Standing atop aptly named Paranoid Flats I can’t help looking around 360 degrees as I walk to my preferred chute. In the distance, the craggy peaks of the Ritter Range extend above low-hanging clouds. The ridge is calm.
My friends are moving out to their intended lines. I strap my snowboard on and prepare to ride the uncut 35-degree, north-facing fluff, and I notice the loft line below me at Chaire 23 growing longer. Today we’ve managed to access the top of the mountain from the backside–it’s a rare day when Chair 14 opens first-and we are about to score nearly 1,000 vertical feet of fresh snow with no one around.
Mammoth is unlike any ski area in California. It’s steep and direct, and the snow can be cold and dry. It’s also flat-out huge. Situated on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Cres, Mammoth offers 3,100 vertical feet over 3,500 skiable acres of terrain. With a summit that rises 11,053 feet above sea level, it’s also California’s highest ski resort. That fact means a lot to both snowfall and snow quality. The higher you get the lighter the snow.