Braving Mammoth Mountain By Ringo Boitano
Photographs courtesy of Mammoth Mountain
here was a look of horror on his face. I easily had 30 pounds on him,
and probably the same in years. A collision would certainly be of greater
harm to him than to me. For just a fraction of a second our eyes met.
He then made a perfect Stem Christie to the safety of the hill on my
left. I did my best to stay vertical, but then took an embarrassing
spill under watchful eyes. As I caught my breath, I looked up at the
towering mountain with skiers above me. I remembered what a friend had
told me earlier, If its been that long since you last skied,
then a beginners ski class is advised. That beginners
class would begin tomorrow.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Located in the heart of the Eastern Sierra mountain
range, Mammoth Mountain is a mere five hour drive from Los Angeles,
and seven from San
Diego. There's also air service from both. The highest ski resort
in California, Mammoth Mountain has been enticing skiers (and now snowboarders)
since the first ski lift was built in 1955. With more than 3,500 skiable
acres and over 400 inches of snow per year, it has one of the longest
ski seasons in North America, generally from November into June. It's
an all-skiers' resort with terrain ranging from gentle groomed runs
to steep chutes, as well as tree-lined cross-country skiing, snowmobiling
and luxury snowcat tours. A literal highpoint is the Panorama gondola,
the highest lift-serviced peak in California, which transports you to
11,053 feet for breathtaking panoramic views. The new RFID Life Pass
offers direct-to-lift access where you can re-load your lift tickets
online or via your smartphone, combating the problem of long lift and
ticket lines. A wide range of accommodations are available that includes
luxury homes, fully-equipped condominiums, lodges and budget-friendly
Mammoth Mountain Ski School
As I joined the ranks of beginning skiers the monkey
wrench tightening in my gut made me wonder if I had made the right decision.
I was never good at group instruction and the boot camp sequences from
Full Metal Jacket came to mind. Before I could duck out, we were
approached by our AASI/PSIA certified instructor. After formal introductions,
he proceeded to tell us a couple of jokes and we were immediately in
laughter and, most importantly, relaxed. We started with the
most basic of instructions. With a strong emphasis on safety, he made
us understand that we were always in control of our actions. An hour
later we were taking baby runs down the hill. "The better you get,
the more fun you'll have," smiled the instructor The group lesson
proved to be an easy social gathering, making friends with other students.
At the end of the day it was obvious why the ski school is consistently
rated one of the finest in North America. I couldnt wait to hit
the slopes the next morning.
But first it was important that I get an objective overview
of Mammoth's après-ski pleasures, represented in Mammoth Village's
plethora of restaurants and bars, many offering live entertainment.
It would also be a good time to review my ski safety tips:
WEAR LAYERED CLOTHING: Pack a shirt, sweater and jacket,
adding or removing articles as needed.
WEAR SUNGLASSES & USE SUNSCREEN: You need protection
from damaging rays reflecting off the glaring white snow.
WEAR A SKI HELMET: Yes, they look ridiculous, but wearing
one might be the difference between life and death.
KNOW THE SKI CONDITIONS: Ice and deep powder are more
dangerous than manicured terrain, so adjust your skiing style accordingly.
START SLOW & EASY: Let you body adjust to the altitude,
and protect unconditioned muscles by taking easier runs for the first
BEWARE OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS: Know the symptoms
headache, weakness, nausea, confusion, and shortness of breath.
BE CAREFUL IN THE AFTERNOON: Most injuries occur late
in the day when youre tired and slow to react, and the sinking
sun sends confusing shadows across the snow.
USE ICE, NOT HEAT: For minor muscle pull or strain use
ice to reduce swelling and ease pain.
WAIT FOR THE SKI PATROL: If youre hurt you can
make an injury worse by trying to get down the mountain yourself.
DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL: It slows reaction time and leads
to accidents. Wait until the day is over to enjoy a drink.
My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my
human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?
Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks
for blazing the trail!
Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA
* * * *
No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories
about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans
seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to
the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.
Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA
Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.
Key Logger, New York
* * * *
Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
* * * *
Thanks for taking the time
for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo
Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without
a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for
years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.
thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing
that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.
To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories
like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent
relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media
stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then.
The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda"
been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this
to yourself all these many years.
Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.
Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA
Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos,
too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered
the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to
that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.
Mick, Greenbay, WI
* * * *
Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy.
Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products,
and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant
in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually
uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord
lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down
in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait
a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city
in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations
--- you know, whats a city, which one is a town, ect so
better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to
argue about any subject.
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the
White Continent of Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are
some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is
one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination
is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more,
but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages.
Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at
Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)
The Palladian Traveler soars above the crowd with
a gal named Lima, cruises across a lake dotted with hundreds of islands,
and feasts like a king in a regal dining room.
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!)
As she came around the corner we could not believe
how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful almost elegant
in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic
example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us
was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power
she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as
quiet as a church mouse or "as quiet as dreaming trees."
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing
as the Man who Lived There
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from
the president during Black History Month Frederick Douglass has done
an amazing job... it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's
legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC
surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself
would be a good place to start.
Hanging Out in Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is legendary around the world as one
of the best surfing spots. Its waves and beaches are so great, it is also
officially known as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent
getaway, the town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand;
it also boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great
shopping, and tons of California coastal charm.
Richard Gere and Joseph Cedar Discuss "The Moderate
Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer"
Richard Gere is one of America's acting treasures. He
has an uncanny knack for selecting scripts with the most interesting characters.
Included in some of his vast body of films are "American Gigolo,
"An Officer and a Gentleman," "The Cotton Club," "Internal
Affairs," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "Unfaithful,"
and "Chicago." Joseph Cedar, writer and director of the critically
acclaimed "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,"
was born in New York City but when he was five, his family moved to Israel
where he was raised.
Tahiti and Her Islands
Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic
images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her
people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks,
tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the
senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my
experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that
Leviticus 20:13 Sent by Tom of Pasadena,
It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana
was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've
been interpreting it wrong all these years!