TR - Wild weekend at Mammoth
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Denis - DCSki Supporter 
February 7, 2008
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,340 posts
I skied at Mammoth Feb. 1-3 after attending a business meeting in LA. The meeting is the same week every year and afterward I go to Mammoth and stay and ski with a friend who has a gorgeous second home in the town of Mammoth Lakes. A big Pacific storm was coming in and I drove north through the desert in heavy buffeting winds. Halfway between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes all traffic was stopped and compelled to put on chains or turn back. I bought chains and had them installed by one of the chain jockeys who ply their trade along Rt. 395 in much the same way as wheat harvesters on the great plains in summer. While waiting my turn in line the cell phone rang. It was my son who had just proposed to his girlfriend - who had accepted. \:\) This made me totally uncaring of the price of the chain-up. To proceed into Mammoth Lakes we had to wait to be convoyed by CA highway Patrol at 15 mph in snow blowing along the ground such that visibility was not even 50 feet much of the time.

It was very windy all weekend, but less so on the first day. The upper mountain lifts never opened. Heavy wind buffed powder had blown into any halfway sheltered slope and skiing it was a blast. Day two was colder and windier. We had to hold our hands over our goggled faces to keep from freezing while riding up in chairs that were blown backward from their normal vertical suspension angle. However I got to ski with this guy,

The wind got steadily wilder all day. For last run I went back to where the good windbuff had been the day before and encountered foot high satrugi in whiteout conditions and got beaten up a bit.

That night (2/2) the peak of the storm hit. The wind roared all night. In the morning we learned that the mountain was closed and 395, the only road back to LA for my flight home the next day was also closed. Wind at the main base lodge was a steady 50 gusting to 90 mph. On the Sierra Crest it was well over 100. 2-3 feet of new snow had fallen in 24 hrs. We settled on cross country in a park a mere 1/4 mile from the center of town. It was the most beautiful day of XC skiing I've ever had. The trees in the high Sierra are giants, 150 feet tall with 4 foot diameter trunks. They baffle the wind down to almost nothing and stand there in stately silence as you glide through the forest. It was a religious experience.

All too soon the storm passed, the road opened, and I had to come home.
February 7, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,271 posts
.. sounds lovely - just the series of events that would make me consider selling everything,buying a 50 ' sloop and heading for the islands never to return.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter 
February 7, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,110 posts
Sound wonderful, but skiing usually does not mix with a 50' sloop and living in the islands. Well, maybe Whistler, or Seattle, or ???
The Colonel \:\)
JimK - DCSki Columnist
February 8, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts
When you enter big mtns in winter anything goes. The unexpected X-C day sounds great. I hiked around Sequoia Nat'l Park once (about 60-70 air miles from Mammoth). It was a mtn-forest environment unlike anything us flatlanders can imagine.

Denis - DCSki Supporter 
February 8, 2008
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,340 posts
 Originally Posted By: JimK
When you enter big mtns in winter anything goes.

That's why I love it so.
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