The Mammoth Teams do more than compete—they also learn about mountain safety and operations. Here, a young member of the All Mountain Chargers tells of his experience spending the night at Mammoth’s top gondola station. Justin is a sixth grade student from Redondo Beach who is also a member of Mammoth’s Academic Elite Team.
By Justin Pioletti
On Jan. 26, our Chargers All Mountain Team had a great opportunity. After an awesome day of skiing through tasty powder, we loaded up our gear to spend a cool winter night on Mammoth’s summit, or more affectionately known as “Top of the World” (TOW). Obviously, a lot of planning went into the event, and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. We approached it like a professional team, and always kept in mind our priority of safety, fun, and learning.
Our primary focus for the night on the summit was safety. We all reviewed the checklist we were provided and made sure we had the correct things. Warm clothes, hats, and of course, a serious sleeping bag were packed up. Of course, we all had a few ‘survival snacks’ in case things got tough. I realized all along that the weather would play an important part. If the winds got too strong, we might have to go with a “Plan B,” and look at McCoy Station as a safer option.
Fun was a large priority while on the top of the world. After taking out countless pillows and sleeping bags, we ate the complimentary food, which consisted of awesome pizza and salad. Eventually, we played with our iPods and other electronics, but with a group full of athletes, that didn’t last too long. At around 8 o’clock, the ski instructors put in the first movie called “The Pacifier,” a Comedy/Action movie. Once that movie was over, they gave us some time to talk. The subject most talked about was the really famous skiers, like Glen Plake (AKA Guy with the Mohawk). About 15 minutes later, we started the second movie called “Herbie 2.” Some kids stayed up and watched the movie, but a long day of good skiing usually puts me out, so I have no idea what the movie was about.
A lot of fun was had by all, but we also learned a lot. The Ski Patrol really got our attention by setting off sticks of dynamite and tossing them down a slope. We were right alongside of them so we could actually feel the blast as well as hear it. Needless to say, it was awesome! We watched a documentary on preventing avalanches. Next, members of the Ski Patrol gave a lecture about their jobs. They actually start their day on the mountain at 4 AM and make sure all the runs are safe long before the lifts are open.
The All Mountain Team’s night on the summit was something we will always remember. We learned a lot, we had fun, we kept things safe, and best of all, a bunch of cool skiers got to chill out together for an entire winter night on top of a mountain summit. Is anything cooler?
(Photo courtesy Mammoth Teams)