Monday, February 23, 2009

BIG BEAR: Snow Summit

Big Bear Mountain
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Ski Resorts


Before I moved down to LA, I had NO IDEA what or where Big Bear was.

Well, now that I'm a SoCal girl, I kind of have to know. Plus the fact that Boyfriend grew up in Big's kind of inescapable. There are also billboards and radio ads galore. I'm not sure if I've seen a TV ad just yet, but if any of you have, holler at me and I'll amend this statement.

Anyway Big Bear is one of the closest ski/snowboard resorts in Southern California. I'm saying that people from San Diego and LA go up to Big Bear to see "real snow". There are actually two resorts: Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. However, a lift ticket to one is a lift ticket to both places. I have only been to Snow Summit, though.

Snow Summit is pretty cool. When you get to the top of the mountain, you pretty much get awesome views of Big Bear Lake. Almost every run from the top has a nice view, that is, if you are skilled enough to not always be face first on the snow.

Their slogan is "Real Snow. Guaranteed."

At first, you might wonder why a Ski Resort of all places would even have to guarantee real snow. Isn't it kind of self-explanatory that a ski resort would have real snow? But you have to remember that this is in Southern California--world renowned for its yearlong "warm" weather, bikinis and beaches--not necessarily for its snow-capped mountains.

So, yes...there is real snow. Some of it, like the snow that are not on the runs are real snow that fell from the sky on its own natural accord. The snow on the groomed runs, however, are a mix of real real snow and man-made real snow. Catch my drift? No? Well, here's what Snow Summit says about it:

Big Bear Mountain Resorts has invested more than $12 million in the past few seasons to advance its snowmaking capabilities, which benefits guests by providing more reliable snow conditions as well as enhances the snow quality each and every day of the skiing and snowboarding season. This investment increased our snowmaking capacity by 50%. Each resort's snowmaking system can convert about 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water per minute into snow! That's a good sized stream flow and would fill up a back yard pool in just 5 minutes. Normal snowmaking conditions of temperatures in the 20's allow production in the 2,000 to 3,000 gallon range. With a nearly inexhaustible supply of water from Big Bear Lake, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain can cover 100% of developed runs with a fresh blanket of man-made snow - from three to five feet on many runs! This is substantially more than any other Southern California resort, as they rely on extremely limited amounts of well water and are often forced to reduce their snowmaking, thus offering fewer open runs.
Doesn't that sound awesome? They don't need Mother Nature to provide their snow for them, so they don't really have to swing with the weather. Which is all just as well, because sometimes the temperatures up in Big Bear can hit the 50's in the dead of winter...which isn't necessarily snow-making conditions. Also, even with all that snow-making capacity, there are some things that are just inescapable: slushy conditions on warm sunny days, rain and hail when the air is too warm to turn moisture into snow.

Nevertheless, big applause for Snow Summit for beating Global Warming and nature and giving Southern Californians real snow.

Anywho, here are some stats on Snow Summit:
  • 240 skiiable/ridable acres
  • longest run is Westridge, which is 1.25 miles -- I went down this one and was decently tired by the end (mostly because I kept getting scared so kept on stopping).
  • 14 mountain lifts, 2 of which are mountain-express ones that are faster and go all the way to the top of the mountain.
  • 31 trails/runs
  • fun zones with jumps and jibs
  • And the first X-Games were in Big Bear...just sayin'.

Also, only about 10% of the runs are really for beginners, so it gets pretty limiting for beginners. They have some low intermediate runs but I think that to put a noob on one of those is pushing it. I actually found their low-intermediate runs to be very high-traffic and dangerous, because there were so many beginners just falling and stopping and sitting around EVERYWHERE that the probability of hitting someone is just increased all the more.

However, it is very good terrain for actual low-intermediates, like me who just want to learn how to carve and get up the courage to move from green runs to blue runs.

I also really enjoyed the way they interspersed the low-intermediate and intermediate runs so that every now and then you can switch gears.

Boyfriend, who is advanced, also enjoyed hitting the jumps and jibs (or trying to haha!) and making tree runs. Note, though, if you plan on doing tree runs, that Snow Summit does not blow man-made "real" snow outside of the runs, so sometimes coverage isn't all that good among the trees. Which just translates to: watch out for tree stumps, roots and other such things that can get your board or skis caught and send you flying through the air.

So, what makes Snow Summit a good choice?
  1. It's close.
  2. It's about $20 cheaper than Mammoth and other Larger ski resorts
  3. It's a good place to go and practice before trying your hand at the bigger resorts and bigger mountains.
  4. You can go for free on your birthday (although this is only really a deal for those born in the Winter months)
  5. They also have Night Skiing.
  6. And, hello? It's FUN!

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