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Mammoth is actually 6 hours from where you're at going 70-75mph. My mom lives in Fallbrook on the backside of pendleton and it never takes longer than 6 to get there when I go home.
Bear is cool for rails and jumps and what not but avoid it on weekends. To little area and way to many people. Half hour lift line wait times at least. The same can pretty much be said for Mt. High.
I am moving back to SD in a few days but will be up in Mammoth all season long whenever I want to ski. I feel the drive is longer but it's also easier on you mentally. You arrive feeling alot less taxed than the twisty roads up to Bear. Plus the mountain is way bigger and the parks are insane. I'd rather drive a little further and get to ski some rediculous stuff than ski Bear any day.
just my .02
Yo, being from Tahoe area I know how it is to need to ski. Go to bear or summit but just beware its not always good. Do what I do, Surf. It gets good down here especially in the winter. If you need a buddy to surf with hit me up on here