The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 48

Timeline: Skiing at
Mammoth Mountain
1927 The H. F. Rey family, originally from
Switzerland, first skied on Mammoth
Mtn, to which they returned to every winter.
1928 Twelve-year-old Dave McCoy, founder
of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area,
visited the Eastern Sierra.
1930s Ski clubs forming in Los Angeles and
Eastern Sierra. " Skiing at Mammoth not
to be excelled in America " , said Will
Vaughn, president of Big Pine Ski Club
in LA County.
1935 Road improvements made the Eastern
Sierra more easily accessible and the region
gained fame among Southern Califonia
hunters, campers, fishermen...and skiers.
1935-36 Dave McCoy's first day of skiing in
California. In Independence,
Dave and two friends built the first Easter
Sierra rope tow with a winch, model A
Ford truck and 200 feet of rope.
1936 (April) Jack Northrop converted his car
into a rope tow, the first in Mammoth
Lakes, and McCoy skis Mammoth Mtn.
1936-37 Jack Northrop designed and Corty Hill
managed an overhead cable lift on McGee
Mountain.
1937-38 Inyo-Mono Championships at McGee
Mountain.
1955 Mammoth Mountain Chair 1
1957 Chair 2
1959 Chair 3
T-Bar 1
1962 Chair 4
T-Bar 2
1964 Chair 5
1965 Chair 6
1966 Gondola from base to Mid-Chalet at
9,630 feet
1967 Upper Gondola from Mid-Chalet to
summit at 11,053 feet
1969 Chairs 7, 8 and 9
1970 Chair 10
1972 Chairs 11, 12, 13, 14
1975 Chairs 15 and 16
1976 Poma lift
1979 Chairs 17, 18 and 19
1980 Chairs 20 and 21
1982 Chair 23
1985 Chairs 24 and 25
1988 Chair 26
1994 Chair 27
1996 Sold to Interwest
2002 Village Gondola
2005 Mammoth Mountain sold to
Starwood Capital Group
2017 Sold to Aspen Skiing Company/
KSL Capital Partners -
2018 Corporate name was changed to:
Alterra Mountain Company
Mammoth Mountain
& Dave McCoy
by Diane Eagle Kataoka
Beneath the deep blue skies of the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Mammoth
Mountain reposes like a mastodon. The story of this mountain and its evolution into a ski area have as
much to do with a single man, Dave McCoy, as well as its storied deep snows. So inextricably entwined
are the man and the mountain that, as you gaze at the ski area while driving north up Hwy 395, you can
imagine McCoy's profile on the ridgeline. In April 2020, this ski mountain stands high and massive and
proud. Cloaked in snow and caught by the sunrise on its untouched, pandemic-closed slopes, it must look
now very much as it did when Dave McCoy chanced upon it one day in 1936.
It wasn't the first time he'd been in the Eastern Sierra. That had been eight years earlier, at the age
of 12, when he and his mother spent a week in Independence, one of a string of small towns along the
Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. That summer of 1928, McCoy hiked up the Kearsarge Pass trail to
a snowfield above Heart Lake. He glissaded " over ripples of summer snow, his arms waving in the air for balance " .
On the spot, he was hooked by the feeling of snow beneath his feet, which shaped his life from that moment
forward. " I couldn't get over the snow on the mountains in the middle of July, " he said. " This spiritual feeling came over
me, a sense of opportunity and desire. I felt like I belonged and I knew I would come back. "
In 1935, he returned to the Eastern Sierra and skied in the foothills above Independence. McCoy
was captivated by the pure joy of the sport, by the freedom of flying down a snowy slope. He embraced
the challenge of building a ski tow so that people could indulge in similar flights of freedom. His timing
couldn't have been better, as skiers were finding their way to Southern California slopes in increasing
numbers. McCoy set up his portable tows up and down the highway from McGee Mountain to Deadman
Summit. From the beginning, he jumped in whole hog; Dave McCoy did nothing halfway. As author
Robin Morning describes, " The mechanically minded, such as Dave, tinkered with their makeshift tows, experimented
with various diameters of sisal ropes, and developed special techniques to coil, carry, and uncoil ropes for efficient set-up and
tear-down. To prevent the ropes from twisting, the men weighted the pulleys with snow-filled burlap bags. Eventually, they
built a permanent tow in Grays Meadow [Independence], using telephone relays for safety switches, dry cell batteries for
power, and a speed control unit to slow the rope down so that skiers could more easily grab hold. "
Meanwhile, in 1936, Averell Harriman installed the world's first chairlift - an innovative up-ski
with wooden chairs hanging from an overhead cable - at Sun Valley, Idaho. California's Eastern Sierra
was inundated with more tourism and automobile traffic than the region had ever experienced.
To support his passion for skiing, McCoy secured a hydrographer's job with the Los Angeles Department
of Water and Power in Long Valley, using his skiing skills on snow surveys. By 1941, he had married
Roma Carriere and moved into an LADWP bungalow overlooking the Long Valley Dam at Crowley
Lake. Their six children were born during the 12 years the McCoys lived there. Skiing was a family venture!
McCoy loved nothing more than flying down a mountain. He and Roma both enjoyed ski racing
and encouraged the sport in Bishop high school kids. He coached them while Roma cooked for them and
gave them a place to sleep on weekends. Their dedication to skiers and ski racing never flagged. He and
Roma ferried the teams to races all over the West as the sport grew.
DAVE McCOY & MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN
Robin Morning, one of McCoy's protégé ski racers who raced for the National and Olympic Teams
in the 1960s, has written a comprehensive photo essay chronicling the story of how Dave McCoy and
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area grew together, Tracks of Passion, Eastern Sierra Skiing, Dave McCoy & Mammoth
Mountain. (www.tracksofpassion.com) She has followed that up with an in-depth and intimate look at
the ski pioneer in her new book, For the Love of It, The Mammoth Legacy of Roma and Dave McCoy.
(www.blueoxpress.com) The following are excerpts from For the Love of It and Tracks of Passion.
Ultimately, McCoy's focus fell on Mammoth Mountain and on having fun. In 1941, as Morning describes
in For the Love of It, " . . . Dave converted his '38 Chevy into a roadside up-ski and sought out Mammoth District
Ranger, Doug Robinson, to obtain a permit. Robinson had long supported the local ski community, occasionally ferrying skiers
up Minaret Road in his small Forest Service bulldozer, clearing snow as he went. He assured Dave he didn't need a permit
because his tow wasn't a commercial venture. "
" After the first snowstorm of the season, Dave and Roma loaded their Chevy with fixings for a barbecue, tools, pulleys,
ropes, and a plywood wheel Dave had made, and drove up Minaret Road to the snowline on Mammoth Mountain's north
48 FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020
http://www.tracksofpassion.com http://www.blueoxpress.com

The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Index
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
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The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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