48-HOURS IN MAMMOTH
20th November 2017 | James Cove, Mammoth Mountain
Last modified on January 3rd, 2020
PlanetSKI is starting its winter in the US resort with the most terrain open. And rather good it is too! UPDATED
Step forward Mammoth Mountain in California.
And it is already living up to its reputation for snow.
After a 2-day storm last week it has a claimed base of 1.5m at the top and there is skiing all the way down to resort level where 60cm fell.
But more importantly this is my first ski trip of the 2017/18 season.
It’s a resort I have never visited and I have just two days to acquaint myself with it.
Can it be done?
Some might think it is a long way to come for a couple of days skiing.
But I’ve done what everyone European should do if they come to this neck of the woods – tie it in to a decent stay in Los Angeles which is the gateway airport.
I have never had to pack three different types of shoe for my first ski trip of the winter – in LA it was golf and the beach.
See here for my earlier blog from Los Angeles.
And the 5-hour drive up from LA through the Mojave desert is not the traditional approach to a ski resort.
In an ideal world more time would be good and also a visit to the nearby resorts of Big Bear and June…. but that will have to wait for another day.
So, first impressions?
Very favourable and in no small part to this man, Justin Romano, who is the snow reporter for the resort.
He is my first ski buddy of the winter and took time out to whizz me round the slopes so I could make the most of my short time here.
Justin was bursting with snow stats:
Last season saw 15.7m of snow in Mammoth – its second snowiest winter ever.
And January 2017 saw 6.24m – the most its ever had in a single month and more than most resorts see in an entire season.
The resort closed in August and some snow remained through the whole summer for the first time in living memory.
“It’s hard to say if we will get the same levels of snow this season, but what we do know is this is the best late November conditions for Thanksgiving in many years and last winter I never saw so much snow in my entire life,” said Justin.
“Fingers crossed we’ll do it all over again!”
And he should know as he is the resort’s snow reporter after all.
However it isn’t always like this – the resort averages 10m of snow each winter but in the barren season of 2015/16 it had ‘just’ 4.4m of snowfall.
And the views across this part of California from Mammoth Mountain are little short of stunning.
Some don’t need words:
Mammoth is not a Vail or Aspen – if you want to be pampered and mix with the international ski jet-set then head to Colorado.
If you want the steepest terrain then its Jackson Hole, Alta and Snowbird in my opinion.
But if you want a genuine all-round resort with something for everyone – backcountry junkies, lovers of the steeps, through to advanced skiing and intermediate crusing then Mammoth has it.
I am scratching my head trying to think a better US resort in its category and nothing springs to mind that i have skied.
Mammoth comes in at a better price, in US terms, and has a more than decent-size ski area.
Not, er, mammoth by European standards (it’s about 1/6th the size of Val d’Isere/Tignes) but big by North American standards with 3,500 acres.
At the moment it has 1,000 acres open and is running 12 of its 28 lifts with 69 runs open – that is currently the most of any resort in the USA.
It also has some of the best current snow conditions in the USA, though the powder off piste is heavy as it has warmed up since last week’s storm.
Seems I’ve lucked out on my choice of where to start my ski season on 2017/18.
Like so many North American resorts the restaurants are somewhat characterless and many resemble canteens, but The Mill at the bottom of the Gold Rush Express lift is a good choice.
The lodging at Mammoth is split into two areas.
There is the ski resort itself, where I am staying, and then Mammoth Lakes further down the hill.
It is a year round resort and a better place to stay if you want apres ski activities.
But I’m not too bothered about all that on my 2-day whirlwind visit.
It’s my first ski trip of the season and I just want to ski. And then some more.
Ski in/ski out is good for me.
I’m pleased to say on my second, and final day, lunch was a blueberry muffin on the chairlift and I hit the last lift coming down from the top as the sun began to set.
My winter ski season of 2017/18 is now underway and in a resort I’ve wanted to see for years.
Bring it on!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
James travelled to Mammoth with Ski Independence, the leading tailor-made operator to North America
It has been providing holidays to skiers and boarders for 25 years. The current programme features 17 resorts in the USA and 13 in Canada plus a further 33 resorts in Europe.
7-nights at the Mammoth Mountain Inn from £952pp.
Price based on 2 sharing a Hotel Room, with United Airlines flights from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and self-drive Compact car rental.
www.ski-i.com | 0131 243 8097
And if you want a few more pictures of 48-hours in Mammoth then scroll down some more…