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

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