by Kris Perreault
I made my way back to California 18 years after my introduction to the state, along with friends Ted Neal, Andy Newbill, and Bishop Local Matt Thompson. This trip brought us to the Mammoth Lakes area. While the area is pretty easy to find our way around, it was really nice having Matt as our guide to hit all the best spots at the right time of day.
After a short hike up on the edge of Mammoth Lakes, we were able to explore some great climbing routes on the Warming Wall. This location has a climb for everyone from a newcomer to an experienced climber with the ability to top rope or lead rope.
The wall is Volcanic Rock ranging from polished glass to coarse grained with a little over 20 routes ranging from 5.4 to 5.12.
I took the opportunity to do my first 5.10B lead rope and feel that that little extra challenge made me enjoy the climb more than normal. After the belay back down, I realized why they call it the warming wall. If you push your limits, the adrenaline keeps you warm.
Pic: My First time Lead Rope
I was really amazed how close to town this wall is and was surprised at how few people were in the area climbing. As we set up, Newbill informed us he did not bring climbing shoes. Well, like a Batman Comic strip, KAPOW!! I threw down my AKU Tengu Lite Boots and said rock these bad boys for the day. Three climbs later, and the entire group was impressed with the AKU’s.
Pic: Newbill in the AKU’s
With our evenings full of climbing, we did our best in the morning to conquer the slopes at Mammoth Mountain. At 11,053 feet, Mammoth is the highest lift serviced summit in California.
Pic: little dots in the gap are the gondolas headed to the summit.
One of the few Mountains open to spring ski and snowboarding, Mammoth draws a pretty big crowd on weekends. However, the weekdays open up the runs and make for a bombing day of high speed GS turns and some nice steep bumps. After warming up with the group, we headed to the summit to take on Dave’s Run, Scotty’s and Cornice Bowl, all single Black Diamonds. Then we made our way over to the only Double Black Diamond open, Climax. At this point the group laughed and decided to head down Cornice as Matt and I dropped into Climax. After some great turns and a race for the bottom, we all met up and headed for the hot tub. After some food and drink, we headed to the warming wall and ran some more routes.
It’s easy to see why Mammoth is such a popular place – world-class snowboarding and skiing, great climbing, beautiful hikes, mountain biking, hot springs everywhere, and laid-back locals. Looking forward to a winter trip and hopefully not waiting another 18 years to make it.