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Opening Day at Mammoth

On the earliest opening day since 1994, Mammoth Mammoth celebrated by giving out free lift tickets. So what if half the population of California showed up? At least you could ski top-to-bottom corn off Chair 23 in mid-October.
By Jeremy Benson
posted: 10/17/2009
Mammoth Opening Day 2
Photo by: Jeremy Benson

During the early winter storm that slammed the state of California earlier this week, Mammoth Mountain received 20 to 30 inches of snow. Enough coverage to prompt the second earliest opening in Mammoth’s history, the earliest since 1994.  It’s not every year that Californians get to ski in October, and with free tickets for everyone on opening day the only question I could come up with was, “Why wouldn’t you go?”  Apparently about half the state of California felt the same way. 

Arriving promptly at 9 a.m., we got our free tickets and headed to the back of the line.  With only the Broadway Express running, the line was long and slow moving.  Luckily for us, half the people there were So-Cal bro-bras who were more interested in drinking Bud Light tall boys, smoking cigarettes, and standing around in the “park” than making turns. 

After about an hour they got Chair 3 turning, doubling the uphill capacity and thinning out the growing crowd.  At about the same time the warmth of the California sun started to soften up the otherwise bullet-proof conditions.  Mammoth may have gotten 20 to 30 the other day, but it definitely rained to the top.  Rain runnelled, but otherwise pretty smooth, the snow was dense.  To our surprise, Chair 23 started spinning around 1 o’clock, making for top to bottom runs on the 16th of October, both unexpected and unprecedented.

With snow conditions improving and terrain opening throughout the day it was hard to call it quits, but eventually the first day of the season must come to end.  Who’d have thought that a mid-October corn-cycle was all we needed to kick start the season and bring those shit-eating grins back to our faces?  Many thanks to the folks at Mammoth Mountain for a day of free skiing and reminding me how much fun it is to spend a day on the mountain.

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