Coming up from NZ to try some very late Spring skiing, it ties in with our school hols. Have hired a condo and a car and will drive from LAX with a stop enroute as we fly in at 2pm and don't want to drive the whole distance after a ten hour flight but don't want to stay in LAX either. Anyone got any thoughts on if we should plan to stay the whole time at Mammoth based on the dismal amount of snow fall so far? I am concerned about being able to hire a ski guide, looks like ski school might be closed by then? Any input?
- itemMammothtagged by marznc, 3/31/14
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- Mammoth Mountain, Eastern Sierra, CALast edited: 1/31/16
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- Mammoth Mountain, Eastern Sierra, CA
Mammoth April 17 - May 3 [family traveling from NZ]
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Have paid one third deposit, which is why I am asking now. As I could decrease the amount of time staying. I don't mind going to see Mammoth in a 'bad' year if that is it ends up being, and ski for a while as it will still always be an option for us going forward to be able to ski April / May in future years. We will always have that as our school holiday time. Original plan was to spend all the time in Mammoth, but I will look into Snowbird as an additional stop. Thanks.
I guess my question is from previous seasons for people who visit in late April and through May if I need to be aware of parts of the ski school, resort being closed. I saw online that the shuttle services diminish as do the kids ski school, I think group lessons cease. I was worried that if the season didn't pick up they would call a very early closing or ramp things down hugely, like laying staff off early. Of course most of the reviews of Mammoth always start with 'most snow of any CA resort, best late season skiing in the world!' But with the drought I am looking at the snow fall predictions and thinking, maybe not this year!
We don't really need ski school or lessons for anyone. However I would have been interested to take a few days being guided, other mountains we have visited have free or nominal fee days where intermediate and above skiers can join locals to find out about the mountain. Does Mammoth have that?
I really can't answer because it really will depend on if they get a ton of snow between now and then. Mid to late April is often a great time to ski Mammoth (spring conditions usually) but this year is SO different. I've taken lessons and had my daughter in lessons in early to mid April, but again, during a more "normal" year. So I don't really know what to say! It really does have one of the longest ski seasons in north America during a normal season.
Your best bet is to keep an eye on http://mammothweather.com/ for detailed forecasts. A couple more really big storms and things should hold up fine...
Not sure what you have decided, but some things to think about:
Will the resort be open? Almost certainly. There is only one season in the past 45 years when it was closed during that time, and that was before they did any snowmaking or much snow preservation work on the lower runs.
Will the skiing be terrible? Still unknown. They got a good dumping last week, but the forecast at this point shows only warm dry weather which certainly wouldn't be good if that lasts through April. Anything could change though, including another giant dump right before your arrival, or during your trip.
Will some of the lodges/trails be closed? Yes, most likely, but Mammoth is a big mountain, and if only the main lodge is open, there could still be a lot of great skiing.
Will the ski school be open? Yes, if the mountain is open. Although they do stop group lessons at some point due to volume, they have in the past offered discounted private lessons in their place. You may also be able to find someone informally and not through the resort to be a ski guide/ski babysitter for the kids - have looked in to this as an option for a late May trip in the past.
In the future, if you want to try again for a better year at Mammoth, don't make any condo reservations in advance. At that time of the year, you would have no problem calling the night before you leave and finding something. As you have probably noticed, Mammoth isn't near anything else (except maybe Tahoe and their conditions are even worse this year) so if it is another bad year, you can find some cheap airfares to Utah, Colorado, or the Pacific Northwest which might have been more blessed by the snow gods.
As for the plan to start driving after you arrive, if you are arriving on a weekday, just don't. It will take a while to get out of customs and get the rental car, and you will be getting on the freeway at the very worst of time traffic wise. You would likely be sitting in stop and go traffic for about 70 miles. Stay at a hotel by the airport, eat, sleep and when the jet lag wakes you up before the sun rises, perfect, start on your way then. Morning traffic wouldn't be as bad, but if you are on the road before 7 am, that would be best.
I will revise the driving in the afternoon, it will be the Thursday of the Easter Break, do the US have a 5 day long weekend? We have Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon in Australia and New Zealand, this year it falls in the term 1 school break : - ( but other years it is a little holiday all of it's own, which is infamous for causing large traffic jams. I try to avoid LAX customs if I can, I have spent many a fine hour or two in the Illegal alien queue there so am well aware of what we are in for.
I want to be diplomatic as I was of the impression that using an informal guide is frowned upon. I know that group lessons are closed down when we are there and I can book private lessons which is nice for me and the kids as we are all of a similar level. However I would love to find someone who would like to ski with my husband more of a guide than an instructor. I can't seem to find a ski club or anything. Do you know of any?
Thanks for answering my questions, I really appreciate it.
The length of a break around Easter Sunday is not consistent in the U.S. Some schools will be off M-F the week before. The Monday after is usually not a holiday. Colleges mostly take a spring break in March, regardless of when Easter falls.
If you start a thread looking for a local willing to spend an hour or two with your husband, might well find an EpicSki member. I suggest you put the dates in the thread title and that you are coming from NZ. Resorts & Travel can be a good place for such a thread.
The Los Angeles school district schools are off the week of April 14th--it should NOT be crowded that week, however, since a lot of the other local schools are off the week prior to that. Plus that's very late in the season. Word is the end of March is showing signs of getting another couple of BIG storms there--we shall see!
You might check out the Mammoth forums to find someone who might be willing to show you around. http://forums.mammothmountain.com/ I'd love to, but we are unfortunately not going to be able to spend spring break up there this year
Our area schools are out the first week of April, but have that Friday before Easter off as well. Businesses do not generally have holidays here for Easter. It won't be crowded at Mammoth, but the evening drive could be pretty bad Thursday and Friday as people leave town for the weekend (the desert on the way to Mammoth is probably the big draw that time of year). Definitely take advantage of your jet lag and drive when the rest of us aren't. It is a pretty easy drive, even in the dark, as long as you don't have to fight with too much traffic. Another suggestion would be to look at online traffic maps before you leave LAX - no matter what time of day it is. There is an ongoing construction project along the 405 freeway as you leave LA, and sometimes you can sit for a long time in traffic there even at 2 am. There are alternate routes if it looks bad.
I would think you should be able to find some ski buddies here, but if not, there is a Mammoth forum (if you put that in to Google, you should find it). The off season private lessons are discounted and are usually a pretty good deal, so might be a good way to learn about the mountain as well.
If they do get more snow, there is a small chance we would go up that first weekend. I'm not sure we'd make great companions for any of you though - I can't ski anymore and would be taking adaptive snowboarding lessons, my almost 70 year old mother would probably enjoy showing people around the blue groomers if she came, as long as you didn't want to go fast, and my 11 year old, who is also happiest on blue runs, but going faster than grandma, would certainly love to ski with some other kids, but doesn't know the mountain.
If it doesn't snow much more, there is a small chance that the roads to Yosemite and Devil's Postpile would open during your trip, and would be worth a visit.
Looks like winter has finally arrived at Mammoth! They are planning to keep everything open through Easter Sunday, and have announced they will stay open at least through the last Monday in May, so it is looking good for your trip.
You are going to have some AMAZING conditions up there!! Have a GREAT time!!!!
I'll be up at Mammoth this coming weekend, after the one or two storms scheduled to hit this week. (Doesn't look like I'll get freshies, though) I'll report on conditions. What kind of runs does your family prefer? Groomers on the upper mountain, particularly Chair 3 and Chair 5 likely will hold up well through your stated dates. Steeps should also probably be pretty good, but its hard to say, particularly if no more snow falls and the sun comes out in earnest. Don't know what ski school will be up to, but I could inquire while I'm up there if you'd like. I'll also try to get some sense of when they plan to curtail lift operations at Canyon and Eagle (Chairs 16 and 15).
I teach out of Eagle Lodge. Things were sparse a few days ago, but after about 15" last night at Eagle Lodge(more higher on the mountain), things are epic-best skiing all year. Canyon and Eagle Lodges are scheduled to stay open until 20 April, snow permitting. After that Main Lodge should be open until Memorial Day, the end of May. Most of the Tahoe areas will probably shut down the end of April, so Mammoth is your only option, but a good one. There are some good day trips for a change of scenery, such as Death Valley, Mt, Whitney, Scotty's Castle, Bodie Ghost Town. There are also hot springs in the area to soak your tired bodies in at the end of the day. Have a safe journey.
Thanks. Good to hear from somewhere who is up there. And thanks for the tips on where to go and what to do. I was never worried that we wouldn't find pleasant activities as we have never been to that part of the US before. If there really was no snow I was going to console myself that we would get to drive via Tioga Pass (?) to San Francisco since it would be open.
If you are finished teaching by 18 April then my husband is looking for someone to ski with. Happy to host you if you ever come down to New Zealand or Australia as we have two homes down here. Kids and I will be doing some privates as the ski school group lessons are finished by then. If you are looking for bookings through end of April give me you details by PM as I am about to ring through and make the bookings with the ski school. The group is me and our three children 14, 12 and 10, all stoic sensible skiers.
Andrew is 50, fit, quietly considered guy and started skiing when the eldest was 5. He likes the groomers but has done a lot of intensive ski drilling so I think his form is quite good. He had the opportunity to ski with a friend for about 20 days over two years who is a professional instructor. He is geographically challenged though and can't follow a trail map to save his life and wouldn't mind some company while the kids and I are off learning. He will take some privates as well, just not in our group and probably not as many.
If you know of anyone who would like to make contact with someone from down under who could guide / ski host or is part of a group that will be skiing and want another memeber.. Then I am all ears.
You really must plan a day trip to Mono Lake, which is not even an hour north (maybe 30 minutes? It's close.) Don't just go to the visitor's center, hit up the crater areas and the south shore of the lake where you can hike around the shore. It is other-worldly. Bode, the ghost town, is incredibly cool and is like living history in that the buildings and their contents are virtually untouched since they were abandoned. But the road up there is pretty rough, and depending on snowpack, might not even be open. The eastern Sierra area is one of my favorites anywhere! Enjoy the whole experience :D And don't count on Tioga pass being open by then. Not with the amount of snow that has fallen.
Hi, thought I would update you all on how the trip went. Don't arrive at LAX on the Easter weekend without a preferred pick up of your hire car, the lines were HUGE. We got out of LAX and stayed in Palmdale and had a very nice evening and rest, went to a buffett where kids were 99c and only one adult ate so our entire dinner for 4 was $13!
Drove the next day to Mammoth, got the ski's from the ski renter, booked into the condo, picked up our courier from levelninesports.com (all new helmets) and took at look at the skiing at main lodge.
We did lessons for most of the two weeks on and off and had a great time with all the instructors. The children tried snow boarding at the end for 3 days, by which time we felt like we were the only people in Mammoth. One big dump of snow which was much needed 5 days into the trip around 2 feet maybe a little more. Skiing was icy in the morning, softened up around 9:30am and we were done my noon, and off down to town for walking and playing at the newly reopened athletic club. $220 for unlimited access for a family for one month. They have converted some of the racquet ball courts to exercise rooms and 2 are now trampoline pits for the free style skiers. Enjoyed all they had to offer, the classes, basketball, swimming, hot pool.
Husband had a few really good sports massages with Rachel there.
We left on 2 May, the Tioga Pass had opened - 2 weeks earlier than forecast - and we drove from Mammoth to Palm Springs and then onto LAX. Enjoyed the drive through the dessert both ways.
We bought MVP passes which allowed us to ski the end of this season and we can now ski all of the 2014/2015 season so holiday plans are afoot for a winter trip or earlier spring trip. Will be watching the mammothsnowman.com for the weather report come November.
Thanks to all who have us advice on what to do and where to go. It was much appreciated and we really really liked Mammoth and the folk we met up there and look forward to getting back there.
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