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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Mammoth Spring Break

    For spring break this year, my kid and I drove from Santa Cruz, over and down to Mammoth to ski for five days. Our route brings us right by the entrance to Kirkwood, our usual hill. We have been spending time in Mammoth over the last five or so years. When my kid was younger, we'd take them out of school and go for a week in a February and get to enjoy the winter snow. Now that they are older, we basically can head out for spring break. Prior t these trips, we'd basically only get out there in May or June when everything was out of Main Lodge.

    This year, the weekend before our arrival, several feet of snow fell in the Sierra. And it had been cold, especially in the higher elevations. The drive south from Gardnerville was spectacular. I really enjoy the drive south on 395, any time of year. But it felt special to see these hills covered in snow. And auspicious start.

    Found the beer and food to be good and reasonably priced (for a Californian) at Great Basin Brewing. And just a few doors down from gas priced at $3.92 a gallon. Another reasonable price for a Californian.

    If we plan to stop along the way, we like staying at Virginia Creek Settlement. The "tent" cabin was $62. Heavy blankets and two good space heaters made it work for the night. Located just south of Bridgeport, near the ghost town of Bodie, you're about 45 minutes from the Mill Lot when the roads are dry.

    The room includes a fire pit and a s'mores kit. As well as some coffee pods you can use in a kitchen cabin down the way. Ours was just a bedroom. Shared toilets and showers in another building. They also rent one bedroom cabins with kitchens (and their own bathrooms) if you want something a bit fancier. We opted for the basic, as we were planning to sleep and get up and back on the road early.

    Arrived at the Mill around 8:15AM and found a spot on the snowbank maybe 70 yards from the lift. Yipee.

    Mammoth reported no new snow in the past 24 hours, but over 2 feet in the previous few days. Bridgeport got a dusting overnight, so maybe some parts of the mountain got a bit as well. And there had to have been some wind. And it has stayed well below freezing. Took a lap down Knee Deep which was actually shin deep, and much lighter than expected. We then took a ride up Gold Rush The snow was cold in the north facing terrain but the sun had its effect on east aspects. Even though we've skied here a bunch, I am still figuring out powder day strategies. Honestly, didn't even know this was going to be a pseudo powder day. But for sure, there were patches of uncut snow all over the mountain.

    We took skied over to and rode Cloud Nine Express three times. The first run down off the cat track to Back For More, and down across Quicksilver and along the ridge to the right of the Slot. It was that perfect dusting of cold snow, on a softening spring surface perfection. It skied like variable knee deep powder. The second run was out by Dragon's Back and the wind had made it very challenging to ski. My 90# kid was no stoked having to bust through variable wind crust. We were planning on high tailing it out of there, and over toward Main Base or Chair 22, when my kid dropped their pole down near the bottom of Slot. We retrieved it and traversed toward Chair 25. Which was was not running, so we continued down to down to Eagle. A few mishaps, but then we were on Chair 22 and soon at the top Avi 2. My kid have never been over here, and we skied in from the top. The snow was the best we skied all day. Perhaps Top of World had better snow right when it opened. We don't know. We were skiing here when that happened. But this snow was so consistent and smooth. Wish we had lapped it a bit, but we continued to explore.

    The wind buff in Wipeouts was probably the second best snow on the hill especially late in the day. In all the different times. I've only skied Mammoth midweek in the middle of the season. This day seemed to be by far the busiest we have seen. Still, we rarely waited in lines and rarely more than 5 minutes. This is the first year that many SoCal spring breaks aligned with ours. Even with the crowds, after 1:30pm, chair 22 was ski right on, and in great shape. Took a bunch of runs over here, and then when the Gondola line disappeared, too a few runs off the Top. My kid had just descended to the car, so I took a quick lap down Hangman's to suss the conditions. It skied excellently.
    Last edited by Ottime; 04-08-2024 at 10:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Tuesday started out cold, but was expected to warm up to 40F at McCoy. The NE winds from Monday, had picked up and scoured some areas that had been buffed the day before. We were planning to start the morning off railing sunny soft turns down Relief to Have't the Foggiest, but 22 and 9 had a late start, so we headed toward 5 and 3 for wintery groomers instead. They did not disappoint. Chair 23 was riding well, with both Cornice and Scotty's offering grippy steep groomers. Wipeouts were still loading a bit with the NE winds. We also found Paranoid 2 to be skiing really well, with a connection through the lower part of Paranoid. So nice when you can ski that terrain all the way down to Bristlecone in good snow.

    After a few laps of the steeps we headed over to Chair 12 to take a break and warm up. We've only really ever skied groomers or slushy lift lines runs over here, but always imagine it on a wintery day. The tree skiing over here looks super fun in the right conditions. We usually just come this way to snack or eat lunch, because it is usually pretty pleasant out. Eventually headed over to the Backside and took Chair 14 up for another Paranoids lap.

    I've been breaking in new boots, and my feet were hurting, so my kid agreed to a stop indoors. It can can be shockingly easy to find a seat in the Top Station. Maybe because they don't seem to be selling food anymore. Great spot to chill, take off the boots, eat some food and enjoy a beer or hot cocoa. We scored the best seat in the house at 1pm. The view from here on a clear day is always stunning.

    After our break we headed over to Hangman's Hollow. I considered it one of the more challenging named runs on the mountain. Phillipe's, Kiwi Flats and maybe Heuvos Grande from the top, are more challenging for sure. Still, Hangman's is steep, exposed and has sluff through the choke. Its a great line. And it was nicely filled with the winds buffing it out.

    Ended up being the best snow of the day. Up top in the funnel, through the choke and down on the apron the snow was wintery and smooth. All the way to the Saddle Bowl groomer below. The the stoke was high for us.

    Kid was so amped we decided to give Dos Pasos North a try. It was pretty warm in the chute and the choke was peppered. Powdery on the shaded side and mank in the sun is the best way to describe the conditions. They wanted to chill a bit after the hard part, and with absolutely no one else skiing the chute, you could sit right down in the middle of the slope. Not the best skiing, but a pretty aesthetic line.

    Wednesday was bluebird again. Same temps, but with the wind turning out of the SW it felt colder. And the ridge lines now had snow blowing in the right direction. And this is the magic of Mammoth. After a sunny 40F day in April, there is still some snow to blow from somewhere and buff out your line.

    We worked our way to High Five and the lift line had been groomed. Never seen that before. So we hit it. The upper third was getting loaded with cold snow. I think it might have been my favorite run of the morning, with smooth mid winter buff and then cordaroy groomer for a total of 1000 feet of vertical. When we loaded the lift a second time, we notice we were on the same chair as our first lap. My kid was stoked we beat the chain down. Solitude early was also pretty fun. And it felt pretty cold in the morning with our having addressed lightly. Eventually we traverse toward Main, and ended back over by Chair 12. At our favorite lunch spot. It is warm, out of both the NE and SW winds (how this is I can not explain) and has a great view.

    For a season that started so late, we were pleased to enjoy the best coverage we've had in years.

    Tuesday and Wednesday felt less busy to us, but maybe we just figured out how to navigate the crowds better. We started working our way back home around 2pm. Kid was spent after 20K vert. Gold Rush had its typical late day 20 minute line, so we rode up Stump Alley to connect Face Lift to High Five. The runs are more fun this way, and you don't get stuck in a long line of people returning to Canyon Base. We finish with a long run down Upper Solitude and then Back For More to usually Christmas Tree.

    As we got off Stump Alley, the crowd coming down Saddle Bowl was for real. Solitude off Chair 5 can also have this look. We once counted 100 people on that groomer. We have found, if you get out early, you can have these groomers nearly to your self. Once it warms up a bit, the options are endless for staying out of the crowds. We skied all day, and never felt crowded.

    I worked my way back to 23. It was ski right on. The SW winds were filling in both Wipeouts and Dropouts, and the top third was great skiing. Not buffed smooth, but the snow was shockingly soft. Maybe my favorite hot laps of the trip.

    I enjoy the safety bar on this chair. I can remember holding my kid by a harness when they were little going up Chair 23 with no bar. Not a relaxing memory, especially if there was a breeze. I also enjoy these Wrenagades. Not my favorite ski in the quiver but very versatile.

    On my first lap up, the clouds started to move in. By the the time I unloaded for my second lap, the light had gone almost completely flat. But the snow was so good, I kept skiing, It was really only your first few turns that were hard to see. Once down on the slope, the rocks, bumps, wind and lift helped with visibility a lot. Finally worked my way over to Face Lift. The top of China Bowl was also wintery buff. Coyote spring softened. I skied the Chair 5 lift line again, and while there was very wintery snow, especially up top, the mornings groomer had turned into bumps even bigger than the day before.

    At the end of Wednesday, I was not too stoked on the impeding storm. The spring skiing down low, and wintery up high had been fabulous all week. It was forecast to get cold. High of 25F at Mc Coy. And very windy. I feared dust on crust for our final two days.
    Last edited by Ottime; 04-14-2024 at 02:35 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Tuesday morning was reporting no new snow overnight, with a temperature of 17F at Eagle Base. By 8AM, we had about two inches on our deck railing. We headed out at 9:45, and skied over toward Canyon. It was super windy out. It was cold. The trees left of Blue Jay wer untracked, shin deep, and surprisingly good considering how warm the previous day had been. Up Canyon, down Wall Street and up Stump. We skied fishes down Terry's and got on the Gondola. A few laps on Face Lift, and then down Saddle Bowl - which was skiing by brail, all the way to the trees left of Andy's Double Gold. Everything was buffed or shin deep goodness. Back up the Gondi and my kid took a break at Mid Station. I skied off the back of Face Lift and traverse our to Sliver under Chair 5. Some of the best turns of my trip. Knee deep and face shots on the rollover. Soooo good. Back up to Mid Station and I went inside to get my kid. Came out 10 minutes later to my skies covered. It was just blowing and snowing so hard.

    We grabbed a few more, then I skied them back to Eagle. We traveled across to the Face of Five, and took about 15 deep turns, and continued toward Solitude. We could see the top of Gold Rush, and my kid told me to go. I traversed the slope and skied down to the entrance of Quicksilver. I stoped and turned around and looked into a sea of white. 1,2,3,4,5 full seconds before my kids bright clothing emerged from he blindness. There was a moment of ear in there for me. But they know their way around, and they came right to where we planned. We skied down toward Haven't the Foggiest and the trees to its right. Untracked snow, with not a single other track all the way down to the bottom cat track. I got back out for more, but the lifts started to shut down around 2:30. Spent the last hour and half lapping 8 and Eagle. Discorved a few new to me zones.

    Way better than dust on crust.

    Friday morning was cold. 20" at Main Base. Temps in the single digits. We were checking out, so I parked the car over at Eagle at 7AM, and we grabbed the 8:10 shuttle over. We were in the line up at around 8:18, and that scored us 10th Chair at 8:28. Skied to Blue Jay trees and skied right on to Canyon. The two chairs in front if us were empty. Crazy how quiet a start it was. We skied down to the Mill via the trees to the right of Wall Street and on my 12 year old the powder was literally tits deeps. When we popped out onto the groomer they declared it the best run of the trip. But then it was this run pictured they later called the best run of the trip.

    EDIT: Correction - this was from Thursday, in the trees right of Haven't the Foggiest. In case pitch matters... no as steep at the terrain off Lincoln.

    We headed up Gold Rush and intended to ski toward Back For More. Here I made powder rookie mistake. I thought I saw a closed sign, but later realized it was telling me that Chair 9 was closed. Instead of more untracked, we skied semi tracked around the Canyon side to Chair 22. It had just opened, the corral had emptied and skied right on. Other than waiting for Eagle to open in the morning, we skied right on to every lift. On a 20" blower powder day. Insane.

    Anyway, my kid was cold and we had to hit the road, so we aimed skiers right somewhere between Grizzly and Sunshine Glades. There were a few tracks around, but we basically had fresh turns the entire way down.

    It was not as deep here as some other places. It ranged from boot to thigh deep, depending on your turn. But is skied incredibly constantly and for a 90# human, this was the ideal depth. And pitch. It is not flat, nor is it the steeps. It was perfect for my kid to just cruise.

    I skied my kid down to the base and they headed to the car. I got none more lap. Kind of wish I made it two on 22. and the first one downtime face, but all in all great morning and I was at the car by 10:20AM.

    Seven and. half hours to Santa Cruz. And such a beautiful drive. Great timing considering the blizzard at Eagle Base, snow on the road to juts past June Lake, snow off and on to the Nevada boarder, slow going behind cars from Carson Pass all the way down to Pine Grove, stop and go traffic around Lodi of all places and cruising through San Jose at rush hour. My wife had spring break the ext week and we wanted to see her before she left on Saturday morning. Could have planned that better, but we left contented.

    I had to stop in the cabin at Kirkwood on the way home. They got some snow too.

    All in all, feels like kind of a perfect trip. A few days of warmth, sun and relaxing skiing. A storm and some deep powder. Would repeat.

    Saturday we rested, and Sunday we hit the trails in the backyard. Time to get back to school

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Ottime; 04-14-2024 at 02:25 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Awesome, glad you had a great trip. Mammoth delivers!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Nice report. When I was a kid, My dad and I used to drive to Mammoth from San Diego all the time. I'm pretty sure I didn't have a driver license the first time I drove us home. He liked to have some beers since he wasn't driving. By San Bernardino, it was clear I was doing the whole drive. lol. If I had a dollar for every time I have made that run in my life

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