By Eric Meyers
Mammoth Mountain has long been the standard of supreme shredding on the West Coast, always landing at or near the top of each season's lists of the best terrain. Last winter, Mammoth broke snowfall records left and right and the chair didn't stop spinning until the Fourth of July. And while some resorts might want to sit back and relax after such a long season, Mammoth continued their pursuit of progression this summer, getting busy with a whole a variety of improvements all over the mountain.
In the Unbound Terrain Park, the all-star team of all-things-snow has been hard at work all summer welding up a batch of new features for the return of the Art Park, which this season will feature the work of Jamie Lynn. Some of the new features, from sponsors like Oakley and Monster Energy, are already open to the public in Main Park, which is loaded up with 14 rails and boxes and three jumps--one of which being a centerpiece booter measuring nearly 45 feet.
The rails at Mammoth this year are also sporting a new blue and gray look to replace the old and outdated pink. "We feel there has been a shift in the action sports community, from having a rebellious spirit to a more self-aware, creative, and inspired outlook," said the artists behind the new design, the Humble Giants. "When looking across the hill at one of the parks, the rails share the organic, natural textures of the local surroundings, with the base color acting as negative space, working with, not against the snow.”
The most significant summer project the crew undertook was a complete overhaul of the dirtwork that provides the foundation for both the 22 and 18-foot superpipes. This improvement directly affects several areas of the park, because it now takes far less snow to build the pipes, meaning they can open earlier without stealing snow from the jumps. The direct result of this effort is that the 22-foot halfpipe at Mammoth was open by Thanksgiving, at a time when many other resorts were just firing up their lifts for the first time.
"Our team's goal is to get it open, have the first pipe, and get back to the way we used to have it with first pipe in the country every year," said Mammoth Unbound Halfpipe Supervisor William Ganley, as he made the last few pushes on the first wall.
It's also going to be easier to get there this year, as Mammoth/Yosemite airport expands flight service to include routes from San Diego and Orange County while continuing service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. These flights all take less than ninety minutes, leaving you with more time on the snow and less time on the road.
Another improvement to chairlift operations appears on the upper mountain, where there will be a shiny new high-speed quad opening in early December that will replace the old fixed-grip chair 5. Now you'll be able to get up into the pow-day playground of Upper Dry Creek in half the time.