I’ve wanted to visit California for years. I’ve always had this idea that skiing and surfing in the same day would be a dream come true. So my brother and I would finally make that trip to southern California happen early this April.
...Almost. We bought tickets from our hometown of Albany, NY to Los Angeles International Airport, planning to spend our time shredding Bear. There was just one problem... Bear closed before our trip even started.
So, we quickly made a plan B: drive up to Mammoth. Not a bad plan B by any means; in fact, it got me even more excited.
We landed in LA, stopped in Venice Beach really quickly (had to try In-N-Out Burger of course), then headed up through the Mojave Desert to Mammoth Lakes.
Brother driving through the Mojave Desert.
Anyone from the east coast is familiar with skiing on sheets of ice in subzero temps. So when the morning of our first day at Mammoth called for temps in the mid 30’s, we really weren’t too phased. We stopped at a ski shop before hitting the mountain, and the guy working asked us if we were going to “brave the cold”. I felt like I was in that Jimmy Kimmel skit where the California news stations went nuts about the “cold” weather that wasn’t actually cold at all.
For someone unfamiliar with Mammoth, the mountain itself is truly an amazing sight. I’ve skied in Oregon and Utah, and I have to say that Mammoth is the most impressive mountain I’ve ever seen. The vastness is unreal. Take a look at the gondola height compared to the people skiing below it. The gondola is unbelievably high.
The fact that California is having a draught is no secret. The picture on the left shows a sign from our trip, compared to a normal season on the right (found on Google Images). Sure, the lack of snow obviously has some impact on the quality of skiing, but Mammoth was still unbelievable compared to the east coast.
Though the purpose of our trip was mostly to ski park, we did find time to shred some all mountain. Chair 23 is interesting. You don't know how much you appreciate having an arm bar 'til you can't have one at all. Chair 23 literally doesn't have an arm bar. It's kind of nerve wracking, I can't even lie; this chair is insanely high and windy.
Mammoth's park, Unbound, is world class. It's the home of Kaya Turski, Chris Benchetler, Glen Plake, and many others.
We met up with locals Nick Miles and Scott Donahue, and as well all know, the best way to view a park is through a video. Watch for yourself.
If you’re an east coaster considering visiting out West, I can’t recommend Mammoth enough. We were there for a limited number of days there, but there is so much to check out.
Words // Ben Sweet
Photos // Mike Sweet, Ben Sweet
Video // Ben Sweet