News from the snow
Mammoth Mountain USA
Mammoth by name and by dimensions, this Californian giant is able to offer skiing for up to 10 months of the year, with huge natural snow falls that have enabled the resort to keep skiers on the slopes until mid-August. The resort's altitude and position in the High Sierras helps it to average more than 30 feet (around 10 metres) of snowfall annually, and this has topped 50 feet (over 15 metres) in record-breaking years. The mainly north-facing slopes hold the light powder better than many neighbouring areas. Mammoth's existence is due almost entirely to the efforts of legendary Dave McCoy, who maintained ownership of the ski area for more than 50 years. Born in 1915 and a Californian State Champion skier at 22, before a crash in a race at Sugarbowl resort led to 38 fractures of his leg. After buying his first lifts in 1938 on a loan secured by selling his Harley Davidson, Dave took a portable rope tow to Mammoth by 1941 and was operating his lift there on the day of Pearl Harbour. He had previously worked as a hydrographer for the city of Los Angeles in the late 1930s and realized then that Mammoth had the terrain and the snow to make a great ski area. The first permanent lift was installed straight after the war ended and was soon the most popular ski area in the state. The first chair lift went up in Mammoth in 1955 and "the rest is history." Mammoth also has a key part in ski racing history, and in 1967 almost the entire US Olympic Women's team were Mammoth racers. This reputation helped the resort to boom to its present status.
One of the world's top resorts, established and until recently owned by legendary Dave McCoy, Mammoth is able to offer up to 10 months of skiing per year. Mammoth is reputedly Virgin boss Richard Branson's favourite resort and arguably the largest in the US.
Mammoth has spent around $100 million in the last five years to upgrade lifts and enhance skier services. The most recent projects include upgrading the gondola system to an eight-passenger high-speed lift and the addition of multiple high-speed detachable lifts. The addition of these faster lifts has helped to rocket Mammoth back up the chart in the newly important 'high speed lifts' league.
Mammoth is big enough to be able to offer genuinely the "something for all level of skier" claim that most resorts make but a good proportion don't deliver to any great extent - usually in either the beginner or expert category. Beginners at Mammoth can benefit from an award winning sports school with lessons designed for every level of skier or boarder. After you've learnt the basics, the ultra low priced beginner ticket, covering three lifts serving terrain suitable for your ability level, is another good economy option.
Intermediates have the majority of the terrain, and the option to use their Mammoth Pass at June Mountain, also owned by the resort and located 17 miles (28km) north of the resort. It has a further 35 trails to offer. With 40% of the terrain graded intermediate, the remaining third of the mountain has advanced level terrain, and Mammoth has a world-class reputation for race training, so there's plenty to entertain experts on a week's holiday.
Mammoth is almost unique in North America having a 'second season' beginning after Easter and typically running through to early July. Mountain skiers and 'boarders are advised to carry clothing suitable for either hot or cold temperatures, because of changeable conditions during the day at this time of year. The best skiing of the day is in the morning, starting on east facing trails and ending your 'day' in the early afternoon, probably stripped down to T shirt and shorts by the time the snow is too wet and heavy in the afternoon heat.
Then its time to move onto a summer activity - fishing, biking or hiking maybe, after lunch.
The resort offers night skiing to 9pm on three of its major trails - Thunder Road, Bowling Alley and Broadway. There are also 28 miles (45 km) of cross-country trails to enjoy.
Children's ski facilities are located at all three base lodge areas with 'Explorers' classes for 4 to 6 and 7 to 12 year olds. Snowboarding is also available for children aged 8 to 12.
Families will find that the majority of restaurants have kids menus but that Angels is one of the most family friendly.
If you don't fancy starting your après relaxation until late, skiing and boarding continues under the floodlights until 9 at weekends, and many other activities are available in the evenings.