DISBELIEF, THEN DELIGHT: Early November can be a strange time of year for ski buffs who make a home in Southern California. On the one hand, the Santa Anas can still blow, and do, bringing that hot heaviness that is an odd but ever-present hallmark of a desert-close fall. And yet ski-mad SoCalers also see promising reports from the mountains, and hear of first big snowfalls, where a foot or more of snow has accumulated. It's a time of disbelief -- how is 90 degrees down here and snowily deep up there? -- and then delight, when those opening days start to roll in. Mammoth Mountain is looking to its hello-welcome-back-let's-schuss opening day, with a sense of optimism, a sense of fun, and many layers of socks and scarves: Some 12 to 16 inches fell on the Sierra resort over the first weekend in November, which is fine timing, as opening day is set for Thursday, Nov. 13.
MAKE THAT OPENING WEEKEND: For sure, Nov. 13'll have the usual first day touches -- the banner breakthrough, the first lift up -- but the days to follow brim with frosty-fun doings, from film screenings to DJs to live music and that all-important socializing and catching up with those you spied on the slopes last season.
ARE THERE DEALS AND SUCH? You bet and such. An opening day lift ticket is fifty bucks, and forget not about that new-new-new Cali4nia Season Pass, which covers a full quartet of peaks in the middle and lower parts of its namesake state (Mammoth, June, Big Bear, and Snow Summit).