Having a set opening day comes with a risk. Will it be great weather? Will there be enough snow? Will enough people show up for it to be a fiscally responsible idea?
In some regards it makes sense. The mountain gets to plan attractive events to get the crowds to show. Guests can plan well in advance and take the 4 days off work they will need to recover from the hangover and soreness from kickstarting the muscles that have atrophied over the summer.
And so it happened. Mammoth Mountain opened for the 2012/2013 season. It was a bizarre opening. There were more riders celebrating a reason to day drink than there were on the snow. With wind gusts nearing 100mph over the ridge and icy snow that had to be transported from the parking lot to cover the main lodge base, conditions were bleak.
By noon the conditions had improved, but the general audience was already so toasted that there were as many empty chairs as there were seats filled. But for those of us that braved the temps and held back at the bar, the afternoon was a blast. No lines, no crowds. The "white strip of death" was about as dangerous as running with safety scissors.
By 3pm it was a white out. A cloud engulfed the mountain. We sat drinking our beer staring out into the white wondering if driving was really a good idea. Maybe it wasn't, but we left the mountain anyway. It was a strange opening day. Thanks to Skadi, day two was even better. That cloud decided to drop more snow and we were greeted with 8 inches. Not enough snow to take out the powder skis, but enough to convince me to bring them in for a tune. Four more feet of snow and we should be in business.