Mammoth, April 21, 2017

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Mammoth, April 21, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:48 am

We did not ski Thursday. High winds closed all the mid-level and Main Lodge lifts in the morning. 2 and 10 opened at 10:45 and 16 at 12:45. So with nothing open on the upper half of the mountain that still had winter conditions Wednesday, we gave up and drove out to show Liz some of the local sights. First was Hot Creek.

The blue pools are boiling. However the far left area of the creek was a popular après spot that I first visited in 1979. In 2006 the thermal area increased its activity so it has since been off limits for bathing. While at Hot Creek we found out the winds had finally abated so the upper mountain was open for about 1.5 hours late in the day.

Next we drove up to Convict Lake.

The owner of this Chesapeake Bay retriever said the dog “didn’t think sticks should be in the water.”

He would remove even very large tree branches and drag them on shore.

The south side of Convict Lake is easily accessible to backcountry skiers and riders.

A boarder is riding at lower left. A skier is on top of the lower face about to ascend the bowl at upper right.

Friday was predicted to warm up substantially to about 50F, which it certainly did. With little wind, spring conditions advanced all the way up the mountain, with only Varmint’s, Hangman’s and Wipe Out 1&2 retaining winter snow by 3PM. All the upper runs were in winter mode the first couple of hours and there was no hardpack phase as this was the first day of softening.

We loaded chair 2 at 8:45 with Mountain Monster of the Epic Forum. He already had a couple warmups so we went up top, Liz and I taking our warmup on freshly groomed Cornice while he skied Climax. He did not return to McCoy Station, so we went up there again, Liz skiing MJB side of Cornice while I skied Hangman’s in smooth chalk I would usually describe as awesome, in which case Wednesday’s fresher snow surface must be considered “awesome plus.” Liz on the 18.5 foot Mammoth sign up top:

We knew chair 9 and 25 would be softening soon, so we took a couple of groomed laps on face of 3, we went up top at 9:45 and skied Dave’s. My younger son Andrew had come down from Eureka and he got off chair 9 right as we finished Dave’s. We all skied Gold Hill and Quicksilver to chair 25.


Chair 25 was already past its prime at 10:30 so we returned to 9. With huge snowpack Mammoth groomed a strip skier’s right of the lift so we did that. Next run I went out Ricochet and skied a diagonal line of smooth spring snow dodging the areas that had sluffed during the recent storm. Andrew wanted to remain on 9, so we arranged to meet for lunch at Canyon. Meanwhile Liz and I skied to face of 3 and McCoy Station. From the top Liz skied Rockgarden while I skied Huevos. Both were in ideal spring corn mode. We skied past the Solitude and Rollercoaster saddles to get one run in on chair 22. I skied Avalanche 1, then down to Canyon for lunch.

Andrew had skied 10 runs on chair 9 so he only took a couple runs after lunch and was on the road by 2PM. I took 16, skied Sanctuary and Face of 5, then joined Liz to go to McCoy and another gondola. I skied Climax this time. The smooth subsurface exposed by the slide was now nicely softened corn. I continued down Triangle, then to chairs 2 and 23.

I took a lap on Wipe Out, which as usual holds up superbly in warm weather. The runout aprons were in spring mode and some areas were chunky, but I crossed right to a smoother lower line skier’s right of the lift. While riding 23 I had spied a narrow smooth line coming out of the usually irregular Paranoid 4, so I checked that out.

The saddle at left drops off into Philippe’s. But the continuous fall line below me was all nicely softened spring snow, so that’s what I skied. Looking back up:

Sun is over Paranoid 4 and the wider line to looker’s left is Paranoid 3.

I skied down to Main and got on the gondola there just before 3PM.

I had time for one more run before my end of day adventure so I skied Varmint’s Nest. I took the direct line skier’s right and swiped one of the two small rocks still exposed on that side.

Rainbow Jenny and three friends had skied Hole-in-the-Wall midday. They went out there without a car stashed, and since the bus stopped running after the Tamarack cross country center closed April 16, I didn’t want to take the chance of having to walk over a mile from there to Eagle. But at the end of the day Liz could pick me up so I went out there after exiting the top gondola at 3:25. Fortunately Jenny’s group got a ride from a local and didn’t have to walk to Eagle.

Behind Dave’s Run, here’s the view of the Mammoth Lakes.

The highest lake, Horseshoe, is at center. Upper Twin Lake is at far left and Hole-in-the-Wall drops through the cliff band overlooking the Twin Lakes. If you follow that enticing line of corn straight ahead you can come out at Upper Twin Lake. But if you want to get to Hole-in-the-Wall you need to start traversing hard left not far below where I took this picture.

Fortunately there were traverse tracks to follow. The traverse was a slog this late in the day in sun baked but not consolidated snow. Here’s the view of Hole-in-the-Wall from above.

There was snow on the rocks above, with melting water dripping into the Hole. This made the skiing icy when Jenny was there around noon. By 4PM it was spring snow like nearly everything else at Mammoth and so skied better than earlier.

Closer views on the way in:


And from just below:

I skied down to the bridge, walked across to the Tamarack parking lot at 4:04. Liz had the unexpected delay. Her last gondola ride stopped for half an hour and did not make it to the top until after 4PM. She picked me up at 4:30.

My total for the day was 30,000 vertical. Overall it was an impressive day even though Wednesday was even better. It was day 59 of this season but there are plenty more to come. A ski patroller on one of the gondola rides said that Mammoth has race camps scheduled into early August. Unlike some areas, Mammoth usually remains open to the public when running race camps, though no official announcement has been made.

Another noteworthy milestone is that my season vertical is now 1,323,000, which exceeds my prior record of 1,318,000 in 2010-11.
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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