It may be officially spring, but the local mountains are looking a lot like winter as more snow blankets the slopes.
This week’s storm brought a much-needed shot of the white stuff to local mountains resorts. Many resorts were already planning closing dates, but the recent snowfall will be enough to keep lifts operating for at least a few more weeks.
The storm added 3-to-5 inches of snow to Big Bear area resorts, while Mountain High in Wrightwood got an estimated 4-to-6 inches. Further away, Mammoth Mountain received 7-to-8 inches.
Justin Kanton, spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resort, also said a few more storm systems could come through in early April, allowing both its Bear Mountain and Snow Summit to stay open through April 16, instead of closing this weekend as planned.
“The snow is in really good shape, this storm was a good shot and hopefully we’ll get a storm or two before we close things out,” he said.
At Bear Mountain, the two-day Ayee Esse Happening (pronounced AS) this weekend will bring pro riders to the resort with a mini-pipe contest on Sunday and free music and vendors both days.
Spring is a different vibe on the mountain. Instead of the freezing cold days and big crowds, the slopes are more manageable.
“It’s good for beginners, with softer and more forgiving snow, and warmer temps. If you have kids, lessons are more enjoyable than if you’re bringing them up in the middle of winter, which is a little more crowded,” Kanton said. “It’s definitely not as crowded this time of year as people start to go off to do other things and the weather is warming up.”
This season has had its ups and downs, with early winter storms dumping plenty of snow on the slopes, but drier conditions in January and February.
“Thankfully, throughout the season, conditions were good enough that we could make (snow),” Kanton said. “It was still a really good season for us. The natural snowfall is what gets people excited, but the man-made stuff helped us get through this year, for sure.”
As the snow melts, the mountain biking season on the Snow Summit slopes will begin, with the first race event planned in May. And the golf course just below Bear Mountain opens in May and Snow Summit will transform its base area into an adventure playground for summer with climbing walls and small zip lines for kids.
John McColly, chief marketing officer for Mountain High, called Tuesday a “mini powder day.”
The new snow from this week’s storm will be enough to keep the Wrightwood resort open until at least April 3, with plans to stay open being decided day-to-day through April 17, and possibly longer depending on if more snow falls.
Kevin Somes, vice president and general manager for Snow Valley about 20 minutes down the windy hill from Big Bear, said the shot of snow brought winter-like conditions.
“It looks great, it’s a nice winter-like day in spring,” he said Tuesday. “It’s nice and white out there, it’s refreshed everywhere.
“I think spring is a great time to come out and enjoy the sun and snow at the same time,” Somes said. “There’s a lot of people who will want to get one last shot in the snow.”
Snow Valley officials hope to stay open through Easter Sunday, which lands this year on April 17, though that could change if weather takes a warmer turn or there’s a lack of visitors, Somes said
“Based on what we have snow-wise,” he said, “I don’t see us having a problem with that.”
The resort, for the first time in three years, will host Easter festivities, including an Easter Bunny appearance and egg hunt on the hill.
“It’s nice to get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said of resuming more events after the coronavirus pandemic forced limitations.
There’s added perks offered this time of year at all the resorts, with lower rates on next season’s passes, which will also work for the rest of this season, and lower spring ticket prices.