Temperatures are dropping (then rising, then dropping), and El Niño appears to be mostly real. All this meteorological action is bringing rain and snow, in addition to chilly weather, so where’s a Californian to go to get outside this holiday season?
Never fear, California happens to be home to some primo winter sports locations, not to mention temperate environs where winter is more a state of mind than a statement of fact. Here’s a short list of ways to get your adventure fix despite the tricky weather.
Whether you climb in the mountains or the deserts, if you’re in the Northern Hemispher in winter be prepared for cold fingers and toes. That said, Joshua Tree and San Diego area offer amazing year-round sport and trad routes and make it easy for climbers to seek out the sunny side of the wall.
If you head to J-Tree, get ready to have your run of the park, as the tourists generally begin to arrive in late spring. Depending on the weather you may want a 20-degree sleeping bag and some firewood, but the climbing will be no less epic. And also get ready to catch some amazing sunsets.
Down in San Diego what we’ve seen more than anything this season is light rain (with accompanying runoff) and chop, neither of which have made this the humdinger winter that people have predicted. Surfline reported in November that conditions statewide were essentially good, but not epic.
General concensus seems to hold that El Niño is doing it’s thing, that water temps are up and producing larger-than-normal storms on the central and northern coast, and that the best action should be coming after the holidays. The big wave riders seem to be counting on it, at any rate. So wax that board, even if all you get is chop, so that at least you can say you were there for the 100-year storm.
The Golden State is home to one of Forbes magazine’s ten best ski resorts in the US, Mammoth Mountain ranked #10 in 2015). The high altitude (11,000 feet) is supposed to give Mammoth’s snow a drier, less slushy quality than resorts in the central and southern parts of the state. And they’re expecting a white Christmas!
Squaw Valley also scored on Forbes’ list in 2014, when it was rated #5. Why not this year? Warmer temperatures and reduced snow pack are affecting all of CA’s ski areas. Better get it while you still can.
Happy New Year, everyone!
From your friends at SAANO Adventures
By Brian Gruters
Brian writes about science, conservation, and ways that people interact with nature for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com. He is an aspiring surfer, member of the Southern California Mountaineers Association, and likes to explore mountains and canyons.