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Snowmaking safe for now, Gregory says

January 16, 2014

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will continue making snow as fast as possible, according to Rusty Gregory, the CEO of the ski area.

Shooting down rumors that the ski hill’s water supply was drying up, Gregory told a group of town leaders that the water levels on the mountain remain high.

“The well drawdowns haven’t been bad,” he reported to members of a liaison committee between the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the ski resort on Monday, Jan. 13.

“As long as we have good temperatures, we’ll continue to make snow. The aquifers are holding up fairly well. We monitor them closely.

“There’s been no material drawdown yet that would affect our ability to pump water.”

The situation at June Mountain Ski Area is entirely different though, he said.

Without a steady supply of water in the form of reservoirs, June will have to make do with what Mother Nature provides, he said.

“There’s a limited amount of snowmaking because of the limitation of water,” he told the committee, which consisted of MMSA vice president Ron Cohen, along with Mammoth Lakes Mayor Rick Wood, Interim Town Manager Dan Holler, and Police Chief Dan Watson.

“What we have is a pond, smaller than a reservoir, bigger than a bathtub. It doesn’t give us a lot of water flow, but we kept things open over the Christmas holiday by bringing in a compressor to pump as much water as there was.

“We had to close Chair 7 the other day, though, which is the chair to the top of the mountain, so now we’re operating off Chair 2. Like the rest of the community, we’re all a little pensive, waiting for snow.”

To make snow, the critical elements are water and cold temperatures in the mid-20s (Fahrenheit).

With cold night temperatures within snowmaking range for the balance of the week, he said the ski hill ought to be able to provide enough manmade snow for the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix event this weekend.

Currently, Gregory said, the ski hill is operating 17 lifts with about 50 runs open, while making sure the base lodge facilities are skiable and connected to the top of the mountain.

“The guys we have plowing snow are busy making snow, thank goodness. The effort and the results that our folks generated during the holidays was decent, but we did not have perfect temperatures we need for snowmaking.”

The hurt, he said, is everywhere in the state.

“Most important, all the portals are connected to the top of the mountain. We had by far more terrain than anyone else in California. I know it’s like being the tallest man in a midget contest, but it was much better than it might have been when we compare ourselves to our competition in Tahoe and our friends who are running resorts up there.”

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