Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

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Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:20 pm

So far in April there have been very small storms about twice a week in the Sierra. We timed this trip to fall between those forecast for Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. The Monday night storm was mostly rain at Tahoe with rain/snow line just below Mammoth’s base areas.

We took our time getting on the hill Tuesday as there was considerable fog and wind, expected to clear out later in the day. When we arrived at the Stump parking lot, chair 2 was not running, so we checked that Gold Rush was available before we parked. There was running water in the lot so that rain/snow line must have been close. The snow falling at 10AM was mostly graupel, which turned out to be a blessing for snow surfaces.

From Gold Rush we saw 5 was open, and from 5 we saw 3. With both 1 and 2 on wind hold, we figured few people would be on 3 and that was correct.
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The wind overnight had smoothed the snow, and where graupel had been deposited like this in the lower section of 3 it skied like an effortless groomer. We got 5 runs in there before chairs 1 and 2 opened and more people arrived.

We then skied Coyote to chair 5 and 4 more runs there. Overview of 5 later while riding Gold Rush:
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The wind was blowing from looker’s left to right, so no surprise Solitude on the left ridgeline was mostly hardpack while lots of snow had blown into Dry Creek next to the rocks at center right. The other runs had some exposed hardpack near their entries but were more filled in with new snow lower down. Coyote in far right foreground is sheltered and partly east facing so it softened in the morning sun.

It was mostly sunny from 11AM – 1PM but mostly cloudy after that. The wind let up some, allowing chair 23 to open about 12:30 and the upper gondola about 1:30. We moved via chair 3 and Gremlin’s to chair 23. Liz at top of 23 with view of the Minarets:
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I skied Cornice, MJB, Wipe Out 1, Drop Out 3 and Paranoid 2. In all of these cases the steep entries that usually preserve winter snow best in April were quite firm, but starting a few turns down there was enough of the new snow for smooth skiing the rest of the way. I recalled reading that the high temperature in the town of Mammoth Lakes was 60F on Sunday and Monday, and skiers who had been there Monday said it was warm on the hill too. So the melt/freeze advanced most of the way up the mountain and thus we were fortunate to have that graupel covering up most of it.

Liz and I skied Fascination from chair 1. Then I took the gondola and skied Climax, which had chalky packed powder up top with the new snow on the rest of the run. I continued down the face of 5 to the Mill and met Liz for Taco Tuesday, finishing with 25,100 vertical for the day.

For several days Wednesday was predicted to be the sunniest day of the week. This was true, but unfortunately there was upslope wind which removed some of that new snow we had enjoyed Tuesday. That wind also closed the upper gondola and chair 14 all day, and chair 12 part of the day. From the top of chair 2 we have a view of the downhill race course starting about 2/3 of the way up Cornice Bowl for this event: https://fwskiing.org/sites/default/file ... 202019.pdf
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Here’s the overview of chair 23 out to the edge of the Paranoids with most rocks well buried in this season’s deep snowpack.
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We warmed up on Stump Alley, Broadway and Ralphie’s. Grooming was more extensive Wednesday, and I’m sure the lower runs skied much better than on Tuesday when they were not far above Monday night’s rain/snow line.

At Main Lodge the snowpack is even with the third floor sundeck.
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This usually indicates that Broadway can be kept open to early July.

We took two runs on face of 3, then off the back to World Cup, which was nippy with wind in the face, a mild preview of what was to come up top. Past 23 we skied Terry’s which still had smooth blown-in snow from Monday night’s storm. Next we rode 23 and made our way to Cornice, where it was probably gusting to 60MPH, sandblasting snow in our faces as we dropped in. We felt sorry for those racers having to wait their turns at the top of the course only 1/3 of the way down where maybe it was only blowing 40MPH.

Liz was done with the top, but I had spotted what looked like good skiing on Monument. It took a lot of suffering to get there. Skyline had been bulletproof on Tuesday, so I dropped into the Hump to eventually traverse to Monument. But the upper part of Hump had been wind stripped to the hardpack and twice I had to stop and brace myself with poles during the strongest gusts. Monument did have abundant blown-in snow but I still had to ski it deliberately in a strong crosswind.

That was my last ride on 23, and I had a good view of that wind polishing the top of the mountain above Hangman’s and Varmint’s Nest.
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The snowpack is not as deep as two years ago, when Varmint’s Nest was wide open and I skied it on 3 of my spring trips.

As it was past 11:30 we decided to see if the east side of the mountain had softened in the sun with hopefully less wind exposure. We took 3 to Coyote, then 5 to test Gold Hill. From 5 we saw the wind blowing snow above chair 3.
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Gold Hill had been groomed and it skied like packed powder, with snow finally transitioning to corn lower down in Slot and the flat runout to chair 9. We tried two more runs on .chair 9. The liftline was inconsistent, only becoming corn lower down. Ricochet was a mix of the new snow and hard patches. View from top of Ricochet past Crowley Lake to the White Mountains.
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We next moved to chair 25, which was steep enough southeast facing to have softened to corn completely. This sector rarely skis well, as it needs a deep snowpack to overcome both the wind and exposure, plus the right timing for softening snow. On this day when some of the mountain had challenging weather, the conditions were just right here midday. So we skied 3 runs down the 25 liftline and scattered trees nearby before taking a late lunch at Canyon Lodge.
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After lunch we skied Lower Dry Creek to Gold Rush, then Quicksilver past 25 to 15 and returned to Canyon Lodge via Blue Jay. Liz’s last run was Wall Street, but I rode Gold Rush again to test snow below the Avalanche chutes, finding it inconsistent much like Ricochet. I continued down to chair 4, where an unusual terrain park is under construction for this event next week https://www.mammothmountain.com/winter/ ... &year=2019
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I took one last run on chair 5 and finished with 32,500 vertical, highest total this season.
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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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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:50 pm

Thursday’s forecast was the opposite of Tuesday’s, weather expected to deteriorate after 11AM. So we packed up and got on the mountain by 9AM. After warmups on Broadway, Andy’s and Face of 3, we took the upper gondola while weather was still benign with just a light breeze. Cornice and Scotty’s were widely groomed and skied very well. We used Roadrunner to get to Scotty’s, and here’s the backside view looking back up to the top gondola station.
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There were smooth looking swaths out there but I was not tempted after the winds of the past two days.

I also skied Climax, which had lost perhaps half of the loose snow that was there on my last run Tuesday.

At the lower gondola we ran into Lonnie, with whom we have skied on a few spring trips in recent years. He and I checked out Dave’s, which I had not skied yet on this trip. The approach looked ugly, with embedded gravel from yesterday’s wind scattered across a broad area on top. But we were pleasantly surprised to find smooth chalk instead of hardpack when we dropped in. The midsection was all loose snow similar to Tuesday before hard patches were exposed near the bottom.

We traversed to ski down the chair 5 liftline before regrouping with Liz at Chair 2. We rode 23, where Liz skied Cornice while Lonnie and I traversed under the Drop Outs, where I had skied some of the softest snow on Tuesday. The steep upper sections were all windstripped, so I zigzagged a few times in the flattish light to find a decent line with the remaining soft snow. Lonnie after we skied that:
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We skied to chair 1 via Terry’s, then met Liz at the top of chair 2 about noon. With light getting worse and wind picking up, we decided to bail and try to get to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve before sunset. Our last run down Mambo/Patrolmen’s was in excellent shape, so the afternoon would have had good skiing on the lower groomers. But we had skied a lot of those Wednesday, and there is plenty of Mammoth skiing yet to come this season.

We got to the Poppy Preserve just before 5PM after the usual Schat’s stop in Bishop and a half hour charge stop in Mojave. The visitor center behind this blooming Joshua tree closes at 4PM but visitors are free to wander the trails until sunset.
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It was very windy so the poppies were not open, but there were still so many of them it was an impressive sight and worthwhile detour.
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Long distance view east to the parking area and beyond:
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View toward the Tehachapi Mountains.
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In this direction there are more of the invasive mustard flowers that are all over SoCal this spring.

Liz on the return trail, easier as it was downwind.
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We do not know what that crooked pipe at upper right is. It reminded us of the Gasex we see frequently in the Alps.
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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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:57 pm

Gorgeous photos of the poppies.
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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Marc_C » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:07 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
IMG_1590.JPG

We do not know what that crooked pipe at upper right is. It reminded us of the Gasex we see frequently in the Alps.

It's a gooseneck vent of some type - gas or water transmission pipeline, water storage system, septic system (doubtful).
-marc
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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Sbooker » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:56 pm

The poppy reserve looks wonderful. The website suggests they bloom from as early as mid February to May but I guess it would be best to time a visit to coincide with an early April trip to Mammoth (which happens to be school holidays for us Aussies).
Mammoth looks like it’s understandably loaded. I hope it delivers plenty of good spring and summer skiing for you. Do you ski in shorts in summer like the rest of the cool kids? If so please post pics. :)
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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby EMSC » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:32 am

Marc_C wrote:
Tony Crocker wrote:
IMG_1590.JPG

We do not know what that crooked pipe at upper right is. It reminded us of the Gasex we see frequently in the Alps.

It's a gooseneck vent of some type - gas or water transmission pipeline, water storage system, septic system (doubtful).


My first question would be: is this area on top of an old dump? Those types of pipes are frequently found poking out of old dump sites and vent various gasses (methane being one of the biggest) as bacteria slowly consume the garbage. And yes it is fairly common to put 10 or 20 feet of dirt on top of old dumps and re-open the land for some uses.
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Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:53 am

Sbooker wrote:The poppy reserve looks wonderful. The website suggests they bloom from as early as mid February to May but I guess it would be best to time a visit to coincide with an early April trip to Mammoth (which happens to be school holidays for us Aussies).
Mammoth looks like it’s understandably loaded. I hope it delivers plenty of good spring and summer skiing for you. Do you ski in shorts in summer like the rest of the cool kids? If so please post pics. :)

Early April is a very good time to visit Mammoth. Even in the lean, slow starting years the skiing is good by then. 1977 and 2015 were the only years it wasn't.

I've skied many times in a T-shirt, both summer at Mammoth and earlier in SoCal. Skiing in shorts is not a good idea as the spraying slush gets inside your boots. I poured a pint of water out of each boot the first time I did that. Gaiters can help prevent some of that problem. I did find this picture from July 4, 2011 though.
Image
I'm also wearing the souvenir T-shirt from Mammoth July 4, 1986.

I would take that website with a grain of salt. The Antelope Valley is desert and it takes some winter rain to bring out those flowers in any quantity. I was there once before in 1995 and two years ago in late March we saw varied desert flowers in Anza-Borrego. viewtopic.php?t=12375 The peak season is generally 2-3 weeks, usually in March in Anza Borrego and April in the Antelope Valley. These flower excursions are probably worthwhile no more than one out of every four years.
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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Location: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, April 9-11, 2019

Postby Sbooker » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:10 pm

Nice photo. It looks like you’d be at home on kickers and rails in the trauma park too.
The only times I’ve skied in April (Mammoth, Whistler, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise) have been early in the month. Even at Mammoth the conditions have been mostly winter - certainly so in Banff. I guess Whistler was transforming to slush at mid mountain but higher was fantastic both times.
I’ve experienced spring conditions here in Oz and it is generally underwhelming. The lack of base and low elevation will do that I suppose.
You’re going to miss July 4 at Mammoth this year? Galavanting around the Southern Hemisphere at that time?
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