Mammoth is a good place to learn to ski, with the ski school boasting a long-standing reputation for its high standards. Special discounted packages for first timers are available that combine lift ticket, rentals and tuition and you can sign up for classes by the day to suit.
There are a number of easy areas with green circle (easiest) runs served by easy-to-ride chair and gondola lifts. Closest to the base lodge is the Discovery chair which just serves two beginner runs. The Panorama gondola serves longer greens and easy blues that are good to progress on to, and there are easy runs right across the mountain and near to the other bases. Mammoth also has a reputation for its grooming quality, helping to ensure a smooth ride.
A snowy paradise for intermediates, there are more than 100 easy and intermediate runs around the mountain, up to 4.8km (three miles) long. To get to the start of each of them there’s a high speed lift network that has been voted the best in the US (the lift count includes nine high speed quads, two high speed six-seat chairs and three high speed gondolas). Mammoth’s terrain is so wide open it doesn’t really name trails, only lifts, and it has added a few categories of steepness including ‘blue black’ for good intermediates. There’s a big range of runs above and below the treeline including open powder bowls and lovely trails through the trees.
Mammoth has all the bases covered for advanced skiers. The top part of the mountain is nearly all steep terrain with some fearsome chutes rated among the toughest in North America. The resort also has a long-standing reputation for race training and at one point most of the US ski team had come through Mammoth. Then there’s the off-piste potential in the deep powder.
The ski school runs special one to three day camps to take you to the best terrain and help you perform better on it. These include advanced, mogul and park and pipe camps.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Mammoth is one of the world’s top boarding destinations. It’s a natural fit for the sport with it’s deep powder for freeriding, fast, easy-to-ride uplift ad perhaps, most crucially, that west coast boarding vibe that all the other top resorts in the world that are not in Califonia can’t truly offer!
Terrain parks are especially big at Mammoth, which has no less than seven of them, along with three pipes, a tally matched by almost no other resort on earth. Mammoth’s abundant snow and long season means it can create those terrain features earlier in the autumn or winter than most resorts too, and that they keep operating through winter, spring and sometimes in to the summer.
The multi-award winning parks are known as the Unbound Terrain Parks at Mammoth Mountain and, as well as offering progression from beginner level facilities through to pro-standard features, they’re the venue for major contests such as the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix
The seven parks and three pipes are built over 90 acres of terrain and there are additional enhanced natural hits dotted all over the slopes. There’s a vast variety of terrain with, for example, jumps ranging in size from 2 feet in the beginner parks (Disco and Wonderland) to 60 feet in the big parks.
Cross country skiing is very popular around Mammoth with a section of private resorts and a local non-profit organisation all maintaining trails in the region. There are more than 80km of trails in total in the area, most marked with blue diamonds signs in the woods.
Cross country ski sites include the Tamarack Cross-country Ski Centre in Mammoth’s Lakes Basin area which has 34km of well groomed trails. Another network begins at the Mammoth Lakes welcome Centre and is managed by the non-profit Mammoth Nordic group. There are another 15km of trails around Rock Creek Lodge on the edge of the John Muir Wilderness and finally the Inyo Craters Trail is an 8km loop of medium difficulty that is one of the most popular in the area among local cross country skiers.
At Tamarack special cross country ski tours are organised on occasion including full moon evening tours and naturalist tours to learn about the local environment. Lessons and rentals are also available, but to use the tracks you will need to purchase a trail pass, which is available by the day.
Average Snow And Weather Conditions
Mammoth has an enviable reputation for its snow with one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Indeed it can open as early as October and has stayed open to the US Independence Day in July on several occasions.
The ski area is one of the world’s highest between 2400 and 3400m and benefits from precipitation sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean, and then being deposited as light fluffy snow as the rising land mass moves the storm clouds to higher altitudes. About nine metres (27 feet) falls on average annually. There’s also extensive snowmaking covering about a third of the terrain although it’s rarely really needed.