I recenly relocated to LA from the bay area, so naturally I'm also switching from Tahoe to Mammoth. I've skied Mammoth a few times in the past and I'm excited to be a season pass holder for the 2014/2015 season!
I did have questions about chain control in the area and I was hoping that you all could provide me with some insight. I understand the different levels of chain control (i.e., R1, R2, R3) and that even 4WD/AWD vehicles are legally required to carry chains. Having said that, I've never purchased chains because in reality no one is going to ask to see them in Tahoe if you have 4WD/AWD (yes, I know there are exceptions but those are usually because you were pulled over for speeding and the cop wants to stick it to you) and they are going to close the road before putting up an R3 restriciton. I've seen a smattering of related information from seraching old topics and it sounds like things are different in the region around Mammoth. Specifically, my questions are:
1. How often does CalTrans/CHP ask to see your chains? Does this only occur during busy holidays and major storm systems?
2. I saw someone post that CalTrans/CHP will even measure tire tread depth before letting you through chain control. Does that acutally happen? I've never heard of this.
3. It sounds like R3 chain restrictions are used on occassion in the region, but rarely. Is this a once-in-a-blue-moon event or does this happen every year during major storms?
I'm picking up a free pair of chains from a friend later this summer as a security blanket. I'm asking these questions because I'm just curious how the roads are managed in the area. Also, I'd like to avoid spending $50 dollars for chains if I use my pass this spring during a freak snow storm.
I get asked almost every time they do chain control checks...but only once in 15 years has anyone made me get them out to prove it, and it's exactly as you described...a traffic stop where the cop decided giving me a speeding ticket wasn't enough pain. I had them buried in the back of the care UNDER the cargo area of my Subi (with the spare tire) and it was DUMPING. I had to unload the whole car to show him.
R3 happens maybe once a year or so (going off of memory) but it's extremely rare, and usually it goes from R2 to closed. If you get stuck in R3 conditions it's usually because you got through right before they closed the road.
I would like to add that even though I've only had to prove it once in 20 years (upon recalculating) I HAVE had to use them a handful of times on my Subaru....so I think it's a good idea. It's one of those things you only need when you REALLY NEED them.
All I can say is that I view the person who founded and grew the company as a hero, and the person that bought it and tore it down as a parasite. And I say that as an avowed capitalist.