I arrived in Mammoth by dinner Tuesday. It was pouring rain in the Bay Area when I dropped Becky at Oakland Airport ~11AM. The storm under way was a deterrent to her but a magnet to me for spending the rest of the week at Mammoth. I got out in front of the storm on the drive. It was sunny and 59F in South Tahoe, warmer than in Oakland.
Wednesday April 11
As Mammoth had been warm over the weekend, my expectations for Wednesday were low as the storm was just starting. Wind from the NW was vicious on the Main Lodge side of the mountain. Though surfaces were better than expected, I made it a short day, quit at 1:40 after 18,100 vertical. The next days were clearly going to be better, so I decided to save energy for them. Groomers were in good shape except where there was a lot of traffic in front of Canyon Lodge. Ungroomed was mostly dust on crust in the AM. I tested Gravy Chute early on, hoping it had a winter snow subsurface. It did not, so the rest of the day I stayed away from anything too steep. I had 3 nice runs on Chair 5 after lunch. By then 3/4 of the turns were soft and if you bottomed out on the dust on crust it was often edgeable. The new chair 5 is quite sheltered for the lower half of the ride, more comfortable Wednesday than 16, 15 and especially 2.
Thursday April 12
The mountain reported 5.5 inches since Wednesday morning, accurate on average but of course the wind distributed it quite unevenly. Some exposed areas like unloading of chairs 1 and 2 were just as icy as on Wednesday. I caught the opening of Chair 5, fast run down Sliver, next run same on Sanctuary but hit a blown off ice patch and crashed. 3rd and 4th runs on 5 were on full chairs, had to poke around more for less tracked snow. I went over to Chair 3 with low expectations from Wednesday's wind but was pleasantly surprised. 3 was never as much as half capacity so the powder lasted much longer than on 5 and seemed just as plentiful. Visibility on 3 was at times difficult; perhaps that kept people away.
It was a still a low angle powder day IMHO. I hit a few steep spots, more bottoming out, though Rodger's, the Bear and the chair 10 trees had their moments. It seemed not enough new snow for me to hit 22 over an obviously refrozen base. I expected more snow to cover up that base by Friday and quit at 2PM. Still a very good day, 22,100 vertical, about 10K of powder.
Friday April 13
By Friday morning the storm total had reached 17 inches, with another 6-10 predicted during the day. This was as good a day as I've skied at Mammoth with the top, 9 and 14 closed. I didn't load Chair 2 until 8:47, met Staley at the top of it (he had made opening bell and hit Gravy Chute 3x already) and was pleasantly surprised to see NO WIND there as much as it was dumping. I first put an untracked line down skier's right of Stump Alley, not sure I can remember ever doing that before. I had not skied Chair 22 the previous 2 days, believing new snow was not deep enough yet for steeps over a very frozen base. Clearly not an issue Friday, so we passed up another chair 5 opening for 6 runs on 22. First Avy 2 and Avy 3, deep with face shots. Next I followed Staley through the scattered trees near Chair 25, which were completely untracked but the base was thin in spots and one of my skis paid the price. By this time the locals had worked over much of 22 (one of my favorite tree shots was mostly hammered) yet our 5th run on Shaft was only lightly tracked.
We departed 22 via another sweet Avy 3 run ~11AM, at which point I lost Staley, who was setting a blistering pace as he had to leave at noon. I got a bit low and had a slog/traverse to barely make it to the top of 21 so I could ski to Chair 2. We were headed to 3, which delivered even better than Thursday. Mammoth's wind had resumed by this time (moderate and probably still less than Thursday and nothing like Wednesday) and once again 3 was loading at less than half capacity presumably due to not that great visibility. I never saw Staley, who I presumed was running laps through the Bear until he had to go. I did one run down the face and another through Waterfall before taking a lunch break. I later heard that Staley found a buried rock at high speed on Avy 3, resulting in a double ejection.
I knew face of 3 would continue to deliver powder in the afternoon, so most of my runs were there and/or through the Bear to the Mill or 5. Face of 5 still had some decent powder lines left also, as did the trees by the old chair 10 path. In the afternoon I was wearing down some and had to start taking a few breaks in the middle of runs. Nonetheless I finished with 29,500 vertical, estimated 17K of powder.
I debated staying another day, but I would have had to find new lodging and the weather forecast for Saturday was "blustery," which to me translates as little chance of the top opening. Looks like it did open ~noon Saturday, good for the people this weekend to get some powder before the spring sun can do too much to it, though of course it was also more crowded. At any rate I was fairly tired after 70K in 3 days, nearly 30 of that in powder. I was also still feeling some of the effects of the 82K I skied last weekend at Mt. Bachelor.
Sorry no pics, as it was snowing all 3 days with considerable wind much of the time.
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,318K in 2010-11
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12