Return to Mammoth a very pleasant surprise

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Mammoth Mountain reports record snowfall this year. (Photos courtesy of Mammoth Mountain)

By Richard Irwin, Travel Editor

Every spring, we used to ski at Mammoth Mountain. It became a tradition to hit the slopes near Bishop at the end of the ski season.
We could drive to Mammoth Lakes, lift tickets were reasonable and the ski resort offered a wide variety of terrain.
One year summer arrived early, melting the snowpack and ruining the ski runs. Unfortunately, it also ruined my skis, so I began to look elsewhere for ski week.
Over the next decade, we tried Vail, Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, Alta, Snowbird. All offered unique mountain experiences as well as world class lodging and dining.
We even traveled to other countries, skiing Lake Louise and Sunshine in Calgary, Whistler outside Vancouver and Mt. Tremblant in Quebec.
As our confidence and income grew, so did our ski ambitions. They peaked on trips to Innsbruck in Austria, St. Moritz in Switzerland and Oberstdorf in Germany.
Skiing became a travel adventure, giving us the chance to experience other countries and their cultures.
Then the recession hit.
Furlough Fridays ruined any hopes of farflung ski trips. Like everyone else, we cut back on our vacations.

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Last year, we returned to Lake Tahoe for our winter escape. The snow was deep and the weather mild, giving us a wonderful week of skiing at Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sierra at Tahoe.
After a decade long absence, we thought it might be time to return to Mammoth Mountain, our old stomping grounds.
To keep costs and liftlines down, we picked the week after New Years for our visit. The holiday crowd would be gone and most families would be short of cash because of Christmas.
The week before our trip, Mammoth Mountain received a record 10 feet of snow in four days. In fact, the mountain got 209 inches in December, giving them 22 feet for the season.
At one point, the road from Los Angeles to Mammoth was shutdown. And chains were required in Mammoth Lakes.
We didn’t want to buy new chains for our car. And no one was looking forward to at least a six-hour drive from Los Angeles.
The Audi only gets 25 miles per gallon, so we figured it would cost at least $50 in gas each way. When we discovered that Horizon Airlines was charging only $60 for the flight to Mammoth, we figured flying would be almost as cheap as driving.
The Alaskan Airline affiliate does charge for your skis and snowboards. But we had given up dragging our skis through airports, preferring to take our boots and renting demos.
That way we can try out the latest equipment. And most shops will store your skis at the resort so you don’t have to drag them back and forth.
In fact, that’s exactly what we did. We got our skis at the mountain, then left them at the shop every night. The main Mammoth Mountain Lodge even has new digital storage lockers that allow multi-day rentals.
Select a four-digit code and everyone in your party can all get into the locker throughout the day. With multi-day rentals, we could even leave our ski boots overnight.
After breezing through airport security, we boarded the large turboprop. An hour later, we arrived at Mammoth Mountain. That sure beats the long, boring drive.
Taxis were lined up to take us to the hotels and condos.
I was shocked by how large Mammoth Lakes has grown over the years. Families can rent everything from motel rooms to huge condos.
The Village section reminded me of the many Intrawest ski resorts we have visited over the years. I remember staying at the Mammoth Mountain Inn many years ago. While the rooms are small, the A-frame hotel is right on the slopes.
When we stopped at the lodge later, I was impressed to find the inn has gone from simple rooms to condos and suites.

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Even the lobby, restaurant and bar looked like they had just been renovated with the de riguer antler chandeliers and rustic wood decor.
When I dropped into the gameroom I expected some old arcade games and air hockey tables. Instead, I found five gaming stations with 40-inch flat screen televisions and rocker chairs by AK Designs. Systems include PlayStation2, XBox and Nintendo GameCube, as well as a DVD player. Guess the kids won’t be bored at night.
We wanted more room because we were sharing with friends. Horizon Airlines was offering a special package with Snowcreek Resort, 20 percent off the nightly rate.
Guests also received complimentary access to the Snowcreek Athletic Club. The huge club features the Double Eagle Spa, exercise classes, state of the art fitness equipment, hot tubs and an indoor pool.
The resort throws in free round-trip airport taxi service.
Skiers who prefer to drive could take advantage of other discounts such as the January Midweek Madness, which offered 25 percent off the nightly midweek rate Sunday through Thursday from Jan. 3-27.
The huge condo complex offers a wide variety of accomodations. Prices ranged from $190 for a one-bedroom to a huge four-bedroom with two-car garage for more than $900 a night midweek.
Our beautiful condo could sleep eight easily. And with four and a half bathrooms, everyone was happy.
The red line shuttle allows condo guests access to the ski mountain, though the complex is a half hour away from the main lodge.
Speaking of which, lift tickets cost $234 for a three day adult ticket with their January Midweek Madness sale. That’s a savings of $42 off the regular price.
At the lodge, I saw a sign promoting a midweek pass for the entire month of January for $199. Awesome!
626-962-8811, Ext. 2801

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Safety Week at Mountain High in Wrightwood

Mountain High Ski Resort in Wrightwood. Win some prizes during its daily events and learn how
to be safe on the mountain.

Boarders may also meet Tillman, the snowboarding dog, on
Saturday, Jan. 22. And don’t miss our first annual “Helmets For
Hounds” Hot Dog Eating Contest on Sunday, Jan 23. Click on the Safety
Week link on the home page for more information.

The resort reports that temperatures
dropped last night (31 base, 24 top) so SNOWMAKING HAS
RESUMED and they are now making snow top-to-bottom.

Temps are expected to
hit the low 40s today so operations will cease at some point but be prepared during the evening hours with a beanie,
goggles, and something to warm your face.

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Mammoth Mountain holds Big Snow Bash

was a record breaking month – over 17 feet of snow at Mammoth Mountain. The mountain’s skiing and riding conditions are great, so celebrate the milestone with snowman villages, aprs parties, drink
and food specials and giveaways!


Snowman Villages:

To celebrate the world’s most snow, Mammoth is building snowman
villages at each of its base lodges (Eagle Lodge, Canyon Lodge +
Main Lodge).  Feel like you could build an epic snowman? 
Stop by on Friday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to
2 p.m. to be a part of the fun.  Participating guests will
receive a “Big Snow Bash” T-shirt and an opportunity to win some
great prizes.

Drink Specials:

Ever drank a snowy sailor?  Here’s your chance to try this
delicious concoction of Sailor Jerry + Frangelico + Cream. 
Just stop into Tusks Bar, Steeps Bar, Dry Creek Bar, The Yodler,
The Mill, Grizzly Bar or Talons Bar for that much needed aprs

Food Specials:

Our state-of-the-art snowcat keeps delivering up tasty mountain
eats.  When you visit Roving Mammoth this weekend, you’ll get
a yummy burrito for only $3.


Come into Hyde
Lounge on Saturday night for the Big Snow Bash White Out
Party!  Put your white party hat on and dance the night away
to DJ Rockwell and drink specials.

Get the latest insider alert on Big Snow Bash giveaways at MY
Mammoth or text MYMAMMOTH to 20123 to start receiving insider

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Mammoth Mountain offers record snowfall

Photo by Marlene Greer, Correspondent

A snowboarder cruises Upper Road Runner, a smooth groomed trail along the ridge line at Mammoth Mountain.

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent
“I’ve never seen snow like this,” said an East Coast native on his first ski trip to Mammoth.
“The snow is incredible,” added an Australian couple on a three week ski holiday to America.
“With this snowpack, we’re going to be skiing in July,” declared a Southern California regular, who described himself as a diehard Mammoth ski fanatic.
December’s record snowfall at Mammoth Mountain, more than 10 feet in four days, followed by another 3 feet one week later, made for some fabulous skiing the first week of January.
For Dave from New Jersey, it was his first time skiing at Mammoth, and he was awestruck at the amount of snow.

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“It’s not comparable” to any other place I’ve been, said the blond 30-something, self-employed entrepreneur.
Overall, 209 inches of snow dropped on Mammoth Mountain in December, setting the record for the most snowfall in any December at the mountain and the most snowfall (22 feet) in a season to date.
According to Bob Sebald, our mountain guide on a sunny Wednesday after New Year, it took the ski resort and town three days to dig out from all that snow.
And the work continues. He pointed out a dump truck full of snow and explained that the resort was filling the trucks with excess snow and dumping it offsite a few miles away.
All that snow brought large crowds to Mammoth over the holidays. From Dec. 27 to 31, the mountain averaged 18,000 skier visits per day with a high of 21,227 on Dec. 30.
But by the first week of January, the aprs-holiday slopes were feeling deserted. Skier visits per day dropped to an average of 9,400.

Photo by Marlene Greer, Correspondent

A couple times, I was amazed to find myself the sole skier on a perfect, packed-powder run. And the most I waited in a lift line was five minutes.
One of the downsides of Mammoth has always been its crowds. Eighty-five percent of skiers at Mammoth are from Southern California, and most of them drive up on the weekends.
Weekends are always busy at Mammoth. You will have a much more enjoyable experience — and pay less — if you plan your trip for Monday through Thursday.
That was certainly true midweek after the New Year. With few people on the slopes, the sun shining, no wind and 40-degree temperatures, John and Gigi, a young couple from Las Vegas, called it “the perfect week for skiing.”
The skiers, rock climbers and all-around outdoor enthusiasts make the drive to Mammoth once a season. He hits the hard stuff — Hangman’s Hollow, Wipeout Chutes and Cornice Bowl — while she prefers the more mellow groomers.
“He has a lot more testosterone,” the petite brunette said.
Finding something you like is easy at Mammoth. The mountain definitely lives up to its name. From its 11,000-foot-high summit, skiers and boarders can drop down all sides into a maze of intermediate, advanced and expert terrain. The few areas for beginners are mid-mountain and lower.
Guy, the 60-something Mammoth fanatic, likes to slice and dice through the trees.
“My favorite place is off Chair 8. Not too many people know about it,” the retiree said.
A Mammoth season pass holder “from the beginning,” Guy frequently makes the five-hour drive from Orange County by himself.
“I’m a diehard. I get up at 2:30 in the morning and drive to Mammoth. I get here about 7, and I’m first in line.”
Joe, who made the seven-hour drive from San Diego with friends, was on his fourth day of skiing at Mammoth when he found his perfect spot.
“The first day, I took every lift just to get a feel for the mountain,” he said. “The second day, I did the Cornice, the Wall and everything on that side. The third day, I stayed at Chair 25 and loved it. So that’s all I’m doing today. There’s runs going everywhere and the pitch is great.”
Joe bought a two-year season pass and was planning on getting his money’s worth in one trip.
“In a couple hours, I’ll break even. After that, it’s all gravy.”
And with December’s mega storm, a base of 10 to 17 feet and three months remaining in the season, he just might be enjoying that gravy in July.

Marlene Greer is a La Verne based freelance writer. Contact her at

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Bear Mountain reports 8 inches of new snow

Laura at Bear Mountain Ski Resort reports that the first storm of the season left 6-8 of fresh snow. More snow is in the forecast for today and then they expect expect a few days of sunshine riding. 

Bear has more than 80 features, a
chance of more fresh snow on the way and excellent
mid-winter condition.

We recommend using Hwy 38- (through Redlands) or Hwy 18 (the back way through Lucerne Valley).
Hwy 18 thru Lucerne and Hwy 38 thru Redlands are OPEN with CHAINS
required on all vehicles except 4WD and AWD vehicles with snow tires.

Hwy 330 is closed below Running Springs. There is a detour through
Lake Arrowhead with chains required on all vehicles except 4WD and AWD
vehicles with snow tires, however this route is much longer and not
recommended.  All vehicles must always carry chains when traveling in
the mountains during winter months.

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