When the snow doesn’t fly rumors do. Okay, rumors can run rampant, especially in small mountain communities such as Mammoth Lakes, no matter the meteorological climate. Yet, understandably, pretty much the number one conversation piece around these parts is the dry winter and what this implies for the community’s economic life-blood, the Mountain. “They’re going to close June Mtn.” “Canyon and Little Eagle are going to close.” “They’re going to stop making snow.” “The Mountain’s gonna start laying people off.” Whether or not inspired to dispel rumors circulating about town (or throughout California for that matter) Mammoth Top Dog, CEO Rusty Gregory recently took action by addressing MMSA staff via email; said letter was made public yesterday, Jan. 3rd, on the Mammoth Forums website. Have a read yourself; I’ve bolded some of the highlights:
The company has completed its most successful Christmas and New Year holiday period in my 34 years on the mountain. Never in our history have we hosted so many guests with so little natural snow and produced such a high quality experience on and off the mountain.
I had the opportunity to talk to scores of guests over the last 2 weeks. They were universally effusive about how much fun they were having and couldn’t believe that Mammoth had top to bottom skiing, the Unbound pipe and parks were going off, June was open, Woolly’s Adventure Summit had snow for the tubers, and that we even had cross country skiing up to Minaret Summit. They were wowed by the fireworks at Night of Lights and on New Year’s Eve, and had a blast at the concerts and DJ events. The Village rocked and they loved that we opened a day care and brought Sushi Rei back.
Many of our guests came to Mammoth from Northern California for the first time because the Tahoe resorts’ lower elevation and limited snowmaking capabilities only allowed the operation of a small fraction of the terrain and services Mammoth provided. A significant number chose Mammoth over their usual winter vacation spots in Colorado and Utah. You all worked very hard and performed wonderfully. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our guests and a grateful community, thank you very, very much.
But now, the crowds are returning home, the temperatures are warming and the weather is forecast to provide more sun than snow in the days to come. I know that all of you are wondering how the company intends to deal with the less than optimistic outlook going forward.
Here is what I know:
So far, this winter is the driest on record since the 1800s. I’ve talked to the heads of major resorts in California, Utah and Colorado. Each of them are cutting back on lifts, terrain and staffing to save money. Many think that the winter of 2011-12 will never really get started and the weeks and months to come will just bring more of the same.
Here is what I believe:
We operate the best mountain in the country and we run it better than our friends at other resorts run theirs. Skiers want to ski and boarders want to ride. This yearning and the demand it produces doesn’t go away just because Mother Nature isn’t cooperative. Mammoth is the skier and rider’s mountain. When it snows, they will come. In my 34 years on the mountain, I’ve seen several severe drought years with little or no snow in October, November or December. It snowed by mid January in each of those years.
Here is what we are going to do:
We are going to do the opposite of what other resorts are doing. We are not going to cut services or service to save money. We are going to keep everything open – Eagle, Canyon, the Village, all the current lifts and all the terrain possible. If temperatures allow snowmaking, we will add more runs and lifts as soon as we can, even if it’s during the middle of the week when crowds are light. We are going to keep our seasonal employees and year-round employees. If hours of work get too thin for some, we will feed each of them every night to make it possible for them to stay in town. We will continue to operate all our shops and restaurants everyday on the regular winter schedule. Our rental shops will be renting all categories of skis and boards including demos, everyday.
We are going to do just what we did over the holiday. We are going to give our guests way more than they expect, and way more than our competition. We will do it the Mammoth Way with big smiles, a positive vibe and the informal, authentically sincere service we are famous for. Our guests will love us for it and they will come back.
If any of you are unclear on what I mean or what we are doing, call me at 760.934.0731or visit me in my office so that I can set you straight. I don’t want anyone to underestimate the company’s commitment to the quality of our guest’s experience or misunderstand their individual role in delivering it.
I wish each of you, your family and friends a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Does this set the record straight? To a degree, yes. The cynicist in me says there’s a loophole for everything. The optimist in me says it’s going to snow. Regardless, the conditions are excellent, and there’s no time like the present to do what we all love to do. I too would like to extend a hand to the Mountain’s staff, bottom to top, for providing top-notch service (with a smile) and more ski and snowboard recreation opportunities on a down-year than most ski areas throughout North America could deliver during a snowy winter. Keep up the great work!
What rumors have you heard, which may not have been addressed in Rusty’s letter? What downsizing/closure rumors have been circulating in your ski-town? Given the dry conditions throughout the country how do you plan to cope? My advice… DANCE IT UP, drink it blue, celebrate… the Snow Gods are watching!