Why We All Owe Dave McCoy a Thank You

For 99% of skiers and snowboarders, skiing and snowboarding is all about having fun. It’s an escape from work, and even those fortunate few who are able to call a day on the mountain a day at the office are probably having a blast doing it.

Dave McCoy was no different. It just so happens that while having fun on the mountain he built a ski resort that would grow to become one of the most popular in the world. All of us here at ASO Mammoth, and the millions of people who have skied and snowboarded here, are still having fun at the resort he built, so due to his recent passing at the age of 104 we thought now was the best time to remind everyone who has spent a day on the snow at Mammoth how Dave McCoy built the resort and why we all owe him a huge thank you.

Dave McCoy Was Dedicated to the Eastern Sierra from the Start

McCoy was born in El Segundo, and spent his childhood in Washington state, but after his first visit to the Eastern Sierra at the age of 12 he was always dreaming of building his life here. The snow, soaring mountains, and tight communities were so enticing to McCoy that he turned down four offers for a football scholarship to return to the Eastern Sierra after he graduated high school.

After he established himself as a snow surveyor for the city of Los Angeles, McCoy had the perfect excuse to ski all day long, and after making a set of skis by hand he did just that. While getting paid to ski by the city of Los Angeles McCoy found Mammoth Mountain, which he would eventually turn into a ski resort so undeniably great that it would draw people from Los Angeles and beyond.

Nothing Could Stop Him from Having Fun and Everyone Benefited

McCoy had found the mountain where he wanted to stake his claim in 1937 but even then ski resorts didn’t pop-up overnight. Mammoth Mountain was isolated by poor roads and heavy snow, and the only community in the area were the few locals who lived near the mountain, making Mammoth an unlikely place for a ski resort.

That didn’t stop McCoy from parking his truck on the mountain, jacking up the rear, and attaching a rope to a back tire and creating the first tow rope on Mammoth Mountain. Over several decades, McCoy built upon that simple tow rope by designing runs down the mountain, laying the foundations for future ski lifts, and even building the tools and machines he would use to maintain and build the resort in his garage.

Finally, McCoy and his team built a double chair lift that could carry 900 skiers an hour up the mountain. If Mammoth wasn’t on the map before then, the largest ski lift in the state at the time made it a can’t miss destination for Californians.

McCoy Invested in More than Just Skiing at Mammoth Mountain

McCoy wasn’t only interested in building his mountain though. In fact, he was instrumental in creating the town’s fire department, hospital, high school, and water district, not to mention how many people were employed by the resort. McCoy also invested heavily in the education of locals by creating the Mammoth Lake Foundation.

McCoy’s love of the Eastern Sierra never left him though, as later in life he took up photography and chased the mountains’ beauty.

The Brilliant, Innovative Mind of Dave McCoy, with Mammoth Mountain’s Chic Gladding from Brandon Russell.

Mammoth Mountain host a day of skiing and celebration in honor of Dave McCoy on Friday, February 28, 2020. This day is for everyone, focused on what Dave loved most – skiing. Mammoth have extended lift operations and and free lift tickets and scenic gondola rides. See more information on mammothmountain.com.

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