Skiing is supposedly a winter sport, but this year in Southern California it's a spring sport. It took a while, but the season is finally going full-bore in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains.
After weeks and weeks of marginal snow conditions, shutdowns and occasional reopenings, all 10 Southland resorts are open now, with plenty of snow to go around.
These were the base depths as reported at Wednesday's roll call:
SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS--Kratka Ridge 36 to 48 inches, Mt. Waterman 48, Mt. Baldy 24 to 60, Mountain High (both East and West are open) 24 to 48, Ski Sunrise 36 to 48.
SAN BERNARDINO MOUNTAINS--Goldmine 36 inches, Snow Forest 17 to 24, Snow Summit 12 to 48, Snow Valley 30 to 42, Ski Green Valley weekends only.
They're still calling the surface packed powder on most slopes, but that may change to spring conditions--hardpack turning soft--before long.
Snow depths are also at their peak in the High Sierra, where Mammoth Mountain reported 193 inches, June Mountain 96 to 180, Badger Pass at Yosemite 84, and Sierra Summit 96 to 120. Farther north, Kirkwood, with a maximum of 252 inches, edged Alpine Meadows with 220 and Sugar Bowl with 216 for "deepest" honors.
Of course, you ski only on the top few inches, but the bottom line of this numbers game is that skiing should be with us until well into May, if not longer.
The 15th annual Badger Pass Winter Carnival--shouldn't that be Spring Carnival?--will be held Saturday at the cozy little ski area in Yosemite National Park. Festivities will start at 10 a.m., and the highlights are a cross-country race at 1 p.m. followed by a dual slalom at 2, with both events open to all skiers regardless of age or level of ability.
A steak barbecue at 5 and a torchlight parade at 7:30 will wind up the affair.
The National Cross-Country Ski Championships began a 10-day run Wednesday at Royal Gorge, near Soda Springs, with more than 500 racers competing for senior, international junior and junior titles.
In addition, about 50 disabled skiers are expected to participate in the same events. They will be timed separately. Winning athletes will qualify for the U.S. team in the World Championships for the Disabled April 6-18 in Sweden.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 recreational skiers are expected to enter the seventh annual California Gold Rush 50-kilometer cross-country ski race. For those who aren't quite up to a 50K, there'll also be a Silver Rush, covering only 25 kilometers.
Skiing Notes The long Alpine World Cup season will wind up Friday through Sunday at Bromont, Quebec, Canada, with slaloms and parallel races for both men and women. . . . The seventh and final event in the Women's Pro Ski Racing series is scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Kirkwood. . . . The Peugeot Grand Prix men's pro ski tour will make its 10th stop this weekend at Stratton Mountain, Vt., then head west for the finals April 3-6 at Keystone, Colo.