Snow Summit, Dec. 31, 2019

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Snow Summit, Dec. 31, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:44 am

After the Baldy experience Dec. 27 we were acutely aware that the SoCal mountains would be insanely busy during the holiday period with the unusual amount of snow this early in the season. So we decided for New Year's Eve to ski the second tier area Snow Valley, which had opened its advanced Slide Peak that I had not skied since 1982. So we bought advance tickets on Liftopia, left home 7AM and got there at 8:30. We had a lot of wind at home overnight and when I got up at 6AM I noticed that wind was a warm Santa Ana, 63F before dawn when it's been in the 40's at that time for the past week.

The Santa Anas are not warm at altitude but it was blowing in Snow Valley's parking lot and the exposed Slide Peak was closed. The good news is that Snow Valley and Liftopia were willing to refund my purchase and we were able to leave around 9:20. The bad news is that if we wanted to ski we needed to drive the further 15 miles to Big Bear, which was surely packed for the holidays.

We arrived by 9:45 and I would have been happy to pay the $20 for the lot at Snow Summit but it was full so we were relegated to the Brownie lot. We got parked by 10AM but of course there was a big line for the buses to Snow Summit, where we arrived at 10:40. Fortunately with our Ikon passes we did not have to go through a ticket line.

Once we arrived at Snow Summit the day went well and I skied 18,300 vertical from 11AM to 4PM. The initial line on chair 1 was 5 minutes and only once on chair 2 did we wait any more than that. Lines for chairs 3,6,7 and 10 were trivial.

After a warmup lap on Miracle Mile we spent the next 1.5 hours on chair 6 and 10, which have both elbow room and the most interesting skiing at Summit. From the top of Chair 10 here's the view of partially frozen Big Bear Lake with a layer of snow from the recent storms.
Big Bear 5208.JPG

When I usually ski Big Bear in early season, it's on snowmaking with about 3/4 of the mountain open. But with these week's storms all designated runs were open. Here's Liz on on Tommi's, a short pitch skier's right of Log Chute.
Big Bear 5212.JPG

From here we skied to Chair 10 via the infrequently open Jo's and Pipe Dream.

We skied all 5 runs on Chair 10, Perfect Pitches here.
Big Bear 5216.JPG

This area is fairly quiet even on a peak day like this one.

We skied to the base via the infrequently open Side Chute.
Big Bear 5221.JPG

I have never seen vegetation growing in the middle of that run before. In general Snow Summit is meticulously "summer groomed" to allow skiing on a 2 foot base.

Here's a good overview of Snow Summit's steepest Chair 6.
Big Bear 5230.JPG

Off Chute is at left, Olympic in profile at center, lower part of Wall is in foreground.

We took a short break at View Haus at the top of Chair 1.
Big Bear 5231a.JPG

San Gorgonio is in the background.

We returned to Chair 6 via Dicky's, usually one of the last runs to open.
Big Bear 5235.JPG

Normally almost every run at Snow Summit is groomed pool table smooth every night. Today was a exception. The liftie at chair 10 said that they got a surprise 6 inches natural snow overnight, probably after the evening grooming. By the time we got on the hill the new snow was cut up, but it was quite soft and the smoothest turns were through the clumps of new snow, which would not be the case if it were from the usual snowmaking.

Around 1PM we rode chair 2 twice, first to ski the Westridge park, then to access chair 3. Ego Trip at the bottom of chair 3:
Big Bear 5239.JPG

We next skied the ungroomed East Why, and then the trees between Ego Trip and East Why.
Big Bear 5242.JPG

This is the most likely off trail area at Snow Summit to be skiable, but it's been several years since the last time I did it.

We skied 4 more runs on Chair 6 then returned to chair 3. My last run was Ego Trip to Summit Run, connected by this short off trail section under chair 2.
Big Bear 5210.JPG

Late in the day I saw two monoskiers at Chair 2.
Big Bear 5246a.JPG

The wait for the bus to our car was short, so we drove down to Big Bear Lake by sunset. Here's the view across the lake to the solar observatory.
Big Bear 5250.JPG

If Snow Summit had even one WROD open Nov. 10, we would have skied that and spent the night before observing the Nov. 11 transit of Mercury in the early morning Nov. 11 with several of our eclipse chasing friends at the Big Bear Observatory. But without any skiing then it was easier for us to get up early and drive to Mt. Wilson from home.

When I was working and taking my sons to Big Bear on weekend days, we would often stay up there for dinner to let the traffic clear out. This was an obvious call yesterday because after dinner we could go back to Snow Summit for the torchlight parade. Liz had never seen one, though I had at a distance from the Alta Peruvian pool in 1986.

There were lots of kids at Big Bear, here being amused on this hill before the parade.
Big Bear Torchlight Parade 5256.JPG

There were torchlight parades down Log Chute and Miracle Mile. The Log Chute skiers are visible through trees here.

We have direct view of the lower pitch of Miracle Mile.
Big Bear Torchlight Parade 5280.JPG

Torchlight skiers/boarders merging from the two runs:
Big Bear Torchlight Parade 0788.JPG

Closer view of torchlights at the bottom:
Big Bear Torchlight Parade 5315a.JPG
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
Posts: 10625
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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