Local Beta: The best spots at Mammoth Mountain courtesy of Chris Benchetler

April 28th, 2014 by

With a season that can sometimes last until July, Mammoth Mountain has long been one of North America’s spring skiing meccas, and is open at least through Memorial Day this year. Chris Benchetler has called Mammoth his home mountain since a very young age. When he’s not traveling the world with Nimbus Independent, he can often be found slashing pow turns on Mammoth’s 3,500 acres of skiable terrain or throwing down in the famed Unbound Terrain Parks. To honor that wonderful time of year we call spring, we caught up with Benchetler to get in the inside scoop on the best spots at Mammoth Mountain.

Benchetler’s scoop on Mammoth:

Best ski shop:
I use two shops pretty equally. Footloose is great to get you set up with skis, boots and bindings. They do great boot work, as well. Kittredge is awesome too. They’re great at fixing up skis and taking care of any additional needs.

Best line at Mammoth:
Depends on the day, really. We get some cool wind drift features that form on the back. Climax is always good on a bluebird pow day. Chair 22 is all time on a storm day.

Best breakfast spot:

Stellar Brew. I’m a bit on the healthier side, so they have tons of local and organic options. Epic breakfast burritos are ready at 5:30 a.m. as well, so any long days planned in the backcountry require a pitstop there before you head out.

Best lunch:

Toomey’s. My go-to choices are either the lobster taquitos or the fish tacos finished off with a delicious dessert from Mimi’s Cookie Bar. Toomey’s carries Mimi’s goods in the restaurant, which is an organic bakery in town that my wife and I helped open up. I highly recommend anything that she makes, it’s all amazing.

Best après:
Get some local beers from Mammoth Brewing Co. and head out to the hot springs with a crew. Always an epic way to top off a good day of shredding.

Best dinner:
Petra’s, across from the village. They have a tasty menu. I change up my order quite often and you can’t really go wrong. The brussel sprouts are a must try. Even if you don’t like brussel sprouts, these may be the ones that convert you into a believer.

Best meal under $5:
Probably Z-Pizza. They have a slice and a beer special for five bucks, I believe.

Best coffee shop:

Black Velvet. Local pro shredder Matt Hammer started it a few years back. Organic and locally roasted beans. Super tasty, high-end coffee. I go with an almond milk latte.

Best off-hill antics:
Climbing. There are epic sport climbs and bouldering spots super close to town.

Best night life:
Probably The Underground if you’re looking for a club scene. For a mellower scene, I’d go with the Tavern. Solid drinks, good food and good people tending bar.

Best music venue:
The Village. When they hold an outdoor concert, it’s always a good time. In the winter, if it’s too cold for an outside show, Canyon Lodge pulls off a good show. Or, if you’re here in the summer, they have some great shows in the woods at a place called Sam’s Wood Site.

Best beer:
Again, Mammoth Brewing Co. They just moved locations to the old Whiskey Creek building. They have tastings daily.

Best spot to pick up a girl:
Match.com.

Must do activity in Mammoth:
Ski, climb and bike, all in the same day. The Eastern Sierra trifecta.

Best summer activity in Mammoth:
I’d personally choose climbing, but the mountain biking is sick, too. The whole mountain turns into a bike park. Then on the climbing side, there’s granite and rock surrounding us everywhere. Tuolumne and Yosemite aren’t too far away either, which are known globally as big climbing meccas.

Best hotel or place to stay:
The Westin. Great location, rooms and restaurant.

Best spot to avoid the wind:
Inside.

Best place to meet Chris Benchetler:
Usually at Mimi’s Cookie Bar. But, May 24-25 I’m hosting a spring camp based around shredding and my love for the Eastern Sierra. In addition, there will be climbing and biking in the afternoons. Hope to see you there.

Related: Local Beta: Sean Pettit gives a rundown of the best spots in Whistler

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About the author:
Donny O'Neill hails from the mystical, faraway land of New Hartford, CT. When he's not in the mountains searching for Big Foot, he's the Associate Editor here at Freeskier.