Mammoth, Feb. 10-13, 2020

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Mammoth, Feb. 10-13, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:33 am

Garry and I are here this week primarily for the WWSRA regional demo that occurs within a few weeks after the SIA convention in Denver. The event is Tuesday/Wednesday so we skied Monday to assess conditions for where we would take demo skis.

I knew Mammoth had a lean January with only 11 inches new since Dec. 27 and February has no relief in sight. I have seen this scenario before and was not that worried. The 2016 and 2018 demo events had seen no new snow for the previous 10+ days but nearly all terrain was available with decent conditions.

However this year is much worse. There have been repeated upslope wind events that have stripped the snow and left a lot of sastrugi. The most recent of these was Sunday with wind up to 144mph. Snow cover is low tide in a few places, though only the chair 9 runs Gold Hill and Ricochet have actually closed. Nonetheless there’s a lot of steep terrain that is hardpacked and/or sketchy enough that no one is skiing it. That would include all of chair 22 and the Paranoids. Moderate upslope winds continued Monday/Tuesday, closing the upper gondola and access to Climax and Dave’s too.

I was curious about the disparity vs. 2 years ago and so looked up the patrol data from the plot at 9,000 feet. So far this season there has been 136.5 inches snowfall and 13.79 inches SWE (10.1%). As of the 2018 demo, Mammoth had 73 inches snowfall and 15.66 inches SWE (21.5%). Long term average water content is 12.9%. Snowpack depth is far more related to SWE than snowfall, so that’s the main explanation of the current low tide situation. Furthermore the patrol plot had 7.7 inches of rain in November 2017 and most of that was snow on the upper mountain above 10,000 feet.

Our first clue Monday morning was seeing snowmaking in action on the main run just above Canyon Lodge.

But kudos go mainly to the grooming operations which have maintained packed powder surfaces across the lower mountain from chair 8 at Canyon to chair 12 past Main Lodge. Mammoth Snowman has been commenting on this for a couple of weeks. The upper mountain has been more of a challenge with the upslope winds. The face of 3 was very firm, similar to Big Bear or Mountain High a couple of weeks ago.

The tight chalk on Cornice skied better than face of 3, but my first time there I had to ski the entire run with one hand on my head to keep my hat from blowing off in the upslope wind. View of upper mountain from Scotty’s to the Paranoids Monday:

These slopes were rarely skied Monday but Scotty’s was groomed Monday night and saw more action after that.

So Garry and I skied mostly groomers Monday in 15-20F temperatures. The Silvertip run on the way to the race courses had snowguns which I had never seen there before.

Chair 23 is in the background.

I did venture into Drop Out 3, which consistently has some of the better snow up top. There was a line of smooth chalk but it was relatively narrow. Garry got this pic of me on the apron below.

Riding 23 back up the sun angle reflected the track where I had skied.

It was about 11AM but I was probably the first person to ski that run Monday.

Next time up top we skied off the back where a wide swath has been groomed from Roadrunner down to 14 but ungroomed was a coral reef so we returned to the front side via 13.

I tested Wipe Out 2, which had a smooth but tight chalky line up above but snow in the apron below had lots of irregularities so I traversed out to Scotty’s. We also tested some ungroomed terrain on chair 5, mostly chalky but also some rocks and sastrugi to avoid. Snow tended to be better skier’s left than right on 5. Monday was all about surveying terrain so we could decide where to test demos for 3-5 runs each the next two days. I skied 24,200 on Monday and quit by 3PM with the two busy days coming up.

On Tuesday morning they were making snow on World Cup.

We skied that Monday and I could tell cover was getting thin from the wind exposure. They made snow here much of Tue/Wed and kept it roped off Thursday for the manmade to dry out.

Overnight lows were 11F Monday, 17F Tuesday and 23F Wednesday, so the lower groomers became more forgiving each day. The wind was supposed to ease off but that did not happen until Wednesday. The upslope wind was evident in a few other places besides the top Tuesday and the upper gondola remained closed. High temps were low 30's Tuesday and mid-30's Wednesday/Thursday.

Grooming was intensive for the demo. The face of 3 was noticeably less hardpacked as were Scotty’s and some of the race course runs. I further explored on chair 5 to the far skier’s left of Dry Creek:

The softest chalk was on Triangle, which drops out of view below these scattered trees.

Running many of the demos through the race course runs on chair 1 I took pics riding the lift and finally got a clean one with all four of the new action figures I call “Guardians of Gravy Chute.”

I skied six demos and 30,600 vertical Tuesday. Garry tried seven demos despite getting on the hill about half an hour later. I did quit at 3:15 for a couple of Tuesday tacos at the Mill.

On Wednesday the wind remained in an upslope direction but milder so we finally got to ski the upper gondola. Climax and Dave’s definitely had the best snow on the upper mountain, closer to what I expected with wide areas of smooth chalk with good grip. Garry on Climax:

Lots of people skied a freshly groomed Cornice without the facial sandblast of the prior two days.

Garry on Dave’s, surely a mandatory run after the sad news of Saturday:

Consistent snow quality is probably not coincidental here.

I skied seven demos and 32,400 vertical Wednesday. East half of the chair 2 parking lot at the end of the demo:

We were both a bit worn down after three days. On Thursday I wanted to cherry pick the best snow plus ski some places I had not the other days. I started by skiing fresh groomers on chairs 16 and 4 before going higher. Here a candidate for admin’s fashion police is viewing the new sign and the Minarets.

From the top I skied Scotty’s, Cornice Climax and Dave’s.

The wind finally changed to its more normal direction out of the NW. There were thin patches of windblown snow, not enough to change skiing that much but if it continues the upper mountain will improve over the next few days.

I also wanted to check out the eastern side of the mountain, which I knew had some low tide sectors with the 6 week dry spell. Overview from top of chair 25:

Upper Gold Hill is in the center of the picture and it was roped off for thin cover. However south facing lower Gold Hill had good corn and zero traffic when I skied it about 11:30. So I rode chair 25 and skied Haven’t the Foggiest with similar aspect and snow. I skied more groomers around to chair 2 and my car, quitting at 1:15 with 23,500 vertical.

There were quite a few Tahoe skiers at Mammoth for the demo plus some on the Ikon Pass. Upper Squaw had received 50 inches of January snow vs. 10 at Mammoth so I thought conditions up there might be better. None of the Tahoe skiers thought so. One of the January storms had some rain mix up there, and Tahoe was also beset by the upslope scouring winds during the past two weeks.

Garry and I critiqued conditions because they were probably about 10th percentile for Mammoth mid-February. But on an absolute scale it was still good skiing as evidenced by the 110,700 vertical I skied over 4 days, my 8th highest 4 day total.

Demos Tuesday:
Stockli Laser CX 170cm 68mm: Race ski, extremely quick edge to edge, great for early morning hardpack. Responds well to aggressive skiing. Approaching chair 2, eased off, caught an edge, flailed and recovered. Do not be lazy on this ski! Race trained skiers like Patrick and EMSC will love it.

Fischer 86GT 175cm, cover SKI mag equipment issue. No technique adjustment needed here, felt like being on own skis. But since own skis are 98, the best 88 skis should be better on the firm snow.

Kastle MX88 180cm: Hollow tip makes different noise. Light weight tip makes for easy turn initiation, but with no loss in stability or carving. Probably my favorite of the 88 range skis.

Volkl Kendo 88 177cm: Another comfortable, feel at home ski, similar to Fischer, maybe a touch better as I put it in some more ungroomed on 5.

Nordica Enforcer 88 179cm. Performance rivals Kastle for best of 88’s. Lighter weight Kastle is probably better for endurance.
Head V10 85mm 177cm. I didn’t ski that well, but it was the last ski Tuesday and I had been pushing the Nordicas. I was also on poorer snow around 16 and 5.

Demos Wednesday:
Salomon Stance 90 177cm: nice ski similar to Fischer and Volkl, Garry liked them too.

Dynastar Speed 4x4 82 179cm: Quick edge to edge, not as much as the Laser but way more forgiving. Probably my favorite ski overall for the conditions.

Kastle MX98 178cm: Felt not as quick coming off the Dynastars, but good on Climax, Christmas, Coyote. Likely the ski I might buy for more normal Mammoth conditions. Garry liked 98 better than 88 but the 88 was his last demo.

Stockli Edge 89 177cm: AT lighter version of Stormrider 88. I had pushed the last two skis hard so the light weight appealed. Performance was equal to other 88’s 95+% of the time. Only on the hardest patches was the light weight a negative. Should be an excellent AT ski.

Liberty Evolv 99 179cm, Colorado indie company. Skis were not well tuned, wouldn’t carve much, had to ski the top chalk very defensively.

Augment All Mountain 88 179cm, new Austrian company. Skied similar runs as Liberty, plus irregular section under ch. 23 with much better control. Good edge hold, responsive and stable.

Icelantic Sabre 89 174cm; Carved well on softer snow but not as well on hardpack. May have been too short, but next size up was 184. Shaped skis are length sensitive. Size increments should be 5-7 cm, 10cm is too much.

Both Garry and I skied not so well on last demos both days after 3PM:
1) Fatigue
2) Groomers less smooth
3) Snow stiffening as temps drop and shade increases
4) Sun to shade visibility, the culprit for Liz at Mt. High
Minor factors, but they may add up.

Garry is much more of a gearhead than I am and took extensive notes. Hopefully he will post them here later.
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: 10438
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Mammoth, Feb. 10-13, 2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:24 am

Here a candidate for admin’s fashion police is viewing the new sign and the Minarets.

How far up the Mammoth Mountain sign is the snow in more typical years? Is the new sign the exact same size as the previous one?

User avatar
Posts: 3622
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ + Denver, CO

Re: Mammoth, Feb. 10-13, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:59 pm ... 1053-feet/

The old sign was 18.5 feet. In years when the patrol site got ~500 inches snow (about 1/4 of seasons), the old sign would generally be buried completely if not for repeated excavation after storms.

The new sign is 24 feet. ... -mountain/
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: 10438
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Return to Western North America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use