It doesn’t matter if you’re a skier or snowboarder, beginner or expert, everyone can agree that crowds ruin a day on the mountain.
Not only do crowded runs make it more difficult to find the balance between having fun and riding safely, but even on a mountain as massive as Mammoth Mountainthere simply isn’t enough snow for a crowd of people to make the kind of turns that we all dream about.
The good news is that with a little local knowledge of Mammoth Mountain’s trails and lifts, you can still find good snow and open runs on even the most crowded holiday weekends. The even better news is that the team at ASO Mammothhas combined our knowledge of Mammoth mountain and have listed our tips to avoiding crowds at Mammoth Mountain below.
Play the Weather and Time of Day
While geographical knowledge of trails is key to avoiding crowds on the mountain, another important factor is knowing where people are going to want to ride the most based on the weather. For example, if a storm dumped the night before and there are rumors of powder on the higher runs you can expect a long line at Chair 23 and even people at the top looking for whatever powder hasn’t been carved out yet.
What time you’re riding also determines what kind of crowds you’ll have to work around. While runs and lifts around the main lodge and lower areas of the mountain will be crowded all day long, if there’s a trail you’re dying to ride there your best bet is to try around Noon. For example, crowds around McCoy Station will lighten up near Noon as people break for lunch. While the windows are brief and there’s no guarantee you’ll have space to ride, figuring out what time an area will be the emptiest thanks to the lunch hour or ski schools ending is the best way to ensure that you get to ride comfortably.
Pay Attention to the Lifts
While there are plenty of lift options all over Mammoth, if you’re forced to choose between a 25 and 30 minute lift line because you didn’t plan appropriately you’re going to be kicking yourself while you wait.
As a general rule the higher you go up the mountain the quicker you’ll be able to get onto a lift. Another factor that decides how long you’ll spend in lift lines is if the lift is an express lift. Intuition would tell you that the express lifts would have shorter lines, but since everyone assumes the same thing and these lifts are placed in high volume areas the lines at express lifts are often longer than regular lifts. So if you’re at Canyon lodge and want to get away from the crowds as quickly as possible, Chair 8 is a better choice than Canyon Express and the same could be said for Chair 21 compared to Gold Rush Express and Stump Alley Express. Where you want to ride may dictate what lift you can access, but if you have some wiggle room choose the less crowded chair lift even if it’s slower.
Explore Away from the Lifts
You can also avoid the crowds by simply exploring Mammoth Mountain’s bountiful terrain. Easy places to start looking for this kind of terrain would be on the edges of the resort, near Dragon’s tail on one end and the Hemlocks on the other. While these areas are not the most accessible and require advanced skills to ride, if you’re willing to go the extra distance you’ll be rewarded with plenty of snow to yourself.
Lastly, be patient with other people on the mountain. Sometimes crowds are unavoidable and it’s no one specific person’s fault, so be patient with each other and follow these tips to find the best snow on crowded days.
If you have any questions about trails, lifts, or renting ski and snowboard gear, stop by ASO Mammoth on your way up and we’ll be happy to share everything we know!