Good news for powder junkies: The Farmers’ Almanac—the go-to source for weather predictions—is anticipating another record-breaking winter season for much of the U.S. The not-quite-so-good news for Californians: Where the heaviest snow will fall remains to be seen, depending on what shakes out with an El Niño pattern in the Pacific.
But before the snow watch starts, there are reasons to start digging out the ski gear. Here's what's on the horizon for the 2014/2015 ski season in California.
1. Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows; Opens Nov. 21
In the fourth of a five-year $70 improvement plan, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows continues on its upward trajectory. New additions this year include $1.2 million into lodging improvements at The Village at Squaw Valley, including a new food truck and a mid-mountain chalet at Alpine Meadows.
On the slopes, experienced skiers and boarders should check out the newly added North Face Mountain Guides, which will offer unparalleled access to the resort's most sought-after terrain. The tours will be led by top-notch guides and include priority lift-line access and branded North Face items.
Later in the season, it will host the Skicross World Cup and Snowboard World Cup competitions, the first time since 1969 that the International Ski Federation has brought a World Cup event to Squaw Valley.
And in news we’re not sure whether to love or loathe: The resort also announced the world’s first ski-in, ski-out Starbucks will open this season, along with the launch of the ski industry’s first app for Google Glass, which will allow guests to view which trails and lifts are open without having to dig around for their phone (or, you know, ask a lift operator. And no word yet on how exactly the device fits under ski goggles).
2. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area; Opens Nov. 13
At Mammoth Mountain , it’s pretty much business as usual on the slopes for the 2014/2015 season. But a few exciting new options have spiced up the après scene, including Mammoth Brewing Company ’s newly opened tasting room.
We doubt you need another excuse to down a few pints at this popular gathering spot, but the gleaming new space, as well as 13 beers on tap, should do it. Another newcomer on the scene: Mammoth Tavern, with a seafood-leaning menu specializing in upscale pub fare – think shrimp ceviche and a braised short rib grilled cheese. And for a deliciously decadent way to rest weary quads, check out The Sierra Nevada Resort’s new 2,500-square foot day spa, the largest in Mammoth Lakes.
In addition, for the first time ever, Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and Snow Summit are offering a pass to their combined terrain of nearly 6,000 acres, spanning 240 runs, 61 lifts and 8,319 feet of vertical, for $689.
3. Kirkwood; Opens Nov. 22
Beloved for its deep powder and steep runs, Kirkwood Mountain Resort is kicking its Expedition Kirkwood Beyond Boundaries series into high gear this season with its newly launched “Out of Bounds Private Guide” program. Designed for individuals or small groups, the tours will offer expert coaching and access into terrain just outside of Kirkwood's boundary and into Thunder Bowl, Avy Bowl and Reuter Bowl zones. It's the only resort in the Tahoe region that offers such an experience.