Fresh Powder at Mammoth
Photo: courtesy, Mammoth Mountain
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Snowfall: 400 inches
Area: 3,500 acres
Vertical Drop: 3,100 feet
Thanks to its altitude advantagethe summit is more than 2,000 feet higher than Squaw Valley'sMammoth offers Sierra skiing without the Sierra cement. Expect Rockies-quality snow that stays fresh for days after a storm. Long overlooked by most skiers outside of California, Mammoth has been rediscovered in recent years, thanks to a thriving park-and-pipe scene down low on the mountain, new direct flights from LAX, and a revitalized town. Five years ago the place was decrepit (think shag-carpeted chalets); now, it's full of new restaurants and bars. But it's still easy to find uncrowded terrain and deep snow up high. On a powder day, head directly to Chair 22 and float turns through the loosely treed Grizzly and Shaft zones while waiting for the Avalanche Chutes to open. Then it's on to Chair 5's Face for a couple of laps of untracked. If the light is good, ride the Panorama Gondola to the high alpine for steep shots off the summit.
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