Mammoth — Mountain layout
This mountain is very, very large. No matter what ability level you
are at, you won’t be shortchanged. First-time visitors should pack a trail map. Seriously. Almost everything goes by number. The mountain is crisscrossed with a network of chairlifts numbered in the order they were built. It makes perfect sense to visitors who grew up with the mountain, but it’s very confusing to the first-time visitor who hears regulars planning their day football-quarterback style, “Take one to three, then back side to 23, down the ridge to 14, then to 13 and lateral to one.” Now that the resort has installed several high-speed lifts and given them names, regulars still refer to the lifts by their former numbers, which makes it even more confusing for the first-time visitor. For the record, Chairs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17 all have names now, and exist only in the memories and automatic brain-recall of Mammoth regulars. Die-hards have been known to attempt a day of skiing the chairlifts in order—a hefty task that requires crisscrossing and careful planning, not to mention hiking.
If you’re with a group, decide where to meet if you get separated. Pick a centrally located chair, rather than McCoy Station or the Main Lodge.
If you come on a weekend, avoid the Main Lodge at the top of the mountain road (unless you’re staying at the slopeside Mammoth Mountain Inn). Tickets are sold (in order as you come up the road) at Little Eagle Lodge next to Juniper Springs Resort, Canyon Lodge, The Roller Coaster lift, Stump Alley Express and the Main Lodge. Little Eagle Lodge and the Canyon Lodge are actually off the main road to the ski area, so ask someone to direct you. To avoid weekend crowds, take Chairs 9, 25, 22, 21, 12, 13 and 14, listed from left to right on the trail map.
First-timers should go to Canyon Lodge or Main Lodge. Those with a little experience also can start at Little Eagle Lodge on the Eagle Express.
Heres a larger, more detailed trail map.
MAMMOTH’S TRAIL MAP PAGES
|Expert, Advanced: Expert yaa-hoo skiers will strike out for the ridge, reachable by the gondola or a series of chairs. From the ridge, any chute or path will open into a wide bowl. Mammoths signature run, a snarling lip of snow called Cornice Bowl, looms large in every experts memory bank. Other runs dropping from the ridge are considered steeper and more treacherous. Reached from the gondola, Hangmans Hollow—Mammoths toughest—is an hourglass-shaped chute hanging from the summit and bordered by wicked rocks. At its narrow part theres space for only one turn—a perfect one. Other expert shots are off Chair 22, and on powder days you can often find untracked or less-tracked snow on the far east Dragons Back off Chair 9, or the far west (hiking access only) Hemlock Ridge above Chair 14. One of the most popular advanced areas is the group of bowls available from Face Lift Express (formerly Chair 3). They
e great warm-up runs for experts, but plan to get here early on weekends. The high-speed lift has helped lessen the formerly outrageous lines (thats our term; one of our favorite Mammoth employees describes it as “healthy”), but it is still busiest on weekend mornings around 9:30 a.m. Midweek, no problem. A slightly less busy alternative is triple-Chair 5, the next chair to the left on the trail map, or Chair 14, to the far right on the map. Chairs 22 and 25, which provide access to Lincoln Mountain and its intermediate runs and advanced chutes, rarely have lines.When you feel like attacking the ridge, head to Daves Run. Off the gondola, traverse the ridge to trail-map left, then drop down when the pitch isn sheer vertical. Daves is still pretty steep, but of the single-black options off the ridge, its usually the least crowded. If you have any doubts, ride the gondola back down to McCoy Station, or take the upper-intermediate ridge trail to more wide-open Scottys or the Chair 14 area.
|Intermediate: The middle part of the mountain is still above treeline, so those at this level have plenty of room to traverse on the single-black runs. Hidden canyons like Lower Dry Creek (off the Face Lift Express) are full of swoops and surprises, and require tighter turns. For long cruising, head to Eagle Express. Other intermediate playgrounds are served by the tree-lined runs from The Roller Coaster and Canyon express quads and Chairs 8, 20 and 21. At the other edge of the area is Chair 12 and the drop over to Chairs 13 and 14.[TOP]
|Beginner, First-timer: If you aren a first-timer, but still practicing turns, the runs near Canyon Lodge are best. Trails such as Hansel and Gretel weave gently through evergreens, providing sheltered slopes for learning, away from the speed demons. When you
e ready for the next step, Christmas Tree, a long run under Eagle Express, is pretty gentle. This part of the mountain gets soupy in the afternoon on warm days, however. If you
e intimidated by crowds, and you
e trying to step up to the intermediate level, avoid Stump Alley and Broadway, both usually packed with speeders.For long mellow cruisers with a view, explore the backside off the Face Lift Express, wander through Dry Creeks canyon and natural gullies, or ride Ricochets open glades.The first-timer slopes are off the Discovery Chair at the Main Lodge and Chair 7 from the Canyon Lodge, separated from the hot shots.