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Welcome. Everything’s open.
For the first Thanksgiving weekend since 2004, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is open from Eagle Express and Cloud Nine Express, all the way over to Outpost 14.
“This,” said ski area spokesman Dan Hansen, “is huge for us.”
“It’s been an amazing early-season snowfall. Mother Nature has been very good to us.”
For those who are used to sketchy snow and tricky hikes on Mammoth’s Thanksgiving Weekend, this season is all different, thanks to a prodigious, seven-foot snowfall that began last Friday and ended on Tuesday night.
When the weather cleared in mid-week, what Mammothites had was a wonderland of snowplay terrain, both on the ski hill and at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center, which opened on Wednesday with pristine runs, groomed and ready to go.
Some things will always be the same, such as the runs on the groomers (Broadway, for example), the bunny slopes (i.e. Sesame Street) and the early season drops from the Drop Out Chutes and the White Out Chutes and, naturally, Cornice Bowl.
Other aspects will be radically different, There is, for instance, “The Stomping Grounds,” in the Unbound Terrain Park.
The park will feature a huge landing airbag near where the Super Pipe will eventually appear. It is a feature that will help beginner tricksters practice their McTwists and whatever, presumably saving them from a trip to Mammoth Hospital.
The big question around town is how many visitors will show up.
Thanksgiving is not a big weekend for this resort town, traditionally. Families made their holiday plans weeks and weeks ago, and they’re not going to change them just on account of early snowfall. Even so, Hansen said he expects a bump.
“The diehards are going to come up,” he predicted, “and all the base lodges will be open.”
Also open is the Scenic Loop Road, where many families enjoy sledding the nearby slopes. Others enjoy snowshoeing to the Inyo Craters, for example, or cross-country skiing.
The idea that this is happening now is on the outside edge of outrageous, though.
This is the kind of snowfall that veteran Mammothites and visitors might expect in January. Not that Hansen will be around to enjoy it. He and the MMSA marketing crew are spending the holiday weekend in San Francisco, staffing a booth near the skating rink at swanky Union Square. There, they’ll market the ski area in advance of commercial air service to Mammoth that begins in mid-December.