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A Slow Trip Back From Big Bear Resorts

March 19, 2000|TIMES WIRES

Stoked about the late-season snow at Big Bear ski resorts? So are a lot of other people, so prepare for a slow trip down the mountain.

Last weekend, when resorts reported sellout crowds after getting fresh snow, it took some drivers four hours to negotiate their way Sunday via California 18 from the Big Bear area to the juncture with California 330, the most popular route down into the valley. That was with sunny skies and no major accidents, the California Highway Patrol said. The Big Bear-to-L.A. trek totaled about six hours for some--ironically, about the same as driving to Mammoth Mountain in central California, more than twice as far away.

Snow Summit Mountain Resort, which claims to get the most visitors of several area ski resorts, hosted about 16,000 skiers last weekend. Many of them had to squeeze into one lane of the two-lane Highway 18 to get back down.

"When the weather's clear and you have a recent storm, that's fairly typical," said CHP Sgt. Kevin Martin, who's based in Running Springs and was on duty last Sunday. His advice: Leave before noon Sunday to avoid traffic that can remain heavy until 8 p.m. or so, and try California Highway 38. That route, through Redlands, is longer but straighter than the alternatives, he explained. Snow Summit will let you apply $10 of your $34 full-day lift ticket to a future visit if you leave by 1 p.m., a spokeswoman said.

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