My Mammoth |

My Mammoth

Jim Farber
Los Angeles Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. ” America was certainly a different place in 1959 when my parents took me to ski Mammoth Mountain for the first time. Eisenhower was in the White House, gas was 20-something cents a gallon, ” The Mickey Mouse Club” was on tel­evision, and California’s ski industry was in its infancy.

There was modest local skiing at places such as Holiday Hill, Blue Ridge and Mount Baldy, but for seri­ous southern California skiers, Mam­moth was the destination of choice. Getting there, however, was a major expedition.

The trip ” in our Willys Jeep station wagon ” took for­ever, since most of the grand Los Angeles freeway system existed as patterns on a city planner’s map.

In those days, Mammoth’s facilities consisted of three chairlifts, the No. 3 chair having just opened. There was also a rope tow that ran off the wheel rims of old cars, a poma lift and a T-bar, all of which I found difficult to ride. Skis were long and carved from wood. Mine were called Northlands and had decals of an antlered stag glued to the tips. Getting them down a slope, using a succession of snowplow and stem-Christy turns, was like trying to maneuver the Queen Mary.

Clamp-on bindings were metal with cables that ran around the heels of leather lace-up boots. Poles were bamboo with leather baskets. Clothes were woolen and heavy. And as a southern California kid, I did not take to the idea of being cold. Falling down and generally feeling miserable on some wind-swept mountain was not my idea of a good time.

Skiing was hard. And I was not very good at it. My father, a transplanted New Yorker, was the avid skier in the family. As a result, I was usually handed over to my moth­er, who was a competent skier. She was the one who had to put up with my whining and lack of enthusiasm.

Then, on the second day of our trip, I snapped the tip off one of my skies when it got stuck in a rut while I was heading for lift No. 2. I really don’t remember enjoying that trip too much.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported no new snow on local slopes in the past 24 hours in its Saturday morning snow report.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Saturday, March 8:

The avalanche danger is considerable on NE-E-SE aspects steeper than 35 degrees above treeline. West and northwest winds have created some soft slabs on these aspects. The danger is moderate on slopes that are less steep, or S-SW-W-NW-N, and all aspects near and below treeline. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible on those slopes.

Go to for the full report and information on conditions statewide.