The town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA) held their Regular Liaison Committee Meeting on Monday, January 13, 2014. The meeting took place in the boardroom at Main Lodge with Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory sitting at the head of the table. The attendees also included Ron Cohen (MMSA’s Director of Governmental Relations and Environmental Affairs), Interim Town Manager Dan Holler, Mammoth Lakes Mayor Rick Wood, Police Chief Dan Watson, and the local media.
The meeting began with Dan Holler giving updates on town staffing, zoning codes, airport service, and development impact fees. After Holler was done presenting the town’s agenda items, number one on that agenda being the need for some snowfall, Rusty Gregory discussed with the committee what was going on up at Mammoth Mountain. Rusty began by praising the effort’s of the snowmakers and the job that they have done under the current conditions, he then boasted about the four portals (Eagle, Canyon, The Mill, and Main Lodge) being open, the number of trails available, and having the most open terrain in California. Then, in a surprisingly candid moment, he dropped the company line and equated having the most open terrain in California to, “being the tallest man in a midget contest.” After the room had a chuckle he quickly added, “without casting aspersions on short people.” To which Mayor Rick Wood replied, “Thank you.”
The first thing that the committee wanted to know was the impact of this season’s low snowfall on revenue and operations. According to Gregory the Mountain has brought in “20% less revenue and 28% fewer visitors so far (than they had planned) and that’s trending worse from here.” He then briefly spoke of the company’s “General Plan” to develop Mammoth Mountain into a, “full blown resort community,” and not being so reliant on snowfall for economic stability. “In the meantime,” said Gregory, “we are very reliant, not just as a company but as a community, on snowfall in terms of visitation and revenue.” However, Gregory was optimistic about the economic boost that will come with the upcoming U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix (January 16th-19th) and MLK weekend.
The next subject was June Mountain operations and both the committee and press had plenty of questions because, as Ron Cohen would come to say, “June Mountain has more rumors than snow.” Here is a fact: “June is off about 58% of its budget of having 60,000 skiers a year.” Once again Gregory praised the efforts of the snowmakers and all of their hard work and spoke of the great experiences families were having at June (kids ski free!). He then broke the news that they had to shut down Chair 7 and now they only have Chairs 1 and 2 running. Rick Wood then asked,if June Mountain were out of water? Rusty tiptoed around an answer eventually saying, “As long as we have good temperatures, we will continue to make snow.” He continued by saying that, “We would like to see more business than we are doing but it is just a reflection that there is no natural snow out there.”
When asked about June Mountain possibly shutting down, the Mammoth Mountain CEO made it clear that they intend to keep everything, “open as long as Mother Nature allows.” In response to the rumors about the impending shut down of Canyon and Eagle Lodges, he stated that, “unlike June we have a lot of water here.” The meeting then closed with Rusty Gregory remarking that, “Before we have to make any tough decisions about Canyon, Eagle, or June, we hope Mother Nature steps in and it becomes obvious what it is we should do, which is go powder skiing. “