We Sing the Slopes Fantastic

CALIFORNIA :: MAMMOTH

    Photo: courtesy, Mammoth Ski Resort

MOUNTAIN STATS:

SUMMIT, 11,053 feet
VERTICAL, 3,100 feet
SKIABLE ACRES, 3,500
ANNUAL SNOWFALL, 384 inches
LIFT TICKET, $63
800-626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com

THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA VIBE dominates Mammoth, reflecting surf culture at its most authentic. Witness the resort's massive superpipe and meticulously sculpted terrain parks, home turf of snowboard phenoms like Tara Dakides, Shaun White, and Olympic silver medalist Danny Kass.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Rising high in the eastern Sierra, this hill is surrounded by the Ansel Adams and John Muir wilderness areas, and Yosemite's just a few valleys north. The volcanic terrain, nice and steep everywhere you look, gets layers of prime frosting from Pacific storms that drop up to four feet of snow at a time. Otherwise, it's clear blue skies.
NUMBER-ONE RUN: From the summit, drop off the back side and hike to fantastic Hemlock Bowl: Ski left and follow the signs (or locals), then enjoy Mammoth's deepest shots. Afterwards, hop on Chair 14 and rest up for another hike. Repeat.
HOT LODGE: If cookie-cutter condos don't do it for you, check out Mammoth Country Inn, a Bavarian-style bed-and-breakfast. The seven rooms feature bedding worthy of royalty, and two have Jacuzzis. Your hosts, the Weinerts, serve up home-style breakfasts, and it's just a short scamper to the bus. (Doubles, $145-$185; 866-934-2710, www.mammothcountryinn.com)
SOUL PATCH: Geothermal springs with panoramic mountain vistas, anyone? South of town, just east of Highway 395, Hot Creek gloriously blends a f-f-freezing stream and feverish springs. (Stay out of the scalding stuff.) Sadly, panties are mandatory here. But you can drop your drawers at wilder hot spots like Hilltop and Crab Cooker.

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