Heinz's Report - August 08, 2004

Mammoth Madness

Mike is obsessed with Mammoth Mountain and Mongolia Bowl. He and Georgio have bushwacked to the top of Mammoth a couple of times trying to find a good route up and he has taken some of us into Mongolia Bowl on skis last winter. When the resort opened Timber Chair, just for this weekend, offering the tantalizing options of a ride up and down, he managed to convince us to join him for yet another assault.

The thing you have to know about Mike is that he really likes going where no man has gone before. A well trodden path is too mundane for him. He may break down and follow the odd goat or deer path, but only if it allows him to get around a particular tricky part. We should have known better!

From the top of the Timber, we started down Falling Star and to our surprise actually followed a bike track up to the Rock Garden, a mini-version of the Frank Slide off Mammoth. We made our way up skier�s right of the Rock Garden, alternating between a fairly good trail and the rocks. At the notch into Mongolia Bowl, Mike gleefully took us off this trail and started his route-finding up the side of Mammoth. It was the last trail we would see for the day!

The way up Mammoth alternated between scree slope and moderate scrambles to a notch that Mike said would take us to the saddle between Mammoth and the next mountain south of Mammoth, which we don�t know the name of. About halfway up the notch, things got a little interesting. While not a real chimney, the ascent up the notch did require the use of a rope. Steve was the lucky guy to go up first with the rope. I personally didn�t get to experience this area as I did my usual thing and went a different way and met up with the group at the top of the chimney. As I waited for the rest of the group to come up, Nancy came by first and didn�t even acknowledge my presence as she was so focused to get up to a good spot to rest and catch her breath. Marilyn went by and muttered something like �This is f---ing stupid!� Eastern Dave came up next and promptly sat down and had his lunch. The rest of us were thinking how the hell are we going to get down? As Mike passed by I asked him if this was his �preferred� route he had found. Of course it was!

After all of this excitement, we all agreed that the view off Mammoth was well worth the challenge. We saw parts of the Sand Creek drainage behind the Lizard Ridge that we had never seen before. We could even see the cabin in Thunder Meadows behind Island Lake. The area south of Mammoth and around Wedding Cake Mountain at the tunnel also looked very inviting for a possible future project. Unfortunately, the 5 pm last ride down Timber beckoned and we still didn�t know how we were going to get off Mammoth.

We opted for going down the other way to Lost Boys� Pass behind Mammoth and Elephant Head. The route-finding became an exercise in team dynamics and diplomacy. By this time Mike, even though he had gone down this way before, decided to leave the decision making up to the others. The debate came down to choosing between going down the exposed ridge or heading out to the bush on skiers� left on the back side of Mammoth. The bush won with the ladies. Needless to say it was brutal in the face high undergrowth, but we did manage to make it back to the chair before closing.

To atone for his sins, Mike decided to host the group for dinner at his place. He even had Dalwhinnie 15 year old for Steve and I. After the great meal and the sixth bottle of wine, we managed to forgive Mike and we actually sounded like we had enjoyed the adventure.

The route-finding up the face of Mammoth. Mongolia Bowl on the left. Watch out for the wolf Mike!

Steve in the Rock Garden.

Mongolia Bowl. An unfamiliar bowl for most of us.

Dave leading Steve and Mike up the notch. Lunchtime!

Alpine meadow on the final push to the saddle. Marilyn isn't looking for her contacts, it's just that steep!

Second lunchtime before making the final assault to the peak.

The view north from Mammoth. Lizard Ridge in the middle, Sand Creek Drainage to the left, Timber Chair way down in center-right. Fernie in the valley below.

Marilyn checking the route down. Not here boys!

Trail? We don't need no stinkin trail!

Our troupe for the day.