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California ski resorts call storms a 'March miracle'

March 22, 2011|By Chris Erskine | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • In Big Bear, a late-March storm has guaranteed good spring skiing for weeks to come.
In Big Bear, a late-March storm has guaranteed good spring skiing for weeks… (Big Bear Mountain Resorts )

California ski resorts are offering thanks to the snow gods for the best late-season conditions in years. If you were ever going to play ski or snowboard hooky, this is your week.

Mt. Baldy, to my mind the best and most convenient Southern California ski resort, has three feet of new snow. Roads were clearing early Tuesday and were expected to be drivable by afternoon. All runs were open on a mountain offering stunning views. With gas at around $4 a gallon, the easy access (off the 210 about an hour from downtown) is another plus. (909) 982-0800; full-day adult tickets start at $44.

Bear Mountain/Snow Summit is calling the weekend storm a "March miracle." Check with Caltrans for the most recent road conditions, but chains are necessary at least until Wednesday, except for four-wheel drive vehicles. (909) 866-5766; all-day adult tickets start at $56.

Snow Valley in nearby Running Springs is also rejoicing. A popular hill for families and beginners, the resort has two feet of fresh snow on a base up to five feet. When was the last time Snow Valley had a five-foot base? Take chains.  (909) 867-2751;  adult tickets start at $54.

Hugely popular Mountain High, my least favorite place to ski but apparently the top of the list for everyone else, is sporting 30 to 40 inches of new snow. Because it requires less mountain driving than most places, Mountain High always packs in a crowd, which trends toward teens and twentysomethings.  (888) 754-7878; all-day adult passes start at $55.

Farther afield, Mammoth, meanwhile, puts even those resorts to shame. The snow base at the mega-resort, five hours north of Los Angeles, is estimated at 15 to 22 feet, with five to eight feet of new snow over the last few days. A brief lull is expected today and Wednesday before another storm arrives. The resort has received a whopping 500 inches of snow for the season. (800) 626-6684; full-day adult tickets start at $92.

Finally, Squaw Valley USA, in Lake Tahoe has amassed 50 feet of snow over the course of the season. The base at the top is now 20 feet, with 80 inches of new powder. Like the resorts down here in Southern California,  Squaw and other Lake Tahoe resorts expect more snow later in the week. Is it too much of a good thing? Never. But it would be nice to have a few sunny days to enjoy it. (800) 403-0206; all-day adult passes from $88.

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