I was there. Yep, I saw it all. I witnessed the Black Pass scandal of 2011. To be honest, I wasn’t that upset. I had some questions, naturally, but I don’t remember being angry. If purchasing a Black Pass allows you some perks, including riding unmolested Climax on the best day of the year, I assume the rewards outweigh the purchase price. There is bound to be some sort of controversy surrounding a ‘golden ticket’ that allows a person more monetarily advanced to have priority over the peasants, but the Black Pass purchasers are missing out on an integral part of the Mammoth Mountain experience. I feel sorry for them. Seriously.
To me, the best part about a powder day is the chess match I get to play with the rest of the local riders, ski patrol, weather and snow conditions. I wake early. I dress appropriately. I map out strategy. I assess the competition. Then, I attack. My methods are still a mystery, especially to those whom I consistently ride with. I may start the morning off by ‘claiming chair 2’ and then find myself driving to Canyon Lodge, eventually ending up in line at 22 with a dozen skiers behind me befuddled and asking, “how did that snowboarder beat me to the lift?’ I might wait in line at Mid Chalet. I may hang out at the top of Chair 3, or skip the face altogether and go to chair 14. I ultimately want to ride great snow, and my daily powder day anxiety attacks have driven a wedge between my girlfriend and me. Apparently, I’m a bit of a freak. But I’ve also come to realize that the game I play is often as fun as the snow I ride.
I REALLY enjoy standing in line for hours. There is a social aspect that those long, cold mornings provide. I often meet incredibly interesting people. We share stories, tell jokes, some laugh, some cry. I see a lot of familiar faces while in line. I meet a lot of new friends while in line. I am dedicated to getting the best snow lift access allows, and am willing to suffer for it, both physically and emotionally. I’m glad to know many others that share the same philosophy. Thank you all for being part of my day.
Just because someone can buy their way to the top doesn’t mean they’ll have a better Mammoth experience than the rest of us. it just shows they played the game a little differently. To me, if you bought a Black Pass to get out of line, you blew it.