“Thank you for the snowstorm. It was timely,” said June Mountain General Manager, Carl Williams, at Tuesday night’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) at the June Lake Community Center.
With that, Williams handed over the meeting to Greg Dallas, COO of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA), which also runs June Mountain. Despite the original excitement about this season, Dallas explained that with the lack of snowfall, the ski area is 68% off its original budget, which was based on 70,000 skier visits this year.
“In fact, there was a day when nobody showed up at June,” Dallas said. “And there was a day when there was one, and five, and so with the lack of snowfall, what we found is that just having chair 2 and Mambo, it really doesn’t work. We really need chair 7.”
Dallas went on to admit that he has been talking to Williams about a closure plan for the ski area for the last three weeks. But with the ability to open J7, June received more than 260 visits last weekend. “There is no way we can close June down right now,” Dallas said.
This proclamation comes after Rusty Gregory, CEO of MMSA, announced temporary pay reductions to both hourly and salaried employees on January 31. “All salaried employees will be required to take 5 unpaid days off during the month of February. All hourly employees’ hours will be limited to no more than 30 hours per week. This is the plan for February only. I will reassess as March approaches,” Gregory said in an all-employee memo.
This decision is “dramatic for all of our employees who are living day-by-day and month-to-month,” Dallas said at the CAC meeting. “There are some very hard things we are doing across the company to keep [June] open.”
Even with this last storm, June has received a season total of 48 inches of snow. Mammoth has had 66 inches.
“The straight talk really is if we don’t have J7 and we don’t get more snow and we return to a dry pattern, Carl [Williams] and I are going to be back to the same conversation,” Dallas said. “We just really can’t sustain it with Mambo and J2. That’s a big tipping point for us and that’s what we will be looking at going forward.”
Visitation, and not MMSA’s financial situation, is the determining factor for the longevity of June’s season this year. “We have a very depressed business climate right now but we don’t feel that we are in a position right now where the banks can tell us what to do like they did 2 years ago,” said Ron Cohen, CAO of MMSA, who was also at Tuesday’s CAC meeting. “It’s really not about our relationship with the banks this year. It’s really about visitation. We intend to do everything we can to keep it open as long as people can ski off of J7.”
MMSA rolled out a large operating plan for the reopening of June Mountain in November after keeping it closed the 2012-2013 season. “The concept has been really well received. It’s just tragic that we had a low snow year,” Dallas said. So what’s the plan for next season? “The short answer, we have no intention of changing the program for next year,” said Dallas. “Just the snowfall,” Cohen chimed in.
MMSA also submitted its plans to update J1 and snowmaking application to the Inyo National Forest on January 22nd, showing they have no intention of backing off their development plan for June Mountain. “For all intents and purposes we’re moving ahead, aggressively on that front,” Dallas said.
The bottom line for this season: June Mountain needs more snow in order to keep J7 open. But “it’s not over yet,” said Dallas.