Mammoth Mountain trip report Nov. 7th

Posted By: The Ski Channel on November 9, 2009 1:48 pm

It felt like an eternity since I had made that familiar drive along the 395, but in fact it had been a mere three weeks. After teasing us with the second earliest opening ever, Mammoth Mountain saw opening day redux on November 7th.

All throughout the car ride I sat there fantasizing about what rails and jibs might be open for tricking on in the famous Mammoth Unbound Terrain Parks. Since opening day had roughly six park features, including the brand new aircraft carrier box, I naturally assumed they would follow suit by having at least a couple park obstacles.

After breaking in the new Mammoth digs with some copious amounts of drinking, I awoke in a rather confused state the next morning. I reached for my girlfriend’s phone to check the time, and it read 10:12 am. Unfortunately, Mammoth junkies will know you can never truly trust AT&T cell service to provide the correct time while in Mammoth. For whatever reason, it’s like The Bermuda Triangle effect where phones go haywire, and just want to be on Midwestern time, two hours ahead.

Finally, I managed to free myself from the cozy confines of my bed, and found a real clock. To my surprise it was in fact actually 10:12 am. I seriously needed to get ready and make it out to the hill. There was skiing to be had!

After tossing my fresh threads on, I grabbed my equipment and began the winding drive to the ski area. The parking lot was desolate; a difference of night and day from October 16th when the free lift tickets brought people out in droves.

The coverage was pretty suspect when compared to opening weekend. I was just hoping there would be some toys in the park to entertain myself.

My girlfriend and I quickly headed up Chair 1, and shortly after made a beeline for Face Lift. As I continued to check out the conditions, I realized I might have been a tad under-dressed for the weather. I was expecting a typical Mammoth sunny day, and dressed accordingly in bright hoodies that resembled a “bag of skittles,” the prerequisite to be fashionable in freestyle skiing. As I felt the wind cutting through the thin cotton, I began to regret buying into the latest trend.

Unloading from Face Lift, we descended down “Saddle Bowl” and I immediately began to notice two things. First, early season legs were still an overarching factor, and secondly, I might as well have been skiing back home in Pennsylvania.

Boilerplate was the word of the day. Unknown to many Mammoth skiers and boarders, there is this magical snow condition called ice. It’s extremely fast, hard as concrete, and a total nuisance to ski on, especially if it’s your first time.

Thankfully, even though I hadn’t tuned the edges on my 4frnts after years of jibbing, I still knew a thing about edge control and how to stay balanced on the bullet-proof riding surface. The nearly empty runs allowed me to make some large GS-sized turns, and really haul on the open faces. Although I know I will never take a day of skiing for granted ever again, I was getting a tad bit bored of skiing the same 5 runs in the sub par snow conditions. I ventured over into Forest Trail, praying that the Unbound Crew still managed to piece some sort of park setup together. As I skied down the “white ribbon of death,” I grew increasingly more depressed as the only features in sight were lying off to the side. No terrain park available for me to slay.

While I was a bit sad, I quickly remembered all those winters spent back east where I would be lucky to be skiing 300 vertical feet by December 1st. Suddenly, I noticed a snowboarder making his way through Forest Trail. The boarder flew by me, and ollied onto a haggard box setup on the side of the run.

I had found my jib for the day.

As I moved over to inspect this makeshift setup, I realized that even though the lip pointed downwards, and that it was two feet below the top of the box, it still might be doable for skiers to session.

I grabbed my skis, and hiked the slope until where I could reasonably expect to generate enough speed. The first time I attempted to get on, I didn’t pop enough, and I knew it. I quickly ran up to my previous spot, and clicked into my bindings yet again.

After focusing in on the task at hand, I began skating towards the MacGyver-like jib before me. I felt my skis on the lip and popped as hard as I could off my tails. Amazingly, I was able to barely position my skis on the sliding surface, and greased the length of the box.

With that, I immediately thought of one of my favorite proverbs as I sat on yet another neglected box in Forest Trail.

“The little things matter.”

It was then I realized where I had originally read this phrase. Coincidentally, it had been on a Mammoth Mountain t-shirt that I was given after making finals at the 2008 USC Snowfest rail jam. I sat there chuckling silently, and decided that it was an appropriate time to call it a day.

Even though I had once previously been on skis following my injury, I realized that I would never allow myself to have ill feelings for a day of skiing, no matter what the conditions were like. Being robbed of something you love, and then finally being able to get it back, is possibly one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Well I would love nothing more to trick an 80-foot table, or enjoy a plethora of jib offerings; I think I can manage to wait a bit longer.