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Old 01-23-2017, 10:52 AM   #1
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Mammoth/Alabama Hills Snow Trip

Had a great time this last weekend getting a day of snowboarding in at Mammoth, but was not without some struggles that I thought I would share for those camping in the snow.

We headed up the 395 on Friday from so cal looking for some fresh snow. The plan was to spend the night in the Alabama Hills and finish the drive Saturday morning. We heard they may close the roads, so we decided to press on.

Right after Bishop there was a chp stop for chains. We put it in 4x4 and got in line. At the front of the line, we were told we still needed chains in our possession. After looking for chains that would fit the 285's and not cost an arm and a leg for almost 2 hours in and around Bishop, we had to settle paying $260 for cable chains at a gas station.

Was not happy about it. Had no problem paying for chains, as I should have them anyways, but at that price I would have liked to research which ones and get something that will last longer than these presumably will.

Back in line and thru the checkpoint we went. Had to visiually show 3 people the bag of chains. We then went to the Hill top hot springs to see what the fuss was about.

I knew it was a popular one, and seeing two other cars there in the middle of a snow storm was more than expected at 9 at night. Without a place to camp since the road was snowed in, we went searching for a place to sleep. We ended up down a road towards convict lake. The road wasn't plowed and we went until it came to a dead end. Figured no one would be coming down it for the rest of the night and setup shop.

Problem 2 arose when the espar would not ignite. Got under the van, found snow all over the intake hose and drained a bunch of water out of it. Still wouldn't ignite. Good thing we brought the mummy bags as a backup.

We heated the car up nice and good and prepared for a cold one. Decided to wake up at 3am and make sure we werent getting snowed in and turn on the engine to heat up the van. We woke up and decided we were good without the heater and slept until 545 or so.

This is what it looked like outside :

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Old 01-23-2017, 11:01 AM   #2
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Finally we were off to Mammoth with the previous days problems behind us!

Dropped off my buddies at the ticket window and parked the van. Got ready and went to get my board out of my yakima racks. Snap, key broken in the lock. Luckily just enough of the key was hanging out to pull out with some pliers.

No problem, have a spare set in my lock box that is in my hitch. ugh, that is frozen shut as well.

After boiling my jetboil under the hitch lockbox it finally opened. the new key still wasnt unlocking the yakima, so i dumped the hot water all over the locks. Finally, my board was free!

Main lodge lifts were closed due to wind and parking was a nightmare at canyon lodge. Finally parked close to chair 21.

Then this happened



30 minute lift lines are no fun. finally found a short line at chair 21 and lapped up the powder in the trees for the rest of the day. Had a blast in all of the new snow. Some ski lift beers didnt hurt



Wanted to get down the hill before the next stor rolled in, so we set off for the Alabama Hills. Rolled in after dark and found an easy spot with a campfire ring and cooked some dinner, drank some beers, and went to bed exhausted. Luckily, the espar was working.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:13 AM   #3
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We woke up around sunrise to this. From no snow on the ground to being covered in a big blanket of white was quite surreal.



We decided to head towards the Mobius Arch and going on the trails without really being able to see them was quite the experience. Just squeaked thru this spot.



Fresh tracks were everywhere





Finally made it to the trailhead. Ofcourse, it was hard to follow and we took a wrong turn



Had to backtrack and caught the van peaking over the hill



Finally made it to the arch



Went into Lone Pine for breakfast. We were told it snows maybe once every three years or so, which made us feel lucky to witness it. Back down the 395 we went. And the snow was on the ground until about 15 miles north of the 14. Looked like this:



Needless to say we kept 4x4 on for quite a while this trip, and again, the agile conversion did amazing.


Your heater might not work
You will need chains even if you aren't going to put them on
Your locks may freeze and your keys may break

Somehow we stayed positive we were rewarded with an awesome snowy landscape in the Alabama Hills and some good powder runs in Mammoth.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:22 AM   #4
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You're lucky you got out of there or you would still be there!!

And yes, most of the time 4x4 get's a pass, but when it get's like this they demand you have chains no matter what. Don't take it personally, it only takes one fool to shut down the road completely or worse.

Awesome trip though and that's why you have a vehicle that's a bit more rugged!!
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:25 AM   #5
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Totally agree on the one fool part. Couldn't believe some of the cars heading up the hill in the snowstorm Friday night.

Even yesterday, saw a couple ill equipped sedans heading up the hill.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:29 AM   #6
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Looks like your rig did great!! Luckily my F250 chains will work on my van too. It's kind of fun tooling around with chains on!!
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt View Post
Totally agree on the one fool part. Couldn't believe some of the cars heading up the hill in the snowstorm Friday night.

Even yesterday, saw a couple ill equipped sedans heading up the hill.
^^^ its not the cars, its the drivers...

looked like a fun trip! did you ever get your heater going?
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shenrie View Post
^^^ its not the cars, its the drivers...

looked like a fun trip! did you ever get your heater going?
Worked the second night, which means:

a)the lower elevation/higher temps helped out
b)all of the fluid I drained out of the intake hose did the trick

Either way, I am going to re-visit how I have my hoses routed underneath the van. There is a chance my high altitude kit is wired wrong, so I am going to look into that as well.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:44 AM   #9
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^^^ its not the cars, its the drivers...

yep. What you find up in Mammoth are the So Cal folks on their annual or semi-annual ski trip and they and their vehicles are ill equipped for this venture. This was also a 5 year storm really. I go up to Mammoth 20+ times a year and I have never driven the 395 south of Bishop in snow. I have had to drive from halfway up the Sherwin Grade all the way to Mammoth doing 15 mph in a whiteout. That was good times.....
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Old 01-23-2017, 12:29 PM   #10
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A most excellent adventure though!!
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