Mammoth Mountain by name and by dimensions, this Californian giant is able to offer skiing for up to 10 months of the year, with huge natural snow falls that have enabled the resort to keep skiers on the slopes until mid-August. The resort’s altitude and position in the High Sierras helps it to average more than 30 feet (around 10 metres) of snowfall annually, and this has topped 50 feet (over 15 metres) in record-breaking years. The mainly north-facing slopes hold the light powder better than many neighbouring areas.
Mammoth Mountain’s existence is due almost entirely to the efforts of legendary Dave McCoy, who maintained ownership of the ski area for more than 50 years. Born in 1915 and a Californian State Champion skier at 22, before a crash in a race at Sugarbowl resort led to 38 fractures of his leg. After buying his first lifts in 1938 on a loan secured by selling his Harley Davidson, Dave took a portable rope tow to Mammoth by 1941 and was operating his lift there on the day of Pearl Harbour. He had previously worked as a hydrographer for the city of Los Angeles in the late 1930s and realized then that Mammoth had the terrain and the snow to make a great ski area.
The first permanent lift was installed straight after the war ended and was soon the most popular ski area in the state. The first chair lift went up in Mammoth in 1955 and “the rest is history.”
Mammoth Mountain also has a key part in ski racing history, and in 1967 almost the entire US Olympic Women’s team were Mammoth racers. This reputation helped the resort to boom to its present status.