Mammoth, Dec. 5-7, 2017

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Mammoth, Dec. 5-7, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:52 am

I am at Mammoth this week, and grateful for what I'm skiing considering what we are reading about in UT and CO. But the night we arrived there was a severe upslope wind event that stripped a lot of snow, leaving some sastrugi and hardpack in exposed areas. So the skiing is good, excellent on the groomers, but not what it was last week per some online reports. Mammoth has 1,500 acres now, might get close to 2,000 by Christmas with snowmaking assistance, but no more than that until there is more natural snow.

There are more rocks showing at the top of Wipe Out now than two weeks ago, and the hardpack from then is now exposed too, about 2/3 of the way down the steep chute, turning to dry chalk from there on down to St. Anton. The winds on top were 30-35mph Tuesday so I only skied two runs from the top. The other one was Drop Out 3, which at had chalk/wndbuff from its entry but the traverse in there from Cornice was over stiff and variable sastrugi. Most of my skiing Tuesday was on the groomers, which were excellent. The best ungroomed snow was on chair 5, sort of in a bowl so the wind stripping was not as extreme. There were clear skies and minimal wind other than on top, temps in 20's. Snowmaking was going all day on the Unbound Park and toward Canyon Lodge. I skied 24,100 vertical.

Liz, Garry Klassen and I stayed at Convict Lake with Lonnie, whom we have met on a couple of our spring trips.

Wednesday the weather warmed from the 20's to the mid-30's and the wind on top eased off to 15mph or so. I took a few pictures to illustrate Mammoth's current status vs. two weeks ago. The good news is that the extra snow has enabled Mammoth's world class grooming to expand. Examples are the Face of 3 and Coyote.
IMG_2508.JPG

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The best ungroomed snow is on chairs 5 and 12, which we skied Tuesday and Thursday. Here's Rodger's Ridge off chair 2, which was very good below that rock band at the top.
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Liz and I skied Roadrunner off the back. There are two good groomers back there but the ungroomed snow is very wind affected.

Lonnie and I spent a fair amount of time exploring variations off the top to find the best snow. We chatted with a patroller up top who said the Monday night winds peaked at 130mph. Thus at the very top entries all of the snow that fell after Thanksgiving has been stripped away. Dave's Run and the top entry to Drop Out 1 have been roped off. Some of us could ski them safely, but there's enough hard snow and rock exposure that patrol made a not unreasonable decision to rope them off.

The best snow up top is under the Drop Outs after traversing in from Cornice, which I skied 3x Tue/Wed and 4x Thursday. Everyone who skied Cornice said it was frozen solid top to bottom. On the Wipe Out side of chair 23, the upper third or quarter of vertical is frozen granular before transitioning to dry chalk. There are some sectors of stiff and irregular sastrugi which need to be avoided. Here's some of that below the Wipe Outs.
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We took 3 exploratory runs on the Wipe Out side. In the pic below I've drawn yellow around the worst sastrugi, red on the frozen granular and blue on the chalky packed powder.
IMG_2501a.jpg

So if you're willing to ski some steep DFU "snow that's good for you" there's some decent snow below that. The area with good snow is very broad below the Drop Outs and under chair 23 below the rocks. There are narrow lines of smooth chalk on the lower 3/4 or so of Scotty's and Monument.

It is surprising that with Dave's and Drop Out 1 closed that the Paranoids are shown on Mammoth's website as open.
IMG_2503.JPG

I was not motivated to find out for myself based on that view, and that there was plenty of good snow to be found elsewhere.

Drop Out 3 was the best up top, Lonnie on that here:
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Wednesday total was 24,400.

Thursday had Wednesday's comfortable temperatures, though the upslope wind on top picked up somewhat, blasted some pellets in our faces as we dropped into Cornice to start that traverse to the Drop Outs. We spent about half the morning on Chair 5, skiing all major runs and a few variations through the trees. Lonnie and few friends joined us, bringing our group up to 7, and eventually 10 for the last couple of runs before lunch.

From the top of 5 you get a view of the closed Dave's Run.
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Garry on Sliver:
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Liz on Triangle:
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Several of the group on Face of 5:
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Inspecting Dry Creek:
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Lonnie skiing Dry Creek:
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We got most of the group up to Drop Out 3 for the last run before lunch.
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The upslope wind is blowing snow illuminated by the low sun behind the ridge.

After lunch Lonnie and a few friends wanted to lap Drop Out 3 until chair 23 closed. I skied 3x there until 2:30 as we were driving home. I did check out Gravy Chute, where the line of smooth snow was confined but was chalk and not refrozen so pretty good.

Thursday was 23,400 vertical.
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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: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, Dec. 5-7, 2017

Postby snowave » Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:20 pm

Thanks for the report. We are heading there for a couple days late next week to take advantage of our Mountain Collective Pass' (we have to go to CA for a family visit anyway). Will be happy with the groomers on this trip... looks like its going to be rather warm next week, but with the low sun angle and dry air, I'm not too worried about it.
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Re: Mammoth, Dec. 5-7, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:58 pm

snowave wrote:with the low sun angle and dry air, I'm not too worried about it.

I've seen dry chalky windbuff and packed powder groomers midwinter at Mammoth after a month with no new snow. If the wind turns around and blows from its normal direction, a lot of those upper runs may actually improve.

If the drought lasts through New Year's, the high skier traffic will degrade some of the lower groomers. This will be mainly on the Canyon/Eagle side where it will be mostly manmade snow. Those areas open next Wednesday Dec. 13.

Your home region in the Southwest is having an extreme start even by the standards of its volatile history. 1976-77, 1980-81, 1989-90 and 1999-2000 were all quite dry until after New Year's, but this season is starting as dry as the worst of those. And Wolf Creek does not necessarily escape these situations, as noted by its current base depth of 13 inches.
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: 9795
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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