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El Niño’s blessing: an early season gift by the elusive storm

El Nino is here, and with it comes the 2015 winter season. Over the past three years California has experienced dry, hot summers resulting in moistureless winters that have yielded minimal snowfall.

In 2010, ski resorts in California received record breaking snowfall thanks to our stormy friend El Nino. According to, the ski resort in Mammoth Lakes topped the lists as the resort with the most snow in the world.’s Extended Snow History demographic shows a total of 55.7 feet of snowfall throughout 9 months in 2010.

Unfortunately, the following seasons were not as bountiful: 2011-12 at a total of 21 feet, 2012-13 a total of 25 feet and 2013-14 a low total of 19 feet.

All hope of a plentiful season delivered by El Nino was hopelessly and utterly lost.

Until now.

Since the timely arrival of El Niño this year, Mammoth Lakes has experienced an early season and a quite generous amount of snowfall. So much that the resort was able to push opening day ahead one week, opening Thursday, Nov. 5 instead of the scheduled Nov. 12. That made Mammoth the first ski resort to open in California for the 2015 winter season.

Since Nov. 3 it has snowed a total of 56 inches (more than three times the amount accumulated in November over the past two seasons) giving the resort a strong 48-inch base cover at the Summit.

Opening week’s 12 inches of snow, combined with the following week’s additional 20 inches paved the runs with fresh, sparkly powder. In fact, there was enough coverage to explore nearly half of the 3,500 acre resort.

Compared to Bear Mountain’s base of 17 inches and Mountain High’s base of 16 inches, it’s clear that Mammoth Mountain is once again California’s leading snow resort.

During the weekend of Nov. 12, this reporter made his way to this winter wonderland to experience El Nino’s blessing first hand.

Six hours, 367 miles, and one speeding ticket later I finally arrived. Although tired and suffering from decreased blood flow to my gluteus maximus, my enthusiasm and excitement was unaltered.

Lift tickets were on sale for $90.00, but I was able to obtain a Friends and Family Voucher from a friend of mine which knocked the price in half. An entire day of riding for $45.00? Well worth it if you ask me.

After a restless night of anticipation, Friday morning had arrived and it was time to finally strap on my board and dive face first into some glorious powder! I made way to the Gondola for my first run and nostalgic feelings of excitement were rushing through my body.

I reached the top and immediately my heart rate increased, I could feel my veins dilating and the blood coursing through faster and faster. Dropping into the massive Cornice Bowl from the 11,000 foot summit generated an immense rush of adrenaline that is incomparable to any other experience. As I carved down the face, my adventurous nature took hold as I was already planning where to go on future runs.

I eventually made my way to the backside of the mountain in search of a few secluded, secret spots I used to ride, which ended up being far better than any of the groomed runs I had ridden earlier that day. The snow tucked in the trees was nearly untouched by other riders, and as a result, I was presented with fresh, deep powder and endless runs for the remainder of the day.

“It feels like you’re floating on a cloud you know? There’s not really any other feeling like it,” explained Tina Almeida, a student at MiraCosta College and previous resident of Mammoth Lakes, who was in the same location snowboarding.

After a tiring and successful journey into the white wondrous world of Mammoth Lakes, I can safely say that I am highly satisfied with EL Nino’s early arrival this year.

Hopefully some of you snow-chasers out there will make your way up to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy this magnificent winter and feed the need!

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