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Sean Cody finishing the Bear Valley Ski-O in 2001

Bear Valley Ski-O

Date: Sunday, February 29, 2004
Location: Bear Valley, CA.
Contact: Tony Pinkham - (650) 969-5320
Type: C; Ski-O

Updated by Tony Pinkham on 2/24/04

Looks like a great skiing weekend brewing at Bear Valley this weekend. The weather forecasts now show nice weather after a week of storms and fresh snowfall. The courses are taped, we have included 13 bushwacked trails to open up the place more than ever before, and all classes in the California Ski-O Champs are open for grabs.

Weather Forecast and Snow

The forecast as of February 23 shows sunny/partially cloudy weather all weekend with daytime temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s. The snow is typically about 60-84" deep. All trails are open for use. If you are driving, bring chains, just in case.

Registration and Ski Rentals

Registration and ski rentals are handled in two separate locations. If you need to rent skis, go to the Bear Valley Cross Country office across the highway from the ski courses. When you are ready to register and get a trail pass, go across the highway to the trail head. Register with BAOC first and take a chit to the ski hut to get your trail pass (paid for when you register). Registration begins at 9:00 AM and continues to about 12:15 PM.

Elliot Delaye finishes a course at Bear Valley in 2003

Your discounted trail pass and registration fee is basically your half-day trail pass (that you get to use all day) plus our orienteering fee (discounted at the BAOC member rate even for non members). Put together, you get the following bargains:

  Super senior (70+ years)  $8
  Senior (60-69 years)     $20
  Adult (18-59 years)      $26
  Junior (13-17 years)     $16
  Child (9-12 years)       $12
  Young child (0-8 years) free

Course Stats and Descriptions

         Flyline  Optimal
Course   Length   Length Climb Description
White    2.75km   3.4km   15m  Great for beginners using a map
                               for first time. Beginner trails
                               with easy route selection. New to
                               ski orienteering? Take a free 
Yellow   3.95km   5.3km   25m  Great for second-time orienteers
                               who prefer beginner and easy 
                               intermediate trails. Relatively
                               easy route selection but no 
                               controls showing from trail 
                               junctions to help you pick trails.
Orange   5.73km   8.9km  135m  Multiple route choices to each
                               control often on intermediate 
                               and bushwacked trails. 
Green    8.18km  11.2km  160m  Lots of complex route selections
                               some of which are on expert ski
Blue    11.10km  16.5km  305m  Just like green only longer with
                               more magnificent hills. On this 
                               course anything is fair for our 
                               toughest skiers, but it'll be
                               less work (just faster, weather
                               permitting) than at Royal Gorge.


We will be using E-punch for all our courses. If you have a finger stick, bring it; if not, rent one. If you have not used E-punch before, ask for some quick instructions (it's easy, fun, and produces really useful results).

Special Rules

These ski-O courses are in point-to-point format, which means that you must visit the controls in the order shown on your map.

Brenda Giese, repeat California Ski-O Champion, finishing at Bear Valley in 2002

Some of the Bear Valley trails are one-way trails--these directions are marked on your maps with green arrows where they apply to orienteers. If you use those one-way trails, you must go in the direction indicated (or you can be disqualified).

You must stay on the groomed or mapped/flagged bushwacked trails at all times. Trying to make a short cut in all the fresh fallen snow will only slow you down and could disqualify you. Each official bushwacked trail will have two red flags where it intersects with a groomed trail. Long bushwacked trails will probably have flags along the trail, especially if other tracks go through them.

If you come to a hill that is too steep to go up or down, you can remove your skis and walk the hill so long as you carry your skis. If you do this, please walk to one side of the trail so you don't damage the skating zone or disrupt other skiers.

You must finish your course by 2:30 unless you have special permission from the director (Tony Pinkham) to stay out longer--we begin collecting controls at 2:30.

Starts, Finishes, and Clinics

If you've never ski-orienteered before, ask for a free 20-30 minute beginner's clinic. It's given by the registration area.

Starts and finishes occur next to the registration area. The first starts begin at 10 AM and continue to 12:30 PM. All finishes must occur by 2:30 PM so we can finish picking up controls before the place closes.

Spectator Value at the Start/Finish Area

Like to watch competitors ski? The orange, green, and blue courses have optimal routes that eventually have their competitors ski by the start/finish area. This is a great photo opportunity (in addition to finishes) of your favorite skier trying not to be noticed.

Bear Valley Cross Country Treats for Competitors!!!

Bear Valley Cross Country will be presenting each participant with granola bars and snow scrappers. They are also providing the tent that we'll be using at the registration and E-punch download stations.


The original map was created by Mike Poulsen. The map was later improved by Neal Barlow who used GPS to more precisely indicate where each trail went. Since then, the map has had some minor improvements by each team directing the events.

The unique features for this map are that it

Volunteer Opportunities

Most volunteer opportunities have been greedily snatched up by Bob Baylor, Matthias Kohler, Thorsten Graeve, Trinka Gillis, and Bjorn Widerstrom. For a limited time, we still have openings for control pickup (actually, this is a very popular job at ski events) and beginner clinics. If you'd like to help with those functions, let Tony Pinkham know now or at the event.

Photo Opportunities

Yes, there will be at least one photographer on site taking photos of ski orienteers. If you'd like to help with this function, by all means bring your camera and help out. If you send me digital photos, I might include them in the results. The Royal Gorge event writeup includes 16 photos (10 shown at random at any one time). We're always looking for some nice photos to add to the ski-O archives.

California Ski-Orienteering Championships

This is the fourth year of doing the Califonia Ski-Orienteering Championships. Started by Chris Shirley, this championship determines the top male and female ski-orienteer for each of our five standard courses. We use your two best results for the same class at our three ski-O events. To break ties, an event that happens later than another one takes priority. There are no residency or club affiliation requirements, which means that everyone is eligible so long as they ski as a single-person team (children can be chaperoned by adults so long as the children do all the orienteering).

This year, nobody has clinched any of the class championships before the last event and all classes have potential winners. If you skied at one of our other events this year, you stand a reasonable chance of becoming the 2004 champion...if you are the fastest one at Bear Valley for your class.

Awards will be handed out at Bear Valley when we know the winner of each course (1:30 or 2:00 PM). If you need to leave early, check with me to determine if the winner is known for your course before you leave.


From the Bay Area,

  1. Go east on Interstate 580 to Interstate 205
  2. Continue on Interstate 205 for 14 miles to Interstate 5
  3. Continue on Interstate 5 for 2 miles to Highway 120
  4. Continue east on highway 120 for six miles to Highway 99
  5. Go north on Highway 99 for 11 miles to the Farmington Road/Highway 4 exit
  6. Go east on Highway 4 for 97 miles through Angels Camp and Arnold to Bear Valley Cross Country (you'll see a couple big wooden bear statues on the left)
  7. Turn left and look for a parking space