words: Mary Walsh
photos: Peter Morning, Mary Walsh, and Mark Clavin

Mammoth Mountain has long been a mecca of the snowboarding community. It boasts the resort trifecta: perfect parks (thanks to the Mammoth Unbound crew), rugged and expansive terrain, and ample storm systems that routinely blanket the mountain in prolific powder. It is because of this that every year in early November, the cross section of the snowboarding community descends on this California resort for Opening Weekend, a four-day celebration that is truly unlike any other weekend of the season.

This year, in the weeks before opening, the mercury dropped in Mammoth Lakes. Snow fell. Winds blew. And Mammoth’s summit became white. As crowds descended on the Eastern Sierras from LA, Tahoe, and much further beyond, the temperatures rose, a soft welcome to the season made up of spring-like turns and a noticeable lack of jackets.

Just after 8am on Thursday, November 10th, the explosion of an avy bomb signaled the start of the 2016-17 season. A crowd who had been assembled at Chair 1 for hours boarded the lift for the first turns of winter. Mammoth’s Opening Weekend is momentous for more than just the sunny laps and the six-feature park meticulously assembled by the Unbound crew. It is a ceremonious reunion of everyone within driving distance (and then some) to re-assemble while strapped in, which is, of course, the place we all most like to meet up. And this year was no different. Crews rode rampant down trails, funneling into the opening weekend park near the gondola mid-station. It was a free-for-all of reuniting. Mammoth’s seasoned locals: Greg Bretz, Frank Knab, Kimmy Fasani, Harrison Gordon, Scott Blum, Garrett Warnick, Jaeger Bailey, Spencer Whiting, Stefi Luxton, Billy Anderson, Jimmy Goodman, Jeremy Page, Tyler Flanagan, Chloe Kim, Judd Henkes. The DC team had made it narrowly to Mammoth just before 1am the night before and Torstein Horgmo, Iikka Backstrom, Anto Chamberland, Jordan Morse, Justin Fronius, Brady Lem, Bobby Meeks and Dave Appel were lapping through. Aaron Biitner, Sage Kotsenburg, Ted Borland, Nirvana Ortanez were in town from Salt Lake City. Michael Gray, Melissa Evans, Eddie Wall, Daniel Brown, Lenny Mazzotti had headed north from Southern California.Hana Beaman, and Tim Humphreys had headed south from Tahoe. The Volcom crew was in town, too: Dylan Alito, Seth Huot, Mike Ravelson, Scotty James, Parker Szumoswki, and Arthur Longo. Ralph Backstrom, Pat Reddy, Tommy Czechin, and Greg Lutzka were making turns.

The day went by quickly as laps turned into drinks on the Main Lodge deck before heading down hill to go to the Brothers Skatepark to celebrate JLA prior to checking out The Union Team Movie: Stronger and The Fourth Phase at Wave Rave. And that’s only day one of the weekend. Tomorrow there is plenty more riding and more premieres, as Absinthe’s AfterForever and The SNOWBOARDER Movie: Resolution take the stage in the Mammoth Village. With more sun in the forecast and more folks making their way up 395 to join in on the boarding, there is plenty more to come on Snowboarder.com. Stay tuned to @snowboardermag on Instagram and tune into the SNOWBOARDER Facebook page Friday at 11am PST for a look at what’s happening on hill live. Make sure to follow @dc_snowboarding for everything that is going down on the #DCxRoguetoMammoth road trip and of course, @mammothmountain and @mammothunbound have you covered on everything snowy in the Eastern Sierras this weekend, too.