Waiting for the snow

Rusty Gregory talks low snow.

Rusty Gregory talks low snow.

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. “


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15 Responses to Waiting for the snow

  1. Ken Warner January 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    What if it stays dry for the rest of the Winter?

    What if is dry again next year???

    • Desert Tortoise January 16, 2014 at 8:05 am #

      Go ahead and complete your thought Mr. Warner.

    • Ken Warner January 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      I’ve already said everything I have to say about diversifying the economy of the East Side. People don’t seem to like the idea of not being snow farmers. They also don’t like the idea that brick and mortar retail stores are competing with the internet and losing.

      MMSA could be a viable and attractive high altitude training center with pools, running, tracks, exercise facilities of various kinds. Along with a Las Vegas size self contained resort. So many possibilities for MMSA there isn’t room to discuss them. The town could be just a nice place to live with commerce mostly up at MMSA. I still would oppose a land swap but would support an infinite lease with full development rights.

      The frame of reference for business in the town is going to change. Maybe not this year or even this decade but it will change even with normal snowfall. The wise ones will prepare for it.

      • Friends of nothing January 17, 2014 at 10:14 am #

        Great idea Ken, there IS all kinds of things we can do…

        But good luck with all those professional environmental agencies though – they hate the idea of turning the west side into a recreational paradise. Nothing is sustainable anymore, don’t cha know?

        Lock it up and let it burn!

  2. Mongo the IDIOT January 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Mongo Talks LOW Snow…
    Low snow eh.
    Ya, no rain in duh foecast.
    Groundwata down eh.
    Ya, no watta in duh lake either.
    You think less watta make duh ground warmer?
    You think warmer ground make less snow?
    Eh, lets get a beer.
    Ya, beer.

  3. Ken Warner January 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency for the state, saying it is facing “perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago.”


    • Desert Tortoise January 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      Ken’s post gets a thumbs down? Really? Temperaments up here are even worse than the drought.

      • Mongo The Idiot January 18, 2014 at 4:46 am #

        Begin Rant:
        The people of Los Angeles are oblivious to the artificial nature of their existence. New lawns keep going in while the old ones are watered in “devil may care” fashion. Meanwhile in the O-valley… Half the Oh-inyos are outraged while the other loyal half is damn grateful to have a job at Dee-wap. Fact is, the problem aint in Oh-inyo. Yep, problem is in LA; you see LA is greedy and artificial in its nature. La be a spot of desert that got slathered with concrete and inhabited by puffed up fashion clad, leather upholstered boat driving, Mc Mansion living FOLK who watch so much TV that they believe their doctors name is House. Taint nuthin gunna change till sumpthin changes, like the color of the water coming out of their taps. Right now, down here in LA, we are much too busy getting our disproportionate share of damn near anything you could imagine to give a crap about a water shortage. You see, we aint out of water here in LA, you in Oh-inyo and San Jack-queen is.
        End Rant:

  4. Philip Anaya January 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Just a bit too connected to the truth for the comfort of some. The Dee-wap had an opportunity to educate a generation of Angelenos with Governor’s Brown’s Dec of Drought but they have failed with resigning leadership, maybe not a fair critique, so what else can be expected who provide folks who use the kitchen faucet and automatic landscape control irrigation systems that makes Los Angeles the urban forest ,tropic landscape that their dollars afford.
    You might not see it from the 405 commute, you might not realize the emptied Lakes, water tables and dried up wells whether in West Bishop or any where else in the Inyo as you drive or jog down San Vicente but that does not diminish the problems of a third year drought. So where is the stewardship of the DWP of the runoff resource? Where is the management of the water’s of the historic limited runoff that we are anticipating. Why would the people in Los Angeles expect anything but cool clear water out of the tap unless the LADWP gave them cause and concern about their limited management effects upon the equation? Snowpack ,skiers, snowboarders, Mammoth Mt and the economics aside where are the issues of the survival of the watershed decided?
    The City of Bishop extracted nearly 525,000,000 gallons last year from the Bishop Cone Aquifer, that’s about 1611 Acre feet. Meanwhile in 2011-212 the DWP extracted over 4600 acre feet that’s 1,4918,916,658 gallons from their south western production wells of the Cone W408, W407, W412 and W107. The City of Bishop does not export water to Los Angeles, most of this water makes it’s way back into the aquifer truth be told. The City of Bishop is not the problem.
    There is never enough snowpack for an insatiable thirst. I hope that prayers can be answered and atoned to for the wants and the supplicant needs of the LADWP ratepayers, including myself down south here in Los Angeles.

    • Water Moccasin January 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Truth be told, most of that water probably does not make it back to the aquifer and everyone on the planet should be more conscious of water use.

    • Mongo The Idiot January 18, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

      Rant cont.
      Shucks Phillip…
      There be one lawn down here that I drive by every day that uses 3,000,000 gallons of water a year. (@ 30 GPSF/yr.) That lawn be about half the size of a city block. Taint no way you can tell me lawns aint a big ole part of the problem. What I want to know is how do “those in charge of our society” justify what is going to happen damn near for sure; Subsidence, the settling, lowering, and compaction of soils due to the over-removal of water. What I want to know is how in their infinite wisdom do they even know what the potential impacts of mass water removal from this land of vertical strata 15,000 feet tall are? I wanna know how the hell are lawns more important than the sustainability of an Eco system that millions of people rely on. What happens if they take so much water that the geothermal intrusion at Hot Creek looses a bit of its coolant; they will tell you that this will never happen because they can see the inside of the earth. Poppycock I say, That’s right POPPYCOCK!!
      Heck, there were volcanic activity in the valley just 500 years ago; we be messin’ with sumpin’ no man (woman or child) can overcome; Magma Owenyo Bowl.
      Put that in yer WOK and smoke it? Or… follow the 200 mile drainage ditch to the Dussenberg Desert and do sumpin’ bout it. They won’t listen to me, I’m a damn’ idiot, be no way fer Mongo to ferget it either.
      Rant paused: (pending medication)

  5. ferdinand lopez January 19, 2014 at 11:49 am #


  6. ferdinand lopez January 19, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    what a joke ,watching rusty and all the rusty yes men,i threw up a little in my mouth,those meetings need some real locals in them to give a down to earth view and ideas

    • Ken Warner January 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Money is the only local. The more money — the more local — the louder the voice.

      The people who do the dirty work don’t have a voice and never will as long as they keep working for pennies.

  7. Trouble January 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    I thought Rusty went away?


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