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Where to spend a season - Mammoth or Alta/Snowbird?

Poll Results: Where to spend a season - Mammoth or Alta/Snowbird

 
  • 23% (3)
    Mammoth
  • 69% (9)
    Alta/Snowbird
  • 7% (1)
    other
13 Total Votes  
post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hey folks,

 

I am in the process of trying to figure out where I want to spend the winter, so I can focus my job search on that area.  I am torn between Mammoth and Utah (specifically Alta/Snowbird).  I spent last winter in Breckenridge, and while I enjoyed my time there, I am looking to try somewhere new this winter.  Some of the biggest draws for me to try somewhere else are a desire for more challenging terrain than Breck had to offer, more snow, less crowds, and a cheaper cost of living.  I am also very interested in starting to learn/pursue backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering.

 

Mammoth:

+  Seems like a tough place to beat for ski mountaineering and backcounty skiing potential

+  Very possible that I will have a couple of close friends moving to Mammoth for the winter that would help provide the sort of community I desire

+  More of a mountain town than SLC

+  Shorter and easier move for me

+  Closer to places I can go rock climbing outside during the season (i.e. Bishop)

+  Long season into spring

-  Higher cost of living than SLC

-  Snowfall - less consistent than SLC; "Sierra cement?"

 

Alta/Snowbird:

+  Higher average annual snowfall than Mammoth; lighter powder?

+  Cheaper cost of living than Mammoth

+  More resort options to choose from (both for employment and for skiing)

+  Seems like more opportunities to find jobs and work

+  Only a few hours from Moab

+  Long season into spring (at least for Snowbird)

-  Not sure if it would feel like I am living in the mountains if I live in SLC, which is something I love

-  Longer move

-/+  May not know anyone there  (I am sort of neutral on this one, as it is a huge negative for me)

 

Can anyone give me any comparisons on Mammoth vs. Alta/Snowbird, in terms of terrain, snow, crowds, cost of living (although it seems Utah has the upper-hand in that one), backcountry skiing, etc?  I am especially interested in the terrain and snowfall comparrsons (I know both places cost money and both places will have crowds, at least at times).  And if anyone can tell me how either Mammoth or Alta/Snowbird stack up against Breckenridge in any of these categories, that would be really helpful, as well.

 

And in case anyone finds it pertinent to this discussion, I will provide a little bit of background on myself and my motivations for this upcoming season.  I am a 23 year old guy looking to spend his second season ski-bumming before I go to grad school.  I spend my summers working for a wilderness ministry in California (currently still in California).  I worked in a rental and retail shop last winter, and would likely be wanting to do that type of work again.  My favorite place I have skied is Arapahoe Basin.  In terms of my current ability level, there was only one line at Breckenridge (one of the Lake Chutes) that I didn't feel comfortable trying by the end of the season, but, I also have no illusions of myself being the best skier on the mountain (rather, far from it).  I am not a hucker at this point, and don't have a ton of interest in park skiing, either.  I love powder (who doesn't, though?),  but also enjoy steeps, trees, and moguls (I have fun on groomers, but tend to not spend the majority of my time there).  I am looking to get into backcountry skiing and hopefully some ski mountaineering this winter.  Also interested in trying ice climbing.  And while I like to spend pretty much the whole ski season skiing, I also love rock climbing and mountain biking, and having these options available would be a nice bonus.  And in general, the more days and opportunities I have to go skiing during the season, the better biggrin.gif

 

Well, thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance for any responses.  I really do appreciate them. I suspect that both of these places will provide what I am looking for in comparison to Breckenridge, and I do realize I may be sort of splitting hairs here.  But why not try to find the best possible place, right?

 

Thanks again!

 

Austin

post #2 of 21

Neither:  I would spend the winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

post #3 of 21
Paging tony Crocker to the white courtesy phone. If anyone has the facts on snowfall, days and other resort pertinence, it is Tony
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinPiper View Post

Hey folks,

 

I am in the process of trying to figure out where I want to spend the winter, so I can focus my job search on that area.  I am torn between Mammoth and Utah (specifically Alta/Snowbird).  I spent last winter in Breckenridge, and while I enjoyed my time there, I am looking to try somewhere new this winter.  Some of the biggest draws for me to try somewhere else are a desire for more challenging terrain than Breck had to offer, more snow, less crowds, and a cheaper cost of living.  I am also very interested in starting to learn/pursue backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering.

 

Mammoth:

+  Seems like a tough place to beat for ski mountaineering and backcounty skiing potential

+  Very possible that I will have a couple of close friends moving to Mammoth for the winter that would help provide the sort of community I desire

+  More of a mountain town than SLC

+  Shorter and easier move for me

+  Closer to places I can go rock climbing outside during the season (i.e. Bishop)

+  Long season into spring

-  Higher cost of living than SLC

-  Snowfall - less consistent than SLC; "Sierra cement?"

 

Alta/Snowbird:

+  Higher average annual snowfall than Mammoth; lighter powder?

+  Cheaper cost of living than Mammoth

+  More resort options to choose from (both for employment and for skiing)

+  Seems like more opportunities to find jobs and work

+  Only a few hours from Moab

+  Long season into spring (at least for Snowbird)

-  Not sure if it would feel like I am living in the mountains if I live in SLC, which is something I love

-  Longer move

-/+  May not know anyone there  (I am sort of neutral on this one, as it is a huge negative for me)

 

 

I am going to answer based on non-skiing factors. Since not knowing anyone is a huge negative for you, I would suggest Mammoth.Usually it is easier to make friends and get connected in a small town. Plus the eastern Sierra has excellent mtn biking.

 

Also SLC is a big city, not a mtn town. Big city people, not so clean air, traffic. You would not feel you were in the mtns.

 

With that said both places have good skiing.

post #5 of 21

Another 1st World problem!!!

 

2 great choices, both areas have an extended season which is a major plus.

Total snowfall shouldn't be a major concern as both places get plenty in an average year.

Snow quality is probably more consistent at Snowbird, but Mammoth does get "Natures Grooming".

SLC is a city & Mammoth is a town.

Way more choices in Utah for close ski areas, although Tahoe is only 3.5 hrs from Mammoth.

Backcountry should be good in both areas, but a higher avalanche potential in UT & more people in a concentrated area (CC's).

Both mountains have great terrain.

 

Oh man, this is way too tough a decision, wouldn't it just be easier to move to Big Bear?

post #6 of 21

First world problem, for sure.  I don't think you can go wrong either way.  FWIW, once your belongings are loaded on a truck, the distance doesn't really matter. 

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinPiper View Post

Alta/Snowbird:

+  Higher average annual snowfall than Mammoth; lighter powder?

+  Cheaper cost of living than Mammoth

+  More resort options to choose from (both for employment and for skiing)

+  Seems like more opportunities to find jobs and work

+  Only a few hours from Moab

+  Long season into spring (at least for Snowbird)

-  Not sure if it would feel like I am living in the mountains if I live in SLC, which is something I love

-  Longer move

-/+  May not know anyone there  (I am sort of neutral on this one, as it is NOT a huge negative for me)

 

Sorry, the above line should have been that potentially not knowing anyone in SLC is NOT a huge negative for me.

 

Thanks for all of the responses so far!  And yes, I agree - first world problems...

post #8 of 21

Its mammoth for me, no question. I like the mountain better, and would much prefer living in mammoth lakes than SLC.

post #9 of 21

Are you set on either one of these two? Looks like spending the season in Jackson would match better what you are describing, especially for mountaineering!

 

I've never been to Mammoth but SLC even though is very outdoor oriented it's nothing like a mountain city style, and with no friends it's gonna be hard to connect, maybe you are lucky to find people ski bumming just like you at work, but that's a maybe!

 

If I were in your shoes I would seriously look into Jackson!

post #10 of 21

+1 on Jackson.  From your description of your ideal location, Jackson Hole is going to meet most of your requirements.  Maybe not going too deep into spring might be the only drawback, but by then you'll be tired of skiing monster lines and getting dragged into the backcountry by your buds.

post #11 of 21

If you have ever done any masonry work you would probably like Mammoth.  Alta is the real deal with real people and the absolute greatest snow on earth.

post #12 of 21
When I was a kid I had a picture in my bedroom with a Porsche 911, Lamborghini Countach and A Ferrari (can't remember the model, but it was definitely Ferrari red). It said simply "Decisions". I think the conundrum of Mammoth v Snowbird, with Jackson thrown in to round out a trio, is the skier's version. Doesnt get much better than that, and you cant really go wrong.

On a side not, My grandpa must have spent several times what that picture was worth to win it for me at a boardwalk game at the Jersey Shore. I loved that picture.
post #13 of 21

Salt Lake City.

You are from CA, sounds like that is home for you; do something different.  Salt Lake City is an out of doors city.  Quality mountain biking, climbing, hiking, fishing, and they ski there too.  Lots of shops to work in or other stuff. Cheaper to live in.  Big variety of areas to ski at.  Really lousy air quality with the inversion layer. It is a good sized city  that is becoming more important in the equipment world if that is the direction you choose to follow that career path.  You are religious, from your first post, Temple Square is as close to being the American Vatican as might exist (no, I am not LDS) you may want to spend some time there.  Pro sports if that appeals to you.  The snow and terrain in the Cottonwood Canyons are just about as good as North America can offer.  The he/she ratio is going to be way better than a ski town (big plus).  

 

If your foreseeable future is going to be California, go experience a different culture.  Utah is that.  Mammoth is not going anywhere.

post #14 of 21

Mammoth is my home area as a SoCal resident but AltaBird has the most consistent high quality skiing I've seen anywhere. That's why I have a timeshare week there.  My son spent most of his first year out of college (2007-08) living in a Mammoth ski house, got more powder with me on trips to Utah and Canada that season than he did at the ski house.  So if powder is a priority Mammoth with its wind and Sierra boom/bust snowfall patterns is not the best place.  For everyday non-powder skiing Mammoth is very consistent, usually even better than Utah in the late season past mid-April.

Quote:
Quality mountain biking, climbing, hiking, fishing,

The Utah local skiers I know rave about the convenient summer outdoor options.  It's a myth you have to live in a mountain resort town for that.

Quote:
Really lousy air quality with the inversion layer.

A  midwinter phenomenon, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of days from December through early February. 

 

Cost of living will be lower in SLC.

 

The ambience of a mountain town vs. a city? That's a personal question you'll have to decide.

 

Jackson's quality lift served ski season is much shorter than Mammoth's or Alta/Snowbird's.  If you're really serious about getting into backcountry skiing Jackson is a hotbed of that and might compensate some.

post #15 of 21

if your top priority is powder skiing, then Alta/Snowbird beats Mammoth. Steep terrain, no  crowds during the week, small town, year round mtn biking and rock climbing, if it was me, I'd go to Mammoth.

post #16 of 21

What a tough choice.  Remember if you have a car, you have not only skiing in Mammoth, but some of the best lift served back country skiing at June Lake.  Also the Eastern Sierra Mountains offer tons of BC options, great mountain biking, fishing, hiking, and camping too.  I could spend years there discovering it all.  Oddly, the little town of Mammoth is less appealing to me than a city that offers so many more dining, entertainment, and service options.  For all those reasons, I am really considering moving to North Lake Tahoe down the road, so I have the city of Reno to support my immediate city fix and San Francisco when I need something more deluxe for a long weekend.

Each to his own.  Whichever way you go, I am sure you will have a blast.

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacobillie View Post

Neither:  I would spend the winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

This....

post #18 of 21

Two comments;

 

1) The Sierra Cement thing is way overblown. Yes, Utah will typically get lighter snow but Sierra snow will make you quite happy. By Sierra standards Mammoth is at a higher elevation and you will have a longer season  than you will in Utah.

 

2) Tough economic times in Mammoth. Many shops/stores remain closed and if it matters it will not be easy to get a job.

 

As others have said these are two good choices (not the only ones but two good ones).

post #19 of 21

Hard Liquor On Sale from 6:00 AM - 2:00 AM at Vons In Mammoth Lakes 

 

Try that one in Utah beercheer.gif

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Salt Lake City.

You are from CA, sounds like that is home for you; do something different.  Salt Lake City is an out of doors city.  Quality mountain biking, climbing, hiking, fishing, and they ski there too.  Lots of shops to work in or other stuff. Cheaper to live in.  Big variety of areas to ski at.  Really lousy air quality with the inversion layer. It is a good sized city  that is becoming more important in the equipment world if that is the direction you choose to follow that career path.  You are religious, from your first post, Temple Square is as close to being the American Vatican as might exist (no, I am not LDS) you may want to spend some time there.  Pro sports if that appeals to you.  The snow and terrain in the Cottonwood Canyons are just about as good as North America can offer.  The he/she ratio is going to be way better than a ski town (big plus).  

 

If your foreseeable future is going to be California, go experience a different culture.  Utah is that.  Mammoth is not going anywhere.

Wilderness ministry and LDS are not necessarily one and the same or even the same religion.  That said, both areas have fantastic skiing.  Probably SLC has a wider variety of job opportunities.  If you are planning on a ski bum year then it doesn't matter.  Chose the resort that hires you.  If both do, flip a coin.  Either way, you have a great year ahead of you.  Here is my .02 - Mammoth is not crowded, ever, once you are off the base.  The variety on that mountain is amazing and you would get to experience the ski resort, mountain town, feeling.  It has an early start and a late finish so it would be a nice long season.  It would probably be easy to make friends in such a small community. SLC has way more than Altabird to offer.  Close proximity to Park City, Deer Valley, Canyons, Solitude/Brighten, Snow basin, & PowMow.  Unless you are working at one of the resorts, it would be harder to form friendships.  If it was me, and I was deciding solely based on the skiing, I would chose SLC for the variety. If I was deciding based on the skiing friendships I would make, I would choose Mammoth.

post #21 of 21

SLC has some of the worst air quality stats in the USA. It figures in my decision making process and may result in me coming back ONLY if I can find a place to stay in the mountains above the inversion..

 

Have you ever thought of Europe. Chamonix would be the place for you. I have no idea about work permits though.

 

Snnowbird Alta top station to bottom station about 2000ft. Chamonix Argentiere top station to bottom station about 6500ft

 

Then there is always  the 13-mile journey down the Valle Blanche glacier and the Sea of Ice, a drop of 9,200 feet; highest lift-served vertical descent in the world.

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