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Berlitz Summer Camp
Winter began with sparse snowfall in the western mountains, but that didn’t stop locals from flocking to California’s ski resorts for swooshing fun. Why? Too many irresistible family-friendly snow sports and value packages to pass up! The good news: They’re still being offered!
After just a two-hour drive from L.A., you can enjoy an exhilarating day on the slopes at Big Bear (www.bigbearmountainresorts.com), then a toasty fire in your cabin while sipping hot chocolate. With mid-week lift and lodging rates starting at $69 per person, double occupancy, it’s worth staying two days to ski or snowboard at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Lift tickets are valid at both resorts, with accessibility between the two available via a free shuttle. At $89 per person, double occupancy, even the weekend rates are a value.
“The BIG Deal” promo is a super-saver beginner package for ages 13 and older. You get a four-hour lesson, a beginner lift ticket, and a Beyond Beginner Package for your next visit, which includes an all-mountain lift ticket and two hours of instruction valid during any non-peak and non-holiday period. Cost: $89 regular season and $99 weekends and holidays.
Regular lift tickets: $56 adults, $46 ages 13-21, $25 ages 7-12. For a one-time, $10 discount, fill out a customer reward form on the website.
There’s fun beyond the slopes, too. Strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes to trek through the hushed, snowy forest. Get 10 percent off rental gear at Goldsmith’s Board House & Rentals with an online coupon at www.goldsmithboardandski.com.
Wrightwood’s Mountain High (www.mthigh.com) offers customized ski/snowboard classes for women, terrain park adventurers and seniors. The Terrain Park lesson ($85), designed for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, shows you how to navigate (with style!) jumps, boxes and rails. There’s even a new 50-foot inflatable landing pad to practice new tricks.
The Women’s Beginner Snowboard Clinic ($135 for three hours) gets women ages 30-plus in the game with lessons by female instructors that emphasize pre-conditioning exercises, finding the right equipment, and overcoming fears.
The Senior STARS Clinic ($20) helps people ages 50 and older improve technique and adapt to new shaped skis. Breakfast and exercise techniques are included. $10 lift tickets (free for those ages 70 and older). Rentals: $15.
Skip ticket lines and go straight to the lifts with the Mountain High Express Pass, a reusable, plastic card that can be encoded repeatedly. Save $5 each time you use the card (non-holiday) and get discounts, including a free eight-hour lift ticket after every five visits.
But you don’t need to ski or ride to enjoy exhilarating downhill speeds at the North Pole Tubing Park, equipped with 12 shaped lanes and two moving carpets that sweep you back uphill. Cost: $20 two hours, $35 all day, $15 for kids under 42 inches, with paying adult.
Mammoth Mountain, in Central California (www.MammothMountain.com), is the largest resort within a reasonable drive of L.A. (about five hours) exhuding a cozy, European-style ambiance with mid-mountain cafes ideal for meals, snacks and hot chocolate. Warm up at Outpost BBQ, which has a large outdoor patio overlooking the Sierras. Or chow down on burritos and calzones from the roving mountain food snowcats. With 29 lifts and a wide network of trails, it’s easy to find a quiet section of majestic forest.
Visitors with intermediate ski skills (and lift tickets!) can explore the vast terrain on a free guided tour offered daily with a Mammoth Mountain host.
Although lift ticket prices are about as steep as some trails, you can save up to $7 per ticket by registering online. Regular tickets: $96 adults, $75 ages 13-18, $30 ages 7-12. Kids 6 and younger ski free.
New this year: Bypass ticket lines with the RFID (radio frequency identification) gate system that enables skiers and snowboarders to reload lift tickets online or via smartphone. Buy these cards online or at 800-MAMMOTH at least one day in advance of use for discount.
Non-skiers/riders can enjoy the slopes, too, via Snowcat Tours and Dining. Explore the backcountry and feast on gourmet meals ($79 adults, $29 ages 12 and younger).
Have fun at Woolly’s Adventure Summit Tube Park and Snow Play featuring two lifts, six groomed lanes, and an area for throwing snowballs and building snowmen. Hourly tubing: $30 adults, $25 ages 12 and younger. Play area: $10 weekdays, $15 weekends for kids under 42 inches, adults admitted free.
Mammoth also has a free shuttle service that makes getting around town and to the slopes a breeze.
Around the corner from Mammoth is June Mountain (www.JuneMountain.com), an intimate resort (seven lifts, 35 named trails) with smaller-priced tickets. $72 adults, $54 ages 13-18, $36 ages 7-12. Afternoon prices drop to $54, $41, and $27 respectively. Save 10 percent by buying your tickets three days in advance online.
More Snowy Slopes
• Snow Valley, in the San Bernardino Mountains, offers a Family Fun Pack for $115. You get two adult and two children’s lift tickets. www.snow-valley.com.
• Mt. Baldy, in the Angeles National Forest, has just three chair lifts, but some of California’s steepest runs as well as scenic beginner terrain. Online adult lift tickets are available for $18.96 and $29.99. www.mtbaldyskilifts.com.
• Mt. Waterman, in the San Gabriel Mountains, has three lifts and about 100 runs. Before you go, check the website to make sure the facility is open. $50 adults, $40 ages 13-17, $20 ages 7-12. www.mtwaterman.org.
Let’s Go columnist Mimi Slawoff and her family are looking forward to carving out time for fun on California’s slopes.
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