May 15 2014

Enhancing the Terrain Discussion

In our last post, we discussed potential terrain expansions at Bear Valley.

Today, let’s talk about the current terrain and how it could be enhanced.

Grizzly Midway Loading Area- Due to below normal winters and rising snow levels, 2 out of the last 3 seasons Grizzly Chair did not open at all. The base of the chairlift is located at 6,595′, which remained under the snowline for several storms this season.

Erecting a midway ramp around Jack’s Jump at 7,100′ would allow Grizzly to operate in marginal snow years. Without the Grizz running, Bear Valley lacks advanced and expert terrain.

Lower Grizzly

Lower Grizzly, April 2014

Snoopy’s Bridge- A brilliant idea conceived by some long time locals is to construct a “skier’s bridge” from the Water Tank run to Snoopy’s Hanger. Not only would this increase the accessibility to the lower mountain but it could serve as a “Welcome to Bear Valley” sign, giving a sense of place and arrival to the hidden gem of the Sierra.


Welcome to Bear Valley

Tree and Vegetation Thinning- There are numerous places (lower Grizzly, village runs, etc) on the mountain where conducting some off season trail maintenance would go a long way. Not only would it increase the skiing experience, but it would allow terrain to be more skiable with less snowfall.

Build a Beginner’s Run from Bear Top- There has been discussions of regrading the upper mountain to create a beginner’s run from Bear Top to the base. Currently, the upper mountain requires intermediate or higher abilities.

What are your thoughts on enhancing Bear Valley’s existing terrain?

Click here to take the Bear Valley Stakeholder Survey.

May 12 2014

Bear Valley Terrain Expansion Discussion

Thanks to advances in ski technology, backcountry and sidecountry skiing are now the fastest growing segment of the ski industry. Like never before, there is more of a demand for off piste, variable and uncrowded slopes.

Bear Valley Mountain currently has 1,680 acres of skiable terrain with a vertical drop of 1,900 vertical feet .  There are several areas that could be expanded. They include:

Round Valley-In the original development plan, there was design for a lift to go up towards Round Valley Peak. The original shareholders used to take a snow cat out to the ridge and ski down to the bottom of Grizzly. This gentle, intermediate terrain receives and preserves the most snow in the area. It possible to ski all the way to the bottom of Grizzly, offering about 2,000 vertical feet of sidecountry terrain.

Round Valley_1

Round Valley from Horse Canyon

East Side of Koala-There was a proposed lift and base facility via a newly built road off the approach road. This terrain is heavily timbered and rarely gets skied.

Surface Lift to access Sunrise Bowl-While this area isn’t really a terrain expansion, having a surface lift from War Meadow to the top of . The lift would service 700 vertical feet of intermediate and advanced terrain without having to slog out to the village.

Mattly Pow_1

 Bear Valley Director of Ski Patrol and Stoke enjoying some late season powder 

The Zones-The cirque between West World and West Ridge is known as the Zones. Currently this area is guide-only terrain, through a 3rd party concessionaire. The mostly north facing cirque offers approximately 400 acres of mostly north facing advanced and expert terrain. A traverse under West Ridge returns you to the bottom of Grizzly Chair. While there would be some logistically issues to work out, this would represent the most aggressive Sierra terrain expansion in the last decade.


Looking into the Zones with County Line Ridge and Kings Realm in the background

Surface Lift to Top of County Line Ridge-A short surface lift could eliminate the 20 minute hike to the top of the unnamed ridge along the Alpine/Calveras County Line. From the ridge top, a whole plethora of skiing options exist. From the north facing trees to the east facing King’s Realm all the way to Boys Stuff and Girls Stuff, the terrain is extensive. Dropping the Ridge

Dropping the Ridge

What are your thoughts on terrain expansion options? (In our next post, we will discuss other innovative ideas to enhance the existing ski terrain.)

Click here to take the Bear Valley Stakeholder Survey.

May 11 2014

Bear Valley Stakeholder Survey

Last week, Bear Valley Mountain announced that several groups are working towards acquiring ski area.

One of the interested buyers, Mountain Rider’s Alliance have created an online survey to better understand the needs and wants of Bear Valley stakeholders.

Click here to take the online survey.

BV SquareGrizzly Bowl on a Powder Day

May 09 2014

The Proposed Village at Bear Valley: What would you do?

In January 2013, the long awaited Master Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) were approved for the development of the Village at Bear Valley.

The Master Plan calls for 343 units, substantial non-residential space and a village lift. The plans call for the removal of the Bear Valley Lodge and commercial center to make room for the new village.

Bear Valley Final EIR May 2009Photo courtesy of Bear Valley Real Estate 

So what are your thoughts?

Does the ski area need to village? Or does the village need the ski area? How and when would you develop the village?

(Please note we address the proposed village lift in another post.)

May 07 2014

Bear Valley Mountain Playground Sample Membership

The Mountain Rider’s Alliance have released some details of their proposed membership model for Bear Valley.

The premise for the membership model is to shift the long term planning of the ski area operations to Mountain Playground users. This will ensure decision making is made for the next generation, not the next quarter.

Memberships are a non-equity ownership stake, similar to China Peak’s Peak Club.

Once the membership entity has been developed and capitalized, it would enter into a long term lease with an acquisition group, hiring Mountain Rider’s Alliance to manage the ski area.

BVMP Model






Employee Membership includes (vote, 15% discount, children 8 and under ski  free). No annual fee for employees. Included after 1 season of work
Non-Skier Membership $500
Single Adult Membership plus (1) Adult season pass $1,000
Couple Membership plus (2) Adult season passes $1,500
Family Membership plus Family Pass (2 adults plus all kids under 18) $2,500
Corporate Membership plus 4 transferrable passes $5,000
Lifetime Corporate Membership plus 4 lifetime transferrable passes* plus name on plaque $10,000
Koala Membership plus name on chairlift, lifetime season pass* for 2 adults and annual gala $25,000
Kuma Membership plus name on chairlift, lifetime family season pass* and annual gala $50,000
Grizzly Membership plus run named in your honor, name on lift, lifetime family season pass* and annual gala $100,000

*Lifetime Season Passes valid through life of lease to membership entity



-15% discount on all services and goods

-up to $200 in annual Bear Bucks

-5 complimentary tickets for friends and family (per season)

-Members only opening day

-Access to the Zones, 400 acres of north facing advanced and expert terrain (pending permit approval)

-Coupon book for local businesses and preferred partners

-Children 8 and under of shareholders ski for free

-Reciprocation at all Mountain Playgrounds

-One Vote for Board of Directors

-Eligible to Run as a Board Director



-First right of refusal for future amenities, such as members locker room

-Name on plaque listed as a charter member

-Occasional first tracks/early ups privilege

-Special edition charter mug

-Access to annual membership banquet



The membership board will be made up of (5), including (1) Bear Valley/Sherman Acres/Sky Ranch, (1) Highway 4 Corridor resident (1) California resident, (1) Out-of-state resident and (1) employee. The board will elect a president who will meet with the General Manager weekly. 

Annual Membership Fee of $200 to keep membership active (not required for employees). Annual fees will be used to offset lease payment. 

Guests are welcome, but membership has it’s privileges.


So what are your thoughts? If memberships became available, would you become a Mountain Playground member?


Apr 17 2014

King for a Day

Taking advantage of the amazing spring weather, a trip to King’s Realm was in order. In the throne_1

Enjoying some time in the throne before the descent.

Looking across to Bear West_1Looking across to Polar and the west side of Bear Valley.

Backcountry Joe_1Backcountry Joe drops in.

Free the heal, free the mind_1

Free the heel and free the mind!

Apr 15 2014

Thanks to the Unsung Heroes of the Mountain

This post is for Ski Patrol, the unsung heroes of every ski area.

While their work does not show up on the bottom line or as a revenue stream, this mighty group keeps the mountain safe for all the guests. Ski patrol works long hours, especially on snow safety mornings.

On behalf of the skiers and riders of Bear Valley, we salute Mattly, Ted and the whole Bear Valley Ski Patrol team for a great season.

Ski Patrol at Bear Top_1

Apr 14 2014

The Roads are Being Plowed

The county has begun removing snow from the roads of Bear Valley village.

For those that have been commuting by snowmobile or foot all winter, enjoy your easier access home.

If your skiing what’s left of the village runs, be prepared to walk on pavement when you get to the valley floor.

With a reported 185 inches of snow and the snowpack at 49% of normal, its is impressive the snow lasted this long. Here’s hoping for a return to big snowfall next season.

Snow Removal_1

Apr 10 2014

Pond Skimming, Reggae and Brewfest this Saturday

The annual pond skimming will take place this Saturday. Registration starts begins at 8:30 at the Sunroom and the first skimmer skims at 1:30 pm.

Beginning at 2 pm, irie Reggae vibrations from A La Lune and DJ Mountain Lion will be served up.

There will be a Brewfest benefitting Sierra HOPE. $15 gets you a commemorative pint glass and 8 samples.

With sunny skies in the forecast, Saturday is going to be a great day in the Central Sierra.

Click here for more information.

A LA Lune


Apr 09 2014

Horsing Around

With another gorgeous, spring day on tap in the Sierra, a trip to Horse Canyon was in order. Joe Skinning

It was a nice day for a leisurely skin.

Dropping In
Snow was a little too soft, but still manageable. Some colder nights would be helpful. Snow Valley and GrizzlyLooking at Snow Valley and Grizzly. The coverage goes almost to the bottom terminal, but not quite.

Perhaps in the future a mid load station for Grizzly could protect against rising snow levels?

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