In case you hadn’t heard, it snowed last weekend. Not in Utah. Not in the Pacific Northwest. But in the Sierra Nevada. Mother Nature finally heard the desperate prayers of hundreds of thousands of Californians and unleashed her fury with torrential rainstorms in the Bay Area last week, which means cold, white goodness in the Sierra Nevada.
POWDER Senior Photographer Christian Pondella took his camera to Mammoth Mountain on Saturday to capture the day after a storm dropped 18 inches. Pondella said conditions were classic for early season at Mammoth. The main lodge was the only base area that was open, and the snow was still a little lean. It was the weekend, which means crowded. Pondella took a few early laps with his wife and his two-year-old son, Blaise, before the lift lines, went home for some lunch and to put the little guy down for a nap, and then came back for a late afternoon session on Chair 23. For those unfamiliar, Mammoth’s Chair 23 is a three-person lift that grants skiers access to the crest of the Sierra Nevada. Hop off the chair and you can dive into steep, beautiful chutes from either side.
“Some of the best early season skiing at Mammoth are these late-afternoon sessions when the wind blows and smooths everything out,” says Pondella. “All the rocks have been exposed and the mountain empties out. It’s dark and shady up there, and Chair 23 spins with nobody on it.”
- Mammoth Mountain has over 5,000 skiable acres and sees 300 days of sunshine. Those are good numbers.
- The top elevation is 11,053 feet, which in the Sierra Nevada means colder, drier snow and more of it.
- A lift ticket on December 22, for example, costs $114. Prices vary.
- Find out more at MammothMountain.com