Mammoth, CA 5/16-18/2013


Well-known member
Tioga Pass, elevation 9,945 feet, opened last weekend. It's a beautiful drive, through Yosemite and misses the crowded Valley with all the big waterfalls and cuts the distance from San Jose to Mammoth to 260 miles. I had a short window to get in a couple of more days skiing as I need to be back for a memorial service Sat, morning so I drove on Wednesday, stopping in Yosemite for three hikes. That night, I slept in the back of my SUV near Info Craters, about 5 miles from (Mammoth town and ski area).

After getting breakfast in town, I was on the slopes before 8 am. I skied Stump Alley a couple of times, but it was not softening very fast. I also went up chair 3 a couple of times, before moving to chair 23 where Cornice Bowl seemed to soften earlier than Stump Alley. I noticed skiers kicking up snow and went up chair 23 before 9 am. I was worried that those skiers kicking up snow were all racers, but I went up and found good, and already softened, snow in Cornice Bowl. I took it three times and also saw good snow in Drop Out chutes. I didn't take the highest entry, but cut between the rocks and had two good runs there. I also saw snow looked good in Wipe Out chutes (except for 1 which had bigger bumps than I like). I tried to go right at the top of 23 and was greeted by a closed sign. Even though others went that way, I traversed high across the top of Drop Out 1 (not only big bumps but also very firm). I went that way twice, first skiing the top of Drop Out two and the bottom of three, then skiing the top of 3 and bottom of 4 the next time. (Edit - Tony Crocker says there are only 3 Drop Out chutes, but some of these are getting hard to count with all the rock bands appearing.) Snow was good, especially where smooth, but needs more skiers on it to smooth it out.

I also skied chair 5, which opened a couple of hours later than other lifts. The first time I came across from chair 3 and followed a well-used traverse past Dry Creek and went past a rope where all the closed signs I saw were pointing the other way. I went past a big half-pipe and while skiing down got yelled at by some employees who said the whole East side of chair 5 is closed to the public as there is US Ski Team training. They also said that I should know by now as I did it yesterday a couple of times and was warned. I told them I was not there yesterday (when I was not there).The next time up chair 5, I went down Coyote, where snowcats seemed to have trouble grooming the little snow that is left as they left drop-offs and there are some bare areas to avoid. The next time I came down Triangle where snow was OK, but needs to be skied more as there are some suncups and other features developing. The road to the right at the top was very good the three times I skied it mid-morning.

I quit for a break at about a quarter of 12 and some snow started falling at the bottom of chair 1. It continued to snow lightly, on and off, the rest of the day. I made it up chair 23 two more times, skiing one of the Wipe Out chutes from the top, then taking Cornice Bowl and traversing right to get some corn below Hangman's. Snow was getting firmer in places from the wind, clouds and storm. I quit at 1:30 with 30.5K vertical and found it was raining below the Main Lodge. Will be out there again tomorrow.


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Friday's report and pictures.

I have not experienced typical May weather for my trips to Mammoth this year and Fri/Sat of Memorial Day weekend 2011 when there were strong winds due to approaching storm. This year I was fortunate that Tony Crocker (whose post on Mammoth forum I borrowed for most of this report) didn't think if was necessary to get up there too early so we avoided the rain that others experienced near the 7:30 opening. We found a bit of new snow on the mountain and minimal overnight freeze. We started just before 9AM on 2. Stump was pretty good for the next half hour or so, then got sticky at the bottom. The bottom of Mambo was very sticky. After one decent run on Broadway we moved to chair 3.

The entrance to face of 3 was very narrow with a bit of gravel. They need to move a lot of snow in there. It was manageable Friday but will not stand up to weekend traffic, especially over Memorial weekend. That would be a shame because the face of 3 skied quite well once you got past the first 50 vertical or so. The mid and lower groomed parts were silky smooth. Off the groomed you could make many turns in the wind drifted new snow. And our last run ~1:30PM in West Bowl was good corn over a still supportable base. Back of 3/Saddle Bowl/Gremlin's/World Cup are wide and well covered.

Chair 5 skier's left of the rope was OK, more a mix of old and new snow than 3 with no grooming and very little skier traffic. The bottom gully approaching the chair was somewhat sticky where it flattens out.

After 11 AM, the cloud finally lifted enough that they opened 23. Looking at Drop Out 1 and Wipe Out 1 from the chair you could see moderately large moguls, meaning that you would be skiing a lot of the old snow, which sounded still firm near the top. So we first skied Drop Out 3, which had softened a bit more. Next was Wipe Out 2, which had a fair amount of the new snow to make most turns. Below the rocks on the apron we could make fairly wide open turns, only occasionally bouncing on clumps of the old snow.

From below we noticed traverse tracks headed for the Paranoids. If you ski on top past Scotty's to the top of Monument, the traverse track is well defined and goes through a slot to the left. With just a slight upslope it gets past the big exposed ridge between P1 and P2. This was well worth the effort as P2 was butter smooth nearly all the way down. Good enough that we went out there for an encore. The traverse should be manageable this weekend, but 2 sections of it will probably be gone by Memorial weekend and stepping over rocks will be necessary to get out there.

We skied Gravy Chute and Fascination ~1PM, both in fairly optimal corn mode. Anything other than the race course runs on the lower mountain were sticky by noon. The last flat section of St. Anton after skiing the top was a slog (end of mostly borrowing Tony's report). We quit at ~1:50 PM with over 26K and went to lunch at Toomey's in the Village. I left Mammoth at 3 PM and made it to San Jose at 8:15 PM with minimal stops. It looks my season is over with 29 days, not counting the 370 vertical feet I hiked and skied at Lassen in April.


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tseeb":woyzio6f said:
I have not experienced typical May weather for my trips to Mammoth this year and Fri/Sat of Memorial Day weekend 2011 when there were strong winds due to approaching storm.
As in 2011 tseeb left before the weather turned cooperative. In this case Saturday had ideal weather for spring skiing: some overnight freeze, not a cloud in the sky and steady breeze to retard the onset of slushy conditions.

I started on Chair 2 about 8:15. The lower half of Stump Alley was in corn mode already but it was firm elsewhere. So I ran a few laps there plus Mambo and one run on Powder Bowl, which has a similar NE aspect. About 9:15 I took the gondola up, thinking similarly exposed Cornice would be ready, but I never made it to Cornice. Observing a few skiers ripping on Climax, I knew I had to check that out.

The gondola had been closed midweek so the wide expanse here was smooth corn cruising top to bottom.

Skier’s right Climax from 9:30 to 11:30 was as good or better than the Paranoids Friday, and thus worth repeating 4 more times. The last two of those runs I continued down to chair 5, once via Dry Creek and once via East Bowl and Coyote.

Despite its unappetizing appearance I decided to check out Dave's Run.

This is the only major run up top that has been degraded by the sustained drought since New Year's. Historically Dave's is one of the best preserved runs, so I have no idea what caused this. Fortunately there was the one nice line where the 2 skiers are.

After a couple of runs on 5 I took one more gondola to Climax, this time cutting left to Saddle Bowl and reaching chair 23 about 11:30. This was close to the time 23 had opened Friday, so I headed out to Paranoid 2 and found it still in smooth corn mode. The racers were finally done, so next run I skied Drop Out 3 and then the untracked corn on World Cup back to 23. Then I headed out to Paranoid 1. The traverse through this notch was a bit rockier than Friday.

As I started down I met "powderpig" of Mammoth Forum, skiing P1 here from a slightly lower entry.

I showed him the high traverse to Paranoid 2, and then he took his last top run on Wipe Out 2.

Wipe Out 1&2 and the top of Drop Out 1 softened the last hour. Here's Drop Out.

Note there's a bump zipper line up here this year. Not for me when I'm already well past 30K for the day.

My final run up top was Wipe Out 1. I then took 1 to 3 and skied its face. As I suspected the grooming and salting was more intensive on the weekend. Lower St. Anton was salted around noon. A line down Stump had been salted not too long before I skied to the car.

I skied 8:15 to the 2:30 close, 35,750 vertical. The latter was highest of this season and highest lifetime day in any month of May. 14 runs off the top of Mammoth was probably a record too.