Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring skiing on Mammoth Mountain

This past weekend I was in Mammoth Mountain with my brother Urban. We were skiing for a couple of days in fantastic weather. It was sunny and warm, 62-65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 16-18°C. The skiing was beautiful but there was much less snow than usual and due to the warm weather it got a little slush in the afternoons. Of course I got sunburned and dehydrated. I look like Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer and start peeling off skin.

Mammoth Mountain is located in Central California (US) on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, 5.5-6 hours’ drive from Los Angeles. Mammoth has 29 different ski lifts (9 express quads, 2 gondolas) and 150 named trails. This was my third or forth time in Mammoth – it has become somewhat of a tradition with my brother after GDC. Skiing on high altitude is hard work and makes you much more tired than you realize. Mammoth Mountain is over 3,300 m above sea level (the summit of Mammoth Mountain is at 11,053 feet), which is a lot higher than the highest mountain top in Sweden. After a few hours’ skiing, it was good taking a break and kick back in the sun with a beer.

You can view a selection of photos below.

Beer at the Outpost Café

Main Lodge
Grizzlies in the Village

Mammoth seems to be something of a snowboard Mecca but I didn’t see a lot of advanced skiers. The latter probably go to Whistler in Canada or to resorts in Idaho and other states where it’s colder and they have more snow. It was quite cool to watch the crazy snowboarders make 360’s in the Unbound trail jumps and go down the half-pipe.

There was not much happening in Mammoth except for on the slopes. There was no action whatsoever in Mammoth at night so we went to bed early and got up decently early to get the best morning skiing conditions. They have tried to make Mammoth a ‘happening’ ski resort but it does not seem to really take off. There’s a center plaza (the ‘Village’) with shops and restaurants and bars but there are hardly ever any people. I also heard that American Airlines was going to start with commercial flights to the local airport not far from Mammoth, but herds have yet to pick their water hole in Mammoth. The only place where we could get something to eat after 8:00 pm was the Pita Hut (not Pizza Hut!). Two friendly and nice seasonal workers from ‘Down Under’ – cool snowboarder dudes from Australia and New Zealand – fortunately made incredibly good pita wraps.

The drive up and down to Mammoth from Los Angeles goes through hundreds of miles of scarcely vegetated lava land and sandy mountains, in the afternoon light showcasing a rainbow of beautiful, earthy colors that the camera never does justice to (some shots below). You pass a few Indian reservations, numerous poor trailer park homes and small towns called things like Lone Pine and Independence. The bigger town Bishop, located about 45 min drive from Mammoth, has a great sports equipment outlet where you can buy ski and snowboarding clothes – this time of year always on sale. :-)

There’s been very little snow this year – as witnessed by my ski trips both to the Swiss Alps and to Sierra Nevada – so I am hoping my ski trip to the north of Sweden next weekend will prove richer in that department.

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