Jake Slaminski – Mammoth Mountain
Park Manager Turns Tour Guide
Summer is rolling in California, and there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than pumice surfing in the Eastern Sierra. Mammoth Mountain is known for its deep snowpack and winter storm cycles, but the summer operation boasts some world class terrain for riding bikes. We were lucky to spend a day with Jake Slaminski, the Park Manager at Mammoth. He took us around some of his favorite trails, which mainly included the infamous natural tech trails like Follow Me, Skidmarks, and DC10.
Jake has spent 13 years in the town of Mammoth, and when not digging or buffing out trails in the Summer, he is running snowcats as the manager of the Unbound Terrain Parks. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about stacking lips! I could immediately feel Jake’s passion for the mountain, along with the crew of 12 that help maintain the bike park. After the laps, Jake and I were able to chat over a beer, and a mammoth-sized pretzel at the Yodler. We were able to discuss what it’s like behind the scenes of the bike park, including the culture, erosion battle, improvements, and general maintenance for one of the largest bike parks in the country.
Alex Sardella – The Loam Wolf (AS): Sick day, Jake. Appreciate you taking the day to show us around. How’s it been working here this summer?
Jake Slaminski (JS): It’s been an interesting summer. We’ve had to adapt as we’ve gotten a ton of rain which isn’t too common around here. There’s a fine line of the right amount and a damaging amount. The damage from erosion a few weeks back was quite significant with many of the trails washing out and changing drastically over the last few months.
AS: Yeah, the erosion and massive ruts off the Gondola and chair 23 are absolutely nuts.
JS: For sure, with that one storm we saw 5-6ft rain crevasses on our trail Off the Top, which as you saw is predominantly pumice with little to no dirt. The mud fingers in the lower sections of the trail had to be removed with an excavator since there was so much material.
AS: That’s insane. Most of us associate rain with hero dirt, scary that it can be damaging to the trails here. The dirt here at Mammoth is so unique, it’s what makes this place so fun to ride.
JS: Erosion is a constant battle in the spring due to our soil type, it is very hydrophobic, so it doesn’t take water well. We already have good systems in place to fix and mitigate it by creating new drainage routes to divert the water in the right place instead of down the trail. The rain that has been occurring this summer has been a new challenge for our trail crew.
AS: You guys definitely have your hands full. Speaking of which, what’s it been like having a crew of 12 this summer?
JS: My crew is amazing, they work their asses off. Traditionally we only have 6 people, but this year it’s been so productive to have 12.
AS: Seems like you guys are pretty tight?
JS: Yep. All 12 of us work here year-round, bike park in the summer, Unbound in the winter. It’s a seamless transition from winter to summer and back for us.
AS: The culture of leaving after the winter seems to be changing. Most are finding enjoyment at living in the mountain’s year round. What have you been doing to boost the mountain bike culture?
JS: I thought it would be a good idea to implement Friday afternoon rides this summer, it helps build morale, and keep us all stoked on the sport. The team laps help us with perspective of the natural terrain and trails, especially when we can all be out there together, it sparks ideas for us and how to continue to improve our trails.
AS: It’s the little things huh? Just linking up with the guys for some laps goes a long way
JS: Oh for sure. It’s something we all look forward to every week.
AS: So, your crew of 12 has a pretty big footprint to take care of. What’s it like taking care of the beast that is Mammoth Mountain?
JS: Mammoth is friggen massive. The winter provides nearly 3500 feet of skiable terrain, and the summer operation is no different. 3,000 feet of elevation combined with 80 miles of trail make it an absolute monster when it comes to daily trail maintenance
AS: I felt that today, riding a few different chair lifts, and even taking the shuttle back from the village to the base of the resort. The trails really span the length and width of the mountain, unlike other bike parks. The crowds get spread out really well too.
JS: I don’t think people realize how enormous this mountain is when you have to travel it by foot. Buffing out every square foot of trail takes a ton of time and effort, and our team works hard. It’s one of the biggest challenges here at the bike park. Jumps, berms, pavers, loose rocks, wooden features, all spanning east to west the entirety of the mountain. But because we use the whole mountain, the guest experience is incredible, from the core riders to the beginners, we have trails for everyone.
AS: There truly is something for everyone. The flow trails seemed to be running super smooth too!
JS: I’m glad you mentioned that. We have had consistent use of two mini excavators and a tracked skid steer. So, our jump lines get consistent work done to maintain them to our standards.
AS: It was noticeable, way better than in years past. I have been coming every summer since 2019 so I could tell. It seems like the resort is noticing the increased bike park traffic.
JS: They are. We have some sweet improvements coming soon too, like getting more water to the flow trails, more wooden features, a revamp on Smooth Operator.
AS: Heck yeah, you guys aren’t slowing down any time soon.
JS: Not at all. Mammoth wants to see constant improvements at the bike park, I am lucky to be at the forefront of it. I work with many departments – Marketing, Bike Patrol, Operations and even the US Forest Service. With good interdepartmental communication, it’s seamless. Creating strong relationships helps us all work together to our common goal as a company, have the best bike park in the state of California, if not the west coast!
AS: I’ll vouch for you guys, this place is bad ass. Takes a bit to learn to ride the pumice, but this place is one of my favorite bike parks in the country.
JS: Thanks man, I appreciate that.
AS: Well dude, it’s been all time today. Super appreciate you taking the time to rip some laps and explain a day in the life of a Bike Park manager.
JS: Of course. I love it here, and I want other mountain bikers to experience the big mountain riding we have to offer. It’s like nowhere else in the Western US and a special place in California.
If you want to check out Mammoth Mountain for yourself, head to their site to learn more.
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