Zen and the Art of a Powder Day on Mammoth Mountain

The best and most exciting alarm in the morning is the sound of ski patrol setting off avalanche bombs on Mammoth Mountain, making the terrain is safe for us to ride. The blissful sound of loud bangs and explosions in the distance can only mean one thing:

It’s a powder day!

After a five-foot dump that opened 100% of The Mountain, I’ve been out enjoying all the awesome freshies that the snow gods have deposited all over the mountain.


I hear riders all the time say, “there are no friends on a powder day.” While it’s always exciting to get first chair and fresh tracks everywhere you go on the mountain, there is nothing like sharing your stoke and excitement with your closest shred buddies. And, it’s less stressful than trying to jockey for place in lift lines, loosing your friend in the process.

Let the terrain decide

My advice? Head up with a crew of three or four close friends and let the numbers dwindle or grow according to everyone’s skill level. Some of your friends may not be able to make it to Hole in the Wall, but will gladly lap Chair 12 with you all afternoon after you’ve grown tired of the Dragons Tail. Let the terrain speak for whether or not you ride with a crew.

Ditch the music

Powder days not only exhilarating, they can be calming. The land’s blanketed with white. The snow muffles sounds and a quiet calm descends upon a powder day. That’s why I recommend riding without music. I don’t even bring my headphones with me. There is nothing like hearing the soft whoosh of the snow spraying underneath your board and the vast silence of flocked trees. You may hear the faint whooping and hollering of people shouting out their feelings of stoke in the distance, but even that is softened by the newly fallen snow.

Stay Safe

For many advanced riders, powder days usually mean one thing: taking laps in the trees off the trail in an effort to snag more fresh tracks. Tree laps also heighten the risk of getting hurt, but a higher risk means a greater reward right? With that in mind, here are the three most important tips when it comes to safety on a powder day.

1. Helmets are a must.

While there is a huge debate in the snowboarding community when it comes to noggin blockers at the end of the day, riding in the trees puts us all at a bigger risk of accidents happening, so we might as well take an extra minute getting ready and throw a helmet on our heads for good measure.

2. Ride with your cell phone and brightly colored outerwear.

Getting lost in the serenity of the trees might mean that sometimes you just get lost.

Keep the number for ski patrol saved in your phone just in case you get into a sticky situation (760- 934- 0611).

Another smart choice is to wear brightly colored outerwear. I prefer Volcom Gore- Tex outerwear. The jackets from Volcom come with a zipper pull that doubles as a safety whistle if you can’t get to your phone and they have zip tech which gives you the ability to zip the powder skirt from your jacket to your pants so that the chances of getting snow soaked into your base layer are gone.

3. Know the terrain.

Download the Mammoth Mountain app on your phone so that you have the terrain map permanently saved onto your phone just in case you get lost. If you don’t know the runs on the mountain inside and out, make sure to read over the map beforehand. Be aware of the difficulty level of each run so that you aren’t dropping a double black diamond into the trees if you aren’t ready for it.

A few final words

At the end of the day, powder days are some of the most sought after and exciting days on the hill. There is nothing that compares to the joy that comes from spending all day hiding in the trees strapped into your snowboard riding down a sea of white fluffy snow. Enjoy every second of it and lets snag some laps!

Neev Zaiet

Neev works at Wave Rave in Mammoth Lakes. She's a snowboard journalist, a self-proclaimed awful singer, an amateur climber and a dancing addict. She believes standing sideways is a way of life.

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