2009-10 California Detail

Updated June 8, 2010

Mammoth received 32 inches and opened October 16-18. The storm ended in rain to the top, and with warm weather plus skier traffic the lower mountain melted out. So the area had to close until a snowmaking reopening Nov. 7. By Nov. 21 snowmaking expanded to open chairs 2, 6 and 11 in addition to 1 and 3. 16 inches fell over Thanksgiving weekend but upslope winds kept much of the upper mountain icy, and only the groomed Cornice was open through the first weekend in December. The Dec. 7 storm dropped 14 inches and opened a little bit more off trail terrain. The mid-December storm dropped 69 inches So Canyon/Eagle opened Dec. 16 and the rest of the lifts Dec. 18. 19 inches more during the second half of December. There were a few more rock exposed areas than usual, but holiday packed powder and windbuff surfaces were excellent. There were 5 inches in early January and 15 the second week. The big dump during the 3rd week of January totalled 97 inches. There were 13 inches in late January, 30 in early February and 3+ feet each of the last 2 weeks of February. 41 inches in the first half of March. Some spring conditions developed during 2 dry weeks but there were 20 inches at the end of March. Mammoth had snow every week in April and the total of 81 inches is 3rd highest for the month, so a July 5 closing was announced. May was unusually cool, so the base remained high and has just started to drop faster with warm June weather.

Southern California's 2009-10 season can be compared to the past 34 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. Snowfall was moderately above average, but in terms of skiing it was a very good season due to excellent timing and spacing of the storms.
November: Snowmaking started early, with Mt. High West and Bear Mt. opening by Oct. 31. Those areas remained open in November with a couple of runs and some park features. November was very dry, but with low humidity there was intermittent nighttime snowmaking. There were 3-5 inches snow over Thanksgiving weekend.
December: The Dec. 7 storm was 12-18 inches and it was cold enough for nearly continuous snowmaking most of that week. Thus the Big Bear areas and Mt. High West got over half open by Dec. 10. Unfortunately the Dec. 12 storm was mostly rain with just 2-4 inches of snow at the end. But there was sustained snowmaking during the second half of December despite only about 3 inches more natural snow. Thus most snowmaking terrain was open by Christmas.
January: The limited natural snow terrain open was very marginal through mid-January with just one small early January storm that was mostly rain in the ski areas. The 3rd week's first storm was mostly rain also, but it snowed 4-5 feet during the rest of the week, opening all terrain. Another 1-2 feet fell in late January.
February: It rained all day the first Saturday in February, but then snowed 6-12 inches of snow at the end of the storm, followed by another foot 2 days later. With no further new snow all areas were in full operation with spring conditions for most of the month. There was about a foot to refresh conditions at the end of February
March: Only several inches of new snow in early March. The rest of March was dry, but full operation was maintained with the January/February base.
April: There were about 6 inches snow each of the first 3 weeks of April with colder than normal temperatures. Thus coverage held up well on sheltered terrain and some areas pushed closing dates later than usual.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2009-10 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Miracle Mile and the beginner area opened for Thanksgiving. Summit Run and Ego Trip open Dec. 1. Chairs 7, 9, 10, Log Chute and lower Westridge open by Dec. 9-11. Wall/Olympic open Dec. 18. 100% open since just before Christmas. Closed April 25.

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. Open Oct. 31 and still very limited through Thanksgiving. 25% open Dec. 1 and 60% open including Silver Mt. by Dec. 10. Bear Peak open Dec. 18. 100% open since just before Christmas to Easter. Closed April 18

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 5% open at Thanksgiving, most of frontside open since mid-December. Slide Peak open from January 24 through March. Weekend operation including Slide Peak to May 2.

Mountain High: East as well as West open. West open Oct. 30 and still very limited through Thanksgiving. West 23% open Dec. 1 and 60% Dec. 10. East opened Dec. 12. Mountain High peaked at 85% open just before Christmas and gradually declined to 50% open by MLK weekend. 100% open from January 23 to March 28, when East closed. West open to May 2.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. Beginner area and Fire Road only at Baldy open Dec. 9. A few more Thunder runs open by New Year's on upgraded snowmaking but natural base depths through MLK weekend were 6-18 inches. Full operation from January 23 through March, though the base at chair 1 got thin in late March. Thunder was open through May 2 plus the weekend of May 7-9. The road above La Canada to Mt. Waterman opened Nov. 30, closed after extensive mudslides Dec. 12 and reopened by Christmas. All access was closed for several weeks after the big January storms. Mt. Waterman opened as of the weekend March 13-14 via the Big Tujunga alternate route, open Fri-Sun through April 18.