Ski season (finally) winding down at Big Bear after wild winter

Ski and snowboard season is finally winding down at Big Bear resorts after a winter that saw a series of storms dump hundreds of inches of fresh snow on runs.

“We’re down to our final hill,” said Jason Kanton, a spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resort, which operates the Snow Summit, Bear Mountain and Snow Valley resorts.

The snow not only provided great conditions for skiers and snowboarders, but also the sheer volume allowed the resorts to stay open much longer than usual.

By late March, the resort had between 75 and 100 inches of fresh powder on the ground after having received 210 inches since the start of the season.

But the intense storms also blocked residents’ access to essentials like food, water and medical attention with some people trapped in their homes for days at a time. At least 12 people died during the storms in the San Bernardino County Mountains.

Bear Mountain’s last day of the season was Sunday, and Snow Valley closed last week.

Snow Summit is expected to operate through at least the end of April, with operators still deciding whether it will remain open into May.

Snow Summit is not the only California mountain still offering skiing and snowboarding well into spring; Mammoth Mountain announced last month that its ski operations would operate through at least July with existing snow.

Mammoth officials told The Times it had never before announced such a long extension so early in the season.

“I’ve been up here eight years now … and we’ve never been open this late for as long as I worked here,” Kanton noted.

Last year, Bear Mountain closed on April 10, nearly two weeks earlier than this year, according to, a snow resort booking site.

The conditions added up to a banner year for the resort even with intense snowfall preventing skiers and snowboarders from accessing the slopes for days at a time.

Alterra Mountain Co., which owns Big Bear Mountain Resort and Mammoth Mountain, does not disclose attendance numbers, but Kanton said it was “a very strong season.”

“I think we’re on track to have one of our strongest seasons over the last 10 years,” he noted. “And that’s not even including the business volume at Snow Valley since that property didn’t come into our management until mid-January.”

And the snow is hanging around, for now.

“There’s still decent coverage,” Kanton said, noting that all of the trails at Snow Summit are still open. “But the snow is getting softer.”

Temperatures reached nearly 70 degrees Monday in Big Bear, making snowmelt inevitable.

“Once it gets going, it’ll go pretty quickly,” Kanton said.

Now, the resorts are actually hoping for the snow to dissipate as spring kicks into gear and the ski slopes are set to transition to mountain biking trails.

“This is kind of a weird, different situation than we’re used to,” Kanton said. “We’re usually trying to hold on to the snow as long as we can. Now we’re kind of flipping that switch, like, OK, when can we start getting ready for summer?”

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