Custom Search
  balloonDestinationsTravel MallTravel Links  


by Lynn Rosen and Steve Giordano   February 1, 2011


  Deep Snow at Mammoth  
Snowcreek lodge
Deep snow at Mammoth and Snowcreek this season
Normal conditions at The Lodges at Snowcreek
Courtesy Snowcreek Resort

Yikes! Huge dumps and no end in sight. For many days in December 2010 Mammoth Mountain Resort had been hammered with storms. The snow overwhelmed all operations. Roads were closed. People were stranded. Even lifts couldn’t open.

Then the skies cleared, the roads were plowed, the lifts were dug out and the sun shone. Great timing. The North American Snowsports Journalists Association flew in and drove to Mammoth for a NASJA West meeting of the hardy and hearty. We came at a time blessed by bluebird days and fabulous snow conditions. Who could ask for anything better in the world of perfect ski days?

Wolley the Mammoth mascon
Wolley the Mammoth mascot
Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
  California air routes to Mammoth map   Mammoth Lakes Airport  
Air routes to Mammoth Lakes Airport
Horizon Air landing at Mammoth Lakes Airport
Map courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Before direct air service into Mammoth became available, just getting to this ski resort was only for the strong of heart and constitution. United and Horizon now have daily direct flights from LA, San Francisco and San Jose which makes access to the “best ski resort you never knew about” easier than ever.

We flew in on Horizon from Seattle via San Jose on one of those quick hops where you're landing before you can even finish your complimentary glass of local vintage wine or beer.

  Snowcreek interior   Our lodgings at Snowcreek Resort on the outskirts of town were just a ten-minute taxi ride from the airport. This huge condo development, located outside the main base area adjacent to their nine-hole golf course and athletic club, has beautifully appointed and well stocked properties with every amenity including laundry facilities and enclosed garages. One, two and three bedroom units are available. In our three-bedroom unit, the four of us had more than enough room to spread out, party when we wanted and have privacy when we didn't. Check out their website where you can actually see photos and individual floor plans to decide what suits your needs.  
Our lodgings at Snowcreek Resort
Courtesy Snowcreek Resort

We gathered together our first evening at the happenin’, après ski bar/restaurant Lakanuki Tiki Bar in the new Village at the base of The Village Gondola for a fun happy hour, some standard bar fare of fried appetizers, lots of catch-up with old friends and football on the telly.

The Village offers a central collection of ski shops, restaurants and accommodations as well as the free Village Gondola to/from the Canyon Lodge base where there is access to many lifts and the rest of the mountain.

  Mammoth's mammoth and shuttlebus   Shuttlebus passenger  
The shuttle stops at the mammoth
This shuttle passenger is texting, not sleeping
  The boilerplate promotional materials tout that you can get along in Mammoth without a car. And, technically, anything is possible and you can, indeed, do so. There are free shuttles throughout the area, to and from resort lodging and the various base areas and village centers. From our lodging at Snowcreek Resort, it took an hour to get to or from the main base area, door to door. Having a car at Mammoth is a must if you're in any kind of hurry or want convenience, especially if you're going out at night.  

Early morning found all of us at the rental ski shop at the Main Lodge in the friendly and capable hands of Peter, “The Boss.”
  Mammoth Gondola   Mammoth Mountain winter   Mammoth Mountain action  
Mammoth Gondola
Mammoth in winter...
...and the skiing is fine
Photos courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
  After a few glorious hours of corduroy skiing and boarding on many of Mammoth’s 150 trails and groomed runs, three of us peeled off to explore the boundary off the Panorama Gondola at the Top of the Sierra  
  Mammoth winter map  
Mammoth winter map
Map courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
  As we skied down Road Runner, we came upon an accident off the trail. One of four young snowboarders had just taken a bad fall and cut his leg. They asked us to call Ski Patrol, which we did, and then waited with them and offered suggestions on how to apply a tourniquet until Patrol arrived.  
The Mill Restaurant at Mamoth
  The Mill Restaurant at Mammoth  
Steeps Bar
Outdoors at the Mill Café
Indoors at the Mill Café
Steeps Bar
  Our group met for a sunny lunch on the mountain at the base of the Stump Alley (Chair 2) and Goldrush Express (10) chairs. The Mill Café’s newly expanded sundeck provided the perfect spot for swapping stories and enjoying smoked tri tip and other decadent California BBQ options.  
  Mill Cafe customers   Lady checking camera picture  
Customers at the Mill Café
Checking to see how the pic came out
  By far the best lunch on the mountain can be found at McCoy Station’s Marketplace Food Court, right at the base of the gondola loading station, which was where we all met the next day. It offers a number of different ethnic stations including Asian, Mexican, Italian options as well as a great salad bar and grill. And, if there’s sunshine, migrate to the outdoor tables and reclining lounge chairs. You may just want to skip the after-lunch skiing!  
Skiers lounging in the Mammoth sun
People lounging in the Mammoth sun
  Mammoth inbound terrain park  
European approach to skiing at Mammoth
and why not? Check out the view
The Mammoth Art Park
Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
  Don’t miss a visit to the Art Park, one of eight terrain parks at Mammoth, a rails and pipes affair but with specially commissioned art works displayed on the park features. You can get to this gallery of unusual graphics and art expressions from Chair 16, the Canyon Express.  
  Mammoth lift unloading station  
Stump Alley offloading station
  By the way, all Mammoth chairs have numbers but some also have names, which might be a bit confusing. The chairs are numbered in the order that they were built and are known to locals by those numbers rather than names. All the chairs that do have names also have numbers after their names so you can’t get lost.  

  The Bistro and all the facilities at the extensive Snowcreek Athletic Club and Spa are open to members-only but everyone staying at Snowcreek Resorts has full visiting privileges. Our Chef’s Table buffet dinner there was laced with many delicious touches such as bruschetta, spring rolls and a huge variety of salads. But the piece de resistance was the hot platter of tender lamb chops with mint jelly. After such a sumptuous meal, we all really needed to spend the next few hours in the club on the myriad of machines or in the spa for luxury treatments.  
Mammoth Snowcat Acventures
Mammoth Snowcat Adventures
Photo courtesy Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

If you’re wanting a very special and fabulous evening, consider a very cool snowcat ride to a five-star members-only restaurant on the mountain at McCoy station. The Parallax Restaurant opens to the general public for special lunches and dinners like their evening Snowcat Dinner. The snowcats, more like luxury bus coaches with comfy seats and lots of heat, leave from the Mammoth Mountain Inn at the Main Base. We began our evening in the Inn’s lobby with a champagne send-off before clambering aboard the luxe machines for a 10-minute climb up to McCoy Station and the elegant restaurant.

The service there is as exquisite as the food. After wandering through the lavish buffet line where the chef herself was carving the beef tenderloin and answering numerous questions from curious journalists, we relished a fixed menu for the night, which featured seared scallops or French lentil soup, Mahi Mahi or Filet Mignon, and six-layered chocolate cake for dessert. Parallax also has an extensive wine list. The price for this delightful snowcat/dinner experience is $89 per person without alcohol.

Time to wave goodbye to the bluebird sunshine and piles of Mammoth snow.
Fortunately, we are all planning to meet here again in 2013.

3-minute video round-up of the NASJA Mammoth experience


Couldn’t resist just a wee tip from the fashionista re: how to look fab but stay toasty.

Skiing at Mammoth can be cold but the winds there are legendary and we all know that means wind chill factors. We also know that if we keep the head and neck warm, the rest of us is pretty much guaranteed to weather the chills if the body is properly dressed elsewhere. And you can’t enjoy skiing if you’re shivering.

Some good pal put me on to a new sort of gaitor/snood/tube scarf thing called LeCol. It’s French Cashmere, looks like it might be a mini skirt in a pinch, but it’s designed to be pulled over the head to snuggle the carotids and even pull up over the head. Finished by hand in the traditional Fench torsade pattern, if has the three Fs in spades—fashionable, functional and fabulous!

Check out this latest trend with a chic Parisian influence that’s a perfect addition to your ski costume—male or female— that comes in five colours. Visit their website where this find is available at

For more information regarding the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort area, visit the following links:

Mammoth Lakes Tourism,
Mammoth Mountain,
Snowcreek Resort,
Mammoth Taxi,

  Lynn Rosen can be reached at  

HOA LogoDestinationsTravel MallTravel Links