"The Hole In The Wall" at Mammoth Mountain is an out of bounds back country
ski adventure for the advanced skier.
As with any back country endeavor, never ski this alone.
The "Hole In The Wall" is a natural lava tube which formed a hole in the bottom of a cliff which allowed natural erosion to generate a spectacular chute on the back side of the cliff for us to ski (proof that God loves back country skiers).
Panoramic Virtual Tour of Hole In The Wall
(Six linked panoramic images - best viewed in full screen mode)
Note that there are no sanctioned guides or tours, the area is out of bounds, treatcherous, the entrance is at a level of an agressive double black diamond (like the top of the Avalanche chutes) and leads to unmarked cliffs if your directions are off.
Trail to "Hole In The Wall":
Skiers and boarders can and do get lost during the traverse and path in the woods to get to "Hole In The Wall". Be careful and let someone know that you are undertaking this adventure as they may be your only source of rescue (there are no ski patrol covering this area).
A GPS with the coordinates of Tamarack lodge can help as this is your destination (37.6191,-119.0071)
One more risk we must mention is that this "Off Piste" area does not receive any avalanche management (See the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and the Mammoth Patrol avalanche links).
One can start this adventure from the top of the Gondola at Mammoth Mountain California or even from the top of lift 9.
This trail is NOT patrolled!
"Hole In The Wall" is actually on the official Mammoth Mountain trail map but it is not marked.
Note that most of this area is a large cliff. The cliff is unmarked and it is not roped off. Be very cautious. If you miss the chute which leads to "Hole-in-the-Wall" (actually a hole through the bottom of a cliff), you will end up looking over a cliff which you can not navigate and the hike out is back up the hill and steep.
Note the arrow points to the cliff area in which "Hole in the Wall" resides.
Skiing Hole In The Wall:
Upon arriving at the "Hole In The Wall", you may have to stop to acknowledge the beauty of this geological formation, the intimidation of the treacherous entrance and the rocks you could hit if you fall or miscalculate your trajectory.
After having descended to this entrance, note that its also a tough hike back if you want to reconsider skiing this steep and narrow conduit.
Note that the view looking back up shows the steepness of the entrance.
It is best to stop before entering the hole to see how icy it might be.
Water often drips from the rock causing the ski surface in the hole to be icy.
View looking back up through the hole.
Completing The Journey:
It is now a simple matter of skiing down to Twin Lakes and doing a little cross country to get to Tamarack Lodge (1-760-934-2442) where you can either meet up with pre-arranged ride, walk to the base of the "Eagle Express" lift or catch the Orange line bus which departs on the half hour during the day.