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March 1, 2013

Ski the Sierras

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Mammoth Mountain in Sierra Nevada range offers plenty of snow recreation

The ski season is not over yet.

One exceptional place to check out during the winter (or summer) while stationed at Fort Irwin, Calif., is Mammoth Mountain ski resort, located in this state’s most famous mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. And getting there can be an exceptional mini-road trip as well.

Mammoth Mountain is approximately 300 miles from Fort Irwin. From Barstow, travel south on Interstate 15 to state Route 58 and go west. At U.S. 395, drive north. Mammoth Mountain is on Route 203, which you’ll access from U.S. 395 at exit 263.

On the way there, you’ll drive near Ridgecrest and the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake. North of that, U.S. 395 takes you through the Owens Valley, with the eastern Sierra Nevada on your left flank. Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet, is a short drive away from Lone Pine – one of several small towns scattered along U.S. 395. Bishop is the largest town in the Owens Valley area.

You can lodge at Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Lakes City, or even Bishop, which will only be about 47 miles away. The Web site www.mammothmountain.com has detailed information about lodging at the ski resort.

As of Feb. 28, the Web site was reporting a season total of 262 inches of snow. The Main Lodge (8,900 feet elevation) reported a base of 87 inches; McCoy Station (9,600 feet) reported a base of 115 inches, and; the Summit (11,053 feet) reported 185 inches of base snow. Surface conditions were reported as packed powder, machine groomed.

Don’t let the elevations intimidate you. At Mammoth there is something for all family members to enjoy. Ski and snowboard lessons are offered. The bunny slope is always available. There is a snow play area called Woolly’s Tube Park.

It’s a big mountain. There are 28 lifts including two, high-speed detachable six-packs and three gondolas. There are 150 named trails, with the longest run being three miles. The terrain level of difficulty is divided into percentages of: 40 for intermediate, 25 for beginner, 20 for advanced, and 15 for expert.

Other amenities include four day lodges, two on-hill snack bars, four food courts/cafeterias, five restaurants and seven bars. There is even child care available.

Equipment can be rented at Mammoth, but you can also get your gear at Outdoor Recreation, here. Skis and snowboards can be rented at $17 for the weekend or $30 for a week. Call 380-4327 for more information about their rentals. Call Leisure Travel Services, here, at 380-4767 for assistance in planning your trip to Mammoth.

For more information and lift ticket information at Mammoth, go to their Web site at www.mammothmountain.com. For road conditions, consult the California Highway Patrol Web page at www.chp.ca.gov or the California Transportation Web site at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi.

The ski season at Mammoth goes until June. And if you miss that, the summer activities in that region are outstanding too. Be safe on the road.




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