There are very few places in the world where you can see a snowboard and a surfboard strapped to the same car. However, Running Springs, Calif. is definitely one of them. Running Springs, a sleepy little town at the base of Big Bear Mountain, boasts an impressive winter sports scene, so the Quaker Campus ventured to the Snow Valley Mountain Resort to check it out.
Staff Writer and third-year Sophie Harper and I would consider ourselves novices — her at skiing and me at snowboarding. Harper grew up in snowy Spokane, Wash., going skiing with her family frequently until around the time she was in middle school; I grew up in the middle of the desert, but I started snowboarding in middle school and sporadically continued into high school. Needless to say, we were bad, but there was some solidarity balanced in our badness.
The drive from Whittier to Running Springs was about an hour and a half on the weekend, up a beautiful and scenic mountain into the remote stretches of a woodsy, winter-y wonderland, still hanging tight even as wildflowers on the side of the road signaled the start of spring. As Snow Valley’s name would suggest, there was plenty of snow on the ground and something fun to do for all skill levels.
Our lift passes and rentals were provided for free by Snow Valley. However, they offer day passes, season passes, and full rental services for skiing, snowboarding, and snow play sledding. If our trip had not been comped, it would have been $37 each for equipment rentals and $69 for an all-day lift ticket. It is definitely not the most budget-friendly day trip, but, compared to other ski resorts in the area, Snow Valley comes out the cheapest. Big Bear Mountain Resort’s day passes are around $87 for a lift ticket and at least $40 in rentals. As we wrap up the winter sport season, many resorts are offering discounted season passes and specials for one-time visits.
After we got our rentals, strapped into our boards, and posed for a couple quick Instagram photos, we shuffled over to the slopes. One of the activities I remember dreading about snowboarding when I was younger was getting off of the ski lift. The heights, the rush to get off and out of the way, and the one-foot-in one-foot-out of board bindings always made me nervous. Despite being older and cooler, I struggled to get off the lift more than anything else all day. Lucky for me, Snow Valley has 14 excellent ski lifts across their two-mountain terrain, so I had lots of different kinds of nerve-wracking scenery to choose from.
There are 11 areas marked black diamond, or most difficult, and three marked double black diamond, experts only. I did not even dare look at the black diamond trails out of fear that I might break my neck, but, for the more experienced adrenaline junkies, Snow Valley has got you covered. We stayed on the beginner and intermediate trails, which the more difficult slopes feed into near the base of the hill. I found it fun and challenging, though there were actual toddlers going down the same slopes as us, so you will have to choose your own adventure there.
If you are planning a trip any time soon, be sure to dress in warm, water-proof, but easily removable layers. I must have fallen at least four times each trip down the mountain, so snow pants were a must for me. It is about 20 degrees colder in Running Springs than in Whittier, but we got hot from carrying our equipment and actually skiing.
We were too sore to attempt the two-in-one mountain/beach combo California is so famous for, but, according to Google Maps, Santa Monica is the nearest beach at only two hours away, should you feel like sporting your brand new bruises in a bathing suit.