Mammoth April Fools

That popping sound you hear is the sound of loose rocks pinging off the tips of my skis. Attentive viewers will notice the sound is nearly continuous. Welcome to winter 2015, Mammoth Mountain, California: here's my first ski video of the season, and I think it really captures it.

This is what the driest winter in California history looks like. When I first arrived at the Stump Alley parking lot this past Monday, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Of course we all say a bad day skiing is better than a good day at work, but conditions were sure testing the limits.

If you follow my twitter feed, you've seen all the awful links on just how bad this winter has actually been. The implications go far beyond the ski hill, but for now, I'll confine my comments to Mammoth: can they make it to May?

The upper mountain isn't bad. Thin and rocky, absolutely, but you'll find real skiing off Chair 23 and the Gondola, 3% of normal snowpack notwithstanding. The lower mountain began the week in an absolutely dismal state—I basically destroyed my skis.

A pattern change midweek brought dramatically cooler temperatures to the mountain, allowing Mammoth staff to go on a snowmaking binge, which absolutely improved conditions from abysmal to (comparatively) not too shabby.

Maybe, I found myself thinking, Mammoth's acquisition of Bear Resorts/Snow Summit was more tactical than I initially considered. When it comes to snowmaking, Summit's infrastructure and expertise are unparalleled. Might they export pieces of both to Mammoth to help keep their sister resort going?

We'll see. We'll also see if Mother Nature will send a late storm or two to help the cause for a planned end-of-May closure date. I myself am caught between wanting to keep skiing, and recognizing there comes a point when you need to be willing to move on (summer hiking?), or else things become kind of tragic.

— April 5, 2015

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Stuart April 5, 2015 at 2:05 am

Looks like we have a snowstorm "scheduled" for Tue/Wed next week, with 2-4" snow and temps at 18F. . . at Big Bear. . . in April. . . following the warmest March in recorded history? Every one of these blizzards from Boston to Big Bear has been artificially enhanced or created.
NASA and the USAF have teamed up to control the weather and haven't asked for consent.
Solar Radiation Management, Marine Cloud Enhancement, and HAARP technology have been used for 8-10 years now. gives a good attempt at explanation.

Greg R April 5, 2015 at 7:29 am

I too was up in Mammoth this last week. The mountain staff is doing an amazing job keeping it skiable and fun in a challenging sort of way. I'm going to keep skiing a little while longer and hope a couple of storms come our way. Next season has gotta be better!

Brad Brown April 5, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Howard Schecter says this is a 1000 year event so odds are low that well get snow free June high peaks summits again in our life times. Well that's about as happy as I can get about this season. He also says El NiƱo conditions are setting up though he was quick to caution they could vanish by fall as did last year. Lasts months trip to MM was fun but too cool to allow corn or even softening of already beat snow. Hoping for better in a couple of weeks. Went Friday before Summit closure, very sad conditions. Regarding current storm for Summit, we had 16" 4-16-12 and 10" 4-9-11 so not uncommon for SoCal pow late season.. I've seen 12" in May and 4" in June so you never know what Mother has in store. Hopefully this high pressure ridge stays broken for awhile, even another 1" of precip will help our farmers and lawns, not to mention late season alpine adventures. Pray for snow!

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