Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

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Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby tseeb » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:27 pm

Wednesday 11/13/19
I drove to So. Tahoe Tues PM with a stop at Sly Park Reservoir for a quick mountain bike ride that ended well after sunset, but before full moonrise. I left So, Tahoe after 6 and turned onto Mammoth Scenic Route about 9. After gearing up and riding shuttle from B parking, I was on chair 1 (the only one running) about 9:30. I skied Broadway 6 times, then Andy’s Double Gold 6 times.

After my first 4 runs I met up with 4 pugskiers who had driven down from Reno. A little later I was also introduced to another pugskier who I had tried to PM about Blizzard Spurs (189x125) that he was trying to sell for a friend for $199 with Marker Duke bindings. It turned out he had not been checking PMs, but had cut the price to $175 so I will be getting some very lightly used big mountain powder skis for about the price of the bindings. The seller, who is from Truckee, had been at Mammoth where he owns a condo, since opening day (when he got 4 runs due to crowds). Today he may have gotten 40 runs as he started as 8:30 and only stopped a couple of times to re-fill his water bottle.

Snow was OK, firm in places early and overcast kept it from getting too soft. It was mostly good for man-made although skier from Truckee said it deteriorated more today than earlier in season and he wondered if they could lose Andy’s (or very thin in one spot, but generally better due to lower traffic Rusty’s) as they have not been able to make snow due to warm overnight temps. I found one rock on top of the snow on my 2nd run and successfully dodged a lot of them that were mostly on top of the snow the rest of the day. Crowds were also OK. There was never much of a wait to get on lift and traffic on runs were low enough that you usually did not have to worry about others. I was going to stop earlier, but since you never know what tomorrow will bring at Mammoth, I kept at it until 2:30 when I quit with 25 lifts/24K vertical.

After shuttling back to my car, I changed into my mountain bike shorts and shoes and re-located my vehicle to Main Lodge. I rode down the highway to parking F then took the long single-track flow trail into town. If was mostly OK although I had to stop when I overran one turn and to get past a large aspen that had fallen across the trail. I locked my bike to a post in town and took shuttle back to Main Lodge. I plan to ski 830-130 tomorrow then drive over Tioga Pass and try to get to Tuolumne Grove trailhead, almost on the other side of Yosemite, in time to hike to the sequoias.

Thursday 11/14/19 to be continued
Attachments
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Early morning drives from Tahoe to Mammoth often feature beautiful scenery and sunrise. I didn't even get out of car for first picture
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8468TopOf1.JPG
They made a little snow in Saddle Bowl, but rest of snow on upper mountain is from last winter
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The three open runs. Broadway at left, Andy's at right and Rusty's is the diagonal that connects the two.
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Hard to see the one green lift on the status board
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Ski tracks for my skiing above and mountain biking below
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby Sbooker » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:48 pm

The snow still there from last winter really underlines Mammoth's snow preservation. I had no idea this was possible at such a 'low' latitude. Is this a very rare occurrence? Or does snow last over summer most good snow years?
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:40 pm

It depends upon altitude, latitude, how snowy the prior winter was and how hot the recent summer was. Last year was 138% of average. There was more leftover snow after the much bigger winters of 2010-11 and 2016-17.

I would guess that in an average year we would not see any snow last through the summer at 11,000 feet. But I'm guessing because I don't go to Mammoth in early season unless there has been enough natural snow to open a variety of terrain. Most of the old snow in that pic will be buried by the time I ski Mammoth next. The possible exception is the top of Climax (also top of Dave's, not in that pic). Those are icecaps and the wind tends to blow new snow off them unless it's a huge dump, and even then the new snow may slide off as in fall 2017.

The Sierra has a handful of glaciers above 13,000 feet but all are receding, presumably due to warmer summers. The southernmost Palisades Glacier is about 75 miles south of Mammoth.

I'm surprised tseeb made the schlep to ski Mammoth under these conditions, but in a weird way it's like the late spring where you can combine with other activities, especially with Tioga Pass open.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby tseeb » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:01 am

Tony Crocker wrote:I'm surprised tseeb made the schlep to ski Mammoth under these conditions, but in a weird way it's like the late spring where you can combine with other activities, especially with Tioga Pass open.
I made the trip to Mammoth, even though not much was open, as it is way better than anything open at Tahoe, where Squaw opened beginner run at base and Alpine opened intermediate run served by slow Kangaroo chair, both today. And it may be my only chance to get any November skiing since I need to get ready for company coming for a week over Thanksgiving and unless I ski the Sunday after when my pass blackouts are lifted, it will be December. (edited to add the Sun. after T-day is really 12/1. That is what I first thought it was, but somehow got it wrong when posting. That is probably when I will ski again as 5 or more days of snow and very cold temps predicted to start on 11/26) I also had some deals for So. Tahoe that were expiring I wanted to take advantage of, although $25 to burger place my wife won in Sept. went to neighbor since they are only open Thu-Mon during Fall.

Thursday 11/14/19
I parked near A, waited a couple of minutes for short shuttle to lift to avoid walking in my boots and was about 5 chairs back when lift started loading at 8:30. Overnight temps were again not low enough to make snow overnight. I’m not sure what I had saved on my phone as Mammoth Lakes as it showed much colder temps than current location Mammoth Lakes. Even the 11K top was 32 point something overnight.
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Groomed surface was very firm and noisy as the corduroy was torn up by my 178x88 carvers with 15.8 radius. Snow was very consistent and I did 8 laps on Broadway before trying other option where only Rusty’s, formerly Powder Bowl, was open as Andy’s had some gates and was closed for race training. Snow on Rusty’s was thinner and firmer, but I was able to get through the narrow part with no damage to skis. I did three more laps on Broadway, where corduroy was gone, but snow stayed mostly firm as high water content man-made has been compressed many times by skiers and groomers. I took a short break at 10:10 after another lap on Rusty’s.
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If you go off the groomed runs, you will be on dirt and rocks. A sign warning people that Andy's was closed for race training may have been appreciated, especially by boarders who had trouble with firm and narrow Rusty's.

Next time at the top, I saw I was a chair behind Bob from Truckee who I skied with part of previous day. We took a lap on Broadway, then next time went the other way and even though sign still said closed (for future Olympian training), patrol had taken down the rope and gave us the OK to ski it which we did many times. Snow was fast and firm and Bob ski it fast and well. He is a couple of years older than me and a couple of inches taller and skied about 150 days last season between Tahoe and Mammoth. He also skied Mustang for 8 years in early February in small groups 6-person cat before quitting when price rose to $1700 Canadian/day.

We moved back to Broadway for a lap or two and found snow had re-frozen due to wind and cool temps from front that brought some light rain to N CA. We skied Rusty’s once more and after another run down Andy’s quit at 12:30. Bob went into lodge for something to eat while I waited until I got to Mobil at the bottom of Tioga Pass which is open for a few more days since the pass is still open. I had a half-order which is only one carnitas taco (that seemed to come with a full order of meat and black beans) with a view of Mono Lake.
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The entrance station to Yosemite was un-manned and there was almost no traffic going through park. I stopped at Olmstead Point for a few pictures, then made the hike to Tuolumne Grove and back, when they warn you to allow 2-3 hrs in less than 1:15, even though I took a few pictures and stopped for a couple of minutes on the 400' climb back to trailhead.
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Only about two dozen trees in the grove and none still living are that big (for sequoias!)
With only one quick stop the rest of the way, I was home at 7:30. I think I had 26 lifts/25K. Ski tracks stopped counting for a while after my break - maybe I somehow paused it. I know I did 12 laps in 100 minutes before break, so it seems like I probably did 14 laps in 120 minutes, although 15 is also possible because there was never much of a delay getting back on lift and we were moving fast going down.
Last edited by tseeb on Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:05 pm

tseeb wrote:as it is way better than anything open at Tahoe

This is true about 90% of the time April and later but tseeb has historically made only one spring trip to Mammoth. My guess is that is changing with the Ikon.

tseeb wrote:And it may be my only chance to get any November skiing

Is tseeb getting lured by monthly ski streaks or notching dates in the calendar as Patrick and I have?
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby sierra_cement » Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:08 am

This TR is interesting to me because tseeb was able to take the shorter route to Mammoth. I'd happily do a trip like this for a weekend as well in future when 2-3 runs are open and you can take the shorter route to Mammoth.

Tony Crocker wrote:
tseeb wrote:as it is way better than anything open at Tahoe

This is true about 90% of the time April and later

Heavenly is not open yet but last year they opened mid-Nov. I think the top of Gondola is > 9k feet and has mostly north facing runs off Tamarack, Comet, Dipper. I'd be curious to see how the open terrain compares to Mammoth when Heavenly opens for this season in a week or so.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:04 pm

sierra-cement wrote:I'd happily do a trip like this for a weekend as well in future when 2-3 runs are open and you can take the shorter route to Mammoth.

Uhh, no. I wouldn't be caught dead skiing Mammoth on an early season weekend with only 2-3 WRODs open. The only reason this made any sense for tseeb is that it was midweek with few people there. The last thing sierra_cement needs is high density on icy manmade with some of those people inevitably out of control.

The same advice applies for Heavenly with early season WRODs; only consider if you can go there when it's not busy. If you're a weekend warrior, my general advice to be patient in early season but take advantage in late season is especially applicable.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby tseeb » Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:19 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
tseeb wrote:as it is way better than anything open at Tahoe

This is true about 90% of the time April and later but tseeb has historically made only one spring trip to Mammoth. My guess is that is changing with the Ikon.

tseeb wrote:And it may be my only chance to get any November skiing

Is tseeb getting lured by monthly ski streaks or notching dates in the calendar as Patrick and I have?
I think if KT and to a lesser degree Headwall and Granite Chief at Squaw and Scott at Alpine are open and temps are not too warm, Tahoe compares better to Mammoth. Chutes at Rose and the three big lifts at Kirkwood also compare, but those two resorts are now closing before end of April.

My only streak is I've skied Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer going back to Fall 2016, which does not come close to comparing to Patrick, and even to keep that going requires 1st day of Summer to be June 20, which is was in CA. I do not have good enough records and very spotty skiing after April and before late Nov. to notch dates in the calendar. I've always thought months are somewhat arbitrary for counting skiing compared to days per ski season.

I agree with Tony Crocker's comments on Mammoth early season weekends not being appropriate for less accomplished skiers. There is no beginner terrain and was only one intermediate run open that often had a lot of traffic on it. Rusty's required at least advanced intermediate skills to avoid gravel - I usually straight-lined the worst of it. Falling was not an option as you could easily slide onto dirt/rocks. Andy's was usually skiing tough enough that I did not want to be sharing steep and usually firm part of run with another person unless very sure of their ability to hold their line, especially as it got chewed up.

I've never done the entire drive from San Jose to Mammoth and skied that day. I usually stop at So. Tahoe for the night and leave early enough in AM to get most of a day in. (Once I drove through Yosemite to Mammoth during day and stopped for a hike, and this April I skied Heavenly in AM and Mammoth in PM). Driving home after skiing Mammoth.) Driving from San Jose to Mammoth on a Fri. PM leaving anytime after noon would mean it would be dark by the time you got to the Sierra foothills and would mean missing seeing Yosemite (unless a very full moon) and keeping up speed tough. And if you left Sat. at 4 AM, you would not likely get on slopes until at least 10 and if would be exhausting to drive back after skiing the next day. A weekend trip in Spring with longer daylight would work better as more intermediate runs would be open, but Tioga does not open early enough in year unless snowfall is low, and has never opened before end of April when Mammoth is already shutting down some bases and lifts. See https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/seasonal.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; for Tioga dates.

Heavenly will most likely open with only Tamarack lift and (W/NW-facing) CA trail and Tamarack Return, which is a slog for most people to get back to chair. Eventually they will open first Orion, then Big Dipper run on Dipper chair, but still would not be worth paying what they will want for a day ticket, especially on weekends.
Last edited by tseeb on Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:04 pm

tseeb wrote:I think if KT and to a less degree Headwall and Granite Chief at Squaw and Scott at Alpine are open and temps are not too warm, Tahoe compares better to Mammoth.

Spring surface conditions would still be inferior to Mammoth, but I would agree that terrain being open would be a deterrent to driving 3 extra hours to ski. For sierra_cement, I would guess the upper terrain of Sky/Dipper at Heavenly would be the best spring alternative to driving to Mammoth.

Does tseeb not have all the calendar months yet? This is doable in the Sierra in big years like 2011, especially for someone in way better physical condition than I am. I got all the months surprisingly early: first May in 1978, first November in 1981, first June in 1982, then got Aug/Sep 1982 in New Zealand and July 4, 1983 at Mammoth. So when I had a late October business trip to Boston in 1988, I made the schlep to Killington for the WROD on upper Cascade.

Adam has had 3 Southern Hemisphere ski trips but is still missing October, probably the toughest month living in California.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby tseeb » Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:11 pm

I have not skied September, when my birthday is early in the month. Skiing on my birthday is something I would like to do in So. America when they have a good year. The only June skiing I can remember is hiking above Carson Pass June 20, 2017 and skiing 600 vertical with my dogs then went to lake in Sierra foothills where friends were camping and water-skiing. It should not be hard to get more June skiing without leaving CA.

I was supposed to go to Squaw for July 3, 2017, but had my dirt bike crash a couple of days before. This year was probably my first July skiing (Mammoth 7/1-3). I skied Mammoth in August 1983 the weekend before they closed. I skied Boreal on Halloween one year when it was free if in costume and I wore hospital scrubs.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby sierra_cement » Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:32 am

Understood about WROD. I have not skied one so far and I probably won't do it this year as I'm out of the country till Dec 15th. We will go to Tahoe only after there is enough snow to spread the crowds around.
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Re: Mammoth, CA 11/13-14/19

Postby tseeb » Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:46 am

Tioga Road/Pass closed on Tues 11/19 ahead of incoming storm that brought 2" of snow to Mammoth (Wed/Thu base totals), 6-7" to Mt Rose (early on Wed, but you would have had to hike to ski it as they did not go to 7-day operation until Fri 11/22), rain to Southern CA and sprinkles to my house.

Road through Yosemite (that shortens my trip by over 50 miles from/to home and adds great scenery) has not re-opened. It does not seem very likely they will open it for Monday and close it on Tuesday with predictions of 8-12" of snow for Mammoth on Tues. night.

Mammoth has added chair 3 (Face lift/Saddle Bowl only) and a beginner chair.
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