Southern California Skiing – One of the Worst Snow Years on Record

The 1983-84 ski season remains one of the worst ski seasons on record for Southern California. During the season the ten ski areas all recorded less then 20 inches of natural snowfall. Among the worst was Mountain High Ski Area which reported less than six inches. Snow Summit which usually receives the least amount of snow, recorded only 13 to 19 inches of natural snow.

In addition to the limited amount of natural snow, mother nature was sporatic in delivering cold temperatures to allow for snowmaking. Of the ten ski resorts in Southern California at the time only four of them, Snow Summit, Snow Valley, Goldmine (Bear Mountain), and Mountain High (West Mountain Only) had any significant snowmaking equipment.

Other resorts such as Ski Sunrise and Mt. Baldy had very limited snowmaking capablities, covering less than 10 percent of their total terrain. Kratka Ridge, Mt. Waterman, Ski Green Valley and Snow Forest did not have any snowmkaing equipment.

Out of the ten ski resorts, the four without any snowmaking equipment did not operate during the 1983/84 season. Mt. Baldy had a very short season and it is unknown if Ski Sunrise operated at all.

In December, mother nature was especially cruel to the ski areas. The first half of the month looked promising with decent snowmaking condtions. The man-made snow allowed resorts like Snow Summit and Mountain High to open up a fair amount of terrain in prepartion for the upcoming Christmas holidays. Unfortunately by mid-month warm temperatures set in, which was followed by disasterous heavy rains on Christmas Eve.

The rest of the season was characterized with periods of snowmaking weather followed by mild weather and an occasional weather system that would dump an inch or two of snow if anything. Snow Valley and Goldmine ended their season in mid-March. Mountain High followed in the end of the month.

The surpise of the year came on March 31 when 6-7 inches of snow fell at Snow Summit. The single largest snowfall recorded. Unfortunately it was too late and Snow Summit closed for the season on April 8.

Mountain High Ski Area
Photo Credit: Mountain High Ski Area

The photo above is an aerial shot of the Mountain High Ski Area's west mountain as displayed in the resorts 1984-85 brochure. Thanks to the snomaking system the west mountain was open 135 days during the 1983-84 season. The east resort still commonly referred to as Holiday Hill at that time did not operate at all.

The following trails were open at the peak of the season as shown in the photo. (Names in parenthesis are the current names of the trails) Upper and Lower Chisholm, Calamity Jane, Red Eye (Borderline), Wyatt Earp (Wyatt), Calico (Conquest), Little Maiden (Cruiser), Danny's Run (Sunnyside), Annie Oakley (Easy Street).