Conditions out there, I know, are stormy—very, very stormy. We'll talk about skiing for now. For now. Mammoth has officially opened for the 2016-2017 season, making for a nice, short summer for those of you who skied through last winter's July 4 closing.
How is it? It's skiing, but it is kind of pushing at the boundaries of the definition. We found the upper mountain to be very nice, in patches, and very scary, all over, thanks to erratic wind spin over considerable ice shields from the big rain events earlier in October(?)/early November.
I don't believe I've ever seen as many people perched in the Stance of Terror on the normally pitchy but reasonable slopes off Cornice Bowl. Heck I'm just going to call it: this probably should have been closed over the weekend, and if you were there, I hope you didn't get hurt.
Down below was very rocky very thin and very slushy, nicely degrading your ski edges just to ensure you'd pay as high a price as possible on the uppers. Advice: bring your early-season goggles, and spray paint them with utterly opaque optimism (this, incidentally, might be the best way to approach the next hundred years, or millenium—who's counting?).
Backcountry: probably pretty damn doable, in the right spots. But...but...beware that ice. If you encounter it, it could be deadly, for fall hazard. I don't see any forecasts at the ES Avalanche Center yet; if it gets cold and stays dry, there will be a persistant hoar layer that no doubt you'll hear about over and over.
And, of course, if you need a good cry, there is this.
— November 15, 2016
Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents