We made it to Mammoth without chains, in maybe the only window of clear weather the entire weekend around New Year’s. All the restaurants were running $70+ New Year’s Eve specials, so we decided to hit Vons and make a pasta dinner in our Edelweiss Lodge room with Tad and Tammy. The slopes were surprisingly empty the next morning. It could’ve been hangovers … or the snow, which fell in a thick blanket all of Saturday. We avoided snow vertigo by sticking close to the trees and reveled in the soft powdered sugar. It was about 10 degrees cooler than the last time we came, when the wet snow made for what the locals call Sierra Cement. We tried to make it to “early ups” on Sunday, when the mountain opens at 7:30 a.m. for season pass holders. We weren’t able to get onto the lift until 8:31 a.m., but that was still the earliest we’d ever gotten on a lift. The skiing was so good on Sunday — when a slightly lighter snow fell — that we couldn’t give up until around 2. Was it worth it? It took over 11 hours to get home. Well, we’ve already started planning our next trip. This time, hopefully, we’ll be at Mammoth when the top is actually open.