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Clear roads to allow easy access to mountains

February 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Snow is still piled high at Big Bear, and roads are clear, allowing easy access to the mountains for snow lovers and tourists during this holiday weekend.Caltrans and county plows and snow blowers got help from a warm sun while attempting to clear the main roads leading to Big Bear Resort.

This led to lots of work for local contractors.

"We have people that start at 10 o'clock until 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning, and we start at 7 o'clock in the morning until 9 or 10 o'clock," said snow remover Trini Estrada.

Schools in the Rim of the World School District and the Snowline School District are closed on Wednesday. It's their fifth snow day of the year, and they still have about half of their snow season left. School officials say they will try to reopen Thursday.

The new snow is great news for ski resorts. They've had a great winter already, and for a lot of residents, the latest snowfall is just icing on the cake.

"It's great powder and the trees. I can stay in these trees all day," said snowboarder Rob Segroves, who had made an ambitious 13 runs by Wednesday afternoon.

"This is the best snow we've had sin 1979," said another snowboarder Jim Crisp. "It's great. I give it a 10."

One can only assume that as the warmer weather continues, getting to the local resorts will be less challenging.

"Everything is cleared out. We do have cinders out for traction, and we've applied some de-icing material, and we'll allow the sun and temperature to work it in, and we'll be able to remove it by afternoon," said Richard Kalmanzan or Caltrans.

Running Springs CHP is requiring chains on Highway 18 just from Snow Valley to the dam and a portion of Highway 38.

The recent storms also dumped snow in Wrightwood, where Caltrans finally cleared the roads leading to ski resorts.

However, those who plan on driving up to the mountains Wednesday night or Thursday morning are being told to carry chains. The snow is cleared but the ice remains, creating dangerous driving conditions.

"It's my day off, and every Wednesday I go snowboarding. It's awesome," said Phil Stamps, a snowboarder.

Overnight, the storm dumped more than a foot of snow in Mountain High, drawing crowds of skiers and snowboarders trying to fit in as many mid-week runs as they possibly can.

"My teacher actually canceled class, so I took that as an impromptu," said Sam Rhone, a snowboarder.

The roads coming up to the ski area and nearby Wrightwood were open Wednesday. However, you still need to take some precautions if you're planning a trip to the San Bernardino Mountains.

"We want to make sure that our guests make sure they have their chains in their car, make sure they know how to put them on, and if you have a four-wheel drive or if you got all-wheel drive, you're in good shape. Just make sure you've got your chains in the car, though," advised Kim Hermon of Mountain High Ski Resort.

In Wrightwood, the overnight snowfall meant a lot of work for the locals trying to clear the streets to make it easy to get around for themselves and visitors.

"It's been pretty crazy. There are a lot of people coming up. This is nothing, a few weeks ago, it was twice as much," said Jeff Steinmann, a Wrightwood resident.

"The roads were clear all the way up. No rain, no snow," said Michael Lininger, a Huntington Beach resident. "It was a beautiful drive." Lininger and his family were happy to just park along the clear roads and play in the snow.

Others didn't have much interest in playing in the snow. Instead, they just wanted to drive up and soak everything in.

"It's wonderful. We come from Ontario, and we came here to see the snow views," said Vera Lee.

"The snow is so white and the air is so cool, it made me so free, so peaceful," said Lee's sister, Angela.

CHP emphasized that visitors need to take caution on the roads due to icy conditions.