Mammoth Ski Resort is the largest ski area in California, about a five hour drive north of Los Angeles. It is on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the Inyo National Forest. The town of Mammoth Lakes (population 7,000) provides accommodation for skiers and boarders. We spent two weeks enjoying the Mammoth slopes in January 2012.
When we arrived in mid January, there had been no substantial snowfall since November, though the average winter snowfall is 10 metres (400 inches). The runs were only open because of extensive use of snow guns.
Then, from 21st to 23rd January, there was a big dump of 1.5 metres of fresh snow.
The slopes are accessed from three major points around the mountain; Main, Eagle and Canyon. The Village Gondola takes skiers from the village to Canyon Lodge.
The ski area is very large, with 1400 hectares (3500 acres) of skiable terrain, serviced by 28 lifts.
Dave McCoy was a hydrographer working in the area when he noticed that Mammoth Mountain had consistently more snow than other mountains. He installed the first rope tow in 1941, with the first ski lift built in 1955, and was actively developing the mountain until 2005. Now aged in his late nineties, he lives in nearby Bishop, from where he has developed a reputation as a professional nature-based photographer.