Opening Day at ski area looked good, felt right

It’s just not in the culture of Mammoth Mountain to miss an Opening Day — natural snow or manufactured, blue skies or gray, rain, snow or fire and brimstone.

This season was no different.

The ski area opened yesterday with five lifts ready to go, including the Lower Gondola.

It also opened with 13 terrain features, said Joani Lynch, ski area spokeswoman.

Working on a base ranging from 18 to 24 inches, the ski area opened Chair 1 (Broadway Express); Chair 6 (Thunder Bound Express); Chair 11 (Discovery Express) and Chair 3 (Facelift).
The first chair left Broadway at 8:30 a.m.

“I’ve been counting down the days since Fourth of July,” said Jon Bessette, 31, of Rancho Cucamonga. “Opening Day here is bigger than Bear [Mountain] or [Snow] Summit all year.”

“Opening Day here is a lot better,” said John Deane, 33, of San Bernardino. “There’s more than one run.”

“We’re here to snowboard with friends,” said Justin Chapman, 32, of San Diego. And, of course, “for the bragging rights.”

“Yeah, we get to brag to friends,” said Deane. “They’re all sitting at work.”

The popular ski run “Face of 3” did not open, Lynch said, but the back run off Chair 3, Saddle Bowl, opened on schedule.

Snow conditions were favorable as of mid-week, with temperatures cold enough to run the artificial snow machines day and night.

Mother Nature is set to move in today and offer snow showers through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Accumulations are expected to be negligible, the weather service said.

It hasn’t always been this way.

In the 1995-96 season, not only was there no natural snow for Opening Day, there was none at all for the entire month of November.

November snow totals for 1992-93 measured just a half-inch, while in 2007-2008, only 4.5 inches of snow fell during the month.

In mid-week this season, snow guns blasted away in the Broadway neighborhood, falling on top of a modicum of natural snow.

As is the custom, CEO Rusty Gregory officially greeted the Opening Day gathering with a champagne toast from the sun deck at Main Lodge.

Afterward, the après-ski parties began, the first of many party scenes planned this weekend.


Aleksandra Gajewski contributed to this report.