Top Intermediate and Advanced Runs on Mammoth Mountain

Spring offers up a bounty of snow conditions to help you step up your skiing or riding game. It can be wintry and snowing one week and sunny and warm the next. The typical freeze-melt cycle assures wildly varying snow conditions from morning to afternoon, making spring the perfect time to challenge your skills.

Even experts seek out difficult and varying terrain to test and improve their performance.

Steeps, bumps, hard and icy terrain, powder, crud, and trees are where skiing skills are honed, because those skills are crucial for avoiding injury.

This blog post is for intermediate and advanced skiers who want to push their limits. If you have questions about what category you fit into, ask a skiing professional at Mammoth Mountain, Footloose Sports, Wave Rave or Kittredge (to name a few). Keep in mind that your quest for a personal breakthrough will be an ongoing process.

The secret to breaking through to expert riding is to practice the basic skills (stance, steering, footwork, edging) in varied conditions and terrain. ou want to actively seek out ways to put your skills to the test and challenge yourself. There may be a southern facing slope with a thick crust or a mild bump run that had sun the day before and now is bulletproof and fast. Tight trees on mild slopes can be tricky enough for an adrenaline rush, and a sleepy intermediate cruiser can be a rush with six inches of good powder.

Be sure to start slowly and build your way up. Take small steps. If you are comfortable on blue runs or single black diamond runs, look for terrain challenges right at or slightly below what you’re already comfortable on.

Here are some of my favorite runs and top picks for finding a variety of snow conditions and challenges on Mammoth Mountain. Try them out and get on your way becoming an expert!

Bulletproof Groomer / Hardpack / Ice

Goal: To carve a turn through a ski’s natural radius without interruption or skidding.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

  • Panorama Gondola: Climax to Saddle Bowl to Broadway.
  • Face Lift Express – 5: Center Bowl to Exhibition to Stump Alley.

Powder

Goal: The pure enjoyment of the blessings from the Snow Gods. To plane on top of the snow, to make effective turns, and to keep a centered stance.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

  • High-Five Express 5: Face of Five or Sanctuary.
  • Chair 23: Cornice Bowl or Paranoid Flats or The Hemlocks.

Crud

Crud is ugly, nasty stuff that brings up thoughts of pain and frustration. Crud is a funky mixture of snow conditions. Crud is transition snow; it starts as chopped up powder, then becomes smooth firm snow, turns into bumps, or becomes covered by the next snowfall. Crud is variable; it changes with time, temperature, sun, altitude and moisture.

Goal: To learn how to read the variable crud snow conditions by sight and feel and use the appropriate mixture of powder and firm snow skiing techniques.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

Skiing crud has less to do with the trails and more to do with the conditions. Look for any ungroomed trail that has been skied out after a powder day. Especially keep you eyes out for skied up terrain that has either warmed up and become heavy in the afternoon or has been subject to a freeze-melt cycle.

Moguls / Bumps

Goal: The expert strives to ski a single, continuous line through a mogul field without drastic fluctuations in speed or direction. Following a continuous line down slope, maintaining a consistent speed, using smooth movements that preserve balance and conserve energy.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

  • Chair 12: Secret Spot.
  • Chair 14: Lower Arriba or Directly Beneath Chair.

Steeps (approaching or exceeding 35 to 40 degree pitch).

Goal: To make each turn a success – falling on the steeps or blowing a turn and accelerating are not attractive options.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

  • Panorama Gondola: Huevos Grandes (expert) or Cornice Bowl (high intermediate).
  • Chair 23: Paranoid Flats.

Trees

Goal: To control your turn radius and speed, adapt to varying snow conditions and pitch, and not “brain” yourself.

Mammoth Lifts and Trails:

  • Chair 14: Outpost Glades
  • High Five Express 5: Face of Five and Comeback Trail.

Crowded Trails

Goal: To not crash into or otherwise harm another human being. Mammoth Lifts and Trails: Stump Alley Express (Chair 2): Stump Alley on a holiday weekend

FINAL THOUGHTS

Step up your game. Go for excitement. Go for glory. Keep in mind, experimentation and fun is the goal. If skiing stops being fun or if you find yourself a rut, then it’s hardly skiing at all. Agreed? Good. Enjoy!

Bryan Anaclerio

I am an avid, competent, and enthusiastic (backcountry) skier. I have instructed courses at the community college level in Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding, Avalanche Awareness, Backcountry Winter Mountain Travel, Winter Camping, Mountaineering, and Alpine Rescue. I love and respect the Sierra Nevada mountains. I have traveled extensively throughout the entire range, either hiking for weeks…

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