There Is A Clear And Distinct Difference. Which Is For You?

Hangmans at Mammoth. Pat calls the big mountain a hybrid between corporate and local.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

Just returned from my annual ski adventure with my group of guys from all over the country.  We all converge on our friend in Tahoe and enjoy the Tahoe areas and then head to Mammoth to end the week.  Have to tell you folks, there is a lot of snow left out in the Sierra.  Most likely skiing at least until Memorial Day for many Tahoe areas and Mammoth is reputed to be skiing well into July.  We had a lot of interesting conversations on the lift about our experiences at the corporate ski areas (Northstar at Tahoe), the local community supported ski areas( Mt. Rose, Nevada), and the hybrid – Mammoth Mountain, which has the feel of a ski area even though it has a large village which has that corporate resort feel.

No doubt about it. Snowpack in the Sierra is 160% of normal.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

We love Mt. Rose.  It is definitely the local area for the skiers of Reno and they take pride in the fact that it is there primarily to service the day skier.  Where else do you get 25% discount on food if you are a season pass holder?  They have specials on daily lift tickets like “Two fer Tuesdays”—two lift tickets for the price of one.  Ladies day is Thursday, and they also offer a discounted ticket if you show up the day you flew in.  I came in from Denver and was on the chair by 11:30 with a $59.00 ticket.  Pretty reasonable.  Good skiers at Rose, and most of them are either local Reno skiers, retired folks who ski there regularly, and visitors who stop to ski there on the way to Tahoe’s other areas.  The Chutes are pretty special, too, with challenging runs serviced by a chair that brings you back to the main Slide area.

When you ski Northstar at Tahoe,  you can definitely sense that corporate-ish Vail feeling.  Very chic, lots of shops and restaurants in the base village which is surrounded by well developed condo complexes. Bring your wallet because most things like food, lift tickets, and lessons, are pretty pricey as per the corporate ski resort theme.  There is a lot to be said for the ambiance created by Vail and the logistical expertise to bring good food, grooming, and snowmaking to a mountain for all to enjoy.  But a different feel altogether.

Finally, Mammoth is what I call a hybrid.  My friend always parks early in the lot by Chair 2, where we change into our boots. My father in law would call us “trunk slammers” –like the guys changing their golf shoes in the parking lot. Heading up to McCoy Station and ultimately to the Summit, we avoid most of the village rush by parking in this removed location. Most of the people are regulars.  Like Mt. Rose, there are enthusiastic Mammoth loyalists who ride the gondola all day long reveling in the epic conditions.  Again, more of a locals area than the more corporate resort areas.  People drive five hours plus from the LA area and also from the Bay Area to get there.  Ticket deals and lodging are best located on line. A little tip if you go, we ate at Giovanni’s Pizza in the Timber Ridge Resorts property—437 Old Mammoth Road.  Really good Italian food and reasonably priced.  We liked it so much, we ate there every night.  Typical senior skier behavior.

So, all in all, when visiting the Sierra as a senior skier, you have a lot of choices.  But we tend to like the ones that cater to the skier rather than the resort dweller.  But that is just us.  Go and enjoy it.

Pat (second left) and his mates who take an annual trek to the Sierra. This year they found big snow.
Credit: Pat McCloskey


  1. Mark Hutchinson says:

    Hell of a good article Patrick! Good looking group of guys too! We are lucky to have the opportunity to ski all types of ski areas together!

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