Mammoth, Nov. 21-22, 2017

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Mammoth, Nov. 21-22, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:11 am

Mammoth missed the early November snow but last week's storm was a high water content atmospheric river, and by Saturday chairs 1,2,3,4,5,6,10,11,12 and both gondolas were open with over 40% of runs.

Skiing was impressive for this early in the season but below the expectations of last weekend. With up to 80 inches on top one might expect most upper runs to be open, but both Climax and the Paranoids slid to the ground and are close to starting from scratch.
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Dave's Run has two exposed ice bands left over from last season.
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Patrol roped them off and supposedly opened the run briefly yesterday but with the more difficult conditions today Dave's was again closed.

The problem yesterday was a light mist that froze to the snowpack overnight. Here's the shiny 9AM view toward Chair 3 while riding Chair 1:
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I expected Mammoth to be very quiet but the Chair 2 parking lot was had just filled when I arrived at 8:45AM. Working in skiers' favor today were Mammoth's grooming and the unseasonably warm weather. Stump Alley skied well right away and Broadway was decent too. I connected with some people on another forum at Gold Rush, so we went that way to ski the groomers on chair 4 (shaded and mostly firm) and Solitude on Chair 5, which was in good shape.

Around 10AM I ventured into ungroomed Sliver.
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It was way too early, firm all the way. The snow was probably "eastern packed powder," as it was not that hard to hold an edge and make continuous turns. But they were noisy turns and if you had sensitive knees or feet you would be getting a lot of vibration into them.

So we skied Solitude again down to chair 2, up 3 and Saddle Bowl/World Cup/Powder Bowl to the lower gondola. Once up top we noticed than skier's left of Cornice was in the morning sun and we were pleasantly surprised that it had softened. While winter snow at that elevation/aspect won't soften in the low angle sun, it seems that some frozen snow will. I next ventured into Drop Out 1, which was definitely DFU at the top. Scattered rocks were easy to avoid while skiing, but if you fell and slid perhaps not. Lower down you could speed up and make bigger turns. The snow was still hardpacked but smooth. I'm sure it was great windbuff before Monday's mist. Overview of Chair 23:
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My last run before lunch was Monument, where I observed several skiers while riding 23.
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Some of it was in late morning sun, not as soft as left side Cornice but still one of the best runs of the day, repeated late in the afternoon.

After lunch I took 1 and the upper gondola to Cornice, then tested the face of 3, which had taken enough midday sun to soften. I returned to 23, where I skied Drop Out 3 and Wipe Out 2, firm but smooth and a bit easier than Drop Out 1 had been in the late morning. And here's the view back after I skied our final top run on Monument.
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The others went back to the groomers after 2PM but I skied two more variants on the face of 3, then Coyote to 5 and a final run on Solitude to the car.

Total for the day was 28,600 vertical, which is a record for November. Even though a lot of the snow was "good for you," it was manageable, it was on varied and interesting terrain and not a WROD, which is far more than what we usually expect on November 21.

Mammoth's skiing will get more difficult with colder weather and/or Thanksgiving crowds. On the other hand, only a modest storm of a few inches will restore winter surfaces. Last week's storm was all rain in town and very little at Canyon Lodge. Snowmaking will be needed to expand to that side of the mountain.
http://bestsnow.net
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
 
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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, Nov, 21, 2017

Postby Staley » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:43 pm

I didn't realize mist fell on Monday--the mountain was skiing incredibly well on Saturday and Sunday. Drop Out and Wipe Out were extremely smooth and had nice soft snow. The Face of 5 had 2-3 inch deep wind buff at all times.

Unfortunately, to protect the groomed runs below the top, Mammoth patrol bombs as soon after a storm as possible. Had they waited 24 or 48 hours, I suspect very little would have slid--the wind compacted everything. Looking at backcountry conditions, there were some slides immediately after the storm cleared, but everything seemed completely solid by Saturday (the storm was done by Thursday night). It would be nice if Mammoth was willing to keep Saddle Bowl and St. Anton closed for a single day to help build a base up top, instead of causing avalanches by bombing immediately.
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Re: Mammoth, Nov, 21-22, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:04 am

Considering that it was midweek Nov. 16-17, I would also been inclined to agree to wait on the bombing. Alta and Snowbird seem routinely to wait a full day after storms before trying to open Ballroom/Backside/Devil's Castle and Road to Provo/Bookends/High Baldy.

However, the top of Climax has an ice cap of last year's snow, and it may have been difficult for the new snow to stick to that. Close-up view of the old ice at the top of the gondola today:
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Wednesday was as warm as Tuesday, a slight breeze in the morning but not a cloud in the sky. I got to the chair 2 lot at 8:30, Stump was already softening before 9AM but my legs were to no surprise a bit less lively after yesterday. At least I was forewarned about the unusual conditions and knew to look for sunny sectors. I told Adam this is a material science question for him. The sun is too weak at this time of year to melt/freeze typical packed powder snow. However, the rain frozen surface will soften to a decent spring-like surface with a couple hours of sun, low angle though it may be.

At any rate, I skied three runs on chair 2 and two on chair 1 before heading towards 5 to meet the guys I skied with Tuesday. Solitude, on the sun-exposed ridgeline, was already skiing well at 9:30 while the groomed trails lower down on chair 4 were still frozen sold as they are narrower and thus still shaded by the trees.

We skied a couple more on Solitude, then rode chairs 2 and 3 to ski Saddle Bowl and Broadway. I then took the gondola up to ski the sunny skier's left of cornice, right side of this pic:
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The timing was right, about 10:30AM, but I was still not skiing as fluidly as on Tuesday. I took a run on also softening face of 3, then went into an early lunch. From 3, here's the view across to Scotty's, Monument and the avalanched Paranoids.
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After lunch I took a warmup on Powder Bowl, then rode 23 to ski Monument, which had just gone into the shade. From chair 23, the Hulk is now starting his 4th season on that rock.
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Monument was rock solid, much firmer than on Tuesday even though it had been in some sun for a couple of hours. I'm guessing that since Monday night was cloudy while Tuesday night was clear, there was a harder freeze Tuesday night. So I took one last gondola to repeat skier's left Cornice, as I didn't feel up to any more steep frozen granular runs.

I learned from a ski patroller that Dave's had been open for about an hour on Monday. He said it skied great then, but someone fell and slid into rocks so it was closed again. To no surprise Dave's remains closed in the current conditions.

My final ungroomed runs in softer snow were West Bowl and China Bowl/Coyote for chair 3. I took 5 to Solitude, then to chair 4, where those groomers had softened. So I skied two more of those and finished with Lost in the Woods just after 2PM. I skied 26,400 for the day.

The Thanksgiving holiday is likely to have most of the upper mountain bulletproof while crowds chew up the lower runs. The good news is that the upcoming storm track for Sunday has been revised farther south, and the expected 5-9 inches should resurface most of what's open at Mammoth to what Staley had last weekend. After that snowmaking should start to expand the lower mountain trails.
http://bestsnow.net
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: 9535
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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