words: Ally Watson

Riding at Mammoth has been a pipe dream of mine since teenager-hood. It was in the era of 80-foot park jumps, pipe gloves, and Youtube edits of the Peanut Butter Rail Jam Finals that I started daydreaming about the seminal sea of pink steel. Maybe it was the number of times my brother and I hit pause-rewind-play on our Mack Dawg videos that instilled the intoxicating allure of Mammoth in me, and as much as I’d like to pin down the moment I felt the spark, I can’t. I can’t because Mammoth was king, and it was just something I knew. 

There were a few pilgrimages I never made as a young snowboarder. A summer season in New Zealand, riding camp as an actual camper, Mammoth, Bear, all the things that made up my personal heyday of the sport. On its own, Mammoth is prolific and holds immense stature in snowboarding; everyone knows this. It is home to endless terrain parks, an Olympic-level training ground, that giant mammoth statue we know too well, and the iconic pink rails. But I hadn’t yet experienced it in person. Growing up, I followed the “get injured, go to school, come back to it” path; with that, all the bucket list trips fell away with my youth. 

The 395 into Mammoth Lakes. p: Lucky Lopez
The 395 into Mammoth Lakes. p: Lucky Lopez

Being Canadian, a just-because trip to Mammoth wasn’t on the table, and the thought of it simply dissipated. So, when the Snowboard Mag team decided to schedule our second annual women’s and genderless board testing trip at Mammoth, my 16-year-old self was screaming. 

When I pulled up to the main lodge parking lot for the first time, I had instant flashbacks of my friends posting Facebook updates upon their return from PBRJ finals fifteen years prior. Once I strapped in, I suddenly realized how big the mountain was. And here I was, riding spring slush on a record-breaking snow year, not realizing that most teeth-cutting natural features were buried entirely.

Before the official launch of the product testing, I spent a day riding solo, exploring the entire mountain. I rode almost every lift spinning, hunted for side hits, and checked out the Unbound Parks. Most surprising to me was the amount of alpine terrain at Mammoth, essentially starting at Main Lodge. I was trying to imagine what a powder day here would be like while strangers from the singles line pointed out the good stuff like Dragon’s Back and the way to Hole-in-the-Wall. Only in the last few years did I come to know (from afar) that Mammoth was an incredible freeride mountain with extensive access to some pretty beefy terrain. It took me half my life to realize Mammoth had more to offer than pink rail gardens and plaza features, which makes it all the more appealing to me now.

By the time the board testing crew assembled at McCoy Station above Main Park, I couldn’t wait to get started. The crew was made up of three Canadian first timers, myself, Abby Furrer, and Chelsea Dore; two Mammoth locals repping local shop Wave Rave, Ashley Strauss and Mary Sardinskas; and Kelsey Boyer, out of SLC, and Christine Savage from Tahoe, both seasoned Mammoth riders; alongside our media team, made up of seasoned vets Mia Lambson, Mary Walsh, Mark Clavin, Jeff Baker, and Lucky Lopez (the last two both ex-locals), and not to forget MVP of the trip, Baker’s teenage son, Milo. 

Over the course of the product testing, we lapped a figure-eight circuit around McCoy station, swapping boards midday and squawking about our likes and dislikes. Mammoth dished out perfect spring weather with bluebird days and just the right amount of slush. 

Our product test focused on finding do-it-all boards that truly define what a quiver killer is—not something that squashes a pow quiver or can handle park and groomers only. We were looking for boards that a rider won’t feel like they need to swap out, that they are stoked to pick up any day and won’t bypass part of the mountain because they brought the wrong board.

It’s safe to say that Mammoth was the venue for finding quiver-killer-qualified boards. Without straying too far, we could rail turns on steep groomers, track down natural hits, and lap both Forest Trail and Main Park, finding a rhythm with each board and seeing how they excelled all over the mountain. Riding at Mammoth let us dive into what board tech has to offer and feel the benefits of each board’s specific profile back-to-back-to-back. 

We may have missed the Eastern Sierra’s record-breaking storms, omitting the opportunity to test boards in powder, but Mammoth really gave us a taste of that sunny California boarding I’ve always wondered about. Saturday really showed off some Mammoth insanity with bikini boarders, jorts, and Bluetooth speakers blaring Sublime before the DJ après kicked off at the Yodler. I got a taste of it all, and although it was my first time at Mammoth, it definitely won’t be my last.

Big thanks to Mammoth Mountain, all of the riders that came to test boards, and the brands that provided gear to make the week even better, Rumpl, Igloo, Protekt, and Stance.