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Mammoth Mountain in January / February


kuhla
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  1. It has been many years (10+ I think) since I have been on the snow. I want to go back and ski or snowboard again. I'm in much better shape than I was last time.
  2. Big Bear and Snow Summit are much closer but I've been there when the snow conditions were "poor" and it really hurts the experiance. I don't have time for poor conditions anymore. Mammoth Mountain supposedly always has better conditions. Go big or go home.
  3. Mammoth is a 6 hour drive. Transportation would be an item that would require some discussion. AWD would be preferable in case road conditions become an issue.
  4. There is usually some snowfall in early January and their season seems to consistently stretch through February.
  5. I expect any ski resort to have big crowds on any weekends in January/February. Three day weekends or around holidays is probably even worse. I would not want to deal with that.
  6. Proposed travel schedule is 4 days total. I would only be taking 3 days of PTO.
    1. Wednesday - Travel day. 6 hour drive up. Rent gear.
    2. Thursday - On the snow all day.
    3. Friday - On the snow all day.
    4. Saturday - Return gear. Travel day.  6 hour drive down.
  7. What kind of dates? Somewhere in here:
    1. image.png
  8. AirBNB? Looks like anywhere between $250-$350 a night for anything from 4-6 guests. Obviously splitting the cost would help the cost of this.
  9. Gear? Rent it up on the mountain. Looks like around $100 for three days based on a quick search here.
  10. Lift tickets? Costco as usual. A 3 pack of 2-day tickets is $600. Blackout dates apply (12/21/19-1/06/20, 1/18/20 & 1/19/20, 2/15 & 2/16/20).
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Bumping this thread a bit.

I'm really starting to feel that Jan 29-Feb 1 (or) Feb 5-8 are the right days.

  • It's not blackout date for Costco tickets.
  • It's not close to any kind of holiday.
  • There has always been some fresh snow falling in mid-to-late January.
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  • 4 weeks later...

This is partially notes for myself. Since I have not been on the snow in a very long time I'm making some basic notes for a checklist of what to take based on some quick lists I saw on some sites:

  • Layer 1 - Body (moister wicking, thin material), Feet (long socks, warm, not too thick or too thin, cotton discouraged, wool preferred)
  • Layer 2 - Body (warm, thick, soft, full zipper preferred, cotton discouraged, wool preferred)
  • Layer Optional - If very cold - Body (insulated vest, jacket or sweater for additional warmth)
  • Layer 3 - Body (Snow pants and snow jacket, mainly a shell for waterproof)
  • Other items:
    • Helmet (optional? rent?)
    • Padded shorts (optional)
    • Goggles
    • Gloves
    • Beanie or other warm headgear if not wearing a helmet or for afterwards.
    • Sunscreen for face and neck
    • Lip balm/chap
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51 minutes ago, T1no said:

do you think we can do some snowmobiling lol i enjoyed it last time around.

I'm not expecting us to all stay as a group all the time. I personally plan on focusing on snowboarding because I'm guessing I need a lot of practice. If you want to go snowmobiling, I found this with a quick search: https://www.visitmammoth.com/adventure/mammoth-snowmobile-adventures + https://snowmobilemammoth.com/tours-and-rentals

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My memory of mammoth is that they have a pretty big bunny slope, but obviously the major point of going would be to hit up some of the bigger and more difficult slopes eventually. 
As a note, I recall mammoth having harder ratings than snow summit/bear mountain.  I think the double diamonds at snow summit were about the same as a single diamond at mammoth.  The double diamonds at mammoth had rocks and trees and shit in the way, they honestly didn't even look like actual ski runs. 

My personal goal is to ski from top to bottom at least a few times. 

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On 1/9/2020 at 11:15 AM, kuhla said:

This is partially notes for myself. Since I have not been on the snow in a very long time I'm making some basic notes for a checklist of what to take based on some quick lists I saw on some sites:

  • Layer 1 - Body (moister wicking, thin material), Feet (long socks, warm, not too thick or too thin, cotton discouraged, wool preferred)
  • Layer 2 - Body (warm, thick, soft, full zipper preferred, cotton discouraged, wool preferred)
  • Layer Optional - If very cold - Body (insulated vest, jacket or sweater for additional warmth)
  • Layer 3 - Body (Snow pants and snow jacket, mainly a shell for waterproof)
  • Other items:
    • Helmet (optional? rent?)
    • Padded shorts (optional)
    • Goggles
    • Gloves
    • Beanie or other warm headgear if not wearing a helmet or for afterwards.
    • Sunscreen for face and neck
    • Lip balm/chap

I find this funny because the last few times i went into snow conditions, I more or less wore what I did in SoCal Winter:

  • Same baggy Khaki pants
  • Combat boots (from Airsoft)
  • Gloves
  • Winter jacket
  • Warm headgear

The only real complaint I have is the pants but I kind of just sucked it up. Obviously not recommended for seriousness but I would be terribly ill-prepared for some serious outdoor activities. Its not an area I spend a lot of time in thus I have not invested in it.

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I called the rental place: 

Useful info to know:

1) """Next Day Rental Set-Up Hours: 2–3:30PM""" - If we arrive during this time window, we can do the sizing and paperwork on Wednesday and then the gear will be immediately available starting Thursday morning at 8:00AM. Wednesday would not count as a rental day.

2) There are lockers at the lodge that we can use at the end of each day to put the equipment in so we don't have to drag it back and forth to the AirBNB. That also means not having to funny walk in the boots. The lockers are general use so they should be able to fit a small bag if needed (to put shoes in maybe?).

3) We can return the equipment on Saturday morning before 9:00am and it will not count Saturday as a rental day. 

4) A 2 day rental (10% discount) that is made at least 7+ days ahead of time (20% discount) comes down to $78 according to the website.

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  • 3 weeks later...

After action report

Good

  • I enjoyed myself, I got plenty of runs in on both days and basically hit a wall in the late afternoons because my legs were dead. 
  • The AirBnB location was great, the short walk wasn't an issue and cut down on any extra driving/parking that we might have run into. 
  • The conditions were solid - we had plenty of snow on the slopes, with clear roads.  We even got a small dusting on Thursday morning.  Friday was warmer but not full blown summer skiing.

Bad

  • The AirBnB accommodations left something to be desired, I didn't sleep well most nights, including waking up with a rather stiff neck.  As discussed, the beds were not queen sized.  The plates/cookware/flatware were all dirty when we arrived. 
    This could be considered nitpicking or an over-reliance on the AirBnB's equipment but I was moderately disappointed. 
  • The Drive - I know it's 5-6 hours and I was the one that pushed to drive back without stopping but that wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience.  I blame myself for this one, I should have shared driving responsibilities and/or stopped for a break. 

Other thoughts / Next year?

  • I have some gear I need to replace, the snowpants I used were way too big and contributed to some unpleasantness.  I brought 2 sets of gloves, one had a hole and the other is tearing at the thumbs.  Honestly I tried to use what gear I had (most of it over a decade old) and while the jacket was totally serviceable, I would need to make a few purchases if I wanted to do this again. 
  • Over-packed and over-supplied.  I personally brought way too much stuff, I was needlessly worried about clothes getting wet and having spares on hand.  We brought up too much food/drinks.  Especially with a Vons at Mammoth we should consider bringing up only some very basic non-perishable food. 
    On that note, I'd want to bring up (or buy) disposable plates/cups - there's no need to rely on the cleanliness of the AirBnB's equipment.  I would also want to simplify the food options to something that requires only basic reheating/cooking.
  • The AirBnB location was great, but it was also the largest cost factor.  I'd be willing to try the Village gondola and bus or even find a place that required a short drive to the slopes. 
  • Transport - There are some super obvious advantages to having a car, but I'll at least mention that LAX - MMH flights exist, depending on days they can be pretty reasonable, I'm seeing Wed-Sat roudtrip cost of $175 in late February, but you'd probably need to factor in either renting a car, cab service etc.
    If we stuck to driving, I'd probably insist on shifts/breaks.  We made great time both ways but even then it's still a most of the day drive, there's no avoiding it and the difference between a 5 or 6 hour drive is negligible. 
  • Lessons - I'd seriously consider getting a lesson for myself.  I have forgotten so much and I'd love a refresher. 
  • I'd like to explore more of the mountain, especially the backside.  I stuck mostly to the Canyon Lodge, Mill and Main Lodge slopes. 
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20 hours ago, Malaphax said:

........

Mostly agreed. I don't want to just type the exact same stuff.

The more I think about it, I feel I had a great time overall.

I'll just add a few other notes:

  1. I actually feel the length of the vacation was pretty ideal. I like the idea of days packed full of physical activity however at the end of day 2 on the snow I was starting to feel pretty used up. I could have pushed through a day 3 on the snow but it would have been a real push. Travel day + 2or3 active days + travel day seems about right.
  2. I may buy a multi-sport helmet despite the warnings I saw online to only buy sport specific helmets. I'm glad I had the rental one for this trip and want to make it a standard piece of equipment each time I'm on the snow. Example: REI literally lists this same helmet in multiple sport sections and it is not that expensive for a helmet.
  3. The pants, jacket, neck gaiter and long johns I brought did fine but I need new or different gloves. Mine, with their inside lining that kept moving, were a big pain the ass every time I took them off. Luckily those are cheap if I am going to buy new ones.
  4. I have only ever been to Snow Summit and Mammoth (which was a far better experience) but I am willing to try other snow locations that may be closer or cheaper: https://www.skicentral.com/california.html

 

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Unfortunately when it comes to skiing/snowboarding we're actually stuck with 3 choices before you start talking about rather serious trips out of state: Big Bear, Mammoth, and Tahoe*.  If you want stuff other than that you're going to start talking about utah, colorado, etc. 
There are other options like Mt. High, but from what I've heard they tend to be even more limited than Big Bear and some of the smaller resorts from the link you posted might leave you feeling a bit disappointed.  Big Bear is actually really solid but Mammoth/Tahoe are basically world class and blow it out of the water. 

Having been to big bear many times, the main reason people go is because it's convenient and the cost is fairly reasonable.  You're not going to have a huge resort like Mammoth, but it's ~2 hour drive depending on the conditions.  Of course with that convenience you'll also have to compete with more crowds.  On the bright side you can also chase the snow and literally take off a random weekday from work and hit the slopes.  I'm not going to go and explain what Mammoth is.  Tahoe, I have not been to, but it has multiple different resorts like Kirkwood or Heavenly - it's even farther for us in in socal. 

Helmet related - I think it was close to 90% of people at mammoth who had helmets, including very experienced skiers.  That's a huge shift from what I saw the last time I was on the slopes, when it was only snowboarders and well short of half the people wearing helmets. 

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No regrets for this time but....

....for next time, now that we are more familiar with the routine and area there, if we are willing take a little more risks and do a little driving each day, maybe pack a lunch to-go, take some extra clothes to change mid-day in the car we can do an AirBNB like this (see image below).

$100 a night for 3 nights is $300 + $195 fees = $495. Divided by 3 people that is $165 per person total. If we add 1-2 more people (it can fit "up to" 8 ) the price drops even lower. Much cheaper accommodations. Save a couple HUNDRED dollars per person. Cuts the total trip cost down. Probably not as nice inside but saving money is big plus.

 

image.png

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i was honestly ok with the airbnb. it is premium and tbfair i told kuhla i was ok with anything.

my gear was good. got uniqlo baselayer which kept me warm. down jacket for my middle layer and the patagucci shell.

https://www.montecwear.com/

i consider this stuff and it looked cool but i endend up with the stuff i got

i told myself i dont want my clothing to ruin my trip because i was underdress or shit just straight up not working and annoyed the hell out of me.

got myself a helmet with amazon cashback money. not free but free.

i was initially going to use kelvin stuff but it was already slightly falling apart and a little small. 

driving was expected 5-6 hours no stupid traffic. unlike going to bigbear or vegas. no issues here and i dont have to deal with driving. thank malaphax.

overall it was slightly expensive trip between the snow-gear and the airbnb but for next time at least i have the shit.

 

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  • 1 year later...

Bumping this since we talked about it the other night. 

Obviously this is a very rough draft, we can start thinking about this more seriously mid/late November.

  • Late January (last week?), or first week of February - Generally blackout dates are in early January and mid February (holidays).
  • Prior schedule was Wednesday drive up, Thursday-Friday Skiing/Snowboarding, Saturday drive back - I'd be willing to go for 3 days of skiing but that's probably my limit.  I'd also prefer to return on a Saturday, but I'll be flexible if needed.
  • AirBnB either near Canyon Lodge or in the village and make use of the gondola. 
    • No promises but I might be able to ask my neighbor if he still has a condo up there
    • Sidenote, once we get a decent idea of pricing as dumb as it sounds we should at least compare it to the hotel costs, I doubt it's cheaper but never hurts to check.  Downside could potentially be food costs.
  • Tickets - Costco could be an option (if they have it) otherwise rough estimates are showing ~$125/day per person (Costco was $100/day/person, but it came in a 3 pack)
  • I briefly looked and google flights isn't even showing the LAX>MMH listed.  I suspect they cancelled it due to covid and may or may not bring it back.  Downside, no car (or fighting for rentals), could be rough. 

I'll try to bump this later on and see if we can nail down details - but I'm penciling this on my calendar and as we get more stuff locked down I'll ask for vacation days etc.

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I'm pretty sure the same 3 people that went last time are pretty serious about committing to doing it again. For anyone else in the group interested I would ask for you to please reach out to me, malaphax or T1no to be included in planning.

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Giving this another bump. 

  • I did speak with my neighbor, that's not an option for lodging.  So we have AirBnB or the hotels. 
  • I can provide the Subaru Crosstrek again for driving up, but I'm going to split driving duty with you guys. 
  • If you have gear you need to get I would try and find it now - supply chains are turbo-fucked. 

If we could get this nailed down by the end of the month, I would appreciate it.  If we want to schedule a little bit of time on voip to hammer out details, let me know. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

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