Monday, January 15, 2018

The Legs Feed the Skiing

There is a saying that the legs feed the wolf.  Likewise, the legs feed the skiing and in order to feast on the mountain, I run the hills.   At the same time, like a runner training for a race, my focus has heightened, with the goal being to get to Mammoth Mountain as often and as easily as possible.

Season Pass

The best way to ski Mammoth is with a season pass.  At $100+ a day for lift ticket, buying a season pass in the spring for $700-800 is a no-brainer.

Get and Tune Your Own Equipment

To get on the mountain fast, get your own equipment.  Skip the hassle of renting, and buy your own equipment.  If new to skiing, take a look at, which is one of the few online ski shops that sells a complete package of boots, binding, skis and poles.  Wait for a sale, and buy last's years models.  Decent packages can be had for around $400 with free shipping.

The second thing is to tune your own equipment.  Don't waste time and money paying someone to tune your skis - it's easy and meditative.   To get a ski vise, ski iron, edger, brushes, scrappers, files,  gummi stones and wax will run around $250-300.  But, is well worth it.  I wax and edge my skis before every trip and it makes a huge difference in the speed and handling of the skis.

Ski Tuning Equipment

Pack Your Bags 
Chasing snow is like chasing waves, it's unpredictable.  Therefore, its best to be prepared to ski at a moment's notice. To that end, my ski stuff is always ready to go.  I keep a bag with my hat, gloves, googles, socks, long underwear and face mask packed.  To skip the mental anguish of remembering what to bring, I look at a photograph of a typical set of ski clothing for the day: 

Ski clothing for a day
Carpe Diem

Seize the moment.  Have a meeting in Los Angeles, which is 60-90 minutes closer to Mammoth than San Diego?  Did it just snow a foot two days before?  Then go skiing.  On the left is the view from my office in LA.  I prefer the view on the right, which is 395 North, with the Eastern Sierras in the foreground.


Lodging in and around Mammoth is varied.  I've stayed in condos on the mountain, houses in June Lake and dive motels in Bishop.  My favorite, from a cost perspective, is the Double Eagle Resort & Spa in June Lake.  Yes, it's a 25 minute drive to the mountain, but it's quiet, clean and the rooms are spacious.  This trip, a two-night stay cost $412.61, all in. 

The Payoff

Friday, 1/12/18 was a good day.  Mammoth was empty.  I was the first skier on the Gold Rush Express, which opened at 8:26 a.m.  I finished my last run around 4:15 p.m.  Strava put me at a personal best of 56.6 miles, which includes going up the chair lifts.  Saturday was crowded.  However, I stayed up on the higher lifts, then drifted over to the Backside around 11:00.  I then made my way back to the Mill, where I was parked, around 1:00 p.m.  I was about to split, when I noticed that while the Stump Alley Express was super-crowded, no one was waiting for Gold Rush.  Once at mid-mountain, the line for the High Five Express was almost non-existent, so I kept skiing at notched another 40 miles on burning quads.      

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