We were lucky with our lodging this trip, reserving the Austria Hof near Canyon Lodge nearly a month ago. Last week Mammoth announced chair 17 would be open to allow parking access from Canyon, so we got to walk to the lift. Austria Hof’s breakfast opened at 7:30 so I got on chair 17 just before 8AM. I got up 17, 4 and 5 to reach Gold Hill at 8:15. Old jump near chair 4 from the private park event in early May:
Gold Hill was already soft and had attracted quite a few people. Lower Gold Hill had some discolored snow, so the diversion to Slot skied much better.
Sunday was sunny, topping out about 55F at Main Lodge with minimal wind. So most everything softened after an hour or two of sun.
I ran into Tseeb at the base of 9 and riding the lift we could see smooth corn beneath it.
After that lap Liz and Adam joined us for two more. For the last run on 9 Tseeb, Adam and I traversed high out Ricochet past the largest rocks and skied a fairly steep line in the Wazoo area.
We left 9 about 9:30 to start skiing the top.
Our first two runs were on Climax, first skier’s left through the big bumps than far skier’s right where it was smoother. Liz skied after that with Tseeb’s wife Lucia, mostly Cornice, Dave’s and Face of 3 variations. Adam led Tseeb and me into Huevos.
We continued down into the chair 5 terrain, where Sliver and Sanctuary had been groomed.
Chair 5’s corn was in good form when we skied those two runs just before noon.
We continued down to chair 2, then up to 23. We skied Drop Out 2 and Monument. Drop Out 2 and 1 from below:
Lower Monument was getting a bit heavy but we moved a bit skier’s left to slightly more north facing to improve that snow. Back up 1 and 23, Adam saw some of his friends and chased them down Skyline. Tseeb and I skied Drop Out 1, then back out 23 to check out the Paranoids. Snow is too soft to carry momentum from Skyline, so now there’s a 5 minute slog up to the top of the Paranoids. We skied a smooth upper line between P2 and P3, then traversed to the top of Philippe’s. Tseeb dropped in first.
Philippe’s was probably wider in April, but its choke point ¾ of the way down is now fairly typical of high snow years.
We had previously avoided the lower gondola line which was down the stairs and onto the snow, but it was 1PM and we needed a break. The gondola had also been running slowly and stopping from time to time so it took 10+ minutes to get through that line. That was the only line all day more than 2-3 minutes.
Tseeb had skied both Hangman’s and Varmint’s Nest on Saturday.
We opted for Varmint’s Nest as its snow was less bumpy.
We followed the morning racer’s line through Gremlin’s and World Cup to 23. From 23 we skied Wipe Out 1, which usually holds up best in the afternoons of warm days in late spring. We skied past 23 to Andy’s Double Gold, as those race course runs and similar the best late day spring runs on the lower mountain.
We rode 1 up and Tseeb headed for his car at 2 and the long drive back to San Jose. I took one more chair 23 run on the Hump, then loaded the lower gondola at 2:10 for my last run. I skied Dave’s, then the cat track to Solitude. Lower Solitude is still roped off with the big halfpipe built for the private event 3 weeks ago.
Skiers are routed around the top of Gold Rush to Spook, which was fine with me as I was headed for Rollercoaster and the base of 17. I thought skiing down Roller Coaster and 17 at 2:30 to end the day would be ugly mashed potatoes but it was no problem. They clearly made a midday pass with grooming and salting
; some of it was even a bit firm.
I skied 30,600 vertical including 10 runs off the top. With so much terrain available it was possible to stay in near optimal spring snow all day. Mammoth seems to be able to run 7 extra lifts
(4,9,10,12,13,14,17) to handle the Memorial Day crowds vs. what they were running midweek.
On the other hand Squaw and Snowbird are too cheap and/or unimaginative to run ONE
extra lift (Headwall, Gadzoom or Peruvian) that would greatly relieve crowd issues on the holiday weekend. If I were at Tahoe instead of Mammoth this weekend, I'd be skiing Mt. Rose. And FYI Squaw is still opening the mountain at 9AM instead of Mammoth’s 7:30AM or Mt. Rose’s 8AM. Which mountain is 2,000 feet lower and more east facing to soften late spring snow earlier in the morning?
And when Squaw goes to weekend only operation after June 4, the operating hours will be .....10AM-2PM?!?!?
Let’s hope with the new ski area conglomerate that Mammoth influences Squaw’s mountain operations and not the other way around.