Get a Head Start on Snow Sports
As a high point in the Eastern Sierra range, Mammoth has been the ultimate weekend trip for Californians since the 1950s. This year, the new Transition Park is an addition to Mammoth’s famous Unbound Terrain Parks that promises a skate-park feel. Off the mountain, nighttime tubing will keep families outside after dark.
To access some of Mammoth’s famous challenging blue-black ski and snowboard terrain swiftly, forgo the highly trafficked Canyon parking lot and Canyon Lodge Express chairlift for the Village Gondola and Chair 8. Here, access a pocket of expert runs protected by trees, and Chairs 22 and 25, which each take you higher on the mountain with little to no wait time.
Another shortcut begins across the mountain near Main Lodge with a ride on Discovery Chair. Once at the top of this beginners’ chairlift, drop down behind the ridge as the buzz of Main Lodge is replaced by the quiet purr of a two-man chairlift. The acres of gentle, uncrowded blue runs under Chairs 12, 13 and 14, commonly known as “the backside,” are heaven on a powder day.
If you’re seeking a fast-track to the terrain parks, leave your car at the unmarked turnout near the base of Roller Coaster Express. Within minutes, you could be starting a wall-ride session in the Jibs Galore section or lapping the new 6-acre Transition Park, with bowls, banks, hips, spines and more.
From its parking lot, June Mountain (opening Dec. 12) has the appearance of a steep, daunting and wild mountain; but a deeper look reveals a family-friendly atmosphere with gentle runs, thin crowds and kids’ hot cocoa bonfires. The untamed nature of June Mountain is apparent in large, wide-open bowls, roaming tree-patched runs and a homey, panoramic lodge.
Eating and Drinking
Opened in spring 2015, 53 Kitchen & Cocktails serves one of Mammoth’s more sophisticated breakfasts—think egg dishes dressed up with artisanal bread and cotija cheese, and fresh lemon-infused morning gin cocktails. But if you want to break up the ski day, relax in the chaise lounge chairs at The Mill Café and Canyon Lodge. From there, it’s an easy ride down the Village Gondola to the Mammoth Brewing Co. tasting room and eatery, where winter seasonal brew Fire & Eisbock is offered on tap. Beer aficionados will also want to sample the Deer Beer Brown Ale at the June Lake Brewing tasting room 20 minutes up the highway.
A longtime Mammoth tradition for tasteful high-end dinners, Skadi reinvented its location this summer and reopened in a small building next to The Village at Mammoth. Make reservations to sit at the bar and watch chef Ian Algeröen cook with mountain ingredients like berries, game and foraged mushrooms.
On Dec. 19, Mammoth’s annual free on-mountain Night of Lights event offers fireworks and one of the only winter concerts in California where snow boots aren’t just a fashion statement.
After-hours fun on the slopes will take place Jan. 17, 2016, when Mammoth hosts a two-hour family-oriented Electric Tubing session complete with a disc jockey, glow sticks and disco lights. Mammoth is also set to be the site of the Sprint U.S. Snowboard and Freeski Grand Prix, Jan. 18-24, 2016.
—Written by Dana Nichols