At the core of it, skiing and snowboarding are essentially individual activities.

It's simply you and your boards taking on whatever the mountain throws at you. You go it alone on the bump runs, in the terrain park, busting pow in the trees, or simply arcing sinuous turns on the corduroy on a bluebird day.

There's more than a kernel of truth in the old adage of there are no friends on a powder day.

But humans are, by their nature, social animals. They like to do things in groups and interact with like-minded citizens. People like to congregate and socialize; they feel the need to fit in and hang out with their peers.

Skiers and snowboarders aren't any different - when was the last time you saw a single chair.

It's with this very thought that ski clubs were founded.

The attractions of joining a ski club are several fold. According to they include:

* A great of making new friends and networking with people with common interests.

* The convenience of having a trip leader makes all the arrangements for you.

* An economical way to travel because the large number of participants on each trip reduces the costs for lodging, lift tickets, and air fare.

* Parties, apres ski, and some meals that are usually included in the price of the trip.

* Resorts bidding on the opportunity to host a "Club or Council Ski Week" thereby making trips to premier destinations more easily accessible and much more cost efficient.

* Year-round activities - tennis, golf, dive trips, softball, etc. - are usually a part of most clubs' agendas.

Other benefits include reduced lift-ticket prices and discounts on gear and soft goods. Also, many clubs have their lodges or houses near mountain resorts.

Although every ski/snowboard club has one thing in common - people who love to spend their time frolicking in the snow - not every club is alike. There are clubs geared toward families; there are clubs that accept only singles. Some clubs were put together to with racing in mind; some are strictly for the partying types. Some clubs were formed along ethnic or racial lines, and some were formed with sexual identity in mind. There clubs for senior citizens and there are clubs for the disabled. There are even clubs whose members all work in the same industry or for the same corporation.

In California - from Chico to El Cajon, from Anaheim to Yosemite - there are more than 140 clubs alone. As befitting the state with perhaps the most diverse population in the Union, you'll probably find a club that's just right for you.

Two good places to start are the Bay Area Snow Sports Council and the Los Angeles Council of Ski Clubs. Both are umbrella organizations, which provide information on and access to the various ski and snowboard clubs within their respective regions.

There are also smaller regional councils in Orange County, San Diego,and in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee area.

Check them out and you'll never have to go it alone.