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Mammoth Mountain Ski Area: Wikis


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Mammoth Mountain
Location: Sierra Nevada, Mono County, California, U.S.
Nearest city: Mammoth Lakes 1 mile east, Reno, Nevada 170 miles (275 km) wnw
Coordinates: 37°38′41″N 119°00′09″W / 37.644689°N 119.002485°W / 37.644689; -119.002485
Top elevation: 11,053 feet (3,369 m)
Base elevation: 7,953 feet (2,424 m)
Skiable area: 3500 acres (14 km²)
Runs: 150 named
Longest run: 3 miles (5 km)
Lift system: 28 lifts: 3 gondolas, 23 chairs (2 high speed six, 9 high speed quads, 1 quad, 7 triple, 4 double), 2 platter lift
Snowfall: 348 inches, 8.8 meters
Snowmaking: 477 acres (1.9 km²) covering 48 trails, 33%
Web site: Mammoth Mountain

The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is a large ski resort located in eastern California on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the Inyo National Forest. The ski area, commonly called simply Mammoth, is a popular ski resort for residents of Southern California.



Mammoth was founded by Dave McCoy, a hydrographer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. As a member of the Eastern Sierra Ski Club in the 1930s, McCoy noticed that Mammoth Mountain consistently held more snow than other mountains. The Ski Club had a portable rope tow. McCoy bought the rope tow from the club in 1941 and usually kept it at Mammoth. In 1953, the United States Forest Service awarded a permit to McCoy to operate the ski area. The first ski lift was built in 1955. McCoy sold a 33% interest in the ski area to Intrawest in 1996.

As recently as the 1980s, senior citizens skied Mammoth for free. As of 2006, those aged at least 80 years may ski free.

On February 23, 2005, Dave McCoy announced that he would be selling his stake in Mammoth Mountain, after 68 years of running the ski area. On October 5, 2005, Mammoth announced that a majority stake will be sold to Starwood Capital, a private equity fund specializing in real estate, run by Barry Sternlicht.

Following the tradition established by Dave McCoy, no Mammoth Mountain employees are permitted to have beards.

Skiers coming down Wipeout Chutes under Chair 23 after a fresh snow. Note Minarets in background.


The ski area is built on the north side of Mammoth Mountain, located in the volcanic Long Valley Caldera. Overnight guests stay in the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, and occasionally neighboring towns such as Bishop. Mammoth has more than 3,500 acres (14 km²) of skiable terrain, serviced by 28 lifts (including 3 gondolas). The area has 3100 feet (940 m) of vertical, rising to an elevation of 11,053 feet (3,368 m). The top of the mountain has challenging chutes and open mogul runs. There are three main terrain parks branded "Unbound" at Mammoth. Unbound Main, located adjacent to Main Lodge, is highly praised by extreme snowboarding and skiing enthusiasts, and is one of the major attractions of the ski resort. Many of the top professionals in the sport, including 2006 Winter Olympics Gold Medalist Shaun White, come to practice and compete in the world famous 18-Foot-Tall Super Pipe and 22-Foot-Tall Super-Duper Pipe. There are only a handful of SuperDuperpipes in the world. There is also a Mini Pipe. Mammoth Mountain is one of only a handful of resorts in the world to offer a halfpipe of this size and is the only resort in North America to offer three different-sized halfpipes. Mammoth Mountain also has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, which averages from November to June. Mammoth does occasionally open earlier, such as in 2005, when the resort opened in October, and did not close until the 4th of July. Mammoth Mountain's longest season, over ten months, was thanks to the 1994-1995 winter season when the resort opened on October 8th and did not close until August 13th. Mammoth receives an average of 339 inches (860 cm) of snow per season,[1] though the 2005-2006 season saw the resort accumulate an astounding 578 inches (1,470 cm), a record tally.

The view from the top of the famous Cornice Bowl ski run, at the summit of the mountain.


Mammoth Mountain is located in California's Eastern Sierra approximately 100 miles south of the Nevada state line and 30 minutes from the Eastern Gate of Yosemite National park. Although the ski area appears to be in Northern California on a map, the resort is mainly frequented by skiers and snowboarders from Southern California. Though it is a six-hour drive from Los Angeles, Mammoth is much closer for Southland skiers and riders than the Lake Tahoe area resorts, which are more accessible to the San Francisco Bay Area. Mammoth Mountain is a more popular destination than Southern California resorts, because of these areas' heavy reliance on snowmaking, lighter precipitation, and their notably shorter seasons. Although Mammoth is physically closer to San Francisco than LA, mountain passes along the Sierra crest close after the first major snowfall, and this lack of a trans-Sierra travel route creates an unusually long drive to Mammoth from the Bay Area and most of Northern California. For example: during the summer, the distance from Fresno to Mammoth Lakes is 189 miles, while the same excursion in winter involves 366 miles of driving. In recent years Mammoth has had increased visitors from outside of California and Nevada with many flying into Reno, and ski season commercial flights are now available to MMH (Mammoth Lakes) via LAX (Los Angeles), on Alaska Airlines (operated by Horizon Air). Starting in December 2009, Alaska/Horizon will offer seasonal nonstop flights from Reno and San Jose, in addition to LAX.

Changes and re-development

Major changes took place beginning in the late 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The resort went from 16 chairs to around 25 very rapidly. Old T-bars, T1 and T2, and the poma lifts were removed. The gondola was re-routed to a new building beind the Main Lodge and it was replaced with a new glass panorama gondola that heads to the "Top of the Sierra" lounge and "Discovery Center." At the top, there are "telescopes" and a history of the area at 11,053 feet.

Almost all the old, slow, double chair lifts were replaced with high-speed triple, quad, and two, six-seater lifts (Chairs 15 and 9). Several old lifts were also removed (Chairs 18, 19, 24). A black metal tunnel that you could ski through in the 1990s, was removed. Chair 10 was removed, rebuilt in a different area to the left, and re-named "Goldrush Express." Chair 2 was re-named "Stump Alley Express," Chair 15 was re-named "Eagle Express" and a new small lodge, Eagle Lodge was built there. A mini-terrain park was added around 2009 named "Voodoo Pit," by Chair 15. Chair 9, a once notoriously slow lift, was re-named "Cloud Nine Express" and carries 6 people on each chair. Chair 16 was re-named "Canyon Express," Chair 17 was changed and re-named "Schoolyard Express" and the "Alligator Pit," a mini-terrain park for kids, was added in the trees. Chair 4, with the famous "middle bar" was turned into a high-speed quad and re-named "Roller Coaster Express." A terrain park for skiers and snowboarders was added there. Chair 3 was re-named "Face Lift Express." Recently, a fumarole has opened up on the Chair 3 run "Center Bowl." Chair 11 was re-named "Discovery Chair."

The Mid-Chalet, which once had picnic tables on the roof, was completely remodeled in the early 2000s, re-named McCoy Station, and now features gourmet foods and a cafeteria. There is no more roof access and eating is indoors only. Large vintage photos of McCoy and his family can be found hanging from the ceiling there.

Many trees around Chair 10 were cut down and Chair 18 was removed to the dismay of many skiers, who now must "push" on this flat area to make it down to chair 2. The "Mill Cafe", a small "rustic" bar and snack area was added in the early 2000s. Chair 6 was extended, re-named "Thunder Bound Express," and a large snowboard half-pipe and terrain park was developed there.

The small, outdoor, snack area on the "back-side" of Mammoth is now called "Outpost 14." Chairs 13 and 14, next to "Outpost 14," are the only original, slow, double-seat chairlifts still in existence on the mountain.

In the 1990s, very briefly, a monorail ran a short way near the Main Lodge. This was dis-mantled.

In the first decade of the 2000s, a mammoth named "Wooly" is sometimes spotted skiing and snowboarding, delighting both children and adults.

The long-time, beloved, "Mammoth-on-skis" cartoonish logo was retired in the first decade of the 2000s. The logo is now two mammoth tusks in a "block."

The Village

In the late 1990s, an old mini-market was demolished to make way for the new "Village" development. A "European-style" small village was built with a few stores and condos on top. Nearby is a 4-star, upscale hotel.

The "Village Gondola" was built in the early 2000s which transports skiers from the Village to Canyon Lodge in very large, circular, gondolas. Astute gondola riders will notice a large nest with a "bald-headed" eagle awaiting them below.

Because of a bad economy in California, beginning in 2007, many of the stores and restaurants in "The Village" closed.

A statue of Dave McCoy, founder of the ski resort, is found in the Village and can be seen on one of the live village webcams. The statue is based on a famous vintage photograph of McCoy skiing in a white t-shirt.


On April 6, 2006, three ski patrollers at the ski area perished due to a combination of CO2 and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) poisoning.[2] Both gases are present on a known dangerous fumarole on the mountain and were more concentrated on that day because the fumarole had been covered by snow for days. Four patrollers, including John "Scott" McAndrews and James Juarez, were raising the fence around the fumarole, which had become buried due to heavy snowfall. The fumarole had melted a cavern below the snowbridge which collapsed under James and Scott. The pair of men fell 21 feet (6.4 m) and perished within a matter of minutes. Another ski patroller, Walt Rosenthal, perished and seven others were injured trying to rescue James and Scott. Unfortunately, the only type of oxygen mask used by the Mammoth Mountain ski patrol was of the kind that does not completely seal outer gases from coming in.[2]


External links


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