Mount Waterman

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For the mountain by this name in Antarctica, see Mount Waterman (Antarctica)
Mount Waterman
Location Waterman Mountain
San Gabriel Mountains
Angeles National Forest
Nearest city Pasadena, California
Coordinates 34°20′59″N 117°55′43″W / 34.349722°N 117.928611°W / 34.349722; -117.928611Coordinates: 34°20′59″N 117°55′43″W / 34.349722°N 117.928611°W / 34.349722; -117.928611
Vertical 1,030 ft (310 m)
Top elevation 8,030 ft (2,450 m)
Base elevation 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
Skiable area 150 acres (61 ha)
Runs 27 total
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 20% beginner
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 20% intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 60% advanced
Lift system 3 chairlifts
Snowfall 180 in (460 cm)
Snowmaking No
Night skiing No
Website www.skiwaterman.com/
Mount waterman from the east

Mount Waterman is a ski area on Waterman Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. The area is located on California State Route 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, and reaches a height of 8,030 ft (2,450 m) with an overall vertical drop of 1,030 ft (310 m). Mount Waterman is leased under a special use permit from the United States Forest Service. Skiable terrain is distributed as: 20% beginner, 20% intermediate, and 60% advanced.

Mount Waterman facilities include: a ticket booth at the base at 6,900 ft (2,100 m), a warming hut, restrooms, a ski school, ski patrol (first aid), a ski rental service (currently inactive), and a heliport halfway up the mountain.[1][dead link] Near the top there is a 5 million gallon, tadpole-filled reservoir intended for a future snowmaking system, and at the 8,036 ft (2,449 m) summit there is a plateau with large boulders. Waterman has three double chairlifts to serve its ski trails. Mount Waterman currently has no snowmaking equipment. There are steep backcountry ski trails on the east and northwest sides of the mountain, though skiing these trails is not recommended since the area is not patrolled. During heavy El Niño snowfall in 1998 the County Sheriff ticketed some backcountry skiers who entered these areas. Several skiers and snowboarders went missing and had to be rescued that year.

History[edit]

Mount Waterman is a ski area on Waterman Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. The area is located on California State Route 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, and reaches a height of 8,030 ft (2,450 m) with an overall vertical drop of 1,030 ft (310 m). A large tract of land in the San Gabriel Mountains was leased from the United States Forest Service in 1888 to master trailblazer and cabin builder Louis Newcomb.[2][dead link] Robert B. Waterman was a pioneer mountain man and a ranger in the San Gabriel Forest Reserve. Waterman, together with his wife Liz and their friend Perry Switzer, completed a three-week hike from La Cañada to the Antelope Valley and back in May 1889. With this epic feat, Liz became the first white (non Indian) woman known to have crossed the San Gabriels. Along the way, she placed a cairn on this summit, and christened it "Lady Waterman's Peak". However, attitudes toward women at the time led to this name being considered inappropriate. The peak was subsequently referred to by different names, all of which left out the "Lady". To his credit, Robert Waterman made numerous, futile efforts to have the full name restored.[3]

Beginnings[edit]

Lynn Newcomb, Sr. and his sons Ren Newcomb and Lynn Newcomb, Jr. built the first rope tow in the area in 1939. Mount Waterman claims to have had the first chairlift in California, opened by the Newcombs on January 1, 1941. The chairlift broke down during opening day and riders had to jump off, but the resort continued to operate.

Lynn Newcomb, Jr. took over the operation after his father's death. Until 1968, the area retained its single chair, chair lift and three rope tows from 1941. Then chair number two was added, a fixed grip double. The 1968–69 season brought extensive snowfall. The original single was replaced in 1972 with a fixed grip double. In 1981, chair three was added. Lynn Jr. ran the ski area for all but a two-year period, until the 1990s, when it was sold to two San Gabriel Valley businessmen. Those new owners returned the resort to Newcomb when their ambitious plans for snowmaking and other improvements at the ski area fell through.

Angeles Crest Resorts (ACR)[edit]

Mt. Waterman in March, 2000

Newcomb sold Mount Waterman to a group of Southern California businessmen, the main investors being Barry R. Stubblefield of Valencia, owner of a lighting business,[4][dead link] and his brother Gregory R. Stubblefield of Pasadena a United Way benefactor[5] and regional president and chairman of Enterprise Rent-A-Car[6]), James "Jim" R. Newcomb, [7] and Charles "Chuck" W. Ojala both also residing in Valencia.[8]). Together they formed Angeles Crest Resorts (ACR) and operated Mount Waterman and neighboring Snowcrest ski area beginning in 1999.

The resort did not operate between July 2001 and February 2008, mostly due to a failure to meet U.S. Forest Service operating requirements. Mount Waterman has higher natural snowfall (average 180 inches) than most Southern California ski areas and its snow is fairly well preserved by tree shading and steep north exposure. However, the snowfall is very erratic and with no snowmaking equipment, the area was unable to operate in dry years such as the 2001–2002 season. Mount Waterman's commercial appeal is also limited by its topography: there is a beginner area up top, and abundant steep glades for experts, but very limited terrain for intermediate skiers.

In January 2005, Barry R. Stubblefield, who was digging out Waterman after a snowstorm, died while skiing with two ski patrol members when he fell and tumbled out of control until he hit a tree, according to Sgt. Don Hudalla of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Crescenta Valley Station. He was 48.

2004–2005 season[edit]

The Southern California region had nearly record breaking precipitation the winter of 2004-05. Los Angeles almost broke its highest record for precipitation. In February 2005 there was 3 to 6 ft (1 to 2 m) snowpack, and then another 10 to 12 ft (3 to 4 m) of powder fell. This information was obtained from the caretaker at Mount Waterman via mobile phone. The first snowfall was before Halloween 2004 and averaged 3.5 ft (1.1 m); in early May 2005 there was still a snowpack of about 2 ft (0.61 m). This snowpack rivaled the record El Niño years of 1982-83 and 1997–98, but in 2004–05 the area was still not open to the public. Stories of long hikes up the closed Angeles Crest Highway to Cloudburst Summit, then onto the buried lodge, are remembered by a select few. One snowfall that year reached the bull wheel at the base of chair one. The top of one was merely a mound of snow with a channel cut through, while the lodge was completely buried.

Mount Waterman LLC[edit]

On July 2, 2006, the Pasadena Star-News reported that Rick Metcalf, an associate of Lynn Newcomb, and longtime Waterman skier, had formed Mount Waterman LLC and purchased the Mount Waterman and Kratka Ridge ski areas and was securing operating permits with the goal of reopening Mount Waterman for the 2006-2007 ski season. 2006–07 was the driest season in Los Angeles history so Mount Waterman never had enough snow to open. A new Mount Waterman web site launched on January 11, 2008, published a notice that set an opening date in early February.

February 2008 reopening[edit]

Mount Waterman officially reopened February 16, 2008. Over 200 skiers attended. Chairs one and two were operational largely due to the efforts of a few dedicated locals who dug through ice and dirt to clear the loading zones; chair three was still being dug out from recent snowfall. The Metcalfs, other owners, and press were in attendance, as well as former owner Lynn Newcomb.[9] The resort operated for approximately five weeks on a limited, weekend schedule (Saturdays and Sundays), closing in mid-March 2008. The snow pack had melted to patches by mid-May, only to revive in a Memorial Day weekend storm that left over two feet of snow.

2008–2009 season[edit]

Mount Waterman operated during the 2008/2009 ski season with all three lifts running, and the resort received over 3 feet of snow in December. Conditions throughout the season were variable due to warm weather patterns and winter rain, and the resort usually operated on a Friday-Sunday schedule from December 21 - January 12, then again from February 13 - March 15. Resort facilities received improvements, highlighted by the reopening of the lodge.

Station Fire[edit]

The Station Fire (2009) exploded out of control on August 29–30, 2009, and was visible to Mount Waterman caretaker Todd Brugger several miles west of the ski area. Phone service was lost early in the fire, so Brugger had to respond on his own. After seeing smoke coming from Devil's Canyon directly behind the ski area, he took a bulldozer up to the ridgeline and dumped some dirt off the back to form a firebreak. On September 5, the fire reached Devil's Canyon close to Todd's firebreak. The smoke reduced visibility to 10–20 ft (3.0–6.1 m), but the fire never crossed the ridge into the ski area. In the Winston side country west of the ski area, the fire crossed the ridge and burned some ground cover but not the forest. On September 6, firefighters finally arrived on the scene, deploying a plane with fire retardant. The Station Fire's most serious impact upon Mount Waterman was the closure of the Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada for all of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 ski seasons.[citation needed]

2009–2010 and later seasons[edit]

Mount Waterman had enough snow for skiing by late January 2010 but no road access. An alternate route through Big Tujunga Canyon was finally opened in March, so Mount Waterman operated on its Friday-Sunday schedule from March 13–April 18. In 2011, Mount Waterman was again accessible via the Big Tujunga route. It was open the first two weekends of January, then Friday-Sunday from February 27–April 3, except for the third weekend of March when there was too much snow for the road to be plowed.

The Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada finally reopened in May 2011, restoring normal road access to Mount Waterman. However, for the 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons, natural snowfall was inadequate to open the ski area for business.[10] The multi-year drought was unprecedented in the 70+ years of the ski area's history; it had never been closed previously for more than two consecutive seasons.

In 2010 Mt. Waterman partnered with GP, the largest DH mountain bike group in the US, to create a summer program. Upon permit approval, this will include a managed bike park in the year-round plan. In 2016, Mount Waterman reopened for skiing. It continued to be open as of mid-January 2016, with 3 ft (0.91 m) of snow base, as reported by KCAL-TV on January 10, 2016.

Facilities[edit]

Mount Waterman facilities include: a ticket booth at the base at 6,900 ft (2,100 m), a warming hut, restrooms, a ski school, ski patrol (first aid), a ski rental service (currently inactive), and a heliport halfway up the mountain.[11][dead link] Near the top there is a 5 million gallon, tadpole-filled reservoir intended for a future snowmaking system, and at the 8,036 ft (2,449 m) summit there is a plateau with large boulders. Waterman has three double chairlifts to serve its ski trails. Mount Waterman currently has no snowmaking equipment. There are steep backcountry ski trails on the east and northwest sides of the mountain, though skiing these trails is not recommended since the area is not patrolled.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mt. Waterman
  2. ^ Newcomb's Ranch History
  3. ^ "Mt. Waterman History". mtwaterman.org. Mt. Waterman Ski Lifts. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  4. ^ OpVista
  5. ^ United Way of Greater Los Angeles
  6. ^ Enterprise promotion list
  7. ^ Zaba Search
  8. ^ Zaba Search
  9. ^ Deborah Schoch (2010). "Rebirth of a pioneer gives skiers a lift". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Californian ski resort praying for snow". BBC NEWS. May 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ Mt. Waterman

External links[edit]