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Update from Mammoth Mountain

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well things have changed just a little... Pray for 10 Feet overnight!

Click here for The Eastern Sierra Video Snow Report

post #2 of 24

Jonesing for Mammoth Pow

Thanks for the pic; I've been checking the snow report and howard sheckter's weather page daily looking for some reason to take off of work to head up to mammoth. It gets the blood pumping.
post #3 of 24
I might be in LA in mid Dec. and the last two years I've driven up to Mammoth for a couple of days of skiing after my meetings. I'm no expert on Mammoth , but being there a couple of times has made the impression on me, unless the area has received at least 150 in. of snow, the skiing will be pretty spotty from the top to mid mountain. Rock skis needed for sure.

A couple of years ago, I skied the first week of Oct. right after the bid Halloween storms and had a blast. Last year I was out over President's day when it was like -10F in the morning and the skiing was just OK.

Coming from Pa. its a little bit of an effort to make the round trip up and back to Mammoth taging it on the back end of a business trip. Does anybody have a "rule of thumb" how much snow Mammoth needs to offer decent skiing on the top of the mountain. The couple of times I've been there, I've stopped at FootLoose Sports to get my skis repaired before heading home. I hope you guys get dumped on this year, last year had to be the worst. I think its really a great ski area.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
One thing about Mammoth there will always be rocks. My worst base damage has always happened when we had a 20 foot base!
post #5 of 24
That's not a grassy meadow then covered with snow at the top of Chair 23!
post #6 of 24
If I am coming from the Bay area - wouldn't 108 thru sonora OR Hwy 4 thru arnold be faster then taking hwy 88 or hwy 50.
post #7 of 24
Roundturns, 3-5 feet. But expect to stay in the wide open bowls which will not be wide open. Some of the narrower runs do get a decent amount of blow-in.
Arty, those routes are all closed in the winter. Be glad you asked now!
post #8 of 24

Mapping that knows winter exists

The main mapping sites dont seem to know that some roads close in the
winter. The boring old American Automobile Assoc has gotten it right, and
created a mapping site (a "virtual triptik") that does much better than
Google or Mapquest in this regard.

One other nice thing is it has ski areas in a pull-down menu on the choices
of destination, so you don't have to blunder around looking for a street
address for your favorite hill.

The directions include a seasonal clousure note, where applicable, which
clicks thru to a closure map. For example, here is the one for the passes
in question:
post #9 of 24
Always check the road conditions from CalTrans before going

SR 120 Tioga Pass Yosemite
SR 108 Sonora Pass
SR 4, Ebbitts Pass
SR 89 Markleyville / Monitor Pass
SR 88 Carson Pass
US 50 Echo Summit
207 Kingsbury Grade
US 395
I-80 Donner Summit

Closures can occur at any time on these roads this time of year with full seasonal closures on 120, 108, 4, and 89. SR 108 is very narrow steep and is the highest and first to close. The park may close Tioga Pass even if there is no snow, and they charge park admission of $20 to cross.
post #10 of 24
I never understood why Mammoth does not create a relationship with the state of CA for winter maintenance on 108. It would open Mammoth to the SF market and shave 1hr+ from the trip.

(I understand Yosemite -though closer/faster route - has many other issues to be viable (worse road, fed park regulations, etc))

It seems like an easier solution $ than spending $$$ on the airport.
post #11 of 24
Interesting idea Chris. For a Bay area driver, the winter route over 88 to Minden is 334 miles. If Monitor pass could be opened, that cuts off only 12 miles, so, that plan is a loser. Traveling by SR 4 is a 319 mile trip, a savings of 15 miles, but millions in snow clearing costs. The 282 mile trip over SR 108 saves 52 miles, but probably only a half hour of time at best. Even in summer parts of that road are 25 - 30 MPH and the number of avalanche paths crossing the road are almost uncountable. The idea of descending the Nevada side in winter will turn your hair white! The trip over Tioga Pass saves 71 miles. It will never happen due to park restrictions, not to mention avalanche hazard.

It turns out, Carson Pass might be a faster route at any time of year due to much faster speeds, availability of services and cost-effectiveness. If 108 was anything but a goat path on the East side of the divide, it might be a consideration, but that road can't carry commercial traffic because it doens't have 12 foot lane widths, some of it isn't even painted, no guardrails and multiple hairpins. Its great on a motorcycle in summer though.
post #12 of 24
Ok. I've never been past Bear Valley or Dodge Ridge to see the eastern side of these roads. The west sides are decent/fast for 2-laners, but it's the backside to worry about....makes sense topography-wise.
post #13 of 24
120 or 108 winter access would just make for even more weekend overcrowding, and probably not help midweek biz. Mammoth already does over 20,000 a day on a busy weekend, and it's not pretty. I don't see many destination skiers driving from Sac or the Bay area when Tahoe/Kirkwood has lots of quality skiing. Of course, plowing either road would be serious $$$ and very dangerous. But mid winter BC access... Pure heaven. Too bad TPR is closed this winter.
post #14 of 24
Originally Posted by chrisc View Post
Ok. I've never been past Bear Valley or Dodge Ridge to see the eastern side of these roads. The west sides are decent/fast for 2-laners, but it's the backside to worry about....makes sense topography-wise.
Definitely a great road trip...Carson pass, Markleyville, Monitor Pass to Walker Burgers at lunch, then climb out of the high desert past the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center, into the gnarly hairpins to the Sonora Pass summit, and take 60 miles of sweepers along Dead Man Creek to Sonora. Wow.

The BC lines along the highway at Leavitt Peak and Dardanalles are legendary but only skied in spring unless you have a snowmobile.
post #15 of 24
Hate to burst any bubbles, but I just got home from Mammoth and the scene looks a little different today than the first photo above. One run, broadway, is open and it has not been cold enough at night to blow anymore snow than the photo and sadly it is melting each day that goes by. Thanksgiving may not happen unless there is a quick change in the weather.

It was white and slippery and I enjoyed myself, so I guess it was all good!
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
lol 3-12 inch base.. hard pack early, soft for mid day... and I am goin fishin!
post #17 of 24
So sad. We had to drive to CO again and it is not expected to be marvelous here either. Storms are predicted for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Think Snow, everyone.
post #18 of 24
The 3-5 feet Miles quoted is not a bad rule of thumb. In general Mammoth is not bad skiing on a modest base because:
1) The lower mountain trails are mostly intermediate and don't need that much.
2) The upper mountain often gets blown-in snow.

The latter point is highly variable, depending upon wind direction during storms. If it comes from the NW Minaret Pass side, the Wipe Out side of 23 will get wind-stripped but there will be extra deposition east of the gondola, and vice versa with winds from the SW Mammoth Pass side.

In December 2 years ago I was up there with only 53 inches of reported snowfall and pleasantly surprised to see Dave's, Cornice and Scotty's wide open, and Drop Out and Climax more constrained but with excellent snow.

Last year the wind was was not its usual friend to Mammoth's upper mountain skiing. Before February all the storms were small, and generally followed by upslope winds that stripped everything up top. Last January was one of the very few times in 30 years that I've sustained much rock damage skiing at Mammoth.
post #19 of 24
Tony, You are right! and the cornice bowl and the face and back of chair three is looking like it only needs a bit more natural to open! The wind has filled in the gullies nicely and they have rolled the back of three. So the good news is, a little favorable change in the temeratures or a couple foot dump and the whole picture will shape up!

Up here in Tahoe, the only resort, Boreal, who had opened one run has closed pending colder temps. Forecast for today is 68 in Reno just one degree off record high. Bummer. Middle of next week looks promising but our Thanksgiving hopes are dwindling...

I predict a drastic change in the weather opening all the resorts with a 4' dump!!! I can dream...
post #20 of 24
I have no illusions about current conditions at Mammoth with all of 6 inches snowfall in November. The October natural snow was early and is long gone, as at most western U.S. areas.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
The October snow is still here Tony... Looking out my front window the peaks have been white for weeks!
post #22 of 24
Skied Wooly over Thanksgiving. It finally got cold enough to blow snow--a couple of days they were able to blow during the day. Backside of three, Fascination, Broadway, some hits in the park. When we left they were blowing Stump and Cornice. The conditions were surprisingly good, and not too many people were there. While it's not like it was two years ago on Thanksgiving when the entire mountain was open, it was lots of fun and we're itching to go back!! (Next trip Dec. 8th/9th.)
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Lots of fresh man made... darn I wish it would snow for real. O well!
post #24 of 24
Originally Posted by mammothsnowman View Post
Lots of fresh man made... darn I wish it would snow for real. O well!
Snowman, nice video from yesterday.
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