2010-11 California Detail

Updated June 8, 2011

Mammoth had little snow in October but got 14 inches Nov. 7-8, well timed for the Nov. 11 opening. So with snowmaking assistance Cornice and Chair 3 opened in addition to some of the Main Lodge runs. Chair 2 opened Nov. 20. The Nov. 20-23 storm of 65 inches opened all lifts for Thanksgiving weekend. This was Mammoth's snowiest November in 16 years. Due to 3 large avalanches about 1/3 of the upper mountain lost cover and needed more snow to open. There was 18 inches in early December and 2 inches with some rain mix Dec. 9. The major storm of Dec. 14-22 dumped 129 inches, leaving a record 11-17 foot base for Christmas. Another 38 inches during Christmas week, capping a record December of 197.5 inches, second highest snow month in Mammoth history behind the 247 inches in January 1969. Only 18 inches during the first half of January 2011. During the 3rd week of January a warmup brought hardpack/spring conditions to over half the off-piste terrain. 10 inches at the end of January refreshed surfaces but the next 2 weeks were dry. Then the President's weekend storm dumped 67 inches, followed by another 30 at the end of the month. Mammoth had 28 inches during the first half of March but 146 inches during the second half, assuring a July 4 close. 29.5 inches in April but a record 38 in May with cool weather. Thus June base depths are similar to the record length 1983 and 1995 seasons.

Southern California's 2010-11 season can be compared to the past 35 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. Snowfall was above average, rare for a big La Nina year. In terms of skiing it was a mediocre season due to the wide spacing of storms, above average rain and only limited periods with natural snow terrain open.
November: The very dry weather in early November allowed the first snowmaking runs to open at Snow Summit and Mountain High West. The November storms just brushed SoCal with about 6 inches new snow, but there were good snowmaking conditions during the second half of November, opening some terrain earlier than usual.
December: Unfortunately the Dec. 5 storm was rain and it was warm for the next 2 weeks. Dec. 17-20 it rained for 4 days before dropping 1-2 feet of dense snow Dec. 21-22 at resort levels and at least another foot above 8,000 feet. Areas with a November snowmaking base were restored but some of the access roads had mudslides.
January: 3 small storms after Christmas totalled about 1.5 feet and surfaces remained packed powder with cold weather into early January. A warmup and transition to spring conditions occurred during the second week of January. By the end of the January most natural snow terrain was closed.
February: The drought continued into February until 2 feet fell over President's weekend after a day or rain. The end of February storm was much colder and totaled 2-3 feet.
March: Early March was warm and dry so some natural snow terrain closed. There was a 2-4 foot storm of March 20, followed by 1/2 to 1 foot during the next week to reopen all terrain. But conditions were variable by the next weekend due to another light rain.
April: The sunnier natural areas were closed again by the first week of April. 6-10 inches on April 8 refreshed conditions but did not reopen any terrain. Only Snow Summit and about half of Mt. High West were be open for the late Easter week.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2010-11 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Snow Summit opened Nov. 12, chairs 3 and 7 open by Thanksgiving. Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge opened by Dec. 2. 90+% open including Wall/Olympic since Dec. 23. 100% open early January to end of March. 80-90% open for Easter week. Hwy 330 was closed for the rest of the ski season after mid-December mudslides.

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. 11% open with the Big Bear Express and some park features for Thanksgiving. Silver open Dec. 2. Nearly everything except Bear Peak Dec. 23. Bear Peak opened after Christmas. 100% open early January to end of March. Closed 4/10.

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 7% open at Thansksgiving, mostly park features on the lower mountain. 30% open Dec. 1, about 50% open Dec. 23 through January. Slide Peak was open President's weekend, a few weekends thereafter and the week after the March 20 storm. Closed 4/10

Mountain High: East as well as West open. West opened Nov. 11, was 58% open Dec. 1, declined to 42% but 90+% over the holidays. The base was 2-3 feet so natural areas like Inferno Ridge and Olympic Bowl were open just a week or 2. West was about 70% open by early February. East opened Dec. 26 with snowmaking assistance at the base, but was open weekends only from MLK to President's weekend. Both areas were 100% the rest of February, but East closed after March 6. East reopened for the week after the March 20 storm but then closed. West was about 2/3 open at the end of March and half open to April 24.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. Mt. Baldy's beginner chair was open at Thanksgiving. Baldy's road was blocked by mud during the big storm and reopened Christmas Day. While the lower mountain got mostly rain, Thunder got at least 3 feet in the big storm and another foot by January 2, so coverage was good there. Chair 4 opened Dec. 28, but chair 1's base had lots of rain erosion and needed a big dump to become skiable. Chair 4 closed after MLK weekend, and Thunder still had a decent base but thinner and with variable surfaces, so maybe half of its terrain was still skiable in early February. The 2 late February storms finally opened the Chair 1 terrain, though coverage was variable due to high winds during those storms. Chairs 1 and 4 closed again in March until the March 20 storm, were open a week and then closed. Thunder closed 4/17. Mt. Waterman opened January 7 on a Friday-Sunday schedule via the same Big Tujunga detour as last season but closed after MLK weekend. Mt. Waterman had its usual road difficulties from the February storms but finally opened Feb. 27 and resumed its Friday-Sunday schedule. Mt. Waterman was closed during the March storm weekend but was open 3 days a week the next 2 weekends. April 3 was closing day despite a deeper base than Mt. Baldy. Angeles Crest from La Canada finally reopened June 3, so the normal access to Mt. Waterman should resume in 2012 after 2 seasons of the longder Big Tujunga route.