The Motion of Mammoth

How the landscape drives the vibe

The Motion of Mammoth

How the landscape drives the vibe


Living up to its name, Mammoth Mountain is a behemoth of a ski resort. Its 3,500 acres of skiable terrain is in constant transformation, which challenges residents and visitors alike to keep up and ski what’s new before it’s not. In Mammoth, there’s no such thing as ‘stop’–a mentality held sacred by those who know Mammoth best.

Situated among the eastern Sierra Nevada range–which is 300 miles long and 50 miles wide–and offering one of the longest, if not the longest, ski season in the United States, there is no shortage of things to do in Mammoth and the surrounding area.

“Even in the middle of winter you can still drive 40 minutes down the road to Bishop and go rock climbing,” says Christian Pondella, professional adventure sports photographer and Mammoth local for 25 years. “Just the diversity of what you can do and how many things you can do year-round, it’s kind of hard to match it to anywhere else, in my opinion.”

Mammoth Mountain sees an average of 400 inches of snow each year but even when it hasn’t snowed in weeks, the resort still skis incredibly well thanks to its predominantly north-facing direction, wind and the prominence of the mountain’s peak. When it does snow, however, Mammoth takes on a completely different look–keeping even the locals on their toes when it comes to that particular day’s skiable offerings.

“It’s not uncommon to have these storms come in and completely transform the mountain, which is kind of a cool thing,” says Pondella. “Huge cliff bands will completely disappear over a storm or two… 40-foot cliffs just get buried in snow because of how much it snows and how much wind-loading there is. It’s pretty wild how the mountain can transform itself.”

Along with its abundance of snow, Mammoth’s consistently good weather–an average 300 days of sunshine per year–negates any sort of excuse not to ski.

SKIER: Bernie Rosow | PHOTO: Christian Pondella | LOCATION: Mammoth, CA

“From day one when the season opens to the final day when the season closes, Mammoth Mountain has more quality ski days through the entirety of the season than any other ski area in the country,” Pondella proudly states.

From steep faces, narrow chutes and gladed terrain to rolling groomers and a baker’s dozen of world-renowned terrain parks, Mammoth Mountain offers something for every level of skier. But it’s the eat-sleep-ski-repeat kind of skier who thrives in the always-evolving nature of Mammoth. For Bernie Rosow, Mammoth Mountain skier and snow cat operator for 18 years, Mammoth is exactly what his on-the-go lifestyle calls for.

“Getting a job as a cat operator was a big part of what kept me here. It’s a dream ski bum job,” says Rosow. “I’m up there at night and I see when it snows, what’s going to be good the next day [to ski].”

And the energy doesn’t cease at the resort gates. Mammoth’s location provides unmatched access to a virtually endless bounty of backcountry skiing in the jagged eastern Sierra range, which, for the most part, is accessible by snowmobile–making skiing from sunrise to sunset not only doable, but almost necessary.

“You can ski until [the resort is] tracked out and then jump on your sled and be in the backcountry instantly,” boasts Rosow, whose daily routine consists of skiing the resort, then the backcountry, working all night and getting up the next day to do it all over again.

Its sheer size, variety and diversity of snow and terrain and its massive offering of year-round activities means you really have to try to be bored at Mammoth. And if you ask the locals, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mammoth Mountain by the Numbers

Average Annual Snowfall: 540 inches
Total Skiable Acreage: 3,500 acres
Number of lifts: 28
Vertical Drop: 3,100 feet
Total Trails: 150+
Regional Airport: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)

Trail Breakdown

Beginner: 25%
Intermediate: 40%
Advanced: 20%
Expert: 15%

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