10 Tips, Tricks and Tactics to Avoid the Crowds and Lift Lines When You Ski Mammoth Mountain

This morning is another blissfully wonderful powder day at Mammoth Mountain, my home ski resort. Mammoth Mountain just got 62-88″ of fresh powder over its already generous snow base. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort now boasts a snow base of 12.5-19 feet.

Most Mammoth Mountain skiers know it gets tons of snow, but they are a little in the dark as to how to avoid crowds on the mountain after a big dump.

I have for you 10 tips, tricks and tactics I use to avoid waiting in really any lift lines when I ski Mammoth Mountain my 80+ days per year:

1) Ski midweek if possible. Mammoth Mountain Ski resort is visited most on weekends by hoards of Mammoth devotees from Southern California that have regular jobs and work during the week. Wednesday is my favorite day because you can most always ski right into any chair.

2) Get to the mountain early on weekends. The first hour is the best hour on weekends. I like to be standing in line when they open the chairs at 8:20-8:30 am. You can easily ski right into the chair for the first hour before the rest of the Mammoth devotees arrive.

3) Avoid the bottom of the mountain once you get there. Usually the biggest lift lines are at the bottom on chairs 2, 10, 8, 16, and the Village Gondola. Stay on chairs 3 and 5, or 22 and 23 to find smaller lift lines. The gondola is more crowded than chairs 22 and 23, which serve similar terrain.

4) Move around to avoid lift lines. My daughter and I ski most every Sunday together. We are able to move around the mountain and avoid all lift lines even on a Sunday. Learn which sequence of chairs works best for you. With the popularity of the Village Gondola, I stick nearer to the Main Lodge where there are less people these days.

5) Be prepared for wind and snow at all times. Mammoth Mountain has a history of underestimating the wind. If the website says it is calm or a “Slight breeze” that means nothing. Several days ago they said the winds were calm when they later closed the mountain due to wind. Check local wind gauges like the one on chair 1 for the accurate wind speed so you can dress appropriately. Wind chill is for real at Mammoth Mountain’s high altitudes.

6) Mammoth creates its own microclimate. Two days ago, I left my home 40 miles from Mammoth, and it was clear and sunny. The sun was out until I turned on the turn off to Mammoth Lakes. There I saw a cloud around the town and mountain. I continued to my favorite parking lot, and when I got out of my car and it was snowing. It snowed all day while I was skiing. And when I drove out of town, it became sunny out by Hwy 395 again. When you ski Mammoth Mountain you need to be prepared for any type of weather because you are likely to experience it.

7) Chairs 25 and 12 are perfect for intermediates, and less crowded than most.

8) Experts will love chairs 22 and 23, which serve the steepest terrain, and rarely have lift lines.

9) Wear a Fleece balaclava, or carry one in your pocket at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I did not need face protection, only to do one run and feel like my face was going to freeze. By having a fleece balaclava in my pocket, I can put it on while riding the next chair, and not have to return to my locker or car to have the right gear.

10) Wear a helmet. You can never predict what will happen to you, or when you will need you helmet. It takes only an impact of 11 mph to be fatal when bodies collide with each other or a stationary object.

OK, I have to go sample the powder. Until next post, I’ll See You On the Slopes!

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