Strung up in 1983 as an alternative to Mammoth's top-to-bottom gondola, Chair 23 climbs 1,121 feet in six minutes, provides access to 2,500 skiable acres (75 percent of the entire mountain), and lets you rip lap after above-treeline lap.
Click on the slideshow below for a closer look at Mammoth Mountain, or click on the picture to see more detail.
1. CHAIR 23
2. HANGMAN'S HOLLOW (IN THREE STEPS)
A narrow crux below a 52-degree entry. Botch your first turn and you'll slide 900 vertical feet-and that's just to the apron.
Whether you launch the cornice (soft snow only) or sneak it, you've got about a half-dozen turns before you get to the throat.
Next task: the 20-foot-wide gullet. Hop three or four turns through it, or, if you have the skills, just straightline it.
As the trachea widens, head skier's left and take your last 15 turns on the rollover that dumps you into Cornice Bowl (see below).
3. CORNICE BOWL
Cornice Bowl, so named forits 5- to 20-foot lip, was the'80s gathering spot for hotdoggers and gapers alike. The lip is now groomed, but, at 28 degrees (the first few turns are 38 degrees) and 400 feet wide, it's still the most popular run off the top.
4. TIP: In general, the weekend crowds on Cornice thin out as you head skier's left.
5. DROPOUT CHUTES
Dropout Chutes a and b (each about 40 degrees) are narrow (50 to 75 feet), and sometimes icy enough to require full attention. Rock walls and the wind tunnel protect Dropout c, which holds velvet and chalk better than 1 and 2.
6. The most bump-free, snow-collecting zone is on the sidewall, skier's left.
7. WIND TUNNEL
The Plexiglass-and-steel tunnel at the summit fends off frequent 40-mile-per-hour gusts (record wind speed: 184 miles per hour). Legend has it that Glen Plake has jumped out of the tunnel 11 times.
8. WIPEOUT CHUTES
Southwest winds get mean in Wipeout Chutes a, b, and c, a trio of 1,800 vertical-footers that push the 40-degree mark. Drop into Chute b in the afternoon for three dozen cream-cheese arcs back to the lift.
In 1968, Clifford "Scotty" Scott was killed on this run by a slab avalanche. Scotty's Run, 36 degrees and a foot-ball field wide, is named in his honor.
10. THE PARANOIDS
If the crowd is too thick, traverse skier's left and drop into the Paranoids, 40 degrees up top-but exposed enough to feel a lot steeper-and 1,200 feet long.
Snowpack permitting, traverse to Phillippe's, a 100-foot-wide, 40-degree chute hemmed in by rock walls that are trash-compactor tight.