2000-01 California Detail
Updated May 20, 2001
Mammoth had 34 inches natural snow in October and thus opened Broadway in early November. There were 15 inches more by November 14, along with cold weather for snowmaking. There were 10 inches in early December followed by 3 dry weeks, resulting in a subpar and rocky holiday season. 55 inches in the second week of January restored surface conditions and opened most terrain on a 3-5 foot base. Another 46 inches of light powder fell in the last week of January (See pictures in Mammoth Mt. Resort Guide), leaving the base a below average 4-6 feet. 151 inches of new snow in February and 62 in early March raised the base to 10-11 feet. 3+ warm weeks settled Mammoth's base to 6-7 feet but April was very strong, with 42 inches new snow the first two weeks and another 30 inches late in the month. Mammoth remained open to Memorial Day but the ending base was sketchy due to low water content of the snowpack and a hot May.
Southern California's 2000-01 season can be compared to the past 25
years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. While the total season rating might not stand out, the quality of skiing midseason was as good as I have ever seen here. It was a rare season being both colder and wetter than normal. El Ninos are usually warm and have quite a bit of rain along with the abundant snow. This year like 1979 had only one significant rain event. Late February/early March had 4 consecutive A weekends.
November: There were 10 days of continuous snowmaking and more terrain opened by Nov. 18 than is normal for early December.
December: Conditions deteriorated with over a week of warm weather after Thanksgiving. Intermittent snowmaking maintained the surface but no progress was made in opening new runs from Thanksgiving until after the holidays.
January: Skiing finally improved with the 2-4 foot storm of January 10-12. 1.5 to 2 feet more snow fell the last week of January. As at Mammoth, the new snow was light and dry so the natural base peaked in the 3 foot range.
February An early hot spell temporarily reduced natural snow terrain to marginal coverage, but 3-7 feet of new snow Feb. 11-13 brought coverage comparable to the El Nino storms of February 1998. An excellent President's weekend ended on a sour note with overnight rain Feb. 19. The next round of storms began Friday Feb 23, dropping a few inches per day but ending with 2 feet Feb. 28. February 2001 rivaled February 1998 as the highest snowfall month in Southern California since I began skiing in 1976. Upper mountain coverage was comparable to 1983 and 1998, but base depths at resort levels were the best since 1979.
March: Small storms in early March preserved packed powder for 2 more weekends. The mid-March heat wave wiped out the sunny exposures, but a 2-5 foot base remained in more sheltered terrain by the end of the month.
April: The remaining snow held up better in April with 12-18 inches early in the month plus another 6 on April 20. Most areas were open until April 22, but Mt. High West and Baldy's Thunder Mt ran until May 6.
I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2000-01 summary):
Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute and the full length of the Westridge Terrain Park open. First runs opened Nov. 9. Westridge Terrain Park opened Nov. 18. About half the mountain was open since Thanksgiving, including chairs 7&9, but not 5, 6 or 10. Lower Log Chute opened around Christmas. Full operation as of January 12. Excellent packed powder reported through March 12 with spring conditions thereafter. In majority operation until April 22 with some spot snowmaking to restore chairlift base and unloading areas.
Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. Most of the trails on Goldmine Mt. opened by Thanksgiving plus one run on Silver in December. Bear Peak opened with the mid-January storm. Bear's infrequently open tree skiing on either side of Bear Peak was reported excellent through early March, but most of it melted off in the heat wave. At least one run remained open on both Silver Mt. and Bear Peak until the April 22 closing.
Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. Limited snowmaking runs open since Thanksgiving. The lower mountain has all been open since January 13. Slide Peak opened February 10, but was reportedly only open on weekends through mid-March. Some of the lower mountain and the terrain park remained open until April 22.
Mountain High: East as well as West open. Most blue and green runs on West, along with some of the terrain park features, were open at Thanksgiving. The January storm opened the rest of West January 11, and East opened January 12. Mountain High had 9 feet new snow in February plus 1.5 feet in March. East closed April 1, but the more sheltered West had some runs open until May 6. Mt. High set a SoCal ticket sales record of 570,000 this season. This season's excellent conditions and 3 years of management improvements have paid off. But Mt. High's touted easy driving access became weekend gridlock a few times this year. As at Big Bear, it's now important to get there early on busy days.
Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. With 3-4 feet new, Baldy rounded up its staff and opened the entire mountain January 13 (See pictures in Mt. Baldy Resort Guide). The heat wave closed the runs on Chairs 1&4 while much of Thunder retained a skiable base. The new Angeles Crest Resorts company running Waterman and Kratka just received new Forest Service permits and opened Waterman on a limited basis starting the last weekend of January. After 7 feet of new snow closed the area for two days, Baldy reopened midday on February 14 with epic conditions (see Mt. Baldy Pictures from 2/14/01). The Feb. 19 rain made a lot of the steep terrain icy, but 4+ feet new snow resurfaced the mountain by the end of February on a 8-10 foot base. Over the next 3 weeks the base melted down to 2-5 feet on Thunder and closed chair 4 in late March. Some of Chair 1's sheltered tree runs remained skiable for the early April storms. The Angeles Crest highway was buried until February 17, when Waterman reopened chairs 1 & 2. Waterman was in full operation of facilities from February 24 to April 20 but Kratka had avalanche damage from the big Feb. 11-13 storm and never opened this season.
I highly recommend Southland Ski Server skier-submitted reports for local conditions.
Return to 2000-01 Ski Season Analysis for North America.