The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 49

side. Dave backed the car against a hillside, jacked up the rear end, replaced the tire with the plywood wheel, and wound the
end of a long rope around the rim. He then hauled the rope and a deadman pulley up the slope, attached the pulley to a tree,
looped the rope around it, walked the remaining rope to the bottom, and spliced it together. Next, he disconnected the emergency
brake from one side of his car so the differential could run twice as fast as the car registered. There it was. Dave had his own
roadside tow. "
And when it snowed, people from Southern California headed up the highway to wherever McCoy
was operating his portable tows. They were happy to pay fifty cents a ride to take the rope tow up the hill
so they could ski down.
MAMMOTH VISIONS
On August 12, 1953, after three months of negotiations, the Forest Service's Slim Davis wrote Dave
McCoy a personal letter stating, " This confirms the issuing to you yesterday of a [25-year] term permit for the further
development and operation of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area " . McCoy agreed to construct a service building
with water and sewage systems by November 1953, form a corporation by August 1954, build a chair lift
by December 1956, construct a shelter hut at the upper terminus by November 1957 and a second chairlift
by December 1960.
Determined to remain a family-owned business, McCoy set out to secure his own financial backing.
No such luck! The ski business was far too risky, he was told, for a man without collateral. With verbal
permission but no Forest Service permit and a grand total of $12,500 in personal loans to back him up,
Dave broke ground on his Warming Hut. He refurbished a donated 10,000-gallon water storage tank with
rivets and tar, hand-dug a hole to house it, and laid a quarter mile of plastic hose connecting the tank to
a spring farther up the mountain. He hired Lloyd Nicoll to frame a foundation while junior racers Rhubarb
Marcellin, Kenny Lloyd, and twelve-year-old Gary McCoy helped him collect scrap rebar and hand
shovel aggregate from a pit near Rock Creek.
By November 1953, two weeks after the birth of his sixth child, 38-year-old Dave McCoy concluded
that to be a successful ski area operator, he needed to devote all his time and energy to that endeavor. He
requested a leave of absence from his Los Angeles Water Department (LADWP) job of 16 years, sold his
fishing boats to the LADWP and moved his family to his McGee ski-tow warming hut.
By winter of 1953-54, a newly paved Minaret Road, an improved parking area, and the friendly atmosphere
of a crackling fire in the huge rock fireplace of the just completed Warming Hut welcomed
skiers to McCoy's Mammoth rope tows. Feeling like extended family, they chatted with ticket-sellers, most
often Nick Gunter and wives of Dave's friends who were helping him with the tows. They skied with Mark
Zumstein's Mammoth Ski Patrol, who were mostly volunteers from the Avalanche Ski Club, teased
McCoy's junior racers, and doted on the smiling faces of the six McCoy children-several of them already
sporting Mammoth race team uniforms.
Yet during the summer of 1954, an unfamiliar feeling of discouragement nagged at Dave: he had
not been able to secure financing to build a chairlift. He had talked to bankers, walked door to door in
Bishop asking for support, even explored the possibility of using an old tramway from the Cerro Gordo
mine. Just when he could think of no other avenues to pursue, a stranger knocked on his door.
Walter Martignoni of United Tramways went right to the point. Another ski area had canceled its
order for a chairlift . . . would Dave take it? Dave said he couldn't pay. Not to worry, Martignoni told him,
he would carry the cost until they worked out a feasible payment plan. On a handshake, the two men
sealed the deal.
McCoy turned his attention to the 1954-55 ski season and his current flock of promising ski racers.
His junior team was monopolizing the Far West division and four of his seniors - one of them local racer,
Jill Kinmont, whose vibrant smile and winning form had made her the unofficial darling of American
skiing - were contenders for the 1956 Olympic Team.
In a newspaper article directed toward Southern California skiers hungering for news about the oncoming
1956-57 ski season, ski writer, Lester LaVelle, described improvements that took place at Mammoth
Mountain over the summer. His words captured the essence of an entire era between 1955 and
1969.
" Dave McCoy has followed a policy through the years which indeed pays off. He offers summer employment to all his
regular winter crew who care to stay with him, and this summer an average of more than twelve have remained on the job.
And the 'durn fools' are so enthusiastic about the area and so loyal to their boss they work from sunrise to dark. No outsider
understands it, and attempts at explanation are wide of the mark. But that's the way it is at Mammoth - the bigness of the
mountain gets in the blood. " - Lester LaVelle, 1956
1962 California Team at the annual Amercian
Legion races in Sun Valley, Idaho. LEFT TO RIGHT
BACK ROW: Dennis Agee, Spider Sabich, Jon Reveal,
Dennis " Poncho " McCoy, Jim Morning, and Dave
McCoy (coach). LEFT TO RIGHT FRONT ROW:
Linda Meyers (coach), Patti Formichelli,
Robin Morning, and Virginia Birimisa.
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 49
On Opening Day at Mammoth Mountain -
November 25, 1955. Skiers line up to ride Rope
Tow 1.
In 1953, Dave McCoy built a full service Warming
Hut at the bottom of his Mammoth tows. photos on this
page provided by Robin Morning

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
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 3
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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