Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:19 pm
The incoming weekend storm often brings high winds to Mammoth in advance, but it slowed down some and the morning was quite calm, about the same as the prior day at Mt. Rose. In the afternoon south winds picked up some, mainly on chair 5. The top remained open all day with no clouds from the west reaching the mountain.
Here’s the view of the top from the gondola to chair 23 at 9AM.
Mammoth had zero natural snow until November 25 but has had 82 inches since. Coverage is a bit less than that would imply (40 inch base at patrol plot) as the first storm was very low water content.
I had to pick up my new Ikon Pass and it did not work the first time on chair 1. The lifties thought it might take a few minutes, so I took a couple of runs on 3 to give it some time. The face of 3 was not groomed but its skier’s right had nice windbuff. View of the Drop Outs while riding 3:
I skied World Cup to 23 and watched skiers carefully while riding the lift. The hotel manager Thursday night had heard that wind effect had degraded the upper mountain with lots of sastrugi. There were also a lot of heavy powder tracks from the weekend that had stiffened as at Mt. Rose. I saw skiers spraying soft snow in Wipe Out 1, so that was an easy first call. At the bottom of the steeps was a good view across the mountain.
Note the low cloud similar to the prior day at Mt. Rose. This condition is rare at Mammoth due to prevailing chronic wind usually mixing the air.
View back up Wipe Out 1:
Below me was a smooth line of skier pack but it soon ran out. I traversed to another smooth section in Lower Scotty’s but it also ended and I had a long stiff traverse right to eventually reach groomed St. Anton.
I returned to chair 1, where the Ikon still didn’t work so I went back into the office to get it fixed. Liz was trying to get the hole in her boot liner taped for the day, but her boots hurt immediately and did not improve. She bailed after 3 runs and spent the rest of the day trying on new boots at 4 Mammoth ski shops.
Out again at 10AM, I decided I better keep skiing the top in case afternoon weather deteriorated. The sign at the top of Mammoth had taken a beating over the years, and after being buried and then hit by a snowcat last year needed to be replaced.
The new sign is 28 feet tall, twice as thick and those metal bands are part of a beefy metal brace in back. Liz doesn’t care for the aesthetics, but weather is vicious up there and they want this sign (supposedly cost $15K) to last.
I first skied groomed Cornice, then traversed to Drop Out 3, which usually collects blown-in snow.
Snow as not as soft as the Wipe Outs, but there was a continuous skier packed line below for an easier exit to St. Anton or chair 23.
View of the Paranoids from St. Anton:
Coverage looks excellent for early season but no one was skiing out there. Obviously it would have been an ordeal of sastrugi and old stiff tracks. Fortunately all of that will be buried by this weekend’s storm and it will be powder on Sunday or Monday.
I rode 23 and skied down Roadrunner to 14. Ungroomed snow was wind hammered back there so the one groomer was enough. I exited via 13 and skied two runs on 12, then to Main for a rest on a bottom-to-top gondola. Climax was not as smooth as my previous top runs but it had been skier packed so still skied well.
Climax had the best view of the inversion cloud layer beyond Lincoln Mt.
Liz had found some soft windsift in Christmas Bowl on the final run, so I skied that to Coyote and chair 5. Riding the lift I observed the irregular snow on Face of 5 and Triangle but Sliver and Sanctuary had blown in snow. So I skied those 2 runs plus groomed Solitude. There was too much sun glare up the lift line, but I took this picture of Upper Dry Creek, fairly typical of low tide but skiable early season.
I skied down to chair 2, then skied Fascination to a much needed rest and pizza slice at Main Lodge from 1-2PM. I had one top run left in me by then and chose Wipe Out 2. A skier conveniently dropped in ahead of me to illustrate the snow quality.
This is impressive snow and terrain quality for December 6 anywhere. Mammoth opened Canyon/Eagle today and will be in full operation with the most terrain North America after this weekend’s storm.
Below the steeps I took a rest stop and saw some kids hitting a booter over a small rock.
I timed this picture right, but this skier did not stick his landing.
By the time I got through the variable snow lower down my legs were cooked so I stuck to groomers for the last hour. I crossed the mountain to ski 2 runs on chair 4, where its lower section had the only snowmaking subsurface I felt all day. Riding chair 4 I could see the Avalanche Chutes which opened the next day.
Liz picked me up at Chair 2 at 3:30 after I had skied 26,300 vertical. We had dinner in Lone Pine about 6PM. On a Friday night I thought there might be an issue with the Tesla superchargers with incoming weekend skiers, but few weekenders could make it to Lone Pine that early. There are currently 6 charges at Lone Pine, but I was pleased to see that 8 new ones are installed and should hopefully be open before the holidays.
Tesla also has a permit for superchargers in Bishop but construction has not started there yet.