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Surf in the Morning, Snow in the Afternoon — Your Guide to the California Double

In search of California’s breakers-to-slopes challenge.

Shoulder months are always the most fickle when it comes to weather: sunny, warm and enjoyable one day and frigid, windy and bitter the next. It makes it tough to know what to put in storage and what take out, especially when you’re trying to figure out what seasonal sport you’re giving up and which one you’re committing to for the next few months. Californians celebrate the seasonal gray area. When the rest of the country has one foot in a snowboard boot and the other sliding into a wetsuit, they’re throwing both sets of gear in the back of the truck and heading out before daybreak — to do the “California Double.”

California is one of the few places in the country fortunate enough to have mountains close enough to the beach, making it possible to catch waves and hit the slopes in the same day. Instead of lamenting the indecisive temperatures, embrace them. Start in the the water at daybreak for empty beaches and breakers and then head west to hit the slopes to catch the final runs of the day. These are the most iconic spots to do the double.

Huntington Beach to Big Bear Mountain

Eastbound and Up

Bryan Campbell

The Beach: Huntington Beach is usually a sure thing for waves. Even when the surrounding surf spots are flat, Huntington always seems to at least have a classic beach break. Winter time into early spring yields the smallest crowds, making it easier to catch waves.

Learn More: Here

The Mountain: One of the bigger, higher mountains in the area at 8,805 feet (at the peak), Big Bear Mountain can get and retain its snow even into early spring, making it ideal for more comfortable California Doubles.

Learn More: Here

San Clemente to Mount Baldy

Cuttin’ Across

iStock, Mt. Baldy via Facebook

The Beach: Along with Huntington Beach, San Clemente is in an ideal location for catching waves year-round. It may live slightly in the shadow of “Surf City” to the north, but all that means is less of a crowd for waves that are just as good. Wintertime winds can kick up some sizable swells, so taking it easy before you hit the mountain may be a better idea.

Learn More: Here

The Mountain: What Mount Baldy lacks in size, it makes up for in convenience (it’s 45 minutes from L.A.) and snow retention. With a 6,500-foot base and 8,600-foot peak, Mount Baldy’s four lifts and 17 trails are a good bet for late-season snow.

Learn More: Here

Santa Monica to Mountain High Resort

Up and Around

iStock, Mountain High

The Beach: Not only is Santa Monica an iconic place to catch waves, it also offers up a wide variety of surf. From big breakers to easy going white wash, there’s all kinds of surf by the famous pier, which explains the high volume of surf schools that have set up shop there. That being said, the later in the season you leave, the more crowds you’ll see. It is a tourist destination, after all.

Learn More: Here

The Mountain: Mountain High Resort is split into two main peaks, so it’s worth planning out which one you want to hit if you have limited time. But that means it has more options than the other two mountains: 59 runs in total. Surfing in the morning and then trying to conquer both peaks is a herculean task, but if you’re going to do the Double, do it big.

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Buying Guide

The Gear to Do the Double


To do the Double, you need equipment that can work in a wide spectrum of situations — that goes for both the gear you’ll use and the vehicle that’ll haul it. Your wetsuit needs to keep you warm in cool waters, but it also shouldn’t let you overheat in warmer temperatures. Likewise, the gear you take on the mountain needs to keep you warm if the temperatures plummet and cool when the mercury rises. And your vehicle of choice needs to be able to haul both seasons’ worth of action-sports gear.

Chevy Colorado Learn More
Black Diamond Front Point Shell $420
Mountain Hardwear Returnia Cargo Pant $130+
Poc Wrist Glove Big $140
Electric EG3.5 $110
Body Glove 3/2mm Vapor Slant $213
Surf Board Pick Your Poison

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