Your Basic Guide to the Mammoth Lakes Backcountry

There’s nothing better than skiing and snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain, but there is one drawback.

After you’ve explored challenging terrain and gotten a taste of Sierra snow, you can’t help but want more.

There is plenty of terrain at Mammoth Mountain, but if you want to recreate the same sense of adventure that you had when you explored it for the first time then you’ll have to head to the backcountry. You can’t just walk into the backcountry though, so to make sure you have a great day outside the resort the Mammoth Bound team has put together a simple guide to the backcountry near Mammoth Mountain. Check it out below and make a few turns for us once you get out there!

Backcountry Safety Comes First

The reason you can’t just walk into the backcountry isn’t because of a lack of lifts or sidewalks, it’s because it is much more dangerous than resort riding. 

We don’t want you to be afraid of the backcountry, but we do want you to be prepared. In order to be prepared you must understand that no amount of experience or knowledge guarantees a safe day in the backcountry. That’s why even experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders always ride there with at least an avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, and a snow shovel. 

They also ride with knowledge of the area and dangers of backcountry riding, so if you only of one or neither of those things then hire a guide for your trip. Lastly, never venture into the backcountry alone. A buddy could be the difference between life and death, so always have one in sight!

We can’t cover everything you need to know about how to ride safely in the backcountry, so don’t let this guide be the only research you do ahead of your first trip!

There is Backcountry at Mammoth Mountain

Although it doesn’t technically qualify as backcountry riding, there are places within Mammoth Mountain’s boundaries where you can get the thrill and adventure of the backcountry without most of the risks.  

The Hemlocks on Mammoth Mountain’s backside offer the steep terrain and deep snow most people identify with backcountry riding along with natural features that will challenge even the best skiers and snowboarders. Mammoth Mountain also offers a backcountry clinic that explores Mammoth’s awesome terrain while teaching participants the basics of backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Backcountry Beyond Mammoth’s Boundaries

If you’re new to backcountry or are just new to the area, then we recommend hiring a guide for a safe trip into the Eastern Sierra wilderness. A few of the most popular guide services are Sierra Mountain Guides and International Alpine Guides.

One of the most popular runs in Mammoth Lakes is The Hole in The Wall, but accessing it is dangerous if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Nearby are Sherwin bowls, Duck Pass, and Solitude Canyon which can all be accessed from the Lakes Basin. Don’t forget that the roads leading into the Lakes Basin are closed throughout winter, so be ready to hike! Just outside of Mammoth on Highway 395 is White Wing which can be accessed by parking off 395 and following Glass Creek up the mountain.

Remember to bring plenty of water, food, and cold weather gear along with your backcountry safety gear. Doing anything at over 10,000 feet can be exhausting, but hiking through snow on steep inclines with ski and snowboard gear is even more tiring at elevation. Prepare physically and mentally for your trip into the backcountry so you’ll be able to do it all over again the next day!

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