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Mammoth, May 28-31, 2017

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 11:02 pm
by Tony Crocker
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 =D> ; 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? :-k And when Squaw goes to weekend only operation after June 4, the operating hours will be .....10AM-2PM?!?!? :shock:

Let’s hope with the new ski area conglomerate that Mammoth influences Squaw’s mountain operations and not the other way around.

Re: Mammoth, May 28, 2017

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 9:39 am
by tseeb
The pictures of me on my first time in Phillipe's look better than expected as I felt like I survived it and did not really ski it that well. They also make it look steeper than expected for being taken from above.

My legs were getting tired after pushing around the softening snow for two days in a row. I skied over 26.5K on Friday (18.5K riding lifts and sharing most runs with my wife, then 8K with 5 trips to upper mountain after she quit at lunch), then got closer to 27K on Saturday. We barely got into parking at the Mill arriving at 7:30 on Friday (after leaving South Tahoe at 4:45 AM) and had to park across street, but still close at same time on Saturday.

These pictures are of Tony Crocker in Phillipe's. I was solidly sprayed for taking the trouble of standing on steep slope to take these, but at least my camera case was inside my backpack and not laying on the snow.
What does he say about when we see his skis leaving the snow?
Tony got a little close to rock wall on lookers left for more than one turn
Only choice through here was to side-slip a little or straight-line and gain way too much speed. Deep runnel is getting carved by snow sliding down the fall-line.
I'm about to be sprayed
Tony Crocker wrote: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? :-k And when Squaw goes to weekend only operation after June 4, the operating hours will be .....10AM-2PM?!?!? :shock:

Let’s hope with the new ski area conglomerate that Mammoth influences Squaw’s mountain operations and not the other way around.

At least Mt Rose and Squaw are running lifts for skiing. Heavenly re-opened gondola for Memorial Day weekend for tubing, which is on a S-facing hill at the 9+K elevation top. It seems like they could have run Tamarack and Dipper lifts without too much effort and drawn some people to South Lake Tahoe where neighbor across the street from our cabin said it was really dead leading into long weekend.

And then there is Kirkwood, that I drove past yesterday evening on my long way home via Monitor and Carson passes since Sonora and Tioga passes are not close to re-opening this Spring. The meadow at the highway at entrance to Kirkwood is still fully covered and lakes on either side of Kirkwood are still covered with ice and snow. They could have re-opened without moving any snow, but must not appreciate or even like their customers.

Re: Mammoth, May 28-30, 2017

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 10:54 pm
by Tony Crocker
tseeb wrote:At least Mt Rose and Squaw are running lifts for skiing.

No argument there. It's surely better for areas to be open, even if not being run optimally, than to be closed.

I was quite worked from Sunday and needed a more measured pace Monday. I got out at 8:10 and took a warmup cruiser on Roller Coaster before heading for chair 9. Gold Hill was smoother than Sunday due to less than half as many people on the hill, which is typical for Memorial Day Monday vs. the two prior days. It was a good thing, because there was no overnight freeze and snow would have been chewed up fast with lots of skier traffic.

I skied two runs in the corn under chair 9 (one with Adam) and one run farther out the traverse than Sunday in Wazoo. Liz joined me on my last ride on 9 and we skied to gondola mid-station, which was walk-on vs. the 20 or people there at the same time Sunday ~9:45. We skied a Cornice lap then headed over to Dave’s. Here’s a close-up view of the fracturing snow at the top.

There’s a group of people in the distance at the top of Heuvos, which Adam said was excellent about this time.

From Dave’s we skied into the chair 5 terrain and down groomed Sliver about 10:30. Chair 5’s snow was optimal, so we stayed for 2 more runs on Face of 5 and Sanctuary. Liz on Face of 5:

We returned to McCoy Station and loaded the same gondola which Adam had loaded at Main Lodge. Adam and I skied to the gate by Hangman’s. View down there:

With its unusual width, Hangman’s has been busy this season and is quite bumpy now.

So we skied smoother Varmint’s Nest instead. Adam there:


Liz skied Cornice and got this pic of me below Varmint’s Nest.

Adam was going to finish his day shortly on 23 as he was driving home to San Diego. Liz and I took the gondola up again to check out the backside around 11:30. The backside of Mammoth has far less snow now than on the Memorial weekends of 1995 and 2010. The Southwest flow of the big atmospheric river winter storms favored the chair 9 side of the mountain more. Thus its base is much deeper and there was a wide expanse of smooth corn, similar to the backside terrain in 1995 and 2010.

There was a ~20 foot wide strip skiable from behind the gondola, but most of broad face below the upper gondola has burned off, as can be seen upper left below the building here.

The strip had not been skied much so most of the snow below the burned off area was developing suncups. We stopped along the boundary here.

This was the area of wide open high speed corn in 1995 and 2010. Backside view from the top May 30, 2010 by contrast:

Lower down we had a nice view to the base of 14 and Red’s Lake starting to melt around the edges with Minarets in background.

Chair 14’s groomers Santiago and Arriba were still in good shape at noon. We saw this sticker affixed to a chair 14 lift tower.

Last time up 14 we hiked to Scotty’s/Monument. I traversed left toward Paranoid 1 to get a little more north facing with more supportable snow. Lower down St. Anton was one of those runs which skied much better Monday than Sunday with fewer people.

Nonetheless it was just past 1PM and we were both ready to call it a day soon. We rode the gondola to the top one last time before it will be closed for maintenance May 31- June 16. Liz skied the same Dave’s – Solitude – Spook – Roller Coaster route as I had skied to finish Sunday. I had to ski Hangman’s once this trip while the gondola was still open. From there I continued down to Rodger’s Ridge and rode Gold Rush to get back to the Austria Hof by Canyon Lodge. The Gold Rush ride gave me a bird’s eye view of the superpark features on lower Solitude.

Monday’s total was 23,300 vertical.

Re: Mammoth, May 28-30, 2017

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 10:04 pm
by Tony Crocker
Weather remained warm Tuesday, into the 50’s as on Sunday/Monday. Despite predictions of possible showers it was clear early in the morning with just light cloudiness over the mountain after noon. Naturally it was very quiet after the holiday, with just chairs 1,2,3,6,23 listed as operating, with the gondola down for maintenance until June 16 and chair 11 also being repaired. We were surprised to see chair 5 moving and found out about that later.

We started at Stump, and with minimal crowds the groomers were in good shape for our first 5 runs there. It looked like there was a bit of overnight freeze, but it was mostly due to the salting of the runs. We skied Rodger’s Ridge at 9:30 and should have been there earlier. By 10AM nearly everything was soft like our first top run on Cornice, continuing down to Main Lodge via Terry’s. You can still walk onto the Main Lodge 3rdfloor sundeck.

The racers were on Gremlin’s/St. Anton this morning, so the lower race course runs were open all day. So on the next lap from 23 I skied Drop Out 2 to Fascination. By 10:30 we rode 3 and skied to chair 5 via Triangle. Chair 5 is running for 5 freestyle camps between May 30 and July 2. That's what the building of the big halfpipe and jumps over Memorial weekend were all about (see last pic from Monday) and the reason that area between Solitude/Spook and Face of 5 was roped off. Chair 5 will not run every day but only when the camps were in session. However the public is welcome to use the lift when it is open. So we next skied down Solitude to get closer look, first at the pipe.

Then a couple of people on the big jump:


Riding chair 5 the park is hidden behind trees, but one skier got high enough to be visible above them.

We skied Face of 5, and I got a better zoomed perspective of big air from there.

We skied our last run on 5 on Sanctuary and skied to the Mill for a short break at 11:45. After noon you needed to be selective to find snow not too heavy. I took two top to bottom laps from 23 on Drop Out 1 and Wipe Out 1. The upper steeps were good but the runouts were more work. There are also a lot of moguls up there after the busy holiday weekend. However the racers were done with St. Anton, leaving a smooth corn cruise back to Main Lodge.

Our last run ~1PM was on 3, and as its earlier groomed face had been worked over we skied smoother snow near the chair line with nice final pitch below these trees.

We went into the Mill for Taco Tuesday and saw these announcements posted. Rumors have been rampant for over a month but it is now official Mammoth will be open daily into August.

More details on summer operations:

Total for Tuesday was 20,900 vertical.

Re: Mammoth, May 28-31, 2017

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:50 pm
by Tony Crocker
We had seen sketchy weather forecasts over the weekend and planned Wednesday as our departure day from Mammoth. We awoke to thick overcast and a rain prediction. So we packed, drove to the Stump parking and got on the hill at 8:45. The cloud layer was usually near the top of chairs 1 and 2 but I got a couple of pics when it was higher.


Needless to say 23 never opened. The gondola is down for maintenance through June 16.

With the warm Tuesday and the clouds coming in overnight there was no overnight freeze. With few people skiing and no areas roped off for racing the groomers were excellent.

After warmups on Stump Alley, Powder Bowl and Broadway, we ventured up 3 when the cloud was a bit higher. The face of 3 was the one area with hard snow, presumably from salting, and it probably stayed firm with the fog and some wind. The off trail snow was softer so we skied past the sulfur vent to Coyote and chair 5.

The freestyle camp was still going so we rode 5 and skied Solitude to the Mill for a short break. We spent the next hour on chair 1, skiing all 4 of the race course runs plus Gravy Chute.

We felt a few drops around 10:30 and by 11AM it was drizzling steadily. I skied Baby Gravy while Liz skied Wall. We bailed at 11:15 just as some of our clothes began to soak. We skied 13,100 vertical.

We had lunch at Whoa Nellie Deli at Lee Vining and drove north past Mono Lake.

We drove over Monitor Pass, which opens relatively early as it’s on the leeward siode of the Sierra and relatively dry.

This year of course Monitor Pass looks much less barren.

We stopped on the north side of Emerald Bay on the way to a B&B in Tahoma. Eagle Falls below Highway 89:

Fannette Island in Emerald Bay:

Note well covered Heavenly in the background, closed since April 23.