Pros: It is Mammoth, as in a very large ski area. It is up high, so the season can last to July 4th. It is so easy to drive or fly to.
Cons: Mammoth is a small ski town, so no big city night life. Daily ticket prices can be Mammoth.
Mammoth has been my home mountain, since I came back to skiing about 10 seasons ago. If you are a serious Southern California skier or snow boarder, Mammoth is the mountain you aspire to come to. Sure the drive from San Diego can take 6-7 hours and most of LA is about 5-6 hours, but where else are you going to find a mountain that has 3,500+ acres of skiable terrain, typically over 400 inches of snowfall and a season that often lasts until July 4th?
The good news just keeps getting better for skiers, as Mammoth has over 150 named trails and 28 lifts (includes 9 high speed quads, 2 high speed six-packs and 3 high speed gondolas). If your in a hurry to get to Mammoth, check out Alaska airlines website, as Mammoth Lakes is served from many airports in California, with more cities flying to Mammoth in the winter months.
Why should you make Mammoth your next ski destination? Because of the sheer volume of snow Mammoth can receive. Mammoth can get some Epic dumps, as early as November and because of it's higher altitude (11,053 at the top), snow lasts along time at Mammoth. Even in low snow seasons like 2012/2013, the mountain received enough snow in December to keep operations running smoothly through a pretty dry January through March. During a normal to Epic snow season, chasing powder days can make my wife lose a little patience with me. But it is hard to say no to 2-3 feet of snow in a day or two, I don't care how disciplined you are.
If your lucky enough to be able to come up Sunday through Thursday, Mammoth is typically pretty empty. Sure the So Cal crowds like to roll in Thursday night, especially for holiday weekends, but normally the mountain is empty again by noon on Sunday. If crowds are not your thing or you hate the runs being tracked out in 30 minutes from the time patrol opens a lift, on a powder day, Then Mammoth Mountain Corp has some great news for you for the 2013/2014 season, as they will be operating June Mountain again.
While June Mountain deserves her own write up, in a nutshell, the place is empty. While not the same size as Mammoth, you can ski empty runs on a weekend and often find powder 2-3 days after a storm. So, while planning your trip to Mammoth, don't forget June Mountain.
If you don't want to make the 20 mile drive to June to beat the crowds, then just stay up high at Mammoth. When the mountain is busy, the base areas at Eagle, Canyon, The Mill and Main Lodges can get pretty backed up (10 minutes??), but if you take the gondola or chair 23 to the top, it is fairly easy to do non stop laps down runs that start at an advanced level and are often groomed (the Cornice Bowl and Scotty's) or Dave's which is not groomed and will usually end up more mid mountain. For the experts or just those who are somewhat reckless, the top offers another 15 double diamond runs. Whether you choose Hangmans, the Dropout/Wipeout shoots or Phillippe's, you will have earned my respect if you can rip those runs up. Psst, don't tell anyone, but for more gnar there is also Lincoln Mountain. More double diamond goodness awaits you down the face on Viva, Shaft or Grizzly and don't miss the Avy shoots on the other side of Lincoln Mountain.
For those who are not up to the aforementioned runs, Mammoth also offers the largest amount of groomed run skiing I have ever been on, with 20% being advanced, 40% intermediate and 25% beginner. Mammoth truly offers something for every skier or boarder.
I would highly recommend you visit the Mammoth Mountain website at: http://www.mammothmountain.com/Mountain and look into their great ski and snowboard schools. My personal favorite is the semi private lessons. I usually end up with another skier and the instructor for a 3 hour advanced lesson. Trust me, this will be the best $125 bucks you spend this season to improve your game. If you enjoy the lesson, please don't forget to tip these fine instructors either. There are so many different instruction programs offered at Mammoth, whether the Adaptive Ski School or the Development Programs and of course the Ski Rangers. I don't know about you, but nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than watching a person in a sitski, a blind skier or the kids ripping it up.
Have people in your group that don't like to slide on snow? Yep, me too. For them there is fun shopping and restaurants at the Village in the towns center. One of my favorite stops there for