UPDATE: Mammoth is picking up the two Big Bear area resorts for $38 million, reports the Los Angeles Times, which notes the move "comes in the midst of a historic drought." Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory explains to the Times, "My father used to say in business you want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This does look like a questionable time to buy a ski resort operation."
The Dick Kun ownership era at the Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains is over as the owners of Mammoth Mountain are set to acquire the properties, it was announced this morning.
This will give the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area four resorts: Mammoth and June Mountain near Bishop and Snow Summit and Bear Mountain near Big Bear Lake, adding 800,000 annual visitors with the acquisitions, according to the company, which estimates there will be 2 million visitors combined to the four resorts yearly.
"We couldn't be more excited to enter into this agreement with Big Bear Mountain Resorts," says Rusty Gregory, chairman and CEO of Mammoth Mountain, in a company statement. "These two uniquely Southern California resorts have been providing great skiing, riding and biking experiences to visitors from California and beyond. Millions have enjoyed their first mountain resort experience on the slopes of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, and we look forward to expanding upon the legacy that Dick Kun and his people have created over the past six decades."
"Mammoth has always been the natural long-term fit for the Big Bear family and we are thrilled to enter this agreement," says Richard "Dick" Kun in the same statement. "I am deeply grateful to the employees, shareholders and the Big Bear community for their work and support during the 63 years of our operations. Mammoth's experience and leadership will ensure that Southern Californians will continue to enjoy recreating in the local mountains and will undoubtedly bring in a new era of experiences and opportunities for all of our constituents."
Houlihan Lokey, the investment bank retained by Snow Summit Ski Corp., announced in June 2013 that buyers were being sought for the properties, which are actually on land leased from the U.S. Forest Service. Both resorts together were assessed at nearly $12 million in 2012, but Mammoth did not disclose the sales price.
Snow Summit dates back to 1950, when sportsman Tommi Tyndall, his wife Jo and her father, the Rev. Alfred Hughes, persuaded friends, relatives, local businessmen and ski enthusiasts to invest in Snow Summit Inc. Two years of negotiation with the Forest Service led to construction beginning in 1952 of a half mile access road, a mile-long chairlift and clearing of Log Chute ski run, some base area slopes for rope tows and the basement of the Summit Inn. The first lift was completed in 1953.
It was the nation's first detachable chairlift, setting the stage for a series of pioneering features at Snow Summit. Man-made snow covered slopes there in 1964. In December that same year, Tyndall died in a tractor accident at age 52. Jo Tyndall was appointed by the Board of Directors as the resort's general manager, and she appointed her son Dick Kun as her assistant. More industry-envied lifts, runs and improvements would follow. Kun later took over as president and, in 2002, he purchased Big Bear Mountain (formerly known as Goldmine), renamed it Bear Mountain and the two resorts became Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
Bear Mountain has nine chairlifts, Summit has 11 and through last season a single lift ticket provided access to their combined 1,368 acres (438 of which are developed).
But how about multiplying that by two? To herald the Big Bear resorts now being in the Mammoth fold, a new season pass–known as the Cali4nia Pass–will be accepted at all four resorts. They go on sale Saturday at $689 for adults at the Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails event at Bear Mountain and then will be available for a limited time only via www.snowsummit.com or www.Cali4niaPass.com.
"The Cali4nia Pass will cut through the clutter in the market by providing the most diverse set of resort options available in California by allowing you to ski where you want, when you want and as often as you want," says Gregory.
And look for more to come.
"This acquisition represents the beginning of a renaissance for both Mammoth and Big Bear and is the first step in the next era of skiing and riding in California," boasts Gregory. "In the coming months we will be announcing exciting new development and expansion plans for each of our four resorts designed to attract visitors from down the street, across the country, and around the world."
Start getting those legs in shape, people!