We Started On The Ski Slopes, Hit The Yodler For Ski Apres And It Was All Downhill From There
That was the case for several dozen of us from Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, CA. The occasion was the three-day President’s Day Weekend and the destination was Mammoth Mountain.
For those not aware, Mammoth is a ski resort in the Sierra Nevadas. It’s one of the best in all of North America for its size alone. You could ski Mammoth for a week and not hit all the runs.
And that was certainly part of the plan, but the real reason was to stuff people in condos and go up there to make it a three-day weekend party.
We certainly were not the only ones with this great idea. The entire South Bay would evacuate the Beach Cities for President’s Day. So, too, would people from all over Southern California, including all the way from San Diego.
It’s at least a five-hour drive from the Beach Cities to Mammoth, so we would all arrive at various times on Friday night. Some groups would not roll up until after midnight. For this reason, the bars were always slow on Friday night. The real partying didn’t begin until the next day.
Before the Village was built, we always stayed along Old Mammoth Road, because that’s where the best bars were located: Rafters, Ocean Bar and one of my favorites, a local dive called Grumpy’s. Well Grumpy’s moved down the street and while it serves schooners of beer, the scene is not the same. Rafters, on the other hand, has been redesigned and is again one of the top bars in Mammoth.
From The Slopes To Ski Apres
Saturdays were our big ski day.
We would wake up early (well, early for us), with the goal of being on the mountain by 9. We never made it by that time, but close enough. We broke off into groups sort of according to our ski or snowboard levels – I’m a self-taught intermediate and HATE the Cornis and the moguls of Scotty’s Run down the face from the top – and we would all converge for lunch at Warming Hut II, which is also known as McCoy Station.
There, we would take a break, have a drink or two and get back on the slopes.
The afternoon was all about getting in a few good runs because our focus was on what was coming after the lifts closed. And that was The Yodler, one of the all-time best ski apres bars on the planet during President’s Day. The bar was across the parking lot from the Main Lodge and this rustic ‘ol building with the sunken seats and fireplace was THE party spot in Mammoth.
Every fun party person on the mountain would be there, so much so that we would have to assign a couple of “table bitches” to get there around 3 and guard seats. Before long, the chairs would all be full, some people sitting in laps (a great way to kick-start a potential weekend of bliss with the opposite sex, by the way) and a few circling the bar looking for any place to put their butts. And their stuff.
There was a lot of drinking, a lot of laughing, people getting on the thankfully-sturdy picnic tables to dance, shots and high-fiving. Nothing we did the rest of the weekend was as fun as The Yodler on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Eventually, around 6 or so, the place would start to thin out and we would scramble to suck up to one of the few people who was sober and had a vehicle in the parking lot. For all its great conveniences, Mammoth somehow slid downhill when it came to transportation from the Yolder. The buses quit running at 5 and even after they built the gondola to the Village, it goes only as far as Canyon Lodge, far down the hill from Main Lodge.
After the Yolder, it was beer and party time in the condo’s Jacuzzi, followed by a shower and change to go out at night. We would either go to Rafters or Whiskey Creek (which, unfortunately, is now a craft beer bar) to drink and dance to rock cover bands like the Rolling Clones.
I won’t be in Mammoth for President’s Day this year, but memories still vivid in my mind. So if you happen to be around me and see me suddenly burst into laughter for no apparent reason, then you’ll know I’m reliving one of those memories.
And as I write this and read it, I miss one of the most fun people who often led the charge from the mountain, to the bars on the mountain, to the Yodler and especially the Jacuzzi after the mountain, Joe Anderson.
Here’s cheers to you, Joe.
• Mammoth Mountain Ski Apres & Nightlife Guide