This is a general overview of some of our favorite, local and kind-of-local skiing & snowboarding places.
Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada is the standard place where Alpine Club members (and the rest of LA) go to if they want massive amounts of snow, a great infrastructure, and just overall the classic snow resort experience. It's about a five hour drive from Pasadena, and the drive is on good roads along beautiful scenery. With big enough groups and some amount of planning, it's easy to get decent prices (for California, at least) for holiday rental apartments, but there's also the option to camp about half an hour outside the town. Bishop is the place to get groceries on the way to Mammoth, and is also the hub for any backcountry skiing, climbing or hiking in the region.
Big Bear / Snow Summit
Big Bear Lake in the San Gabriel Mountains is much closer than Mammoth, but also much more packed in general, and smaller. However, the two hour drive make it a perfect destination for spontaneous day trips, especially during the week, and is also a good place to learn how to ski & snowboard.
- Mountain High, an even smaller resort on the other side of the San Gabriels from Pasadena, is less busy than Big Bear.
- Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe is for San Francisco what Mammoth Mountain is for Los Angeles - huge resort with massive amounts of snow.
Backcountry (Alpine Touring)
Disclaimer: Know before you Go! Stay safe and manage risk in the backcountry! We do not teach or lead trips as Caltech Alpine Club, but we offer discounts for avalanche safety classes hosted by the Sierra Mountain Center. The club has avalanche safety gear (shovel, beacon, & probe) available to borrow. We also have a few pairs of backcountry skis with frame bindings that will work with regular downhill skiing boots if you are looking to get into backcountry skiing. We also have a split board that club members can borrow. But again, get an Avy 1 safety education and an experienced mentor - we may be able to connect you to someone through the club!
Here are two favorite local (semi-abandoned) areas with lots of fun skiing and low-angle options:
- Mt. Waterman, is only an hour's drive from Pasadena up the Angeles's Crest Highway. This old resort is very rarely open and it's fun to skin up the fire roads and ski down the open runs when it's closed.
- Kratka Ridge, is only five minutes up Highway 2 past Mt. Waterman. The powder in the trees can be really beautiful up there. They also have a beautiful old single-person chairlift. It's not running anymore, but it's one of the last of its kind.
Whenever it's rainy in LA, it might mean snow in the Mt. Waterman area!
- Mt. Baden-Powell, can be great for hiking and skiing.
Slope angle maps:
- Gaia GPS
- OsmAnd (less resolution on the slope angle in the US than CalTopo, but includes skiing resort information and many other features, open-source)
Avalanche reporting centers:
- Mountain Forecast
- Snow Forecast
- Zone area forecasts by the National Weather Service, a bit harder to find, but here are some relevant ones: