Monday, February 9, 2009

Skiing Blind in Mammoth

Snow dumped on Mammoth like it had no other place in the world to go. It made skiing there this past Friday and Saturday an exercise in skiing by feel, rather than by sight.

If the snow let up, the fog rolled in. And if a skiier could get over being cold and wet and having little snow pellets sting every exposed pore in her face, she would be treated to the most fluffy, slippery, fun powder days she had ever experienced.

Fun for her, evil for her quads.

Powder skiing isn't exactly the greatest way to rest sore quads before continuing onto the next "build" phase in an ultra cycling training plan.

But they are always, 100% totally worth the short, intense pain. And powder days are always, 100% totally more awesome than being stuck in LA when it's cold and rainy.

Mammoth's runs are all short. When it's snowing, the top of the mountain with all of the supposedly most rad runs is shut down. Maybe there are some longer runs if you start up there, but I have yet to huck myself off of them.

If you're skiing as a rest week activity--and/or as revenge for two days lost to a Death Salad--Mammoth's short expert runs are just what the coach ordered.

Runs off of lift 22, when covered in boatloads of powder, are bliss. Blind, foggy runs off of 5 will engage your core while teaching you to balance as you ski over stuff you can't see at all because the ground below you is literally attached to the sky surrounding you. Runs to the right of lift 1 offer short chutes and the occasional sighting of intense wipe outs as daredevils huck off of rocks.

And the worse the weather gets, the more the crowds thin out. And the higher you're willing to go up into the fog, the higher your chances of not having to play frogger on your way down.

Mammoth is an awesome getaway for Californians. I'd recommend going on a weekday in order to get in more skiing and less time standing in line for a lunch table or a ride up.

But Telluride is still my happy place. Even during the biggest holidays, Gold Hill never has a line, and the opportunities for creating an epic run of 3000 vertical feet of pure moguls are far greater than at Mammoth.

Just remember: About a 6 hour drive from the South Bay of LA, Mammoth = Recovery. Telluride = Intense Training for those willing to seek it out.

Happy Cross Training!

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