Mammoth, May 16-18, 2018

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Mammoth, May 16-18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri May 18, 2018 10:48 pm

After a hot first week of May, there were a couple of inches snow over Mother’s Day weekend and forecasts were for “unsettled weather” the rest of the week. Garry Klassen, Liz and I decided to take our chances to ski Wednesday-Friday as forecasts were for mostly sunny and highs upper 40’sF despite the 40% chance of showers every day. We saw no showers or thunder, though there may have been some farther north around Tahoe.

We got on the mountain about 8:15 Wednesday. It was mostly sunny then, as seen with this view of the race course on Fascination.

The Paranoids are in the right background. It is difficult to get past P1 due to the long scree ridge between P1 and P2. P3 shows signs of an old wet slide, perhaps during the rain of April 7-8.

We skied mostly on chair 2 until 9:30 as that’s where the snow softened first. By the time we moved to chair 3 the clouds on top had become permanent for the day.

It was moderately windy, so the clouds formed as the wind rose on the upslope of Mammoth and the Minarets but dissipated on the leeward side. Here we have a view of the top from Hangman’s (closed with too many small rocks in the choke) to the Drop Outs on Chair 23.

Coverage is best around chairs 3 and 23 so that probably influenced Mammoth’s recent decision to extend the season to second weekend of June. I expect Stump Alley, the Mill and the parking there to be closed after Memorial Day.
After 10AM the chair 1 groomers had good corn, as did this partial east facing ungroomed line skier’s left of Wall.

Snow was also good on the northeast shoulder of the face of 3.

The cloud on top is much thicker now and remained that way most of the day.

But here’s the view down from the same spot.

The lower mountain remained in sun and had all softened by 11AM.

We skied Coyote to chair 5. Chair 5 was running Wednesday/Thursday for the freestyle camp Mammoth has had for the past 3 seasons.

Last year the camp was in June so chair 5 ran until July 2. The public is roped off from the camp area but all of the terrain from Dry Creek to face of 5 is available to us.

Here’s Garry on Sanctuary:

Liz and Garry in Upper Dry Creek:

We also skied Sliver and Triangle. Snow was excellent corn, just starting to get heavy around noon. We had this area essentially to ourselves. There’s probably enough activity on the weekends to pack the snow and smooth it out but not enough to form moguls. The most difficult part was the bottom approaching the chair.

The March 3 avalanche took out some trees so there is a lot of debris in the gully where we normally carry momentum to get to the lift.

From below we got a good view of the freestyle camps’ new feature, a tilted landing zone air mattress.

This snowboarder did not stick his landing and is sliding on the mattress.

We left 5 and stopped for lunch at the Mill at 12:15. Emerging at 1:15 we first skied World Cup and Terry’s, which were smooth corn because they had been reserved for the racers until 11:30 or so. Finally we ventured up chair 23 as the cloud was thick only at the very top. Garry and I skied Wipe Out 1 and the Hump. In both cases the upper steeps that had been in the cloud were slightly crunchy while the snow was more forgiving lower down on the aprons.

We quit about 2PM after I had skied 29,300 vertical. While we didn’t ski the top much, it was easy to time the ideal corn windows over the rest of the mountain.

Thursday turned out to have the most cooperative weather despite the forecasts. There was not a cloud in the sky nearly all day and little wind either. However the clearing had occurred overnight, resulting in a harder freeze than on Wednesday. This slowed down the softening process depending upon aspect, resulting in the best corn day I’ve skied at Mammoth in 5 years.

We started with 3 runs on chair 2, then figured out to hit chair 3 to Coyote as another sector that would soften early, good enough that we did it again. We hit Cornice at 10:30, plenty soft already, followed by a couple of the now excellent chair 1 runs. Here’s Garry at chair 1 with a bunch of racers in the background.

We noticed a few jackets from Burke Mountain Academy.

Back up 23, we skied Drop Out 3, in ideal corn mode by 11AM, as shown by Garry here.


About this time the racers were done with World Cup and Andy’s Double Gold, so the corn there was as perfect as it can get. So this sequence of runs was also worth an encore.

Around noon we tested skier’s right of chair 23. The top of the Hump was still firm so I continued on to Monument, which was very good but probably better an hour early due to its slight northeast tilt. So next time Liz skied Scotty’s while I traversed farther to Paranoid 1.

Both of these were better due to less direct morning sun.

We stopped for a short snack at Main Lodge, skied Gravy Chute, and then went back up 23. It was now 1:30 and the most sheltered top runs were finally in corn mode. I skied Wipe Outs 2 and 1, in both cases skiing past the base of 23 to score the still pristine racer corn on Terry’s Run.

I have posted a few pictures of The Hulk on the rocks between Wipe Out and Drop Out since he was glued there in 2015. This year Wonder Woman has appeared on a rock by Gravy Chute viewed from chair 1.

We finished with a run from Face of 3 to the car and my total was 30,200 vertical including 8 runs off chair 23.

Friday was partly cloudy all day but warmer than Wednesday/Thursday. The salted groomers on chair 2 were the same as the prior 2 days when we stated just before 9AM. However, overall softening progressed at a faster rate than on Thursday. Thus we skied from the back of 3 though Christmas Bowl and Coyote at 9:30, hitting its peak corn window. Liz is below and Garry is above the fumarole here.

We repeated this route. The freestyle camp was done, as chair 5 was not running and the air mattresses were deflated.

Fewer runs were being used by racers on Friday either, so we then skied an excellent Andy’s on the way to the gondola base. The gondola’s annual maintenance is being done Monday-Thursday for a few weeks, so Friday was the only day we could use it. We first skied Cornice to Fascination. On the next 2 gondola laps Garry and I skied Climax, which has only half its normal snowpack due to that early March avalanche and an even bigger one during the first storm of the season in mid-November. Nonetheless there were some clean lines in there with good snow. First Climax run:



Top of second Climax run:

From both Climax runs we skied though chair 5 terrain to the Mill, first on Sanctuary, second on Triangle. By this time it was just past noon so we went up 23. While riding 2 a cloud was moving over the top.

Unlike Wednesday, Friday’s clouds were sporadic.

With the warmer weather I suspected the Wipe Outs would be soft at least an hour earlier than Thursday and I was correct. Wipe Out 2 was excellent but the snow on the apron below was a bit heavier than on Thursday.

We took our final laps through chairs 1 and 3, the first on race runs World Cup and Terry’s, still nearly frictionless due to racer prep earlier. Our last run was on Face of 3, with snow at 1PM similar to 2:15PM on Thursday. So we called it a day at 1PM with 21,100 vertical and got on the road to drive home. I was hoping to ski about 70K on this trip and wound up with just over 80K due to the excellent conditions.
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
Posts: 10668
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, May 16-18, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat May 19, 2018 3:30 am

Tony Crocker wrote: Liz is below and Garry is above the fumarole here.

Hard to believe that it's been 12 years since the death of the patrollers -- that event always creeped me out. Pretty shocking in retrospect that Mammoth didn't have better protocols in place. How CA OSHA only assessed a $50K fine for the death of three people is :shock:-worthy.

Thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2016
Press release after citations were issued: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2267
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Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ + Denver, CO

Re: Mammoth, May 16-18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat May 19, 2018 1:29 pm

Protocols have definitely changed. That fumarole is kept excavated no matter how deep the snowpack is. This was April 2017:
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
Posts: 10668
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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