Mammoth, CA, Mar. 23-25, 2021

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Mammoth, CA, Mar. 23-25, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 26, 2021 4:56 pm

This was my first chance to see Mammoth in full operation during the pandemic year, though that did not really happen until Wednesday. Tuesday was predicted cold but I still underdressed. As I drove up it was snowing and foggy so I stopped and parked by chair 4, figuring I would be on the Canyon/Eagle side a fair amount in bad weather. After a couple of warmup runs on chairs 4 and 25 I had already put on glove liners and my feet were cold. I took a thaw break at Eagle and switched to my heaviest mid-layer that I may have worn only one other day this season at Brighton.

There was only an inch reported new snow though another 2 inches fell during the day. There was thick fog above 10,000 feet most of the morning but the cloud layer rose above the top after noon. The top and chairs 12-14 remained closed all day. The predicted NE winds were usually mild with occasional gusts, and may have been stronger up high though I never saw blowing snow up there.

After the thaw break I was pleasantly surprised to see chair 9 open. The stunted trees under the lift had soft snow with almost no refrozen subsurface. The last major dump was 17 inches Mar. 18-19, but it has remained cool most days since, so only direct south faces like chair 25 had a crunchy subsurface. I also skied some decent windbuff on Ricochet.

I rode chair 25 and skied Grizzly, view from there overlooking the top of chair 8:

Next was Avalanche 1, which looked wind-stripped at the top, but had wind deposited snow after the first few turns. By now the cloud had retreated so I wanted to see how the Main Lodge side was doing. But crossing chair 5 I could see lots of wind deposited snow and so skied three runs there, Sanctuary, Face of and Triangle. Overview of chair 5 on the way to my car later:

I only skied Forest Trail, Wall and Stump Alley before heading back to my car and getting off the hill before 3PM with 22,100 vertical. I had two more ski days ahead in predicted better weather and I needed to be at my computer at 4PM to buy a package of 14 Dodger games up to June 2. The stadium will allow 11,000 fans per game, which means season ticket holders are eligible to buy half. Stadium capacity will be reassessed for later games starting June 11.

On Wednesday Mammoth was sunny and in full operation after 11AM. With nice conditions and COVID chair capacity there were some lines of 5+ minutes at chairs 1, 2 and 3. The big change is the gondola: no loading at mid-station and the line at the bottom was 13 minutes at 1:45.

The high temp at Main Lodge was 34F. Winds were light in the morning but increased some from the NW after 2PM. I saw no spring conditions on the Main Lodge side of the mountain though I could tell there had been softening around Canyon when I was over there once in the afternoon.

After warm ups on Broadway, Face of 3 and Coyote, I skied chair 23. View up Wipe Out side of 23:

Those runs had smooth lines of windbuff, but are narrower than normal due to some sastrugi and the below average snowpack.

I skied Wipe Out 2, then traversed into Drop Out 3 from the Cornice.

I noticed a few people above the top of the Paranoids so I went over there to have a look.

The view straight down did not reveal any entry I was comfortable skiing.

So I retreated, then traversed across the top of Monument to Paranoid 1.

The rocky ridgeline in front of me blocks entry to Paranoid 2, usually my favored line out here. Fortunately Paranoid 1 had soft windbuff and was probably the best run up top Wednesday.

I skied down to chair 12, and after a run there skied to 14, where I took a snack break. I thought that area would be quiet at lunchtime, but it was quite busy.

Most of Mammoth’s on-mountain food facilities have set out plastic chairs in the snow where people can rest or eat.

The same unusual storms that stripped the top of the Paranoids deposited snow into chair 14 terrain. I have never seen so many people skiing Dos Passos under the lift.

Oddly, the first time I ever skied Dos Passos was in 1981, another below average snow year. It’s not adequately covered that often, and I’m sure I’ve skied it less than 10x lifetime.

After 3 runs on 14, I skied Monument down to Main Lodge and that gondola line. Climax was not being skied due to sastrugi on its upper third.

Dave’s also gets fewer people with the restricted gondola capacity but had some smooth lines.

From there I skied Upper Dry Creek, which usually has moguls but this week had the deepest blown-in snow on the mountain.

After two more runs on 5, I decided I had enough energy left for one on 22. Looking down Avalanche 3:

Riding up chair 4 afterwards, there are two skiers in Avy 2(left) and one in Avy3 (right).

After skiing Lower Dry Creek, Wall Street and Mambo, I finished the day with 26,100 vertical.

On Thursday the predicted high winds finally came to pass. They were in your face for the entire ride on chairs 2 and 5 and much of 3, but thankfully not so much on 1 and 23. The prevailing NW direction is optimal for wind deposition, which was deeper than the prior two days.

Starting in the Main Lodge area, added windsift was most evident on Gravy Chute.

West Bowl was another usually mogulled area filled in with windsift. Andy’s Double Gold and Face of 3 had good early cruising. A bit after 10AM I tried chair 23. Drop Out 1 had more deposited snow, but it was patchier so I still skied it defensively. Next I took that traverse over Monument’s upper sastrugi to Paranoid 1, which had ego skiing in windsift all the way down to St. Anton.

With weather expected to worsen, I skied my last run off the top on Cornice around noon, then skied off the back of 3 to the expected windsift goodness of Dry Creek. I then moved to chair 9, where Gold Hill was smooth cruising. The ungroomed on chair 9 was not being skied much as it had softened Wednesday and was crusty in Thursday’s wind.

I skied down to Eagle, then over to chair 22, where I skied the trees between Viva and Avy 1. I was getting tired from the three days so I saved chair 5 for last as I expected not to expend much effort in the blown-in snow.

I knew chair 5 would be frigid in the wind, so I put on glove liners before going there. Sanctuary and Sliver were now as deep as Dry Creek, though Triangle and Face of 5 had no more loose snow than on Tuesday. But Sanctuary was worth an encore for my final run. I left Mammoth to drive home at 2PM after 26,800 vertical. I’ve now skied 41 days in 2020-21, same as my total for 2019-20.

Tesla in December added a new fast v3 supercharger in Bishop. I took advantage of this to have dinner there Monday night, as it was unclear how restricted dining in Mammoth might be. Indoor dining is now permitted in Mammoth, but capacity is limited so I expect most skiers will continue cooking in condos or getting takeout for the rest of this ski season.

I also had dinner Thursday night in the Antelope Valley mall in Palmdale, site of another new v3 charger. I don’t anticipate using the Palmdale charger often, but the Bishop charger should be helpful to many Mammoth skiers.
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: 10913
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, CA, Mar. 23-25, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:31 pm

There has been some speculation how long Mammoth will stay open given COVID and a below average snowpack. My prediction has been exactly Memorial Day, which was just announced today in a press release.

I did not think Mammoth would close earlier because it stayed open until Memorial Day in the much worse 2012, 2014 and 2015 seasons. I do not expect later because the race camps that usually support midweek late season are likely to be cut back drastically due to COVID. Mammoth has done well to keep its local kids' race program going full steam this season, unlike Patrick's experience in Ottawa. :stir:

I have been prodding Patrick to head west ever since his race coaching program was shut down early this season. But unlike last summer when he drove west to preserve THE STREAK, he's remained at home this winter.

Yesterday was Whistler's last day of 2020-21 by provincial order. Most interior B.C. areas close this upcoming weekend anyway due to remote location. Revelstoke is closing today due to "COVID induced staff shortage." Alberta skiing still has at least a month left.
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: 10913
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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