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Mammoth Mountain is many things: Some days it’s the steep rocky chutes that line the upper mountain, each falling away in great funnels of powder. On other days, it’s knowing how (and where) the Sierra wind buffs the slopes like nature’s groomer. With an average annual snowfall of 400 inches, Mammoth is also about consistent conditions that sometimes last deep into summer.
And powder. Mammoth is about powder. Sure, some resorts get more snowfall, but when a wicked Mammoth storm rolls in, nowhere does it pile up faster. We’re talking multiple feet in just a few hours. Enough snow to bury entire lifts—and leave locals delirious. On those storm days, Mammoth powder slaying is all about the trees beneath Chair 22, which can be lapped as feverishly as a dog chasing a tennis ball. That’s where you’ll find me. That’s my Mammoth.
Did I mention the sunshine? On bluebird days—and there are more than 300 per year—the immaculate groomers run for miles and provide stunning views of the Minarets, Mono Lake, and Nevada’s desolate White Mountains far in the distance.
And so, Mammoth, with its 28 lifts, 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, and 3,100 vertical feet, is about every thing and every kind of rider. On one run, you’ll see an old guy with a sublimely tanned forehead—sunglasses, no hat, maybe a one-piece suit, certainly a one-piece suit—knocking off 40-degree lines below the gondola. Farther down, you’ll find the groms in colorful outerwear soaring out of the mountain’s immense terrain parks like tropical birds from a forest canopy.
More than anything, Mammoth is about a dream. The lifts, the way the runs track the fall line, the vibe, the spirit of the place—it’s all the living manifestation of the vision of an adventurous man from humble beginnings who simply loved being outside and going fast. In Mammoth, founder Dave McCoy created one of the most unique ski resorts in the world. Poke around. Maybe your Mammoth is up high on the windswept peaks. Or you might find it skiing corn on a warm day in a vast bowl. It doesn’t matter. A few turns in and you’ll know exactly what drew McCoy here. Find your Mammoth.
With its high elevation (11,053 feet) and 28 lifts, Mammoth can intimidate first timers, but there are numerous options where skiers and snowboarders can go at their own pace. The key is to pick your base area: Eagle, Canyon, or Main Lodge. At the Eagle base, take the Eagle Express quad to Sleepy Hollow, a gentle cruiser that winds through mature forests. At Canyon, the School Yard is perfect for those just learning to set their edges. And up at Main Lodge, the green circles off Discovery Chair will help new skiers build courage for the next step: the Panorama Gondola.
Mammoth’s Panorama Gondola, accessible from Main Lodge, is the centerpiece of the resort. For any visiting skier or snowboarder, it’s worth riding to the top, if only for the views (you can always ride it back down). Only advanced riders should descend from the summit; those uncomfortable with such heights can unload at the mid-mountain station, grab lunch at McCoy Station, and then take the Face Lift Express for a lengthy but mellow run down Saddle Bowl to Broadway or Stump Alley. Another favorite cruiser? The Solitude trail off the top of High Five Express. And if you’re looking to ditch the crowds, head on over to Chair 25 and the Cloud Nine Express for some introductory glade skiing.
If it’s dumping, call in sick, buy some flowers, and beeline it for Chair 22. Many relationships and careers have been ruined by the steep terrain accessed off this lift. Drop in, and you too will feel the urge to drop out of society. The tree skiing here is legendary, and when the wind is howling, there are few places in the country that are as much fun on a powder day. Trails like Shaft, Viva, and the Avalanche Chutes will keep you coming back for more. And then there’s Chair 23.
To experience Mammoth’s high-altitude zones, drop into Huevos Grande off the gondola and smear turns in the singularity that is Mammoth wind buff. Later that night at the bar, you might hear someone say “Dragon’s Back.” Smile, buy him another round, and if you’re lucky, he’ll show you the way tomorrow.
He’s all about progression. Seriously. The rest of his kindwent extinct 5,000 years ago.
Check it out, he telemark skis and snowboards. Evolve or die, people. Evolve or die.
For most of his time here on earth, seeing hairy dudes on skis carrying sharp stickes really freaked him out, but he’s cool with it now. No sudden moves though.
Your “Native Californian” bumper sticker cracks Wolly up.
Ski instructors follow him.
When he laughs, he trumpets.
Please know that he’s never intentionally twerked anyone.
What can we say? He has his mother’s hips.
Go ahead. Photobomb him. Good luck with that.
When he asks, “Are you going to eat that?” he means it. He’s a browser.
Tar pits really burn him up.
Technically hisname is Mammuthus primigenius, but he’s fine with “Wolly.”
Ski town casual, baby.
If a pretty lady scratches his belly he’ll make it snow.
(OK, that’s a lie. Just trying to be a goodwingman for Ol’ Woolly.)
Did you know??
Mammoth Mountain is a lava dome complex west of the town of Mammoth Lakes, California in the Inyo National Forest of Madera County and Mono County. It is home to a large ski area on the Mono County side. Mammoth Mountain was formed in a series of eruptions that ended 57,000 years ago. However, Mammoth still produces hazardous volcanic gases that kill trees and caused ski patroller fatalities in 2006.
(Click for Trail Map)