2020-21 California Detail

Updated May 20, 2021

Mammoth warned that they will not open with excessive crowds on one lift and few runs. But early November's 14 inch storm and subfreezing weather all week allowed 8 runs on Chairs 1-3, 6 and 11 to open Nov. 13. The natural snow was light and dry, so natural snow dependent terrain was a long way off from opening. Mammoth had only 7 inches more November snow and was 11% open Dec. 10 with one run each on chairs 4 and 5. After 22 inches mid-December snow, natural terrain on chairs 3 and 5 opened. For Christmas more lower runs were filled in with snowmaking and Canyon and Eagle lodges opened but only Cornice Bowl opened at the top. Christmas week added another 7 inches. 65% of terrain was open at MLK, but not much in the way of steeps with a 3 foot base. Groomed runs were in good shape with snowmaking assistance but the ungroomed was getting sketchy with only 5 inches new snow in the first half of January. Mammoth was extremely quiet with the COVID lodging restrictions from Dec. 6 - Jan. 25. An atmospheric river dumped 8 feet at Mammoth during the last week of January. Mammoth got a foot+ of snow leading into President's weekend but only a few inches during the second half of February. Conditions were firm chalk on upper slopes with some spring conditions in sunny exposures. Mammoth got 30 inches of snow from March 10-15, restoring winter conditions. Another 18 inches fell March 19-20, and majority winter conditions prevailed the rest of the month with a few inches plus mostly cool weather. With warm weather 90% spring conditions emerged by the first weekend in April. Only 5 inches fell in April, so snow farming is likely needed to maintain lower runs through the May 31 closing.

Southern California's 2020-21 season can be compared to the past 44 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. Snowfall was slightly below average and about half that fell during the last week of January with surfaces soon degraded by rain the next week. The second half of the season was mostly dry so the even the manmade snowpack melted out earlier than normal.
November: The early November storm was an inside slider, dropping 1+ foot at Big Bear but about half as much in the San Gabriel Mts. Mt. High opened Chisholm, Borderline and some beginner runs Nov. 14. Snow Summit opened to passholders Nov. 18 and to the public Nov. 20. Bear Mt. and Snow Valley also opened.
December: Weather was dry until after Christmas so most freezing nights were used to maintain existing terrain. The Dec. 28 storm dropped 16-24 inches. With ensuing cold weather Big Bear snowmaking expanded, opening most terrain by Jan. 2.
January: On natural terrain the late December storm fell on bare ground, so not quite enough to open, and what was there deteriorated by the 65 degree MLK weekend. It snowed 2+ feet January 23-25 and another 2+ feet January 28-29. January 30-31 was the fifth weekend of A conditions in the past decade as defined in History of Southern California Snow Conditions.
February: Unfortunately it rained for 2 hours to the top of the ski areas on Feb. 1, making off trail skiing unpleasant at best. With only 2 inches new snow in February, open terrain without grooming or snowmaking declined during the first half of February and was essentially done after President's weekend.
March: It snowed an average of 20 inches during the second week of March, refreshing surfaces with a base but opening minimal new terrain. Small storms totaled about 8 inches during the second half of March, but warm weather during the last week of March reduced open terrain.
April: No snow fell in April and terrain declined to half or less as all areas closed by April 11.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2020-21 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Miracle Mile and beginner area open since Nov. 18. Summit Run opened over Thanksgiving and upper Westridge first week of December. Chair 7 opened Dec. 14. Chair 9, lower Log Chute and Lower Westridge opened Dec. 19. Chair 10 opened Dec. 30, Chair 6 Jan. 2, 69% open MLK, 78% late January - late March, 64% end March, 48% at April 11 close

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. Park Run open since Nov. 20, Silver opened Dec. 19, Bear Peak Jan. 2, 66% MLK, 80-85% late January - late March, 72% end March, 53% at April 11 close.

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 10% open since Nov. 20, 23% in December, 33% MLK. 100% including Slide Peak Jan. 30. Feb. 16 was Slide's last day. 57% open end of February, 67% mid-March, 50% end March, 30% at April 11 close.

Mountain High: East as well as West open.West opened Nov. 14 and remained with same 7 trails for over a month. Conquest opened Dec. 19, bringing West to 26%. West was 74% open after the Dec. 28 storm, 48% by mid-January, 100% Jan. 24. East opened Jan. 29. As of President's weekend West declined to 78% and East to 50%. West maintained the 78% through the end of February but East closed. West was temporarily 100% open on March 15 but East did not reopen. West was 71% end March, 32% at April 11 close.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. Baldy's beginner chair and tubing park opened Dec. 19. Thunder's Fire Road opened Dec. 30. Most of Baldy opened Jan. 25 though on a thin base. The second storm improved coverage some, but Chair 4 still closed Feb. 8. Thunder remained open through February but ungroomed terrain was icy and rarely if at all skied. Coverage even on groomed runs was sketchy by the end of the month. Some terrain on Thunder was improved/restored by the March storms. April 2-4 were the final days for Baldy. Waterman did not open in 2020-21 because Hwy 2 was blocked all season from Bobcat Fire cleanup plus the fires damaged phone lines to the ski area.

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