I recently returned from a long visit to Mammoth Mountain. I had a few different conversations up there about Mammoth’s awesomeness and its comparison to other mountains such as Whistler, Vail, Alta, and Squaw, so I wanted to share my views on Mammoth.
I will start by making the claim that Mammoth is the best – the best terrain, the best lifts, and some of the best conditions. I don’t travel to mountains to party, eat good food, or shop; I travel to mountains to shred. I have one goal in mind: snowboard long and hard. I go to sleep early, I eat home-cooked breakfasts and dinners, and I pack my own lunches (if I’m not lazy at the time). My time spent at mountains is centered around snowboarding, and everything I do outside of snowboarding is focused on recovering from a ridiculous day or getting ready for another sick day. Mammoth is definitely not the best place for nightlife, food, and shopping, but I don’t really care about those aspects. Oh, and I don’t spend any time in the park.
Mammoth has the best terrain of any mountain I’ve ever been to. I don’t know what to do with myself at Mammoth. There are so many ski-able acres of insanely steep alpine, insanely steep and gladed trees, huge and fast groomers, and giant hucks. In one day you can get the best turns of your life through the trees and later go faster than you’ve ever gone down an untracked alpine double-black. In that same day you can launch a giant cliff and point a ridiculously narrow chute. The terrain at Mammoth is unbeatable. No other mountain has the variety, the difficult, and the insanity. No other mountain is as accessible either, which leads me into my next point: lifts.
Mammoth has the best lifts of any mountain I’ve ever been to. If there is a sick run, then there will be a lift going over it. You can make lap after lap on most of the terrain that I just discussed. Chair 22 starts at the bottom of Lincoln mountain and ends at the top. You can make 20 runs down the best tree skiing you’ve ever done in one day on Lincoln mountain. You can also leave Lincoln and 10-15 minutes later be at the steepest alpine you’ve ever done, gondola 2 or chair 23. You can then shred lap after lap on that alpine hill. There are lifts that let you lap the sickest runs, and there are lifts that take you from one sick run to another.
Mammoth has some of the best conditions of any mountain I’ve ever been to. It’s true that the snow in Mammoth is typically heavier than Colorado and Utah snow, but the dumps that hit Mammoth are legendary. I’ve been at Mammoth when they’ve gotten seven feet of snow in one day. I’ve also been there when they’ve gotten over twelve feet of snow in a three-day weekend. The snow is heavier but insanely plentiful. Mammoth is also good at handling these huge dumps. A lot of resorts will shut down with a three-foot dump, but Mammoth won’t. They’ll bomb the alpine slopes and leave the tree sections alone, and they’ll have the mountain ready to go in the morning. A lot of times I will be woken up at 5:00 or 6:00am the morning after a big dump because of the avalanche control. There’s nothing like the sound of bombs going off in the morning.
As you can tell, I love Mammoth. I think it’s the best mountain, but I naturally have a bias. I’ve spent my whole life on Mammoth, so I know it like the back of my hand. I know where to go when the snow is good, and I know where to go when the snow is bad. If you haven’t gone to Mammoth yet and you love the snow, then you should get down there. Unfortunately it’s difficult to get to because there are no nearby airports, but the drives to and from give you lots of time to reflect on the nastiest trip of your life. Oh, and don’t forget to dress like a superstar, because the image-driven Los Angeles crowd will be dressed to kill. (this is actually one of the few annoying things about Mammoth – people are dressed like idiots usually)