March 24, 2014

Bare Mountain

Possibly Hysterical Musings on the State of SoCal Skiing

Bare Mountain

Perhaps I go too far in comparing yesterday at Bear Mountain's "Access Express" chair to a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare, but if you're worried about what the endgame for Southern California skiing might just look like, this was surely was an unsettling landscape. Ribbons of brown snow wound through muddy fields, whilst crowds of people shuffled slowly across it.

Yes, it was fun—but was it skiing? I thought, as I pondered the scene, it was like an epic collision between an immovable object (Bear Resorts' incredible snowmaking capability) and an irresistible force (an increasingly hot-tempered Mother Nature). You can judge for yourself who appears to be winning this one.

Bear Mountain: March Conditions
Bear Mountain: March Conditions

Will we see refrigerated ground and retractable canopies in the near future? Micro-plastic "snow" pellets? Do not laugh, Colorado resorts. What you see here—which resembles far more a Tough Mudder course than a ski hill—may well loom near in all our futures.

Higher on the mountain, thank goodness, conditions were quite a bit more tenable. Nice, even. I have not skied Bear in years and years, not since before they converted it to a "park" mountain, and I have to say the terrain absolutely feels the biggest of the SoCal resorts, minus Baldy because of course Baldy has been AWOL for three years.

There is still snow on San Gorgonio's north face. Despite numerous attempts I could not (literally!) pay any of my partners to climb up there with me, and at this point I'm fed up enough to where you probably couldn't pay me to join you, either. Bear says the chairs will run one more week. And that's the SoCal season.

Sierra skiers stay tuned—your story is not over yet.

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow

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