Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:31 am
After getting only 4 inches of snow in nearly a month, Mammoth has had two storms of 1-1.5 feet from Jan.6-9. So it was too tempting for us to get in these two days. The second storm underperformed expectation though. It was supposed to be twice as big but it tracked farther south, as most people know from the Santa Barbara mudslides. It was also fairly warm, with fluctuating snow levels that left a zipper crust as high as 10,000 feet. Wednesday was also the day we expected the top to open, but a cloud sat on it for most of the day and it was also quite windy.
We started out on chair 3 and soon discovered that you wanted to ski skier packed rather than untracked snow with the crust. Fortunately chairs 3 and 5 had been open Tuesday so areas like West Bowl and the lead-in to Coyote had soft packed powder with minimal crust. So Tseeb, Liz and I skied Face of 3, West Bowl, then Coyote to chair 5. We rode once with a patroller who said the control work was done and the top would open when the clouds cleared. She also said the snow as good up there with no crust until about the bottom of Cornice Bowl.
We skied Sliver, Solitude, Face of 5 and Sanctuary and then took a short break at the Mill. We took a lap through chair 1, but with the top still in cloud at 11:30, we then skied Stump Alley to Gold Rush to check out chair 22, which had also been open Tuesday. Tseeb and I were pleasantly surprised by snow quality in the avalanche chutes. The entry to Avy 2 was sketchier than usual.
But below there it was all good for awhile.
Tseeb skiing Avy 1:
Once you got below the last rocks the snow became thick and chunky. Fortunately enough people had been there Tuesday to pack out some exit lines.
I wanted to survey the east side of the mountain, which was known to still need more snow. The groomers like the one we skied, Haven’t the Foggiest, are well covered now, though venturing off trail on 9 and 25 is still not recommended. We skied down to Eagle, which as expected was sloppy, but then to Canyon, where the groomers were in good shape as they were on the Main Lodge side. We regrouped for lunch at McCoy Station at 1PM, joining an Australian family on the last week of their trip which and started in Salt Lake but most of their skiing had been at Jackson and Targhee.
McCoy Station was full of people waiting for the gondola to open, but it never did. The cloud on the mountain was thinning rapidly but winds from the NW remained strong. Finally chair 23 opened at 2PM. We hustled over to chair 1, got to 3rd in line only to see it shut down for the crosswinds, as well as 3 and 5. So we rode 6, then 2 to reach 23 about 2:30. The lift line looked big but was only 6 minutes and diminished for later laps. Tseeb and I skied Drop Out 1 and when we got back to 23 the Aussie family was there. We led them on the traverse from Cornice to Drop Out 3, the area we had skied a lot in December. Tseeb and 10-year-old Tom led the way while I tried to round up everyone else. 12-year-old Emily is here with her mom Kylie.
The Aussies headed off the back to 14 while Tseeb and I skied Wipe Out 2. From the top of 23 the Minarets were above a cloud hanging over the chair 14 area.
As the patroller had said, snow was soft for about 700 vertical, then you would hear the crust and after a few turns the snow would show much more resistance. Tseeb squeezed in a fourth run to Paranoid 2, but I had had enough and cruised on down Fascination, then to the car at car 2 with 25,000 vertical for the day.
More clouds came in that night and it remained overcast nearly all day Thursday. However there was minimal wind in the morning and it was 35F at 8:30 opening of chair 2 vs. 28F on Wednesday.
After one warmup on Stump Alley, the gondola opened so we started with a groomed Cornice run. Then Tseeb and I skied Climax, for which this was opening day of the season.
Climax is in early season mode with varied lines through the rocks due to most of the November snow sliding off in avalanches. By contrast chairs 3 and 23 have fairly normal coverage for January.
We met dad Simon and Emily at McCoy Station and took them out to Dave’s Run, which was also on its first day aside from an hour in early December. Later view of Dave’s very popular today:
From there we skied Dry Creek, Emily and Simon following Tseeb there.
We rode 2, which was now windy again, and thus took a sheltered gondola back up top. We skied the same traverse into Drop Out 3 as yesterday, then rode 23, where Tseeb led Simon and Emily down Scotty’s while I skied the Hump.
We all rode 23 again and skied a couple of laps on chair 14. We saw some fanatics walk over the gravel in Dos Passos so they could ski the powder(?) above and below.
The Aussies took 13 up while Tseeb and I skied Monument, then we all met for lunch at Main Lodge.
After lunch we skied Face of 3 and West Bowl, then a final run from Climax through Triangle to the car. Total was 20,300 vertical.
With the heavy new snow there were some exhausting runs. But Mammoth is now up to 80% open and the wind will smooth out and improve those upper runs. Garry was there on Sunday and had a rave review of smooth windsift on most of the chair 23 runs.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:01 am
Coverage is steadily improving—good to see. This past weekend was surprisingly good with Chair 22 providing a lot of fun on Saturday. The chair shut down around 10:30am, and with the wind refreshing the Avi Chutes, it made for untracked laps all afternoon for those willing to make a 4 minute hike. Sunday then provided the aforementioned wind buff on the Wipe Outs and fun powder, albeit a bit heavy, in The Hemlocks.
As an FYI, Dave’s Run was open for a few weeks earlier this season. The conditions had been excellent there before a big wind event stripped the run.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:01 am
The wind strip event was overnight on Dec. 4, the evening I arrived on my prior trip. I was told by patrol that it had been open one hour on Dec. 4 but then closed after someone fell and slid into the rocks. I know that overall surface conditions were excellent the week after Thanksgiving but had not heard whether Dave's was open then. I am quite sure Dave's was not open from Dec. 5 to Jan. 10.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:10 pm
Tony Crocker wrote:The wind strip event was overnight on Dec. 4, the evening I arrived on my prior trip. I was told by patrol that it had been open one hour on Dec. 4 but then closed after someone fell and slid into the rocks. I know that overall surface conditions were excellent the week after Thanksgiving but had not heard whether Dave's was open then. I am quite sure Dave's was not open from Dec. 5 to Jan. 10.
I'm not sure exactly when Dave's opened, but it was open the entire weekend of December 2-3 and I know it had been open and skiing well at least a few days before as well.
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:36 pm
That makes sense. Dave's would have opened after the 11 inches new on Nov. 27, then closed after the Dec. 4 incident and upslope wind stripping.
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:24 am
I left So. Tahoe at 5:25 and parked in Mammoth by 8:15 with only a couple of stops to take pictures of sunrise over Mono Lake and at rest stop just before Mammoth Loop Road which saves a few miles. My return was a little faster even though I had to cross heavy traffic going the other way on 395 to get cheap (compared to CA) gas in Gardnerville and go against it crossing the Carson Valley getting to Kingsbury Grade.
Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:07 pm
tseeb wrote:Most open terrain in Western US.
Big Sky at 90% has more acreage. But in terms of quality I'll take the 80% of Mammoth over the 90% of Big Sky.
The key now is that with Dave's and Climax open, the top of Mammoth is finally in average January mode.
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:10 am
You mean Mammoth is not being truthful on their website which says "MOST OPEN TERRAIN IN THE WEST"? That (IN CAPS) is on their home page.
They may even be including Canada and it seems like Whistler/Blackcomb, and possibly Big White or others could have more open terrain than Mammoth.
According to onthesnow, Big Sky has 5000 acres open which is twice Mammoth's 2500 acres. But I think you would also find at least twice as many rocks if you skied Big Sky vs. Mammoth.
Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:19 am
There's a substantial list of Canadian areas with more open acreage: Whistler, Lake Louise, Sunshine, Sun Peaks, Big White, maybe even Castle Mt. Fernie's open acreage is depressed because the White Pass chair is broken.
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