Historic summer skiing season in California

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Summer is a time for camping, swimming and apparently, this year, for skiing in California on the slopes.

“This was my first time ever skiing in the summer, and it was such a cool experience,” 18-year-old Max Rivera of Huntington, Beach, Calif. told KTVU on Thursday. He and five buddies stripped off their heavy layers and even skied on Mammoth in the Eastern Sierra, five hours north of Los Angeles, without their shirts on this month.

The Golden State set an all-time record for northern Sierra precipitation. In April, the region achieved its wettest year in recorded history, with nearly 90 inches of water, surpassing a 1982 record, the National Weather Service office in Sacramento announced.

All that was evidenced just this week.

At least one Bay Area couple was married last weekend in Tahoe, and took their wedding party skiing as part of a communal honeymoon. “We’ve been seeing a lot of wedding parties going snowboarding and skiing afterwards,” said Lauren Burke, spokeswoman for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

Folks on July 4 were clad in red-white-and-blue shorts and bikini tops, bombing down the hills at Squaw Valley, west of Lake Tahoe – the fourth time the resort has been open at this time of year in the last 50 years.

Mammoth Mountain is open through August, and spokesman Sam Kieckhefer told KTVU that Squaw is determining week by week if the slopes will stay open during the summer. This week, staff determined the snow is still great for the upcoming weekend and this will be the first year ever that Squaw has stayed open past July 4.

There were record-breaking amounts of snow at both places this winter – an environmental and financial boon after five years of drought and scant skiing.

For example, Burke said that Mammoth Mountain surpassed the 750- to 800-inch mark of snow at the 11,053-foot mountain summit - 618 inches at Main Lodge, thus, claiming the “deepest base depth” in the country since early January.

Squaw Alpine registered 714 inches of snow, or 58 feet, this season -- only the second time in recorded history that the resort broke the 700-inch mark, Freeskier reported.

And while there are no official statistics on this, it appears as though broken legs are on the rise, too. One orthopedist in Marin recently was turning away all non-emergency requests, saying they were deluged by a stream of patients with “summer ski breaks.”