2006-07 California Detail

Updated June 25, 2007

Mammoth opened on November 9, but it wasn't easy. Snowmaking was intermittent with warm weather for the first half of November. Snowmaking in the second half allowed more runs on chairs 1, 2 and 3 to open. There were 3 storms totalling 38 inches between December 9 and 21, but the snow was dry and thus the off-trail base at Christmas was still mostly too thin for skiing and only 1,000 of Mammoth 3,500 acres were open. The Dec. 26-27 storm of 20 inches opened all lifts but by personal observation MLK weekend only about 60% of terrain had adequate cover, and the top of the mountain was extremely limited due to severe wind stripping. There were 6 inches the first week of January and 3 inches before MLK weekend's subzero temperatures, so groomed runs were in very good shape then. With no new snow for the next 3 weeks, more hardpack was reported and chairs 13-14 closed. The second weekend of February 32 inches of Sierra Cement finally opened up most of the upper mountain, and with 57 inches in the last week of February the base reached 7-9 feet. Most of March was dry (month snow just 19 inches) and mid-March was very warm, bringing spring conditions to most of the mountain. Continued warm weather in early April closed chair 9 by 4/8 and reduced the reported base to 2-5 feet. The meltdown was arrested by 29 inches of snow in mid-April, so Canyon and Eagle were able to hang on to their scheduled April 22 closing dates. With another 5 inches in early May and diligent snow farming around the Main Lodge Mammoth was able to hang on until Memorial Day.

Southern California's 2006-07 season can be compared to the past 31 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. This season rivalled 2001-02 as the driest since 1984, and natural terrain never came close to opening. While snowmaking terrain opened only a little later than normal, the hot March resulted in SoCal's worst late season since 1988 and overall poorest season since rain-drenched 1997.
November: With the unseasonably warm November snowmaking did not begin until Thanksgiving weekend. Mt. High opened Nov. 27, Snow Summit Nov. 29 and Bear Mt. Dec. 1.
December: 3-5 inches fell over the second weekend of December, but it warmed up in a couple of days so snowmaking was used primarily for maintenance. It remained cold after a similar storm Dec. 16, so Snow Summit, Bear Mt. and Mt. High expanded to 40-50% open before Christmas, and another 10-15% of terrain opened by New Year's.
January: Recurring cold during January brought the Big Bear areas up to 90% by MLK weekend. Cool weather plus snowmaking preserved packed powder at Big Bear for the rest of January.
February: Warm early February weather plus mid-February rain degraded surface conditions, though coverage remained good at Big Bear. 3 small storms in the second half of February, averaging 6 inches each, improved surfaces but were not enough to open natural snow runs.
March: March was very warm and dry, only about 3 inches new snow all month, so by the end of the month Big Bear was 30% open and the other areas were closed.
April: The Big Bear areas closed by 4/10. The 6 inches of natural snow the last week of April was too little, too late.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2006-07 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute and the full length of the Westridge Terrain Park open. Miracle Mile, Summit Run, upper Westridge and the beginner area opened early December. Ego Trip opened mid-December. Chairs 7 and 9, Log Chute and lower Westridge opened before Christmas, and Chair 10 opened Dec. 26. Wall opened Jan. 2 and a couple more steeper trails later in the week. 100% open in February, 90% mid-March, 30% late March, close 4/8.

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. Bear opened the Bear Mt. Express and a few park features Dec. 1. The other lower mountain lifts and runs opened by Christmas and one run on Silver Mt. opened Dec. 27. 95% open after Bear Peak opened for MLK weekend, but likely about 1/3 open since mid-March. Closed 4/10

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. A few beginner runs were open near the base by mid-December. By Christmas most of the lower mountain runs were open. Nearly all of the lower mountain was open in February, but not Slide Peak. Closed mid-March.

Mountain High: East as well as West open. About 30% of West was open by mid-December, and 50% by Christmas. One top-to-bottom run on East opened Dec. 22, and East was half open from Dec. 29 through January. Cover deteriorated in early February, so East closed mid-month. With the February snow Mt. High West went up to 55% open and East reopened for 2 weekends. East then closed and West declined to 30% in early March and finally closed March 19.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. Baldy had its beginner area plus the Fire Road on Thunder from late December through February. Baldy closed after marginal operation the first 2 weekends of March. Mt. Waterman enjoyed the dry November as they prepared their lifts for an early December inspection. While progress has been made, mid-season reports suggest that more work on the lifts is needed, though Waterman never had enough natural snow to consider opening this season.