21 w/valid I.D.) or Senior (ages 65-69). As my 88-year-old father knows, Super Seniors (over 69) ski free, as do kids under age 6. “Bring A Friend” is valid during the same days as the Learn to Ski or Snowboard deals.
Friday’s world-record attempt begins at participating slopes at 10 a.m. Here’s the list:
Southern California Ski Areas
1. Bear Mountain Resort
2. Mountain High Resort
3. Snow Summit Mountain Resort
4. Snow Valley Mountain Resort
(San Diego Adventure Ski & Snowboard School will also participate)
Northern California/Nevada Ski Areas
5. Alpine Meadows Ski Resort
6. Bear Valley Mountain
7. Boreal Mountain Resort
8. Diamond Peak Ski Resort (NV)
9. Homewood Mountain Resort
10. Heavenly Mountain Resort (CA/NV)
11. June Mountain
12. Kirkwood Mountain Resort
13. Mammoth Mountain
14. Mt. Shasta Ski Park
15. Northstar California
16. Squaw Valley Ski Resort
17. Tahoe Donner Ski Area
Participants sharing their lesson on social media are encouraged to use the hashtag #firstdayfaces.
Links to sign up, find more deals or just more info: