By Hans Ludwig
MAMMOTH, Calif.—March 24. Getting deep here. Too deep if anything. I started writing this update on the 21st, after the first five to eight feet fell in three days. And then it kept snowing. Two days days later, there’s another three to four on the ground and more coming. As I look out the window right now… it’s dumping. In fact, I’m going to take a couple of runs on Chair 22 real quick.
(Wooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooo! Aaaaaarghglegargle! Hahahha!)
Things have gotten to the point where we don’t even have time to ski up the freshies before it all gets buried under feet of new snow. I mean, there’s a few tracks on the hill, but there are whole huge untouched pillows stuffed down there, deep in the strata of a snowpack that’s going geologic under the pressure of its own mass. And other things are getting buried too—the terrain is disappearing, twenty-foot cliffs, trees, chutes, the first floor of every house in town.
It’s easy to get jaded when you live in the snowiest town in the country. You stop keeping track of the numbers, just dig the truck out again and carry on. But it’s starting to get to that point where there’s nowhere to throw the damn snow anymore. And the first part of this little storm cycle was no joke—a hundred inches in 72 hours on the ski hill. Given that maritime snow comes in about double the density of the stuff they get in the Rockies, that’s about half an average season’s snowpack for Vail. Over the weekend.
…and followed up by that much again over the next few days. The grand tally was somewhere well north of 200 inches on the upper mountain in less than a week, and the marketing department has been making noise about some kind of season snowfall record.
But the town of Mammoth just carries on, business as usual. The cat drivers, lift maintenance dudes, and patrollers work their asses off out of sight, and the the tourists don’t even notice that it’s anything special. They’re from SoCal, and as far as they know, all ski towns have buried street signs and lift towers. But if you brought in someone from say, Telluride, they’d have a heart attack. And then they’d pack up their action sandals and move out here to Babylon, never to ski low-tide moguls again.
But you don’t care about that do you, you dirty little powder slut? No, you want to know about the skiing, getting all shacked in the gurgly-deep blower. About the constant refills on 22, how the wind wave on Grizzly is built up into a five-hundred foot long quarterpipe, the roar of slough all around you as you nuke through the choke in Avy 2.5 in a cloud of spin-drift… You want to know about dropping mysto old-growth tree lines on the Sherwins mid-storm, hucking mindlessly off everything in sight, how the nearby peaks are frickin’ fluted like AK and the treewells are bottomless portals to the next plane of existence. But I can’t tell you about it. That’s top secret locals-only stuff.
However, if you help me dig out the snowmobiles and buy me a beer, I bet I could find you an untracked line or two. And since the resort is going to be open until at least the Fourth of July, you’ve still got three months to see for yourself.