Mammoth ski resort
One of the best loved ski areas in North America, Mammoth is the skiing embodiment of the American dream – rising from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s top resorts.
Mammoth was founded in 1942 by a remarkable man, Mr Dave McCoy, who secured an $85 loan to set up a rope lift on the mountain. McCoy went on to run the resort for most of his life until his retirement in 2005 at the age of 90, making it one of the longest surviving ski areas to avoid corporate take over.
After McCoy’s retirement, Starwood Capital Group bought the ski resort and quickly began to implement changes, building a full resort base village – previously most lodging was down in the town of Mammoth Lakes. A long-planned gondola link to Mammoth Lakes was also added – cutting out the need for skiers to drive up to the base area car parks each morning – along with a ski run back down.
Standing alone in Southern California, Mammoth has grown to encompass a huge ski area, with a speedy modern lift network. A great snow record means the ski area offers one of the longest ski seasons in the world, typically opening in the first half of November and often staying open into June – although it has reached into August in the past.
Mammoth is located on the eastern edge of California’s Sierra Nevada range. It is to the east of Yosemite National Park (access road closed in winter) and inland from San Francisco on the USA’s west coast.
On the slopes
The season in Mammoth officially runs from mid-November to late April, but it is usually open until late spring and sometimes even to 4 July, for the Independence Day holiday weekend.
With over 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of ski terrain, Mammoth’s huge ski area offers slopes for all standards. A quarter of the runs are graded easy; two fifths intermediate; and the remaining third or so advanced – the terrain typically becomes steeper the further up you go.
The upper mountain is a mecca for advanced skiers and boarders, with a swathe of black and steep double black diamond trails swooping down into the powder fields below the summit ridge. However, there is an easier route down for those who need it.
Intermediate skiers can find over a hundred runs to entertain them, while beginners have a special low-priced lift ticket that covers three lifts accessing easier terrain. There are also low-price introductory offers including a lift ticket, tuition and equipment rentals.
The resort’s nine Unbound terrain parks have built up a worldwide reputation and spawned easier, family-friendly offshoots suitable for those unnerved by super pipes and big jumps.
Mammoth has invested heavily in on-mountain improvements in the past decade and is one of only five ski areas on the continent to offer more than 25 chairlifts and gondolas (many of them high-speed versions), with a combined uplift in excess of 50,000 people per hour.