TPB 0019 California and the Sierras – Ski and Snowboard

TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard


Today I discuss three separate areas of California where you can enjoy the slopes.

The three ski/snowboard areas I will be covering today are:

  • Big Bear/Snow Summit area near Los Angeles (also a nod to a few tinier snow hills)
  • Mammoth Mountain / June Mountain
  • Lake Tahoe – which includes 7 separate ski resorts

I’ve heard people that typically ski the Rockies refer to the snow on the California mountains as “Sierra Sludge” because it tends to get very heavy by the end of the day and there is a TON of it (usually in big piles) by the time the sun starts going down.

Coming from the East Coast, the “sludge” they are referring to is AWESOME. It took a bit of adjusting in my skiing style, but it’s wonderful compared to the East Coast hard pack.

So I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. I had audio issues on this podcast. I was so enthusiastic to start recording that I forgot to clip my mic to my shirt, so it sounds like the mic is constantly bumping into things (which is it). I apologize for this, but I liked the content and if I re-recorded it I feel like I would have just breezed over the content rather than get into the details, so I chose to post this show with the icky audio.

If you don’t want to listen because if the audio pops, you can glean what you need from the podcast notes.




Big Bear / Snow Summit

Big Bear – mostly snowboarding

Snow Summit – Seems to be marketed more to skiers

But don’t worry about crossing over. And you’ll likely to do so, especially if you get a season pass, which covers both mountains. (Smaller. Mostly for snowboarding. Soso conditions. East of LA but not close to Big Bear… about 2 hours away.)

Mt. Baldy is the closest to Los Angeles. I have heard it has really questionable conditions most of the time. It’s quite steep, too. It’s a national park and at the time of this writing the National Parks have been shut down, including the websites, so I was not able to get the specifics about the mountain, but I thought I should mention it.

Mammoth Mountain

Compared to the ski and snowboard resorts in Southern California, it is much bigger. Has much more challenging terrain (think cliffs to jump). Deep powder. Gondola. Multiple lodges at the base of multiple mountains that are part of the same resort which is Mammoth.

5 hours from LA
5 Hours from San Fran
They Do have an airport that the locals weren’t thrilled about when they said they were expanding. Opens November 7, 2013

Davison Street Guest House: December 14, 2013


Lake Tahoe’s Seven Ski/Snowboard Resorts

Lake Tahoe consists of 7 separate ski Resorts: Kirkwood, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Sierra at Tahoe, Mt. Rose, Northstar, Squaw Valley

It is on the California / Nevada border with a lake in the middle. The resorts on the Nevada side have gambling.

I have never been there to ski, but the snow is supposed to be fluffier than further south, and there’s more of it. I have been there in the summer and waded in the Lake. The road I took in was a steep switchback coming from Route 395. I can’t imagine buses going in there but they do.

Rt 80 from San Francisco – 3 hours
Continue up 395 from LA – 7 hours
Rt 5 from LA – 7 hours

Closest city in Nevada is Carson City, but you will probably be flying into Reno if you choose to fly to Lake Tahoe.


The Californians

Finally, as I promised on the podcast, here is a sketch of “The Californians” from Saturday Night Live. Yes, we actually talk about how to get places that passionately.  🙂

Saturday Night Live: “The Californians” Sketch