Last Monday I took a day off of a business trip in Reno to head to Mammoth Mountain. It was my first "real" trip to a resort outside of West Virginia. The trip was excellent, despite the fact that we only got in a total of about 2 hours of skiing. A two hour weather delay while flying in made for a bad start to the trip. Problem was is that it put us in Reno at 1:15am, an hour and 15 minutes after the car rental place closed. 1 and 1/2 hours after the last shuttle to the hotel. There had to be 100 people waiting in line for 3 taxis so we ended up walking 1 and 1/2 miles to the hotel, luggage in tow, at 2 am (5am our time). I actually woke up ready to go 4 hours later but I was carless. We finally found a rental car at about 8:45. The drive to Mammoth was beautiful. Snow covered mountains the whole way and several high mountain lakes including Lake Mono.
The drive up there seemed warm but by the time we got there it was probably in the 50's, felt much cooler with the 40mph winds. By 12:15 we were finally ready to go. We must have been warned a dozen times that there was no beginner terrain but there was no stoppin' at this point (As you may have realized I'm not the most experience snowboarder). The lift ride up made me start to wonder due to the double diamond running under the lift. Steep, narrow and lot's of bolders. Once we started going there was nothing to worry about though. They had several nice blues and contrary to popular belief, they probably would have been blues in the mid-Atlantic too. The very soft snow made it even easier...soft and loose but not slushy wet. I thought the surface was great. Way better than groomed hard pack in my opinion. They had one high speed quad servicing the lower 1000 ft of vert and another running the upper 2000 ft. I never adventured to the top and neither did many other people. All double diamonds and probably 70mph winds. But the terrain around the lower lift was great. It actually started at about the tree line. The lift took you to a minor peak that allowed you to fan out over terrain in all directions. With just one lift you could ski an area equivelant to the entire basin of Snowshoe...and then some. The ride up was only 4 minutes so I was getting in 5 laps an hour, could have been more but the rental boots were absolutely killing me and I had to stop and take them off 3 times. I spent a lot of time on runs they rated as blue/blacks. Pretty much the same as the blue runs but more narrow and ungroomed. I'd compare them to the steeper sections of Snowbowl at Winterplace only 1/3 the width and 5 times the length (some comparison
The atmosphere was great. Lots of die-hards. I rode the lift with a 70 year old lady that lives up at Tahoe. Skis every day up there and then day trips to Mammoth when they close. Some life. The mountain was being run pretty efficiently by a crew of what seemed like 10 people. They even stayed open an extra 1/2 hour. By the end of two hours I was already getting worn out. Went to Yoedlers pub and had a fish taco (when in Rome...). It was excellent. The only thing better was the Mammoth pale ale I had with it. Great trip. More people should do it.