Well, I ain’t gonna lie… it wasn't pretty. Yet, before I go any further, I would like to say that any day I’m on skis is a good day. But this does not necessarily address the current state of conditions, now does it? Unofficial Mammoth Conditions Report | Wind, Snowguns & a Broken Femur… Oh My! | Unofficial Networks

Unofficial Mammoth Conditions Report | Wind, Snowguns & a Broken Femur… Oh My!

Ski and snowboard park in California

Unofficial Mammoth Conditions Report | Wind, Snowguns & a Broken Femur… Oh My!

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Unofficial Mammoth Conditions Report | Wind, Snowguns & a Broken Femur… Oh My!

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Skiing and snowboarding in California

Snow guns take to Solitude. Definitely some good turns to be had here; some sketchy spots too.

Well, I ain’t gonna lie… it wasn’t pretty. Yet, before I go any further, I would like to say that any day I’m on skis is a good day. But this does not necessarily address the current state of conditions, now does it? Flat out, today had it’s moments, yet in many regards the conditions were sub-par. The primary culprit: the Wind. Through the past 48 hours we’ve seen a rather heavy dose of it, with gusts on ridgetops exceeding 80 mph. Granted, a healthy West/South-Westerly wind can at times bring absolute glory to the slopes of Mammoth, aka Wind-Buff. Yet, at present there’s a problem: with little to no snow coverage on the slopes (and lots of exposed pumice), the wind is stripping snow away rather than cycling and churning it about. Alternatively, there are a few “spots” around the Mountain that have still benefitted from the Wind, providing a handful of great turns and momentary bliss.

Yet, lift that chin up, for there is most certainly a silver-lining to all this Wind talk. 1) The Wind has brought with it an arctic chill, which has resulted in full-day operation of snow guns – always a plus. 2) Strong prevailing winds (as we are seeing now) are a tell-tale sign of “weather” to come. If you haven’t been paying attention, yes, it would certainly appear as though we’ll be seeing precipitation for the first time in nearly 2 months.

storm map for sierra

Great visual explanation of this week's impending weather event, courtesy of NOAA.gov

Anyone remember the Unofficial Mammoth Conditions Report from January 2nd? My Gut spoke to me loud and clear and it appears that it wasn’t just blowing smoke (note the Comments at the bottom of the post too). Either way, the Mountain has already begun spouting off claims of “8+ feet of snow Thursday through Sunday.” My Gut says, “that’s overzealous; we should be stoked to see accumulation in the range of 2-3 feet by the end of Sunday.”

There you have it, the Gut has spoken. Any way about it, the impending storm has certainly generated a buzz about town these days – let’s just be sure to not set ourselves up for a buzz-kill. Now, get back to dancing… it’s working!

snow gun

Cold Smoke. Look closely... see the controlled burn in the background? This is a great indicator of impending weather - the USFS usually does this before a storm.

THE CONDITIONS

The PROS:

  • Blue skies and cold temps – it’s enjoyable as long as you come prepared w/ the right gear.
  • The Mountain is like a ghost town right now – it’s like having a massive amusement park all to yourself.
  • Lots of runs open; all base areas still in full swing.
  • Riding in zones where snow guns are in operation can make for some nice “fresh” turns (that is if you can zone-out the jet-engine like roar of the guns).
  • There are still a few zones benefitting from the wind effect: much of Stump Alley, mid-section of Solitude, and mid-section of Saddle Bowl, to name a few.
Snow making pond at McCoy Station.

Looks as though that storm's coming in the nick-of-time.

The CONS:

  • Wind scouring has resulted in many zones of “Hard and Fast” conditions.
  • Attack of the Pumice Monster! It has gotten pretty bad in a lot of spots out there: free base grinds, if you know what I mean – it’s pretty much unavoidable.
  • Snow guns may have been on a bit late into the day around Juniper (lower elevation, warmer temps). The snow whales there were more like ice whales – once groomed up this often results in a bounty of death cookies.
  • Patrol eventually shut-down Cornice Bowl (the only way off the top). Reportedly one guest took a fall there earlier resulting in a cracked helmet; another guest’s accident there resulted in a broken femur. Yikes!
ski snowboard warning signs.

Story of the day.

Skiing and snowboarding in California.

The Marines, tougher than you. They're not scared of the little itty-bitty pumice. The snow on the upper-section of Saddle Bowl was great today, perhaps reeping the benefit of snow being stripped off of Cornice.

PARK REPORT:

  • Same as the rest of the mountain: hard and fast.
  • Early in the day wind was making the jumps a bit too unpredictable; by mid-afternoon winds had weakened, jumpers returned.
  • Main Park is seeing some serious accumulation of man-made snow once again. What do they have in mind?
  • Wonderland Park (intro level features near Canyon Lodge) was the place to be on a windy day like this: 6 mini table jumps, 2 hips and 3 boxes.
Ski and snowboard park in California

Mammoth's Main Park, under siege.

Freeride skiing and snowboarding in California.

Wonderland Park by Canyon Lodge - good times in small doses.

The STATS:

  • New Snow: Not yet… soon?
  • Base: 1′-3′
  • Weather: Temps look to be trending back up slightly yet will hopefully be cool enough at higher elevations to bring the desired type of precip. It would also appear as though wind will continue to be a factor through the week.
  • Conditions: Man-made (w/ a blend of pumice), groomed daily.
  • Lifts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 25 (not operating today) and Panorama Gondi (top closed when they pulled the plug on Cornice today at 1:30pm), Village Gondi.
  • 400 acres open – down from 460.
  • Runs: Sesame Street, East and West | St. Moritz | Broadway | Mambo | Silver Tip | Stump Alley | Powder Bowl | Ralphies | Saddle Bowl | Andy’s Double Gold | Cornice Bowl (closed today at approx. 1:30pm) | Fascination | Wall | Easy Rider | Rollercoaster | Swell | Pumpkin | Bridges | Lower Sleepy Hollow | Downhill | Cloverleaf | Chickadee | Holiday | Festival | South Park | Main Park | Forest Trail Park | Lupin | Avalanche | Ski-School yards at Main, Canyon & Juniper | World Cup (closed today, worked-over by the Wind) | Little Bird | Round About | Round Robin | Solitude | Over Easy | Center Bowl | Patrolman’s | China Bowl (yes, this is open, but just one short section that connects you from Chair 5 to the Face of 3)

Bottom line: My motto – if you’re not having fun, you’re not trying hard enough. The burning question though… how much fun will Mother Nature bring to the party this week-end?

GoPro clip of run down Solitude. Does this help tell the story of the day?

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