While most people around the country are still enjoying moderate fall weather full of leaves changing, cool evenings and putting away their Halloween decorations (while some are already taking out their Christmas lights), here I am packing my skis and gear into the Subaru.
For some of us, ski season is starting and we couldn’t think of missing it. What is it that draws us to the first ski day of the season? Is it the amazing snow? Probably not. Could it be the wide variety of terrain available? No. Is it the desire to be the first of our friends to post a chairlift pic on Instagram? Maybe. At the end of the day the experience is really just about that feeling of excitement in your stomach that builds as you know your next ski trip is approaching. It’s what makes us skiers.
The Opening Day Crowd
I made the trek to Mammoth Mountain to be a part of their opening day festivities because there’s something about being with this core group of skiers and riders that makes you feel alive. There’s something in the collective sigh of relief that the wait is over and winter has made its return. Even though for Mammoth locals, that longing for snow never really reached its peak this summer after operating into early August for skiing and snowboarding.
The crowd gathered at the base of Chair 1, Broadway Express, early. Among them, those wearing retro onesies, animal costumes, and even a skiing cheeseburger waited anxiously for their first run of the season. I got to ride with a couple of the guys that got the first chair of the 2017/18 season. They told me they had arrived at noon the day before to secure first chair. “We got here around noon and Ski Patrol let us set up chairs while they were getting everything ready. Around 6pm they let us setup our tents. I slept like a baby,” said Mike, the ninja turtle onesie wearing snowboarder.
Weather and Snow Conditions
The weather turned out to be a little iffy with wind gusts of over 90mph the night before. But, that couldn’t put a damper on the spirit of the day. The skies were blue, the temps were mild and we were there for our first turns of the season. To their credit, the Mammoth Mountain managed to pull off a phenomenal opening day, despite strong gusts throughout the day of over 60mph. The snow was thin, as expected, but pleasantly soft even though it was, for the majority, manmade. Chair 1, The Broadway Express ran with access to two runs, Broadway and Andy’s Double Gold. A patroller told me that they had stashed enough snow and were planning on making enough overnight to open Silvertip on Friday.
A Day Well Spent
I ended the day like you should any good day on the slopes, with a cold beer from the local brewery, Mammoth Lake Brewing Company. And as I sipped it, I realized that along with my sore legs, my face was tired from smiling all day. As I posted my first skiing pic of the season, I started to feel that excitement again in the pit of my stomach of knowing that my next ski trip is right around the corner.
Last But Not Least: Opening Day Pack List
- Socks: You never realize how important a good pair of socks is until you don’t have them. Luckily, I didn’t forget mine.
- Mid-layer: With the forecast looking windy for opening day, I had to prepare for the windchill. And it’s always good to pack a lightweight mid-layer jacket like the Patagonia Nano Puff. Plus, it looks great with a windblown face at the bar apres ski.
- Neck Warmer: You can never have enough neck warmers. I keep a couple in my bag. UPF 50 and wind blocking for those gusty bluebird days.
- Flannel Shirt: Because come on… it’s always flannel season.
- Helmet: Have to protect your noodle. Never leave your helmet behind.