Snowboarding Lessons Learned

I’m currently in the middle of my second stint of going to Mammoth three weekends in a row. This winter, I’ve stayed in Los Angeles only for certain occasions – Christmas, my birthday and Lunar New Year.

Yeah, it’s gotten pretty bad this year.

Admittedly, there would be no way to do this if not for my grandfathered MVP season pass, which costs just $550 each year. My friends and I have watched in awe as the price of a regular day pass rose from $48 during our college years to a whopping $79 now. Every year, after dozens of riding days or so, we enjoy the perks of essentially riding for free. Then again, not standing in the lift ticket purchase line saves bundles of time especially on holiday weekends. Getting a season pass now (with blackout dates and whatnot) starts at $1200.

It would be hard to explain exactly what a huge part of my life snowboarding is. The people I’ve met (teh internets has facilitated for sure), the people I wish I hadn’t met, friends wondering if they’re ever going to see me this month, altitude and dry air-induced bloody noses, too much laundry, goggle tans and the people who look at me for having one, dry skin, arthroscopy in my left shoulder, speeding tickets and fractured pelvises.

Yeah – I’ll get to that in a minute.

From my experience over the years in my young adult life, I’ve gathered some Mammoth-specific tips. Hard-earned ones, though mostly not learned by myself. But it’s just a little way of giving back. Most of the ones below are probably from this past month. It’s just that you know, having it in list format makes this blog post all that much more legit. 😉

  1. Stay under 80mph on Hwy 14. Sometimes you will just get pulled over by the California Highway Patrol no matter what.No, seriously. And sometimes he will act like a complete arse to you. Everybody knows that on Hwy 14, 80 mph is the invisible line separating tolerable speeding and I-can-pull-you-over-now speeding. Apparently, not any more. My friend Melissa got a ticket for 80 in the 65 zone and her passenger (boyfriend/owner of the car) got a fix-it ticket even though it’s been decibel tested already. The reason? “It’s illegal because it’s annoying.” Let’s me not get started on that power-tripping officer, who obviously got picked on more than his fair share in 3rd grade. And who needed to add to his credentials that he used to work in Southern California, where all the street racers were and how he “loved it” [thus being akin to being a kid in a candy store]. Anyone else notice these features in approximately 68.2%* of our nation’s law enforcment officers? Nah, must just be me.
  2. Watch out for skiiers.Actually, make that snowboarders too – especially the beginners. It’s easy to forget that we had so little control over our next turns, too. Friend Daniel learned this woman on skis wasn’t in control the hard way, and when trying to avoid her ended up crashing into a tree and getting two pelvic fractures. 🙁 Would appreciate some prayers if you could think good thoughts. Also for Sean, a dually able snowsportsman who has a strained MCL from going over a jump in skis.
  3. Realize that under each ski mask, goggles and/or gator could be a celebrity; examine everyone.Last Sunday my coworker Shmuel and I had failed to meet up, but before loading onto Eagle Express with his instructor during his lesson, he heard a guy with two kids ask, “May we join you?” and they agreed. When Shmuel looked over, he realized that it was Brad Pitt (also Maddox and Pax).

    “Hey you’re Brad, right?”

    “Yeah. What’s your name?”

    “Shmuel”

    “What’s that mean?”

    “It’s Hebrew/Aramaic for Brad.”

    “Really?”

    “No.”

    “Haha.”

    [Applause]

  4. Sometimes you will get pulled over by a cop no matter what.I can’t reiterate this strongly enough. Roycifer got a ticket for crossing a double yellow for merging early into the left turn lane in Alhambra – not two days after Melissa’s. This particular cop was apologetic – I’ll give that he has to be “fair” – but it still amazes me the tiniest things they regulate and how it affects you completely by chance.
  5. The Mammoth Channel weather report is unreliable.One Saturday in Mammoth, we got up and like clockwork turned on the local cable channel which broadcasts a loop of weather reports, weather expert monologues, footage of powder riding and park riding. Three weeks ago, the morning this channel predicted 5 mph winds and temps in the mid-30’s, all but 3 lifts on the mountain were shut down due to snow and wind. That is, through Sunday. Also, the roads were shut down Sunday morning until 1pm. In short, expect that you may get snowed in, no matter what the weather report says.
  6. Get off the mountain and eat at Whiskey Creek.While The Stove has their $12.99 prime rib special between 5 and 7, Whiskey Creek during their Happy Hour (4 – 5:30) is probably the best food for the best value. Their entrees are half-off during this time slot. All I have to say about their steak over Yukon potatoes and asparagus is: Delish!

And that’s about it for my Recent Lessons Of Mammoth. I don’t know – maybe someone will make some use of this in the unforeseeable future. If not, then thanks for indulging me anyway. 😉 In the meantime, remember to pack light and ask yourself, “Do I really need to do laundry?” before it’s too late. See you (or not) on the mountain.

* – estimated figure and indicative of e*star’s prejudices against all law enforcement