Mammoth Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe

“The best adventure is always the one that I will go on tomorrow.”
~Kilian Jornet, Skyrunner

Top of Unnamed peak above Deadman Pass
Hmmmmmm….what to do when everyone is away for Christmas and it is impossible to join them?

Plan a micro adventure of course. The timing was perfect for a winter excursion with a snow storm coming in and temperatures in the teens.

Our micro adventure blasted off with a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at the Totem Pole Cafe in Lone Pine, CA with our hiker friends, Love Note and Burly.

After spending the night in Bishop, CA, we woke up to a white Christmas morning with new snow icing the surrounding mountains.

Lake Mary Basin Cross Country Ski

Day 1 we spent the day exploring Mammoth Lakes Basin on cross country skis. The Tamarack XC Ski Center south of the town of Mammoth Lakes has everything for the beginner to advanced skier including groomed trails through frozen alpine lakes and forest. Nineteen miles just waiting to be explored.

Lake Mary Basin

Twin Lakes
Lake Mary

Lake Mary

Lake George

Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Pack


Minaret Vista and Deadman Pass

Day 2 we strapped on snowshoes and headed out from the Mammoth Ski area main lodge. Our first destination was Minaret Vista. This is a popular drive during summer months with some pretty spectacular sunsets. During the winter it is a quiet and tourist free snowshoe.

Next up with the help from my iPhone GPS, we trekked up to San Joaquin Ridge. This ridge is open, high, and is known for high winds, but so worth the exposure. The views are endless with breathtaking panoramas of the Minarets, Mount Banner and Ritter, and views north to Yosemite.

Next we headed down to Deadman Pass then up to an unnamed peak with lunch at the top.


I highly recommend this winter excursion. Challenging and the reward is great.
TRIP DATE December 26, 2014
LENGTH 10.4 miles round trip
TRAIL HEAD Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge
DIFFICULTY Moderate to strenuous

Dan heading up to San Joaquin Ridge

Skyline of the Minarets and Mount Banner and Ritter

Deadman Pass

Snow frosting
Lunch Spot

View east from Deadman Pass

View Back of ridge and unnamed peak just climbed

Tree Root Art
I love planning and going on these little trips. You come back home fully exercised, relaxed, and feel like you have been away for a week.

What micro adventure have you been on lately? We all need inspiration. 


Download GPX File
Photos on Flickr


  1. Vivek Agarwal

    It looks like lot of snow. Is this 2014-2015? Do you think there is as much snow now?

  2. It’s nice to see some snow in California. I’ve done nothing but have enjoyed watching all that you do. We will visit Tahoe in March, (seems like such a long time from now). Happy New Year.

    • Happy New Year to you and your family. I like the word you used “SOME” snow. We desperately need a whole lot more. Tahoe will be fun. Praying for lots of moisture before your trip. Great hearing from you.

  3. Looks like you two had a great time together. -I was in Sedona from the 27th on and had a foot of snow there and pretty cold conditions for that area. Did do a hike before it snowed and it was in the 30s at our 9:30 AM start and on up to around 45* when we finished. -That snow shoeing for 10 miles looks like an awful lot of work; I’m very impressed. I’m not much of a snow traveler but I really did enjoy your story reporting and the very lovely photos. Looks like you both had a Rockin’ day! -Good family tradition stayin’ fit and happy together.

    • Warren,
      Well Sedona has been on my list to visit for years. Someday. It was bitter cold in Mammoth while we were there. The high when we climbed the ridge was 10 degrees. No delayering that day. Made for nice snow conditions though. Snow is not for everyone. Good old dirt is a friend.

  4. westywanderer

    Wow, I’m planning to stop by Mammoth on my return to Portland next month. Thanks! Your pics are always extremely clear and with fine res!

  5. Hey Rockin. My family and I were up in Mammoth at the same time. After the snow on Christmas Eve, we skied alpine on Christmas Day. We took our two boys up to Tamarack on Boxing Day. Our 26-year old had skied up there before, albeit 20 years ago. For our 18-year old it was his first time on xc but he really enjoyed the experience. As you know, it was a bluebird day. Hanging around the fire at the Tamarack Lodge is a tradition whenever we’re in Mammoth.

    • What great family times! Thank you for sharing. As you know it was a hard cold and we too stopped and had chili and hot drink at the Tamarack. I would like to make this a tradition for our family. Do you have a favorite place to stay in Mammoth?

      • Christy: After many many years of mooching off friends and business associates, we finally bought a 1/10 interest in a condo at the Woodlands. Our first week just happened to be Christmas! From here forward, we get to use it for one week every ten weeks – definitely the best way to own a second home. The shuttle stops right in front of our door and we’re only two blocks from The Stove and our new favorite, the Mammoth Bistro. Where do you like to stay/hangout?

        • Well that sounds like a very sweet deal! We love The Stove and Toomeys. During the summer we tent at the Mammoth RV Park because they have showers and jacuzzi. Each time we go I try to plan a new climb or activity. There really is a wide variety terrain to explore. It is our favorite destination.

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