Newbie here, need some answers!!

Weather & Road Conditions discussion forum to from and around, Mammoth Lakes, June, Bishop and the surrounding areas.

Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby william34 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:32 pm

ShiftyRider wrote:Don't buy chains if you drive a rental car. Period.

P.S. Most rental companies let you switch cars mid-rental. The switch would occur at the pickup/dropoff location, of course.


I will be driving a rental car. You say don't buy chains because I won't be pulled over, or I don't need them for the traction?

My dropoff pickup location is in LA, sadly... And as for the roof collapse possibility I think I can find a way to avoid that...

It's not because I don't want to swap car, but our whole trip was planned based on the days we will be renting the car and the dropoff/pickup times and place can't be changed, we have already made several reservations and can't really revert it.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:12 pm

I won't be pulled over, or I don't need them for the traction?

The likelihood of either happening is about the same, but while it's snowing the roads can easily become tricky. On the other hand Mammoth is more a freeway exit than a typical mountain road. The most common chain scenario R1, well, you'll see 50% of the cars chaining up but they shouldn't bother -- all tires are fine without chains for R1.

I think 98% of the time all roads are dry. 1.99% all tires all tires are fine without chains. You should check your rental car contract. If it says no chains I wouldn't.

Every year people write about putative checkpoints, but I don't buy it cuz it's never written about in the near-present tense.

Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily rule out Big Bear or Mt Charleston for your ski fix. For views Mt. Baldy Ski Area ( ~hour from downtown LA) is world class.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:29 pm

Trivia: you can see Mt. Charleston from Mt. Baldy.

Bookmark this, use the dropdown, use "Visibility cloak", repeat to explore...it shows what you would see if you were there.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby my395 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:44 pm

Alternatives to consider.

Just keep your current rental car arrangements. Drop the car in Bishop for a few days. Should not be a problem finding a good place to park it. Take Eastern Sierra Transit from Bishop to Mammoth. It is less than an hour ride. Then just use public transit, walk or taxi in Mammoth. No chains. No driving a rental car in the snow etc. Lots of people fly in and do without their own car.

If you are beginner skiers, I would not be too worried about crowds. The fun in the snow should be memorable. When you take a break from skiing, take a gondola ride to the top of the mountain. Maybe up to McCoy station for lunch. If you get tired skiing, there are snowmobile tours and rentals. Snow shoeing or cross country skiing at Tamarack, which can be very nice if the weather is good.

Can't remember if you said anything about lessons. I would definitely recommend ski lessons if this is your first time out.

Then you just get a ride back to Bishop and drive down to LA. Bishop and the drive to LA from there is usually snow free.

You can consider a drive through Death Valley when travelling from Las Vegas to Mammoth.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby cheapski » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:16 am

Bear in mind that William said he would be leaving Las Vegas at midnight. They wont be able to see anything going thru Death Valley and if its stormy I wouldnt want to be going over those mountain passes in the dark without any plowing. There isnt any help out there. The views are spectacular during the day.

Also there is some very dry champagne powder that falls at the ski area outside of Las Vegas equivalent to what you would get in Utah or the Colorado Rockies. If you are beginners who wont be doing all the terrain anyway you might want to give it more consideration.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby william34 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:27 am

I just changed my mind - Instead of spending 1 entire day visiting death valley we will be departing early in the morning before sunrise and do a single trip! Also considering the weather conditions, I might have to leave the car parked in Bishop and take public transport, which is great because I dont have to worry.

I'm now mostly set up with the route and timing (Here is the route http://goo.gl/maps/Rw2Et), still checking out where to stay, most hotels and lodge in the $100 range have 2-3 star reviews... will keep looking.

And yes taking lesson is a priority on our first day!
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby Drmcatcher18 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:02 am

I dont know why no one has mentioned this yet..... but have you looked into Brian Head Utah??? Its only a couple hour drive from LV and I have done it a few times. Stay in LV wake up at early and drive a couple hours board/ski all day then come back to LV. Brian Head has awesome snow and is a very nice place.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby windyscotty » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:20 am

Bishop is the place to bail out, because when the going gets tough up the grade, the tough hunker down in Bishop.

Death Valley is worth driving through. It doesn't take that long but is much further around than Hwy 95 and Westgaard Pass.

It can snow on any of the highways at anytime. I have driven in four wheel drive from Mojave to Mammoth many times in the past.
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Postby ShiftyRider » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:09 am

Hey, windy. Would you be willing to tool around in a convertible for a day or so while the OP borrows your hooptie for the passage to Mammoth?
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby mspamelablythe » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:17 pm

baiuse wrote:Never had a week off for president's day, just the friday and monday.

People in my office live in school districts where they take the whole week off and call it Ski Week. Wish they had that when I was growing up!
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby baiuse » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:12 pm

mspamelablythe wrote:
baiuse wrote:Never had a week off for president's day, just the friday and monday.

People in my office live in school districts where they take the whole week off and call it Ski Week. Wish they had that when I was growing up!


Are they in LAUSD? They do their own thing for holidays it seems like, extra week for winter break, end a week later in the summer than most. A week off for presidents day would have been amazing, would have been skiing all week!
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby mspamelablythe » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:07 pm

baiuse wrote:
mspamelablythe wrote:
baiuse wrote:Never had a week off for president's day, just the friday and monday.

People in my office live in school districts where they take the whole week off and call it Ski Week. Wish they had that when I was growing up!


Are they in LAUSD? They do their own thing for holidays it seems like, extra week for winter break, end a week later in the summer than most. A week off for presidents day would have been amazing, would have been skiing all week!

Redondo Beach. Wish I grew up there!
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby snowtrekker » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:57 pm

mspamelablythe wrote:
baiuse wrote:
mspamelablythe wrote:
baiuse wrote:Never had a week off for president's day, just the friday and monday.

People in my office live in school districts where they take the whole week off and call it Ski Week. Wish they had that when I was growing up!


Are they in LAUSD? They do their own thing for holidays it seems like, extra week for winter break, end a week later in the summer than most. A week off for presidents day would have been amazing, would have been skiing all week!

Redondo Beach. Wish I grew up there!


I can confirm that most Beach Cities schools now do this, although I always thought it was the week that included President's Day, not the week before.

Also, it sounds like your plans for Mammoth are pretty set, but I'd also like to second the vote for southern Utah areas. Mammoth may be the closes 'big mountain' experience, but Brian Head and Eagle Point are worthy alternatives, and you'll likely have most of the mountain to yourself at Eagle Point.
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby my395 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:42 pm

If I were 25, I would probably not do the Utah thing. Up and back... see the same stuff. I would do the LA, LV, Death Valley, Mammoth, LA "loop" to get as much bang for the buck as I could. I'm not 25 anymore.... but can remember those days :)
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Re: Newbie here, need some answers!!

Postby playfulcoyote » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:13 pm

Hi William34,

I'm kind of late to this discussion and you may already have your trip planned out already but I'm going to make a few comments. As far as needing chains you really can't know that in advance. If a storm happens to hit during that time then yes you may need chains and even then they are pretty good at getting the roads cleared after a snowfall. (If you have never seen snow then you will probably want to see it when it is snowing, I never get tired of it) One option is that you can buy chains from an auto parts store in LA and if you end up needing them great. If you don't need them or use them just return them when you get back to LA ( Ask ahead of time what their return policy is) Odds are you won’t need them, Mammoth is pretty easy to get to (no windy mountain roads) The basic trick to driving on snowy roads is to go very slowly and no sudden movement. So go slow enough that you don't have to brake hard, don't make quick turns, and don't accelerate quickly. If you feel the vehicle slipping you will probably have to put on the chains.

Another piece of advice is don't over book your trip. If you try to do too much or see too much you are going to spend the whole trip traveling in the car. I would seriously consider skipping Death Valley. It is just really out of the way and I personally don't think it is that dramatic. You would really need a couple of days just to drive around to the different spots in Death Valley. If you are looking for dramatic scenery then I would definitely try to make it to the Grand Canyon. The drive up Hwy 395 to Mammoth is also dramatic but if you do it in the middle of the night it will not matter what the scenery is like. Another option to consider is Zion National park in Southern Utah with Brian Head Ski resort not too far from there. The drive through the Virgin River Canyon on Interstate 15 going from Nevada through the corner of Arizona to Utah is pretty cool. Brian Head is a small resort but it is Beginner friendly and not very crowded. Of course it only a fraction of the size of Mammoth but it will have good snow and pretty scenery. Don't waste your time with Mt. Charleston Ski resort, it is just a tiny place, and don't bother with the resorts in the mountains above LA, they will be a complete Zoo.

Time is going to be very precious to you on this trip. It may seem like you have a lot of time but if you plan to do too much or cover too much ground you will waste it all driving around. I don't know what you budget is but you can fly to Mammoth from LA or another option is to fly to Salt Lake City from there you will have a choice of a dozen world class ski resorts within an hours drive of Salt Lake. I personally like to loosely plan trips with open days in between and then I just "play it by ear" it makes trips a lot more interesting and memorable. Of course you risk not having a place to stay when you don't have reservations but things always seem to work out.


I have to run right now, but I will check back in a couple of days.
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