Wax On, Wax Off: Mammoth, Pt. 3
Flickr user jcookfisher

Wax On, Wax Off: Mammoth, Pt. 3

The Expansion

In the ensuing decades, Mammoth slowly grew in popularity while maintaining its uniquely rugged Sierra Nevada character. McCoy developed the mountain as a true sportsman's resort--low on luxury, but high on access to the slopes. Soon, Mammoth was one of the more popular spots for skiing in the American West.

The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area reached the peak of its popularity sometime during the 1980s, with attendance reaching 1.4 million people, said a 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times. But relying exclusively on car-traveling Southern Californians began to take its toll, and more and more skiers flew by plane to further, more luxurious destinations in the U.S. and Canada. Attendance waned.

During the 1980s, snowboarding was taking the world of snow play by storm. Early snowboarders recall restrictions on the sport, which was viewed by the more traditional skiing community as a rebellious intrusion into their territory. Even rugged Mammoth Mountain, in early years, confined snowboarding to nearby sister resort June Mountain, a place which lagged far behind Mammoth in terms of snow quality and diversity of terrain. But as the world of skiing was slowly forced or convinced to accept the new sport, Mammoth began its rise to prominence as a premier destination for the grungy board-riders of California.

In 1996, noticing the abundant snow and virtually untapped development potential of the area, resort investor Intrawest purchased a large stake in Mammoth from the McCoys. The efforts of Intrawest's involvement have led to the noticeable upgrade of Mammoth in the last decade and a half. Rickety old chairlifts have been replaced with the high-speed detachable chairs that whisk mountain goers up the slopes today. Snow-making operations now extend and ensure Mammoth's already consistent snow cover each year, from early November through Spring. And the hotels, shops, lodges and restaurants of the resort have been upgraded to new levels.


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